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In Defense of Abortion: Why the Potential Humanity of a Fetus Should Not Affect a Woman’s Right to Self-Determination

Updated on January 22, 2018

What is abortion? Is it murder, or is it a woman asserting her natural right to control her own body? Should abortion be legal? Many of those who argue that abortion should outlawed hold the belief that abortion is the legalized slaughter of children and that a woman should only have the right to procure an abortion if her life is threatened by the continuation of the pregnancy. I do not deny that the intentional destruction of potential human life is a tragedy. I am not immune to the realization that abortion ends potential human lives. For this reason, I favor legislation that makes it a crime for any but the mother to harm or destroy a developing human fetus. Nevertheless, I believe that the mother’s unique relationship with the developing fetus inside her gives her the right to sever the physical bonds between them if she so chooses. The fetus is completely dependant upon the woman for survival; only its continued residency within the womb and its unfettered ability to absorb needed resources and nutrients from the woman’s body enables the fetus to develop to its fullest potential. Even though such residency and access are unquestionably needed for the fetus to retain its potential for life, the woman is under no obligation to provide this access against her will. No human individual can be forced to provide another individual, or potential individual, with access to her body even if such access is necessary for the other to survive. Fetuses should not be granted rights that human individuals do not possess. One cannot argue that fetuses are human and thus deserve to enjoy all the rights that such humanity entails while simultaneously asserting that fetuses deserve special rights and considerations that are denied to the rest of humanity. Furthermore, such an argument actually devalues human life. It sends a message that women and their lives are worth far less to society than the potential lives that women may unwillingly harbor within them. It sends a message to women that they do not own and cannot hope to control their bodies. It tells each and every woman that society reserves the right to wrest control of her body away from her without any provocation or wrongdoing on the woman’s part in order to benefit another. Abortion may be tragic, but it far less tragic than the alternative.


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    • Sunny2o0o profile image

      Sunny2o0o 6 years ago from USA

      EMW, there is a difference between physical and social dependency. Parents are able to give up their children if they don't want them or can't care for them. They're no law that states that if you give birth to a child, you have to care for that child for the next 18 years of your life. Pregnant women should also have the option of not being pregnant if they do not wish to be--it is their body, and nothing justifies forcing someone to provide care for someone else against his/her will. Birth is also a dangerous process--less so than it used to be, but women still develop life-threatening complications, or have to undergo C-sections, effectively scarring them for life. What on earth can possibly justify forcing someone to go through a potentially life-threatening process in order to benefit someone else (or a potential someone else)? We may laud those people who do (this is not limited to at-risk pregnancies, btw, it can also include people who risk their lives to save someone else), but mandating that course of action is a blatant violation of rights, as well as a declaration that the 'volunteer' has fundamentally less worth than the person (or potential person) that (s)he is being forced to save.

    • EMWynnwritessews2 profile image

      EMWynnwritessews2 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      You present an interesting viewpoint, and I respect your right to voice it even though I do not agree. Yes, a baby depends upon the mother while in the womb, but that same baby, after being born, still relies on mom for the basic necessities of life: food, clothing, protection. In fact, there are laws on the books that make it a crime if parents do not provide the basics for their children up to at least 18 years of age. Anyway, those are some of my thoughts!

    • Sunny2o0o profile image

      Sunny2o0o 6 years ago from USA

      I don't know about that. In my opinion, being against abortion rights does not make you pro-life any more than being for them makes you pro-choice. In my book, being pro-life means being against abortion, against war, against the death penalty, and against human euthanasia. (Of course, it's also dependent upon a very specific understanding of life and what makes it valuable, but that's slightly beyond the scope of what I'm discussing). The same problem arises when defining what pro-choice means: what choices, exactly, are you in favor of--the choice to have an abortion, the choice to murder, the choice to rape, the choice to have Rice Crispies rather than Wheaties in the morning? I've always felt that the terms "pro-abortion rights" and "anti-abortion rights" are most accurate, but it's been pointed out to me that these abbreviate to "pro-abortion" and "anti-abortion," which isn't exactly what I was going for, either.

    • Stump Parrish profile image

      Stump Parrish 6 years ago from Don't have a clue, I'm lost.

      Forcing a woman to carry a baby to full term against her will amounts to legalized rape by our government. I would possibly agree with the religious people who claim to fight for the rights of the fetus if they didn't do everything in their power to take those rights away once the fetus is born. Those on the far right have fought for the right to kill their child with prayer healing and they can not even be charged with murder for it. If the fetus is born gay they fight against it's rights to live the same life they perceive as being god given. They fight comprehensive sex education that will not only protect the child's life from contracting aids and dying, but would greatly reduce the number of abortions they would have to protest.

      I don't like that the possibility exists that some abortions are preformed simply as a birth control method. However, as I will never have to make this decision for myself, I don't feel I have the right to make it for another.

      The only way this debate can be labelled that is fair to both sides is pro-choice and anti-choice. I am not in anyway pro-death as the pro-lifers like to believe.