Does It Actually Matter When a New Life Begins?
Should anyone be forced to save a life against their own will?
Does it actually matter when a new life begins? A person capable of having an abortion is already life in process. That person is a decision maker — the only one tasked with the very complex job of stewarding the contents of a uterus that may or may not contain human potential. If abortion involves sloughing off some unwanted cells in the interest of health and well-being, or if abortion involves ending a life, that decision belongs to the already formed human to (and inside of) whom those things are taking place.
You might be surprised to learn that, as a culture, we have already decided this — and if it weren’t for the politically precarious position of women (or anyone with a uterus) — this issue would be far clearer.
We already have laws about bodily autonomy on the books. If I am in a terrible accident in which I will die if I don’t receive a blood transfusion — and your blood matches mine — no one can legally compel you to offer your blood to save my life. Your blood is part of your body, and cannot be taken from you without your consent. I have given blood and carried a child to term and given birth; giving blood is no big deal, whereas carrying a child to full term and giving birth was one of the most profoundly transformational and life-threatening events ever to happen to my body. Those without the ability to gestate and give birth can’t know, and that’s only one of the reasons cisgender men should not be the only ones involved in making decisions about women’s bodies. They lack firsthand experience of what life is like with a uterus and aren’t listening very well to those who have them. Even worse, they’re trying to codify women (and people with uteruses) as being not fully human under the law. In essence, they are currently trying to declare that women are exempt from the same bodily autonomy we’ve already decided, as a culture, that all humans share, even after death.
If in that accident, you died and I needed one of your organs to live, a doctor would not be able to give it to me unless you had expressly given your consent as an organ donor before your death. You wouldn’t be using it and I would die without it, and still, a doctor could not give it to…