The Most Important Pro-choice Argument

01 July 2015
So many arguments between the pro- and anti- choice movements on abortion come down to a key issue - what is a human life and when does it begin? When sperm meets egg, which considering that 50% of all conceptions never implant, which means a sexually active women should probably hold a funeral every time she menstruates, just in case? At the quickening, as was church teaching throughout history? At birth?

Here's the thing. When we're talking about abortion, it doesn't matter when life begins. That's not the point.

Even if you believe that human life, in all its worth, begins at conception, in denying an abortion to a woman who wants one, in forcing her to use her body to protect a human baby, you are forcing her to use her body to sustain another life. We don't do that in any other circumstance. We don't even do that after death, seeing that organ donation is not compulsory; you can choose to be buried or cremated with your organs even if it means the death of people waiting for donor organs. Imagine that there was a shortage of donor blood, and it being mandated by legislation that people donate blood. Imagine a person who needs a kidney transplant, without which they will die, and you being told that you are a match and you must donate your kidney.

Both would be outrageous deprivations of bodily autonomy and we would not consider them even if they would save lives. But in the case of a pregnant woman who does not wish to remain pregnant, to deny her an abortion is to force her to use her body to sustain another life against her will. Instead of comparing embryos to acorns, we may well ask why the body and wishes of a dead person are considered worthy of respect but not the body and wishes of a live woman.

If saving lives at all costs is the aim and we are willing to disregard people's wishes in regards to their own bodies in order to save them, surely compelling blood and organ donation would make sense. But why is abortion considered so wrong? Simply because it, as pro-lifers see it, ends a human life? Or is there more to it than that? Of course there is. If a woman finds herself unintentionally pregnant, she must be punished for that. It's not about saving lives. It never was.


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