Let us, for the sake of an intellectual argument, say that we accept that life begins at conception. I personally don’t believe that, but, for the sake of argument, let’s work with that. Forced pregnancy still makes no sense and abortion is, at worst, justifiable homicide.
Self-defense and bodily autonomy
- If someone comes into my house, I can shoot them in self-defense, even if I left my door open.
- If someone tries to attack me, I can kill them in self-defense, even if I was wearing a short skirt.
- If I hurt an innocent someone accidentally, I am not required to help them survive by giving them my blood.
- I am not required to give blood every 8 weeks, I am not required to donate my organs when I die, I am not required to be on the bone marrow registry.
And it’s not about causing physical injury, it’s about defense of one’s person. One can be raped without sustaining any physical injuries, and yet we recognize it as a heinous crime of bodily invasion.
But what if it was about injury? It is still covered by self-defense because you’ve got reasonable cause to believe that you are going to be hurt and lose property (or money). Here is a list of risks that threaten not only a pregnant woman’s health but can be prohibitively expensive. This is overall — risks change based on age, number of previous pregnancies, financial situation, race, and any other health conditions.
Risks of pregnancy:
- Uterine Prolapse 50%
- Hypertension 40%
- Inadequate access to prenatal care 25%
- Premature rupture of membranes 18%
- Preterm birth 12%
- Postpartum depression 11%
- Low birth weight 8%
- Diabetes 7%
- Preeclampsia 5%
- Birth Defects 4%
- Preterm premature rupture of membranes 3%
- Hyperemesis gravidarum 2%
- Abruption .5%
- Placenta Previa .5%
- Gestational trophoblastic disease .1%
- Before Roe v Wade 20% of maternal deaths were botched illegal abortions
- Twice the risk of domestic violence than not pregnant women
And many of these risks are permanent: chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes, death from complications, bankruption by the high medical costs (it can cost $7000 for a birth without complications, premies can cost upwards of $100,000), and domestic violence that continues after the birth.
We’re 50th in the world in maternal deaths – there are 49 countries where a woman is less likely to die from being pregnant. You are 14.5 times less likely to die of pregnancy in Greece than you are in the US — and that’s just overall, it’s a lot worse if you live in certain states.
And this ignores the massive social cost one pays from having unwanted children, the time required to raise a child, the expense of raising children, the massive loss of income, the loss of career opportunities in the future.
So, how at risk does a pregnancy have to be to justify a self-defense for the mother’s health claim? At what point can you force a woman to take on these risks against her will?
And if your argument is that she was agreeing to take on the risk when she had sex, are you going to remove my right of self-defense if I leave my door open or wear a short skirt in a dark alley? Will I be compelled to donate my blood and organs to anyone I injure?