Abortion Essay - The Body Autonomy Argument

By Vikram Parahoo

A few weeks ago, I came across this pro-life booth on campus. One of the people there came up to me and we had a short conversation that got me thinking more about my stance on abortion. As we are on a quite liberal campus, his first argument, clearly an attempting at luring progressives to his side, was this one: “It is a fact that fewer women are born because most abortions are made towards female zygotes. As the liberals we are, you would agree that this is bad, isn’t it?”

My response was quite simple: “I do wish women face less discrimination than they currently do but it makes me much more uncomfortable to take rights away from people.” He looked confused for a bit, probably because no one had really refuted his argument before me or maybe he did not really understand my point so I gave him an analogy so he understands my point better. “I personally think that dreadlocks look awful. However, just because I think they are ugly, it does not mean that I can go around telling people not to have them. I don’t like dreadlocks so I just don’t style my hair that way.” He conceded my point, we shook hands and left on that note. However, that discussion got me thinking about this topic. Why am I pro-choice?

In my personal opinion, there is only one argument that is necessary to defend being pro-choice: The body autonomy argument. I have found this argument by Matt Dillahunty that is, essentially, a variation of the violinist argument by Judith Thomson which explains it appropriately:

Someday, someone has a kid with a kidney condition that requires a kidney transplant to save their life. When the parents procreated, they knew there was a non zero chance of the child getting that kidney disease. Should the parents be legally required to donate one of their kidneys? The question is not about whether they should donate. The morality aspect is not what is being questioned here. Instead, the question is: Should the government impose on them that they have to donate one of their kidneys?

This is what being pro-choice means. It is not an argument for people to abort, it is not an attempt at killing babies, it is simply giving women the right to choose whether they want to abort or have a baby. Whenever I formulate an argument, the main thing I like to do is to see how it stands against an opposition. So let’s look at the best rebuttals to that argument.

Kristine Kruszelnicki(Executive Director at Pro-Life Humanists) attempted to refute Matt’s analogy in a debate with him by showing a gruesome video of what she describes as a baby being aborted. She then says: “Matt’s argument is sound if that’s not a human being”. Kristine argues that a zygote is alive(Life comes from life), is human(Has human parents) and is whole(Unlike a sperm or an ovum cell). She also says that a newborn is smaller than a 20-year-old male. However, we would all agree that both are meaningful. Just because a zygote is smaller than a one-year-old baby, it does not mean that the zygote is less meaningful.

Kristine commits the fallacy known as the irrelevant conclusion. I can agree with everything she said. A zygote is alive, is human and is whole. And it is also meaningful. Yet the body autonomy argument still stands. The body autonomy argument concedes all that already. The argument only says that a woman should not be forced to carry a zygote in her body. Consenting to sex does not imply consent to pregnancy (The same way when the parents conceived knowing there was a nonzero chance of their child having a kidney condition, that does not mean they should be legally forced to donate a kidney).

As Matt pointed out, in the debate: “Denying women the rights to abortion makes them slaves to their biology. This is a naturalistic fallacy. Just because women are in this situation because of nature, it does not mean that they have to stay that way.”

To see what other arguments there was out there, I listened to some famous conservative speakers give their best rebuttals to the pro-choice argument, I watched many videos and photos of babies allegedly being aborted and they all consistently miss the mark, just like Kristine did. I initially had planned on going through them all, in this essay but there’s just no point really. I’ve already addressed the arguments. No one brought anything new to the table. So I will leave you with these parting thoughts.

If you are someone who is considering getting an abortion, my personal advice would be for you to ignore what people may think about you. It’s your body and thus, you decide what you want to do. No one can force you to donate a kidney and no one can force you to have a kid if you don’t want to.

In the end, I am just a man giving his opinion. I care about the women in my life and I want them to be able to be as free as they possibly can. I have heard people say “If you have a daughter someday, you would not want her to have an abortion.” My response would simply be that what I want is irrelevant. If I ever have a daughter someday, it is up to her to decide what she wants to do with her body.

Photo by DANNY G on Unsplash