Why abortion is not a legitimate legal matter
If you’re opposed to a woman’s right to control her body primarily because you prioritize the unborn as your more immediate concern, I ask you to keep reading. If you are opposed to abortion, I realize that you aren’t looking to change your mind. Read on, though, and at least know how one of your opponents on this issue thinks: it can be valuable information. I have certainly spent time considering your perspective.
The discussion of being “pro-choice” or “pro-life” rarely takes place without entering into religion. While I will state my views without entering into a religious conversation, I will acknowledge a higher power (God, the Universe, Nature) to make a point (but not the only point) in this context. I’ll use “God” to denote that reference, but please don’t let that deter your consideration.
Our country is making this a legal matter. Laws are made to protect the citizens. Citizenship is the concept that individuals are recognized as being part of a nation, and with that belonging comes both protections and obligations. Citizenship is conferred by birth, or by acquired rights through parents, or through naturalization. Once an individual is a citizen, protections (as provided by the constitution and subsequent laws) as well as obligations (such as taxes), apply accordingly.
Before birth, there is no citizenship. The unborn is in the custody of the woman who carries it. Woman has the capacity to nourish an entire other being within her body, until it is born. Upon birth, it can be declared a citizen, with all of the protections and obligations that implies. Not before.
In Roe v. Wade, the state of Texas argued that “the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.” To which Justice Harry Blackmun responded, “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.” However, Justice Blackmun then came to the conclusion “that the word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.” US National Library of Medicine, 2010 Sprimg:25(3):185–273
We conclude the line should be drawn at viability, so that before that time the woman has a right to choose to terminate her pregnancy. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA. v. Casey, Opinion of O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter, JJ. October, 1991
A law that is aimed at protecting the unborn is well-intentioned, I do believe. Makers of such laws see the unborn as innocents that are not being properly cared for. And so, the pro-life advocates endeavor to step in and override the God-given authority of a woman to determine what is best in her situation and for her body. If there is a consequence to her choice, the woman and God will have their time to reconcile that. It is not for us to interfere.
No state interest described by fetal rights advocates has enough force to override a woman’s fundamental rights of privacy, bodily integrity, and self-determination. . . . Until the child is brought forth from the woman’s body, our relationship with it must be mediated by her. Janet Gallagher, Prenatal Invasions & Interventions: What’s Wrong with Fetal Rights, 10 Harvard Women’s Law Journal 9, 37, 57 (1987).
Consider this hypothetical: you are a man, and a woman has figured out a way to implant her egg in you — fertilized by you. Who knows how she did this, or why she chose you, but there you are, held against your will, being implanted with your future off-spring. You have no birth canal, so upon full-term you will have to undergo an operation in order for the child to be born.
Can you even imagine that once you are set free after your abduction, that you wouldn’t be free to go to your doctor and be able to have this implanted egg removed? But wait…the government has said that you can’t. The fetus in you, regardless of its unusual conception, is now protected and you must carry it to term.
It’s beyond far-fetched, I know. Maybe a more realistic hypothetical is trying to imagine, as a man, that you’re told you MUST donate your sperm to a sperm bank, or that you MUST get a vasectomy or even that you MAY NOT get a vasectomy. What if it was illegal for you to have sex unless you always used a condom? I’m pretty sure you’d be pro-choice if any of those laws came up for debate.
Men are making decisions about women’s bodies, but even other women have no right, no natural right, to interfere with an individual woman’s choices and decisions about her body.
Abortion may seem to you to be a very sad and wrong decision, but it is not your decision. A higher power than me or you made it so.
Postscript: I wrestled with publishing this. My abortion decisions are decades behind me, and the potential damage by publishing seems more likely than potential gains. And yet, as many women ahead of me have said, I could not be silent, with all its implications of acceptance.