Abortion Is a Human Right


You cannot compel me to give life. It’s not your place to determine whether a pregnant woman or trans man may be allowed or denied an abortion. You are not the one whose body is being used by a fetus. You are not the one risking your life, your health, and your future. You are not the one who should be making the choice. That’s for the pregnant person to decide.

And it’s not up to you to determine at what point in a pregnancy a pregnant person may abort. Until it is fully born, the fetus is a parasite feeding off of another person. It’s up to that person to determine how and when that parasite should be removed. If the pregnant person decides at nine months that they can’t face childbirth, whether vaginally or by c-section, they can request an abortion, and if the doctor determines it’s safe to perform one, they can have it. Their body, their choice.

Image is a red poster with a drawing of a uterus on top. Caption says, "Keep calm and stay out of my uterus."

That’s the position I’ve come to after nearly 40 years. I used to think abortion was hideous, but if mom or baby was in danger, then it could be done. Then I thought a pregnant person should be allowed to have an abortion until the fetus was viable, at which time abortion should be denied except to save the life of the mother. I was sure this was a good position. But there’s something I wasn’t during all those years: pregnant.

I’m not now, have never been, and likely never will be pregnant. But I’m older now. I’ve seen a lot of women endure pregnancy. I’ve been with two women who considered abortion, who then chose to carry the fetus to term. Their body, their choice. One friend who decided to give her baby up for adoption changed her mind and kept her daughter. Her child, her choice. My cousin chose to keep her baby early in the pregnancy. I know at least one of those women never regretted her choice. But they had the option of abortion. They thought carefully about their options. And they made the choices that were best for them.

It was up to them what to do with their unintended pregnancies. If they’d decided to abort, it wouldn’t have been a tragedy. It would have been a good choice, the right choice for those women. Pregnant people are capable of making the right choice for themselves.

No one else should ever be able to make that choice for them.

Ever.

I’ve come to realize that pregnancy is a dangerous gamble. And if you think adoption solves anything, it doesn’t. The pregnant person is still risking their life and health and future. It’s up to them whether to roll the dice, and they get to decide when to stop gambling, no matter how late in the game or how high the stakes. That autonomy only ends once the fetus is born. When the fetus is no longer attached to and feeding off another person’s body, then there is no choice. The formerly-pregnant person has no right to end that life once it is free of their body.

I’ve reached this position because there is no other acceptable dividing line. No one has the right to tell anyone else that they must relinquish control over their body so that someone else can live off of it.

There is no secular or religious argument against abortion that doesn’t hit this wall. You are not allowed to force someone to donate a kidney, half their liver, skin, muscle tissue, bone marrow, blood, cornea, or any other part of themselves to save someone else. Not even to save an infant. No, not even if they registered as a donor. I can’t compel you to sacrifice part of your body or give your life for another person. You can’t compel me to carry a fetus to term.

Image has four pictures. The first is an egg yolk and white in a dish. Caption says, "This is not a chicken." Second image is an acorn, and says, "This is not a tree." Third image is a silkworm and a silk cocoon, and says "This is not a dress." Fourth image is a blastocyst, and says "This is not a person." Caption says, "This is not a difficult concept."

In fact, I’d say I have a better case for forcing you to donate some part of your body to save a life: we’re talking about giving the gift of life to a conscious person, someone with a rich tapestry of life experiences, who has hopes and dreams for the future, who is suffering and vividly aware of that suffering. But I can’t force you to so much as a needle stick and the temporary loss of a bit of blood. You have to choose to be an organ donor; without that, I can’t even remove desperately-needed parts of your body from your corpse after you’ve died. I can’t violate your vacated body to save several living human beings. How, then, is it your right to compel me to sacrifice so much more of myself for a potential person?

You don’t have that right. It’s not your body. Not your choice. Not ever.

Comments

  1. tuibguy says

    I have come to this position, too; not from personal experience of a loved one or a friend or someone I know; but from understanding how much a pregnant woman is laying on the line in carrying a fetus. There are health dangers that no other biological condition carries and telling a woman she MUST face that risk, giving her no choice in the matter is the ultimate intrusion into personal autonomy. No one can claim that a society is “free” if abortion is not allowed or restricted.

    It’s not a secular position, it is not a religious position, it is a human position.

    That I can never be expected nor forced to bear such a risky burden myself is also a major factor. Who the fuck would I be to tell someone that they have to do what I could never do myself?

    And also, freely available contraception is the best option.

  2. rq says

    Exactly.
    Especially since, once that zygote-embryo-fetus is outside of the body, pretty much nobody gives a shit what happens to him/her. Or the mother. It’s all ‘Well, what did you have them babies for, then?’ and ‘If you were a good mother you wouldn’t be so gawddamned poor’ and ‘What do you expect, leaving your home country behind?’ and ‘Support? Stealing my money, more like!’ and ‘Lazy-ass unemployed moochers’ and ‘You’re just so darned lucky, you should be happy, it’s a woman’s biological destiny! A job? No, sorry, can’t get you one of those at this time’.

    You* start putting in a nice social security network that is actually as pro-life as you can get – one that ensures that every child is properly fed, clothed, housed, and educated right up to the ripe ol’ adult age of 18 (at least), and we can talk some more about how you’re just trying to do god’s work to save some baby souls while enslaving women. At that point, you may have a more solid standing, but you’ll still have to convince me that the health/medical risk to a uterized person left without personal choices is worth one more human being on this planet.
    Anyway. Go sex.ed., contraception, and abortion. Women have lives too, you know.

    * For some vague value of ‘you’ that does not include Dana or most readers/commenters here but probably quite a few religious folk and right-wing politicians, too.

  3. says

    Thank you for this. I’ve just amended my position. I’d always went with the ‘viability rule’, but after reading this, you’ve given me another way to look at it.

  4. moarscienceplz says

    Dana, did you make that “This is not a chicken” pic? I’ve had almost that exact picture in my mind for several months as something that should be made. Great minds …

    I’ve also thought that packets of seeds should have different prices for the anti-bodily-autonomy crowd. I’ve heard that there are about 500 seeds in a lettuce seed packet, so ABAers should have to pay around $500 for the packet because each seed is worth as much as a whole head of lettuce, amirite? Also, thinning your garden is a sin.
    ;-)