Monday, June 03, 2019

Almost Thou Persuadest Me

I don't think I've blogged much about this before, but I'm opposed to abortion. (A handful of posts over 13.5 years, it seems.) But last week I came across that rare, mythical unicorn of politics--a Facebook post that changes someone's mind. And for almost a day, I didn't know how to think about abortion.

Here was the point of the post: the author referenced the idea of respecting the bodily sovereignty of the individual in decisions such as harvesting organs from non-organ-donors. He wrote something like, "Even when the person is dead, and can't possibly be harmed, we don't allow someone to come along and decide to take their organs, even if it could save another life." So, the reasoning goes, if you can't commandeer my liver to save another life, you can't commandeer my uterus to do it, either. ("You don't have a uterus, A Random Stranger!" You know what I mean.)

This made me stop and think for a day. How can I be opposed to abortion if I am in favor of cadaver rights?

The next day, I saw the logical problem in this argument. True, we don't have the ability to require you to do something medically. You can refuse treatment, you can keep your organs in your corpse. But that's not the logical equivalent of abortion. Abortion isn't making you be pregnant--you already did that. Stopping an abortion from happening, though, has all kinds of medical equivalents. We don't let you sell your kidney. We don't let you sell yourself into slavery. Most states don't allow you to rent out your sexual organs (i.e.: prostitution), and still many don't legally allow you to commit suicide. Every state has at least some banned drugs, which really are just ways of affecting your internal organs. Public nudity has different definitions around the country (e.g.: are female breasts included or not), but there are still laws against public nudity. If I can legally prohibit you from doing something with your vulva, why not with your uterus, too? It's just a little further up there.

The equivalent of the bodily sovereignty argument would be to point out that we can't require someone to get pregnant, which is true. But once a person has become pregnant, we can exercise control over what you do with all your organs, so why not with the uterus, too?

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