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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pro-Life 101: “A Woman Has the Right to Control Her Body”

*This is the third installment in a series of posts on pro-life apologetics based on the “When They Say, You Say” talks developed by Olivia Gans Turner and Mary Spaulding Balch. If you missed the first two, read part one here and part two here.

One of the most popular pro-abortion arguments is reproductive freedom, i.e. women have the “right” to do what they like with their bodies, including aborting their children. This line of thinking encompasses other common catchphrases such as “I’m personally opposed, but…,” “abortion is a private decision between a woman and her doctor,” and “everyone has the right to choose.”

The United States was founded on the principle of liberty, and Americans often take for granted certain rights that other people are denied, such as the freedom to vote. However, even in the United States our rights have their limits. Freedom of speech, for example, does not allow someone to shout “fire” if there isn’t one. The right to bear arms does not mean gun owners can shoot other people at random. In short, we are not free to injure or endanger another person.

How does this apply to abortion? At the most fundamental level, the unborn child is a separate person, and common sense tells us that if a baby in the womb can have a different blood type and different sex than the woman carrying him, he is a separate individual. We can’t leave the baby out of the conversation when talking about rights!   

With this series of arguments, though, it’s not enough to bring out your humanity of the unborn facts and leave it at that. You’ll need to listen to what the other person is saying and address his or her arguments more specifically. With that in mind, here are some common objections and the pro-life responses.

A woman shouldn’t be forced to carry a pregnancy.

Are women ever “forced” to be pregnant? With the exception of victims of rape and incest, who we’ll talk about in a later post, the vast majority of pregnant mothers willingly engaged in sexual activity. Since pregnancy is the natural outcome of sex, and since all contraceptives have a failure rate, every sexually active person should be aware of the possible consequence. By the time a woman finds out she’s pregnant, it’s too late. She can’t just “undo” her pregnancy, because she’s already a mother. This does not mean she’s without options or doomed to a life without an education or career, though! There are a growing number of resources available to pregnant and parenting students, and resource centers all over the country exist to help women facing unplanned pregnancies.

Remember, too, that pregnancy is a temporary condition. No one is pregnant forever, but abortion is permanent. When someone breaks her leg, doctors usually tell her to wear a cast for a couple months. Is this uncomfortable? Sure. Inconvenient? Probably. But it’s not permanent; the doctor isn’t asking her to wear a cast forever. Nor is the doctor offering to amputate the leg or kill the patient as a “quick fix” to the problem. Similarly, abortion is an extreme reaction to what is a temporary inconvenience.

It’s a private decision between a woman and her doctor.

Obviously, with this one you’re going to want to go back to the humanity of the unborn baby first, but there are a few more points to keep in mind.

First, when we give doctors the freedom to make arbitrary decisions about ending life at one stage, we’re opening the door for an overall decrease in the respect for life at any stage. The unborn are the most vulnerable members of our society, but they’re not the only ones. The disabled, elderly, and anyone else not up to the standards of “perfect” health shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not someone else is going to decide the quality of their life for them. Life is always valuable.

Second, most mothers seeking abortions don’t consult their regular doctors; they go to abortion facilities. It’s unlikely that they will have any kind of relationship with the abortionist or even know his or her name. Any information the abortionist has about the patient comes from information that she provided, not from her regular doctor. The patient may not ever even know her abortionist’s name. The truth is, the notion of abortion being a decision made between a woman and the doctor who knows her is a fallacy; in the majority of cases, it’s a brief meeting of strangers.

Women will never be equal to men without abortion.

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The ability to bear children is a gift unique to women. As long as we insist that women will “only” be equal if they kill their developing children, women will be “second class” citizens. We wouldn’t tell a black man that he can “only” be equal if he changes his skin color. Fertility is not a punishment, and a baby does not equal failure. The original feminists would be horrified to know that today’s women believe their very femininity holds them back. The day we accept the ability to grow a completely new person as a uniquely female superpower, the world will be a better place.

Some women have no other choice.

How tragic. If a mother feels like abortion is her only option, then we have failed her as a society. No one should have to believe that killing her child is the only way to keep her job, maintain a familial or romantic relationship, pursue an education, or any of the countless  reasons women feel pressured into abortion. This reasoning betrays the lie of abortion as a “choice.”

I’m personally opposed, but….

It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman or child. For all the reasons already listed, an opinion means very little when you consider the facts. Moreover, there have been nearly 55 million abortions in the last 40 years; whether you know it or not, someone close to you has most likely had an abortion. This issue has affected everyone.

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