"If we are “equals" why should the fetus have rights over my body that no one else has?"

It’s usually easy for me to argue with people when I’m trying to convince them that an unborn child is a human being and deserves equal protection under the law… But every once in a while I come across that person that DOES acknowledge the humanity of the child but endorses abortion anyway, without even pulling that flimsy “mother’s choice” card.

One person on tumblr stated, “If we are “equals” why should the fetus have rights over my body that no one else has?" And of course their logic is cold and makes me sick to my stomach, but I can’t think of anything other than an emotional appeal to argue against this point. The full argument goes as follows -

There is a concept called bodily automomy. It’s generally considered a human right. Bodily autonomy means a person has conrol over who or what uses their body, for what, and for how long. It’s why you can’t be forced to donate blood, tissue, or organs. Even if you’re dead. Even if you’d save or improve 20 lives. It’s why someone can’t touch you, have sex with you, or use your body in any way without your continuous consent.

A fetus is using someone’s body parts. Therefore under bodily autonomy, it is there by permission, not by right. It needs a person’s continuous consent. If they deny or withdraw consent, the pregnant person has a right to remove them from that moment. A fetus is equal in this regard because if I need someone else’s body parts to live, they also can legally deny me their use.

By saying a fetus has a right to someone’s body parts until it’s born, despite the pregnant person’s wishes, you’re doing two things.

  1. Granting a fetus more rights than other people’s bodies than any born person.
  2. Awarding a pregnant person less rights to their body than a corpse.

Dang.

I suppose one could argue “But abortion is directly killing, not just removing.” But then would that imply it would be okay to remove the child from the uterus without having any way to keep it alive? Even though Catholic teaching permits removal of the fetus from the uterus in case of life-threatening medical situations (with adequate action taken to save the child if possible) I’m pretty sure that we wouldn’t dare condone the removal of a non-viable fetus from the uterus for trivial reasons… right?

… If they ever do invent artificial wombs, do you think that would decrease the number of children slaughtered in abortion? o__0 That’d be an interesting topic for another thread.

Calvin Freiburger has written a pretty good response to the ‘bodily autonomy’ argument over at LifeSiteNews.

Our bodies are the Temples of the Holy Spirit, we aren’t our own, we can’t stop ourselves from dying, so therefore not in control, a higher power is… " Before I formed you in the womb I knew you " said the Lord…

His argument is basically a rephrase of the classic Violinist Analogy, which argues that even if the fetus is a person, s/he has no claims to the body of the mother. There was an article published recently in the Human Life Review called Defusing the Violinist Analogy that does a great job explaining why this argument fails. It’s long but well-worth the read and it addresses the poster’s argument.

For my part, I would ask the person to explain who gives the right of bodily autonomy. He starts with the assumption that this right is a given, but how does he know? Is it just because we’ve accepted this as a basic right? And why do we accept this? Who or what gives us this right to use our bodies (which, by the way, is not unlimited, as described in the above article). Is it God? Nature? Evolution? The mother has a claim to her own body, of course. But whoever/whatever has given her that right has also temporarily given that right to another being. And I feel this is reasonable because the person getting temporary rights is not just some random person but the woman’s own child. We owe certain things to our children that we do not owe to others.

No, because removing the child from the uterus, before viability, IS killing it. If I do something that causes you to die, I kill you. There are cases this is justified, but I’m not sure why this would be one.

My instinct is that a woman’s right to autonomy is respected, even if she does not have the right to an abortion. Consider: Suppose I pick up my brother’s child from school, and this child is in my backseat. I get to my brother’s house, and he’s not there. Now surely I ordinarily have the right to autonomy, which would mean that I would ordinarily be allowed to go to the bar and have some drinks, without taking anyone along with me. But, in agreeing to pick up my niece, I have agreed to restrict my own bodily autonomy for such time as it takes to get her safely home. It simply will not do for me to shove her out of the car and say, “Have a nice life, kid.”

By engaging in any action, we make a tacit agreement to take responsibility for any moral entity created by that action. If I am the president, and I set off a bomb in Syria, I make a tacit agreement to take responsibility for the aftermath, and morally respond to the consequences. By having sex, a woman makes the tacit agreement to take care of the life that may be created by that action. She has autonomy, but she has used her autonomy to bind herself in a particular way.

You are right that it couldn’t be done for trivial reasons. The principle of double effect would apply, where so long as the means are not inherently immoral, it is permissable to perform an action with forseable bad consequences so long as the bad consequences are not intended and so long as there are proportionate reasons and good effects to do so. So performing an action which will 100% result in the death of a child is only permissable for proportionate reasons, ie, the saving of the life of another person. Does that make sense?

I think the first thing you need to bring against the bodily autonomy argument is that whole yes it is a right, there is no such thing as an absolute right. Rights have a beginning and rights have an end. The end of your rights is the minute that said right disrupts or affects the rights of a third person. Let’s say freedom of expression, that is a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution however fighting words and obscene language is not considered part of freedom of expression because in those instances you with your expression are disrupting the rights of a third person. The same goes with bodily authority. You can do whatever you want your body and have autonomy over it until that right disrupts the right of a third person. In our case abortion disrupts the right of life of a third .person, the baby.

However, you have to keep in mind that this is a tricky discussion. You need to be aware that in Roe when the Supreme Court came up with the famous privacy right, the court agrees that the baby has a right to life, however the privacy rights of the mother according to the court overcomes the right to life of the baby and this is something that most pro abortion will bring up. To the person who gave you that argument, you have to bring to their attention that the mother and the fetus legally speaking are not equal, the court gives more importance to the rights of the mother and that is why her privacy right overcomes her child’s right to life. Another aspect you should probably bring up is that there are huge inconsistencies in the law with regard to the law. Per that right you should be able to take decisions over your own body and organs as a result of your control over it, then why suicide is illegal? Then why some states penalize drug consumption? Why prostitution is illegal? There iS a huge list of state actions that violate the right of bodily autonomy but apparently in the US bodily autonomy only applies to the uterus. Another point that I find interesting is that many pro abortion who argue the bodily autonomy apparently think that bodily authority ends the minute the woman gives birth as they all think that women have to breastfeed no matter what, what about her bodily authority over her breast. And on the same line of thinking given that a woman has bodily autonomy then she shouldn’t be required to feed her newborn kids as feeding her kid even if it is by formula would require for her to carry the child, hold the child, mobilize the child as the child can’t move by his/herself. If we follow strictly the idea of bodily autonomy child neglect should be legal as a newborn still is completely dependent on the mother so of the mother doesn’t want to use her arms and legs to take care of the child then she should be allowed to neglect the child.

Almost always, the child would not survive anyway, since it is not viable – ain’t no mommy, ain’t no baby. If the child was viable, then there would be another way to save both lives.

One person on tumblr stated, “If we are “equals” why should the fetus have rights over my body that no one else has?"

You will notice the use of “the fetus” rather than “my baby”.

right, which makes it even more legitimate, since there is no way to avoid the consequence of the death of the child there is nothing wrong with removing it from the mother (which is not intrinsically wrong/does not directly kill the child) so long as the death of the child is an unintended consequence since there is definitely proportionate reason in such a case to remove the child.

The simple answer would be that a woman is giving the baby permission to invade her “bodily autonomy” the moment she decides to engae in behaviors that could produce a baby. Of course, then the opposition will say, “But what about mothers who conceive because they were raped?” On that, I would appeal to emotion - would harming another person really be the way to make up for the fact that bodily autonomy was lost in the action of the rape? If one’s bodily autonomy was violated by rape, would it be right to then turn around and violate another person’s (the unborn child) bodily autonomy? Where one person’s rights begin, the other person’s end.

The trouble is there is no other situation in which a person is solely responsible for maintaining the life of another. You can always pass the responsibility of care of a born person on to somebody else, and the pregnant woman cannot do that. To this, I say: wow, what an immense gift and responsibility we are given as women. God (or biology, if arguing with a person who doesn’t want to hear anything about God) designed women as nurturers, as the best bet for preserving human life in its early, fragile stages. Try to appeal to the beauty of it, that we have such an awesome responsibility. And that life’s not fair, biology’s not fair, and that one cannot outsmart nature. That phrase “It’s not nice to fool mother nature” comes to mind. Nature never forgives.

From the pro-choice argument:

Bodily autonomy means a person has control over who or what uses their body, for what, and for how long. It’s why you can’t be forced to donate blood, tissue, or organs. Even if you’re dead. Even if you’d save or improve 20 lives. It’s why someone can’t touch you, have sex with you, or use your body in any way without your continuous consent.

A fetus is using someone’s body parts. Therefore under bodily autonomy, it is there by permission, not by right. It needs a person’s continuous consent. If they deny or withdraw consent, the pregnant person has a right to remove them from that moment. A fetus is equal in this regard because if I need someone else’s body parts to live, they also can legally deny me their use.

OK, I follow the first part. Nobody can force any of us to donate organs. But look again at the part about continuous consent. Somehow they think that saying you can deny use of body parts proves continuous consent is required.

Yet that very analogy suggests that, once you have agreed to have your body involved, continuous consent isn’t required. Because though we can’t be forced to donate our parts to someone else, once we agree to do it, it is NOT true that continuous consent is needed.

In other words, if I agree to let you use my kidney, I can’t one day take it back. It’s yours for as long as you need it. If I donate blood, I can’t demand you give me it back, or at least give me the same amount. It’s yours for as long as you need it. In fact, if I give someone my kidney and a few years later find that I am in need of having it back, I still can’t force the recipient to give it back.

The argument in the OP states that continual consent is needed, but nowhere proves it. Using the analogy of body parts, in fact, suggests against it. This analogy suggests that once you’ve given the consent for the baby to use your womb, that consent lasts for as long as the baby needs it.

If the person acknowledges the humanity of the child, then they must acknowledge that there are actually two cases of bodily autonomy: the mother’s body, and the baby’s.

If we are intent on seeing the existence of a baby in the womb as a ‘violation of bodily autonomy’, then how can we not also see the destruction of that baby’s life as a violation of the baby’s bodily autonomy?

In other words, we have to decide whether it is worse than someone’s bodily autonomy is temporarily compromised, or that another’s body and life (e.g. any kind of autonomy) is permanently destroyed.

On an opinionated note, notice how the pro-abortion movement and other movements always focus on themselves. “MY this, MY that, me me me”. They are inherently self-centered and say “screw you” to the well-being of other people if their absolute and unlimited freedom is in any way threatened.

:thumbsup::thumbsup:

We are called to love. When a developing child who has no other option than to survive within its mother (who, in almost all cases, is completely and utterly co-responsible for this life) then she has no other option than to *LOVE *it. Case closed. And of course, the body is not ours, it is the Lord’s.

In the tragic, horrifying instance of rape, abortion is still *NEVER *justified.

Think of it like this:
You stumble upon a woman in the state of that heinous crime, and you are afraid. You did not want to be there. You did not ask for this. But someone’s life depends on *YOUR *actions.

You defeat the assailant, yet the woman has conceived. She did not want to be there. She did not ask for this. But someone’s life depends on her, now.

We are called to love.

I am curious to take a look at some of the lengthier responses posted here, but before doing so here are my thoughts:

First of all, there are lots of human rights that are tossed around these days. In this case there is a competing claim between the life of the fetus and the bodily autonomy of the mother. Right to life simply should take precedence over right to bodily autonomy. It is unfortunate that you do not get the bodily autonomy you desire, but your bodily autonomy does not get precedence over another person’s life. An objection to this argument is that under current medical law it does not really hold water because bodily autonomy is treated as sacrosanct.

The other issue I would take is with this part:

A fetus is using someone’s body parts. Therefore under bodily autonomy, it is there by permission, not by right. It needs a person’s continuous consent. If they deny or withdraw consent, the pregnant person has a right to remove them from that moment. A fetus is equal in this regard because if I need someone else’s body parts to live, they also can legally deny me their use.

I take issue with the term “continuous.” If someone needs your kidney, you are not obligated to give it to them, even if they will die without it. But if you do choose to give it to them, it is theirs; it is not under your “continuous consent.” You cannot say, “Sorry, I want my kidney back.”

Likewise, assuming the sex was consensual, the pregnant woman was aware that regardless of whatever preventative measures she took, she could become pregnant, but consented anyway. She does not then get to revoke that consent and take life away from her child. Not a perfect analogy since the child is still “using” the body - but there does not seem to be as much precedence for the qualifier “continuous” as the argument would imply - unless anyone else can think of another example?

A possible objection to such a response is the case of rape - although that does not invalidate the response.

EDIT: just saw Incomplete made this same point on pg 1. Also looking over the original argument, the author of the argument does bring up that no one can have sex with you without your consent, which is continuous by the law. ie. if two adults initiate consensual sex and one then revokes it, then it will be rape if they do not stop.

A fetus is not “using” its mother’s body, in the sense implied by the concept of bodily autonomy. Autonomy implies freedom and choice. The mother chose to have sexual relations. The fetus had no choice.

The problem with “pro-choice” is that it neglects the fact that the choice was to become pregnant made by the mom. The fetus did not make a choice. So, and abortion becomes “anti-choice”, in my opinion for the one who should have a choice.

The argument of bodily autonomy of the mother over her fetus is utterly ridiculous, on the face of it. It is a fetus, not an autonomous person. It is completely dependent on the mother. The mother made that choice, and has an obligation for having made the choice.

I’d just like to say that the links you guys gave were awesome. :slight_smile:

Also, just so it’s clear for any further discussion, I don’t believe in the bodily autonomy argument, I’m just looking for the best argument to combat it.

But the rape example is not at all the same, because in and of itself it is a continuous act.

So, for example, if you give consent for your kidney (and haven’t signed a legal form yet…making it an entirely different issue, I imagine…or had the surgery) you can take back your consent. You can revoke consent to any of the acts leading up to it. Continual acts would imply consent for each act. But once your kidney is being used by another, you can no longer revoke consent.

Likewise with sex. Once you have consented to a hug, you can’t take it back…you can only decide not to allow it in the future. Once you’ve consented to a kiss, it’s done. When consenting to sex in total, you have consented to each act as it happened, but you can’t take back the consent once it has happened…you can’t “undo” it, nor can you rightfully call rape just because you changed your mind after consent.

In making babies, you consent to every action up to it. You can say no at any time. (Note: the OP wasn’t talking about rape.) But once you have consented to the total act, there is no taking it back, therefore no continual consent.

Just a thought…all the pro-choice person said was that bodily autonomy was generally considered a right, and then talked about all the things it implied. But she never actually proved it was a right in all cases (as one poster said, if you pick up a child from day care and go to drop them off at home, but nobody is there, you can’t just leave the child), nor did she prove…assuming you accept the right of bodily autonomy…that things like continuous consent would be a result of it.

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