Wednesday, January 24, 2018

"My Body, My Choice"

“My body, my choice.” The mantra of abortion advocates. The rallying cry of Progressives. The end of discussion for feminists. There have been analogies developed to support it. Vitriolic words have been spewed forth to defend it. Who can argue with a woman’s bodily autonomy?

The funny thing is, pro-life advocates do not take issue with this. Indeed, we champion it. A woman should be able to choose what she eats. She should be allowed to choose her own college. Her marriage should be voluntary. We believe just as strongly in a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body.

The small detail that pro-choice people gloss over is that abortion does not only involve a woman’s body. No, there is another’s at stake.

An individual’s rights end where another’s more fundamental rights begin. We have great liberty in this country, but there are limitations. I am not free to cut my friend’s arm off. His rights are protected in that the arm is part of his body, and I cannot simply violate his safety. In a similar way, we do not allow a man to rape a woman. His body cannot be used to compromise the rights of another body.
In other words, there are limits to what we can do with our bodies, most especially if we use them to harm an innocent person’s body.

A fetus is not a part of a woman’s body. Being connected to one’s mother does not make one part of the mother’s body. A woman does not have the right to kill an infant as she is breastfeeding simply because the infant is taking her nutrients from her body. Requiring a lot of care of is not grounds for murder; otherwise, parents of a disabled child would have the right to kill their child at any age.
If a fetus is part of his or her mother’s body, he or she would be a strange growth indeed. The mother has two arms and two legs inside her body. She has two additional eyes and ears. She has an additional DNA type and possibly a different blood type. She may even have male genitalia. All of this would defy nature. But it is perfectly natural because during pregnancy a woman has a distinct human life developing inside her.

A woman's third hand reaches out of her uterus to grab the finger of a surgeon.
Imagine if we followed the bodily autonomy argument to its natural conclusion. A man could morally be able to rape a woman because he has the right to do what he wants with his body, even if it infringes on another’s rights. If this sounds preposterous, the argument that a woman can kill a child because she has the right to do what she wants with her body is equally preposterous.

Judith Jarvis Thomson offered a famous defense of abortion in an essay entitled “A Defense of Abortion”. In it, she puts forward an analogy of someone going to sleep, only to wake up hooked up to a famous violinist. The person is the only one that can keep the violinist alive during his coma, which the violinist will come out of in nine months. She maintains that it would be unfair to be forced to be hooked up to the violinist for nine months, and therefore it is unfair to a woman to force her to stay hooked up to her child for nine months.

But there are inconsistencies in Thomson’s argument. The natural result of sex is pregnancy. The natural result of going to bed is not becoming hooked up to a violinist. It should be expected that sex can lead to pregnancy. That is 99% of abortion cases. I will deal with rape and incest momentarily. There is also a distinct difference between unplugging from the violinist and the act of abortion. Abortion is the active killing of a human being. It involves the tearing apart of a fetus. Dismembering her. While an individual’s act of unplugging from the violinist may passively lead to his death, it is not active killing. Imagine if, instead of just unplugging from the violinist, the individual chopped him into pieces with an ax. Simply delivering a child and leaving her to die is not morally superior; while one has no relationship with the violinist, there is a special and unique relationship between the mother and child.

So what about rape? The child’s life should be respected. As embryology has proven beyond doubt that a newly fertilized cell is distinct, whole, living, and human, there is no justification possible for taking her life. Thomson does not argue the humanity of the preborn, simply that a woman’s bodily autonomy is more important than a child’s life.

Take this example: a man’s brother and sister-in-law dropped their son off for the man to take care of. They text him an hour later and say that they’ve run off, and the man is stuck with his nephew. What can the man do? He could raise his nephew himself. He could find parents to adopt his nephew. What he does not have the right to do is chop his nephew into pieces with an ax. No matter how long the adoption process would take, the man would not have a right to kill his nephew. Even in a dire situation that he couldn’t help, he has no right to take the innocent life. If it seems common sense for a born child, it should be no different for a preborn child who is no less human. Read my post on the case of rape for a fuller justification for sparing the life of a child conceived in this horrible circumstance.

The bottom line is, a fetus is unique from his or her mother, and so is not part of the mother’s body. Women should have the freedom to do what they please with their bodies—but only when it doesn’t infringe on another’s more fundamental right to life.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

"What About Rape?" The Right Thing Isn't Always the Easy Thing

It’s one of the most common objections raised by abortion advocates, yet it accounts for only one percent of abortions.

“What about rape?”

I have never struggled with the morality of abortion even in the hardest cases. But I have struggled for several years about how to write this article. The experience I had is hardly worthy of comparison to a woman being pregnant from rape, and I do not claim otherwise. But I hope that the principle behind it can be applied to situations more difficult.

In case you don't believe me
Several years ago, when I was a student at Northern Kentucky, I visited Xavier University to watch our volleyball team play theirs. I tried to make it to close away games for the various sports, but this was before I had a car. If any reader is unfamiliar with public transportation in the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana tristate, Northern Kentucky has a bus system that has stops every 40 to 60 minutes. Those buses will bring someone to Cincinnati, and then Cincinnati’s buses run to Xavier. It was probably about an hour-long trip for me altogether.

For those that know me well, I am into urban exploration and keep abandoned places with which I’m familiar marked on the map on my phone. If I’m close and have time, I may check one out. There happened to be a place I knew of close to Xavier’s campus that I had never been to. It was about 8 pm, still light but providing some cover of darkness, so I decided to attempt a visit. There was a lengthy walk back to it down a gravel lot and a trail. As soon as I got to the lot, I noticed a wallet. I thought that maybe someone would retrace his steps, so I didn’t pick it up.

Unfortunately, the way back to the place was blocked after a long walk, so I walked back and checked for the wallet. It was still there. I decided to pick it up, and called the local police station. They told me to bring it in. I am notoriously bad with directions, so it took me a good half hour to find the police station that wasn’t that far away. After having to ask for directions several times, I finally located the station. I knew that this was pushing me close against the bus schedule. If I were to miss the next bus to downtown, I would miss the last bus back into Northern Kentucky. By the time I gave the station the information, I wasn’t sure I would make it. It turns out that I got to the stop just as the bus was pulling up.

However, even if I would have missed the bus and had to call a friend or a cab, it would have been worth it to me. I knew that I needed to do what was right, even if it required sacrifice. As I said before, a night of running around Xavier’s campus (as unpleasant as the thought is) and running the risk of being stuck there is not worthy of comparison with being raped and going through a pregnancy. But it is that principle—doing what is right even if it requires sacrifice—that is why a pro-life person believes abortion is wrong even in the circumstance of rape.

In my experience in pro-life activism, there are two reasons why people will bring up this objection. I write with the second in mind.

The first reason is because abortion advocates use this as a loaded question. They will bring up the most difficult circumstance of pregnancy to demonize people that are against abortion. The problem with this is that it doesn’t actually defend abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, one percent of abortions are due to rape. Yet abortion advocates use it to attempt to justify the other 99. Even if abortion were permissible after rape, that only covers the one percent. Abortion advocates use—yes, use—rape victims to silence their opposition and further their agenda. I am unafraid to call someone on that when speaking to them, because it (1) is an enemy to honest conversation and debate and (2) is cruel in its use of victims—something the Hellish, blood-drunken beast that is the abortion industry feeds upon.

The other reason, though, is that there are people that legitimately care about rape victims and think it unfair that they should have to go through a pregnancy. There are a lot of Americans that are neither totally for nor totally against abortion, but think it should be allowed in certain circumstances. Number one on that list is rape.

And I would have to agree. It is completely unfair that a woman should have to go through a pregnancy that she did nothing to cause. (I do not use “did not want” because the natural consequence of sex is pregnancy, so if someone consents to sex, he or she consents to its consequences.) It was completely unfair, to understate it, that she was raped.

Abortion is wrong because it takes an innocent human life, and it doesn’t matter how developed that human life is or where he or she is located. Human life is intrinsically valuable, and nothing more than being human is necessary to have that value. That is the pro-life view. So, applied consistently, there is no reason great enough to warrant the intentional taking of an innocent human life, which is what abortion is.

When a woman is raped, she is victimized. When she has an abortion, she is also victimized. Abortion is not a compassionate option with which to present a woman who has been raped and has become pregnant. There can be many problems surrounding abortion. There can be long-term health complications. More frequently, there are long-term psychological and emotional complications, including attempting suicide. Some abortion advocates don’t care. Others do, but are criminal in their ignorance of the effects an abortion can have on a woman.

Within this circumstance of pregnancy from rape, there are three people. The rapist/father of the child, the victim/mother of the child, and the child. Count the guilty parties. There is a rapist, a victim, and a child who did nothing to find herself in this situation and is totally innocent. There is one person in the wrong. The rapist, and the rapist alone, should be punished. It is unfair to kill a child because of the crime of her father.

And I do realize that this does not relieve the unfair situation of the rape victim. Regardless of whether or not she has an abortion, though, it will be unfair to her. There is no cure to that. Abortion only adds to the violence. Ripping apart a child in the womb is as violent a crime as rape. What the victim needs is vindication and compassion, and help from those around her to get through this difficult situation.

I’ve never known a person conceived in rape, that I know of, but I do know someone who was scheduled to be aborted and someone who survived several abortion attempts. I’m thankful to know them (one of them is one of my best friends) and they are thankful to be alive. I’ve been to the March for Life three times, and each time I have seen a solid contingent of people who were conceived in rape and whose mothers chose to deliver them. That is a courageous choice, and these individuals are the living fruit of that. They are “people, not hard cases.” They are human beings, and they have been since they were conceived under such a horrific circumstance.

There is no denying that rape is a terrible thing, and pregnancy resulting from this is unfair. These women need not only our sympathy, but also our practical help. But the truly consistent and sympathetic position is to recognize that all human life has value, and that all innocent humans have the right to life. That extends to circumstances which they could not help. Though it is unfair, and though it is not easy, the right thing to do is to choose life for a child conceived in rape.