The first pro-choice view I’m going to address goes as follows:
“UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should the government have any say in what a woman does with her body.”
I’ve also heard it argued like this:
“The whole abortion debate comes down to, ‘do you own yourself or does someone else own you?’”
Let me start with a little personal history:
My conviction about abortion came when I saw that first ultrasound of my 10-week-old baby in my womb, the unmoving, lifeless form of what could have been. The depth of my grief over my miscarriage surprised me. My feelings about abortion were solidified through three subsequent pregnancies that resulted in my three beautiful children. At any moment during any of those pregnancies, if someone had taken those children from my womb, I would have considered them a murderer. The violation of my body and personal rights in the process would be insignificant in comparison to the fact that my baby would be forever gone.
Just a few months after my last baby was born, my life was forever changed by a cancer diagnosis. The next day, I had to wean my baby girl. I didn’t have a choice. At a time when I desperately wanted to hold my children close, I was forced to push my baby away, to neglect her cries for food and comfort.
I recently heard a pro-choice advocate call a baby in the womb a “uterine tumor.”
I am familiar with tumors. Comparing an unborn baby to a tumor triggered a response in me, and one that is not sympathetic to the pro-choice point of view.
Let’s first define tumor:
A tumor is “an abnormal growth of tissue resulting from uncontrolled, progressive multiplication of cells and serving no physiological function; a neoplasm.”
Regardless of when you think a life becomes human, a fetus is not a tumor. Sadly, that is how many view it: Abnormal. Unwanted. No function. I suppose that the person who holds this pro-choice point of view believes that for something (or someone) to have value, it must also be able to function.
The pro-life camp argues that life begins at conception and therefore, abortion is murder. The pro-life camp naively believes that if they can only prove life begins in the womb, then the pro-choicer will concede that abortion should be illegal.
I propose that these pro-choicers, the ones who think a fetus is a tumor, are so passionate about their right to choose that the “humanness” of the fetus is irrelevant. And even if we could show that that life has value, even if we could show that abortion is morally wrong, it wouldn’t matter. For they believe that the mother’s right to choose what happens to her body is a stronger moral right than any right the fetus might be entitled to. They make no claim as to whether or not the fetus is a human life. It does not matter.
Let me reiterate. These are the people who say, “UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should the government have any say in what a woman does with her body.”
This view leads to the inevitable conclusion that a woman can abort her baby all the way up until birth. For that matter, she should be able to walk into her doctor’s office anytime after the fetus becomes viable and demand the doctor induce her or do a c-section (simply as a matter of convenience); even if that includes months in the NICU; even at great risk to the baby. It is her body, and her choice. Right?
I have to confess that when it comes to a woman’s right to choose, I cannot sympathize. I did not have a right to choose the cancer that invaded my body (a pregnant woman does have control over whether or not she gets pregnant). Nor did I have much of a right to choose as they put all those toxic chemicals in my body and my hair fell out and body parts were removed. Sure, you could say I had a choice, but when the alternative is death, it doesn’t really feel like a choice. Going through cancer treatment eliminated my feeling that my body is my own and that I have all these “rights” pertaining to it. I do have rights that should be protected by law, but they are minimal. My voice is laced with sarcasm as I say, “Oh, I’m so sorry your body will be uncomfortable and that your life will be inconvenienced for 9 whole months, and you might even end up with a C-section scar or stretch marks. That must be so difficult for you.” It is really simple: if you can’t handle a pregnancy, don’t have sex. I wish cancer were that simple. I wish I had that much of a choice.
The attitude of entitlement that permeates our culture is the core of many of our social problems. The Constitution does not guarantee us the right to comfort. It does not guarantee us a life free from pain or difficulty. It does not guarantee us the right to avoid the consequences of our actions.
What is the role of the government in telling me what I can and can’t do with my body? I cannot use my body to murder another person. The government cannot force me to have medical treatment. They cannot force me to have immunizations. The government can restrict whom I have sex with (the other person must consent and must be over-age). The government can currently dictate what medical procedures the elderly can or can’t have (ask anyone on Medicare).
The government’s right to tell me what I can and can’t do with my body comes down to this: I cannot use my body to take away or violate someone else’s rights. And in some more controversial cases, I cannot use my body to hurt myself (drugs, suicide, prostitution, wearing seat belts).
Prohibiting abortion does not force someone to undergo a medical procedure. It only prevents a medical procedure that results in the death of another individual entity. They are not forcing the woman to do anything. The woman already made a choice that resulted in pregnancy – a natural, cause and effect process.
My conclusion is that it DOES matter whether or not the fetus is human. The mother’s right to “choose” is not a greater right than the rights of a dependent human life. There are circumstances where the government does have a say in what a woman does with her body.