“Bodily Autonomy:” A morally bankrupt pro-choice argument

baby-in-wombMembers of the pro-life community often focus on proving that unborn human beings are living human beings, and there is still a need to do that so long as there are logically bizarre and inconsistent arguments like this one:

A fetus becomes a human being when it is no longer attached to the mother.

Robin, an abortion activist interviewed by Jill Stanek, admits that ” “Your side wins if you convince everyone there is a baby at the point of conception.”


However, a growing number of those in the pro-abort community have long been perfectly willing to concede that of course it’s a human being, but, essentially, ‘so what?’

So what if abortion ends life?
I believe that life starts at conception. And it’s never stopped me from being pro-choice

Most abortionists are well aware that they are killing human babies:

If I see a case…after twenty weeks, where it frankly is a child to me, I really agonize over it because the potential is so imminently there…On the other hand, I have another position, which I think is superior in the hierarchy of questions, and that is “who owns this child?” It’s got to be the mother. -Dr. James MacMahon, abortionist

We know that it’s killing, but the state permits killing under certain circumstances. -Dr. Neville Sender, abortionist

The pro-aborts like to focus on the so-called ‘hard cases,’ rape, incest, life of the mother, and now they’ve added “OMG, the baby isn’t perfect” to that list. Never mind that the ‘hard’ cases are actually incredibly rare. Rape accounts for less than 1 % of abortions.  Mothers of babies conceived in rape choose life by a 3 to 1 margin, because they know better than anybody that having just been through one horrific trauma, enduring an abortion isn’t going to make it go away, and it’s just adding another horrific trauma to their lives.

The thing is, those appeals to the ‘hard cases’ are just so much moonshine. They know they don’t represent meaningful numbers of abortions. They don’t care. That’s just cover:

But asked about late-term abortion when there isn’t a medical problem (Texas’s proposed abortion limit has exceptions for the physical health of the mother and severe “fetal abnormalities”), Richards [the head of the nation’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood] refused to answer. Nor did she reply when asked if she supports any legal limits on abortion.

From the comments to my post here:

I think this is where the pro life movement is going wrong . They think the pro choicers think that fetuses are not humans and are not alive but oddly enough most of us have the intelligence to understand that they are infact alive and human but we also understand it is an ethical conundrum to force someone to keep another person alive using her own body. If the pro lifers want to change minds rather then they need an argument to address this.

The same person attempts to compare the relationship of a mother to the child in her womb with everybody’s relationship to any stranger in need:

I am interested that noone has confirmed that they are happy to be legally forced to support another with their own body or confirmed that they donate blood and have offered to donate a kidney, part of their liver or their bone marrow as needed. I assume you at least donate your children’s cord blood in this drive to support others with your bodies. I am sad that women terminate pregnancies but I am sad too that children die for lack of a kidney, bone marrow or a liver that you or I could happily give. However I don’t support you to be forced into using your body in this way and I cannot support women being forced to continue pregnancies.

There are a number, and a growing number, of people in the pro-abort community (though they dislike the term), who really do prefer death over life. They really do see a woman’s own flesh and blood created through an act that she chose knowing the possible consequences full well, as essentially a parasite with no more legitimate claims upon his or her mother than a tick has upon a human being.
This is a way of thinking about the relationship between mother and child that is just evil.

Obviously to most rational human beings, being forced by law to support a total stranger with one’s body is not remotely comparable to simply letting your own child continue to live unmolested by the doctor’s scalpel or chemicals.
Parents are obligated to support their children or to make a plan for them if they cannot . If you abandon your newborn you will be arrested because the law recognizes that responsibility. If you kill your unborn child a few weeks earlier, that’s legally okay.  This stance has absolutely no merit, morally or logically.

Lisa Beth pointed out some of the logical flaws:

Regardless of the “forcing” aspect of the scenario, the two things are in no way similar. With abortion, you have essentially hired a hit man/woman to kill your child (if you’re not doing it yourself at home and murdering him/her yourself). With the scenario in which you have not donated a part of your liver or your kidney or whatever, you are in no way committing any sort of a criminal act–not manslaughter, not murder, nothing similar to that at all. And there are many reasons why a person may not be able to make donations of body parts, but there is NO legitimate reason to murder your child.

The relationship between mother and child is an act of nature and nature’s God, to quote the Declaration of Independence. It is like no other human relationship on earth. We could, however, use another human relationship as an example- that of Siamese twins.

Let’s suppose that a pair of conjoined twins are physically bound together in such a way that one of them could survive without the other, but the other cannot survive on her own. Should one of them determine that living as a conjoined twin was unsupportable and therefore stabs her twin in order to have the corpse surgically removed- that would be murder. I think most of us would agree with that. I think the law would support that.

It may not be fair to live as a conjoined twin. But nobody did this to them, it is an act of nature and nature’s God and it just is what it is, and you don’t get to commit murder to avoid it.

The unborn child is there as the result of an action the mother chose- again, more than 99% of abortions are NOT done because of rape or incest, but because the pregnancy is inconvenient for any number of reasons. Some of them are no doubt, very hard, sad reasons. Nevertheless, the mother *chose* the action that resulted in pregnancy 99% of the time.

The mother’s ‘autonomy’ does not give her the moral right to murder the child who was created in her womb as a direct result of her own voluntary action (I am pro-life in the case of rape as well, but we are not going to discuss rape in this post at all- we are going to talk about the reasons for the other 99% of abortions).

But our pro-abort (who insists she isn’t) says:

Bodily autonomy means simply that you have the right to do as you wish with your own body. You can pierce your ears or your tongue, tattoo it, burn it, cut it, have a kidney removed and donated to someone who needs one, allow a child you created or one you didn’t (embryo donation) to grow in it. You can use your body to pleasure another and choose to allow another access or not and you can remove a fetus who is using your body to grow from it whether or not this will result in the fetuses demise (or death if you prefer to be brutal)

To restrict bodily autonomy is a sign of a totalitarian state. Ultimately a person has the right to do as they wish with their own body including their right to take their own life if they so choose. I am amused that often the people who wish to restrict bodily autonomy are/claim to be libertarians. Surely these philosophies are fundamentally incompatible.

Of course, calling a death a death is hardly more brutal than deliberately causing the death of your own child.

1984 is calling. They want their doublespeak back.

And it’s not your body. It’s somebody else’s body with his or her unique finger prints, unique DNA and even his or her own blood type, which may or may not be the same as the mother’s, and it is that other human being who is being murdered. It’s your *child’s* body you’re ripping apart or burning to death with chemicals, not yours.

The commenter decided (after thinking about it a few hours) that it is not true that parents have more responsibility toward their own children than to total strangers.

This is internally consistent, so of course she had to say that, but it makes no real sense at all.  If it were true that parents do not have any more responsibility toward their own offspring than they do to a total stranger, it would be perfectly acceptable to simply set your newborn down on the floor and take a bus to the beach for the rest of the month without making any arrangements of the baby’s care.  If this were truly what the commenter genuinely believes, then she could make no moral argument for prosecuting a parent for neglect.  Parents would have no obligation ever to dress, bathe, or feed their own children, or even to supervise them.  It’s clearly nonsense, and the only reason for professing such a view is because being in favor of ‘pregnancy termination’ by any means but birth is such a twisted, illogical, and inhumane position that one must either believe six impossible and mutually exclusive things at once, or one must paint oneself into a nihilistic corner.

She also said that pointing out pregnancy is a natural consequence of sex is merely an attempt to punish women (once more, why biological reality is somehow misogynist,  I never can understand).

“Mountain Mama”  addressed that:

Then you say,
“1. You have a greater responsibility to your child than you do to others (I don’t agree)” In the real world, this is actually true. The family unit is the basis of society, and our primary responsibilities are to care for those in our own home. So, yes, as a mother of 4, I am morally bound to care for their needs before I go out into the community and care for the needs of others. I do not think it’s impossible to do both.

Then you say, “2. women have sex and need to deal with the consequences (which is about punishing women for violating society’s values (although society doesn’t really hold these values anymore) by removing a basic human right)”

Conception and pregnancy are NATURAL CONSEQUENCES of the choice to intimately unite with a man. It is not society’s job to punish women by forcing them to carry unwanted pregnancies. It is the responsibility of women (and men) to exercise self-control OR accept the possible outcome. Those are the only 2 acceptable scenarios. If it were not so, then there would be some physical mechanism in place to allow us to control our own fertility. We have no such mechanism. Physical intimacy possibly leads to pregnancy. You cannot argue with that. Therefore, if pregnancy is not an option, abstinence is your only option. Logically or morally…truth is truth.

And here is the crux of the matter for me with the ‘bodily autonomy’ argument, and I will tell you all up front that this argument makes me very, very angry and defensive. It is a position which  is a very real threat to my child.  This child:


My daughter, the Cherub, was 22 years old in the above picture. She is 25 now. She cannot survive on her own, ever, without relying on other human beings. She cannot get her own food, take a bath, brush her own teeth or hair, read, distinguish between what is and is not edible, cross the street by herself, speak, or even keep herself safe from fire (she will try to touch candles), or dress and undress herself without close supervision. She can’t choose weather appropriate clothing. She won’t even move out of the way of the fan to a warmer corner if she is cold.  This describes all babies and most preschoolers to some degree, of course, but it will always describe our Cherub on this earth.  She will not outgrow the mental retardation and the cerebral palsy she was born with.

I, or another family member, must do these things for her. Sometimes it is inconvenient. Sometimes it is more than that. Sometimes it is painful, physically or emotionally.  It causes me physical pain to give her a bath, to clean her up after a toileting accident, and sometimes it causes me pain to dress and undress her.  It is incredibly inconvenient to me to keep her safe- we have gate-guards blocking off the stairs, both kitchen entrances, and I cannot take an afternoon nap if she and I are the only ones at home unless I take great measures to keep her safe. It hurts to get her in and out of the van. It causes me emotional pain when she is injured or sick and can’t explain why, when I think about the future sometimes.  I will never, for the rest of my life, have the freedom of just dropping everything and running to the store at the spur of the moment. I will either have to make plans for her care at home, or make sure she is dressed and groomed for an outing, spend the time it takes to get her into our van and buckled, then get her out again, and then get through the parking lot and store. I will never have both hands free at the store if she is with me.   I don’t even want to talk about what it’s like to try to brush her teeth or deal with her monthly cycles.

Follow the pro-choice rhetoric to its logically consistent conclusions, and  I have the right to kill her at will, because the Cherub is not ‘bodily autonomous’ herself, but must rely on others to do these things for her.

We do them because she is ours and we have an obligation to care for our children (and her siblings do these things because they feel an obligation to care for their sister)- and because we love her. Whether we loved her or not, we would be obligated to do these things because she’s ours and we are hers.

We chose her- adopting her when she was nearly 6. But 98% of abortions are for pregnancies that were equally a result of choice, a choice to act in such a way that pregnancy was clearly a likely consequence. And just as much as I am the Cherub’s mother, and so must fulfill my maternal obligations toward her, so is every pregnant woman the mother of a living human child who has just as much of a claim on his or her mother’s body as The Cherub has on mine.

The very least any mother can do is ‘do no harm.’ Just leave things alone and let nature take its course and that baby will be born in really, a very short time.

To argue otherwise is to argue from the standpoint of a viciously seared conscience.

As the once pro-life Jesse Jackson said this in 1977:

Everyone can come to the mercy seat and find forgiveness and acceptance. But, and this may be the essence of my argument, suppose one is so hard-hearted and so in-different to life until he assumes that there is nothing for which to be forgiven. What happens to the mind of a person, and the moral fabric of a nation, that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience? What kind of a person, and what kind of a society will we have 20 years hence if life can be taken so casually?

Look around.

He was right.

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  1. Diana
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Bravo! *Cheers*

  2. Rachel
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    The autonomy argument really is ridiculous. Strictly speaking, every living being on the face of God’s green earth is entirely reliant on other lives for its continued existence. We all eat something (even plants benefit from the detritus left in the soil by other beings). So arguing that life needs to autonomous to be valid is an argument against all life on earth. Can we now just go around killing each other willy nilly? No. To use language loved by the left, we are part of an ecosystem. So are developing babies. Participating in a dynamic environmental system is not a reason for annihilation.

    It also bears mentioning that fetuses do their mothers considerable good from the perspective of long term health. That means they are symbionts, not parasites, just like the gut flora and fauna that help us digest effectively and protect us from digestive cancers. Obviously, a baby is worth far more than that, but there’s a lot of hype to foster healthy gut symbionts, and a lot of that hype comes from people who are also pro-aborts.

  3. Posted July 15, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Spot on. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

  4. Posted July 15, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    so, so, SO well-put! Thank you for writing this.

  5. Lisa Beth W.
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful, wonderful synopsis, DHM. And great additional comment, Rachel.

    I just have to say that I was very tickled with the glimpse of the precious Cherub! 🙂

  6. 6 arrows
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    This is beautiful, and I love the picture of The Cherub! I had to click on it and enlarge it…she looks very much like three of my daughters, especially like the one who is near the age your daughter was when you adopted her — almost six.

    My parents have friends whose youngest daughter was born with cerebral palsy. She was tremendously loved by her parents and siblings and many others for the 16 years she had on earth before the Lord took her home. It is very clear to me, though I have not met you or your family, how much your Cherub is loved, as well.

    Your post blessed me so much.

  7. Stacy
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Spot on!
    I think the pro-abortion argument that makes me the angriest is the one against adoption. You know, abortion is saving mom the trauma of placing a child for adoption. Because KILLING your child in the womb is less traumatic for all involved?!

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