The state of Arkansas has just passed the most restrictive abortion ban in the US, severely limiting abortion after 12 weeks. The debate is moving closer and closer to reaching a definition of when life officially begins, with the rationale that once the baby has a heartbeat, or brainwaves or the capacity to feel and think or the potential to exist outside the womb, abortion becomes straight up murder.
On the surface, that seems like a reasonable way to approach the whole issue. We have quantifiable standards for withdrawing life support from individuals who are deemed to no longer be alive in any meaningful sense of the word, so why not use those same standards to determine when life begins?
If life is considered to have ended when an individual has no brain activity, and can no longer think or feel or perceive the world, then why can’t life be considered to have started when an unborn baby shows evidence of brain activity and perception and emotion?
Every day, in the United States of America, more than 6000 people require bone marrow transplants to save their lives. The National Bone Marrow Donor registry has more than 17 million volunteer donors, which is pretty pathetic given that the population of the country exceeds 300 million.
Lots of worthy organizations actively promote people to get on the registry, but that is all they can do. They cannot legally compel people to donate their bone marrow, no matter how many lives that would save.
There are more than 70 000 people in the US waiting for organs which, when transplanted, will save their lives. And yet only 30-40% of people have signed their organ donor cards, and of those, only a handful will have suitable organs for donation.
Organ donation is entirely voluntary, as it must be. The state cannot compel any individual to relinquish their organs against their will, even when that person is dead. It doesn’t matter how many lives those organs might save: that fact is immaterial.
What is material is the fundamental concept that a human being cannot be owned. The only person that owns you is YOU. Your body is your own personal property and it cannot be bought, sold or traded by the state or anyone else without your explicit permission.
The debate over when a baby becomes fully human is therefore immaterial. No baby can exist without using his mother’s body and organs for life support, and those organs and that body belong to her and it is the sole province of the woman to decide how and when and under what circumstances her body will be used by ANY OTHER PERSON.
Including her own child.
I don’t believe there should be ANY restrictions on abortion of any kind, and I’ve written before about the wisdom of consigning children to be raised by mothers that would prefer to kill them. The only way to know if a mother wishes to kill her unborn child is to give her the option.
And I’m not saying there are no GOOD reasons to have an abortion. Sure there are. Not wanting to bring a child into a life of poverty is an excellent reason. Do we need more poor people? I think we need to help the ones we have. Not having the ability, for whatever reason, to take adequate care of a child, whether that is because you are too young, or you have other children, or you are suffering from mental illness are all good reasons to not have that baby.
There are really fucking terrible reasons to have an abortion, too. Killing a baby because you don’t like his gender is pretty awful. Killing a baby because she has Down Syndrome is also just gut-wrenchingly horrific. Killing a twin because your apartment is too small is just straight up evil.
The REASON a woman wants to kill her baby is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter why. The fundamental question is WHO OWNS HER BODY?
To me the answer is simple: you own your own body and you cannot be compelled to use any part of it to save someone else’s life, against your will. The state will not hold you down to take blood, bone marrow or a kidney, no matter how many lives that would save.
And the state cannot force you to save the life of your baby by allowing him to use your body, unless you consent to that, willingly and freely. And just as you can change your mind, at the last minute, about donating bone marrow, and you can withdraw your consent to have your blood used for transfusions, women can change their minds about being pregnant at any stage of the game.
We hold people responsible for their own decisions precisely because we DO think they own their bodies. All of your decisions are YOUR decisions, good or bad. You are free to pretty much do whatever you want to your own body, because it’s YOUR body.
That right must extend to everyone. Every 90 seconds someone on the organ waiting list dies, while millions of usable organs are buried or cremated because their owners did not consent to saving someone’s life. That’s shitty.
Do you really want to live in a world where that ISN’T your decision?
Lots of love,