The argument to begin with, is a lie. Why? Because the baby is thus defined only by the acknowledgment of his or her existence by his or her mother. The baby is only a baby by law as determined by his physical placement. Humanity is defined in this circumstance by geography. Being has been reduced to another’s acknowledgment of one’s being. It is this sort of thinking that then allows for other abuses of life like euthanasia. How well one exists as determined by others, becomes the definitive factor in existence.
“My body, my choice.”
People don’t surrender parts of themselves easily. We are traumatized by the loss of a leg, by the need to endure chemotherapy; we don’t like having to give up some part of our selves even if it is necessary. In fact, we can only bear such experiences by the grim knowledge that eliminating a defective part was necessary. No one elects to have a limb removed, they only agree to it out of necessity. The willful mutilation or attempted destruction of one’s physical self is an indicator of mental illness. Now if the baby were part of one’s self, the willful decision to destroy part of one’s self would be a hallmark of madness. We are not surrendering a part of us out of medical necessity or madness but of rather, the rage and/or despair born of moral weakness.
“If I didn’t have a choice, the government would have control over my body.”
This is an absurd exaggeration argument. It’s not as if we have total dominion over our own selves by law. We have laws which restrict our personal liberties with respect to our own bodies. Law reinforces the morality of a society. That’s why groups that want moral parity for immoral acts, want the seal of approval granted by legal acknowledgment.
But laws do govern our behavior and place limits on what we can do with our own selves. You can’t do illegal drugs. You can’t sell your organs. You can’t in most states, demand the right to die or kill yourself. You can’t sell your body for money. You can’t smoke if you are under the age of 18 and you can’t drink if you are under the age of 21. We place limits on our own freedom with our body for a reason, because we wish to discourage as a society, certain behaviors –the selling of one’s self, the destruction of one’s self, and the loss of one’s self as a result of excessive liberty with dangerous/difficult or damaging activities.
But it’s still “My body.”
The person receiving the abortion receives some medication because of the procedure, but does not feel the pain physically of the child being aborted. In recent years, doctors have opted to give anesthesia to unborn children rather than continue to lie and say they feel no pain as they are being killed. If the children were not children but mere its, they would not feel pain. If the children were not separate from the mother as beings, the mother would feel this pain rather than the child. The baby is in the mother; that is a physical fact, the baby is of the mother; that is a genetic reality; but the baby is not a component of the mother, but a continuation of part of the mother.
People who push the “It’s my body and I’ll do what I want.” Need to be pushed. At what point, do they acknowledge the otherness of a baby. 3 months gestation? Six? Nine? Is a baby a baby the day before birth? If the person is willing to acknowledge personhood of an individual at any point, this argument “My body, my choice” becomes less valid. Pro-choice advocates who strenuously support abortion know this, and thus view any restrictions on the act itself as tantamount to acknowledging the “otherness” of an unborn person. Their argument becomes less sustainable if the society as a whole recognizes and acknowledges at some point prior to birth, a baby is a baby. Abortion advocates know that the law likes things clear and definitive. If a baby is only legitimate after it draws its first breath, that’s clear. If a baby is a baby at six months gestation, they know that month designation can be pushed back.
“My body my choice” advocates usually try to essentially get to the easier part of the pregnancy rather than address the fact that abortions happen to children who look like children. They want abortion to become something ubiquitous, such that its moral relevancy is only questioned by people who would never consider having one in the first place. What the “My body my choice” advocates need to be reminded of, is truth. Abortions happen to children and exclusively to children precisely because they are children; Abortions happen because the people, who would be responsible for the children, don’t wish to experience their presence one second longer.
“My body, my choice” generally is where people start. If that argument gets pushed back on, or they have any qualms, the next argument is “the needs of the mother.” Abortion they acknowledge is tragic but a necessary evil to deal with other evils like rape and incest or the age/health, physical well being, emotional/physical/fiscal needs of the mother.. People of good conscience need to remember there is “No necessary evil.”
Next week, we’ll take on “I’m against it but I can’t impose my morality on others.”