Argument: Women must control their bodies or risk becoming servants of the fetus

Issue Report: Abortion

Reasons to agree

  1. National Platform of the Libertarian Party. Jul 2, 2000 – “Abortion is a woman’s choice and does not concern the state. Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that libertarians can hold good-faith views on both sides, we believe the government should be kept out of the question. We condemn state-funded abortions. It is particularly harsh to force someone who believes that abortion is murder to pay for another’s abortion. It is the right of the woman, not the state, to decide the desirability of prenatal testing, Caesarean births, fetal surgery, and/or home births.”
  2. Kristin Luker, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood (1984) – “A group of women who valued motherhood, but valued it on their own timetable, began to make a new claim, one that had never surfaced in the abortion debate before this, that abortion was a woman’s right. Most significantly, they argued that this right to abortion was essential to their right to equality — the right to be treated as individuals rather than as potential mothers.”[1]
  3. James T. McMahon, American Medical News (July 5, 1993) – “If I see a case…after 20 weeks, where it frankly is a child to me, I really agonize over it because the potential is so imminently there. I think, ‘Gee, it’s too bad that this child couldn’t be adopted.’ On the other hand, I have another position, which I think is superior in the hierarchy of questions, and that is: ‘Who owns the child?’ It’s got to be the mother.”[2] Margaret Sanger, the mother of family planning clinics, said, “No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her own body.”
  4. Judith Jarvis Thomson. “A Defense of Abortion”. Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 1, no. 1 (Fall 1971) – “It sounds plausible. But now let me ask you to imagine this. You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. The director of the hospital now tells you, “Look, we’re sorry the Society of Music Lovers did this to you–we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist is now plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it’s only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.” Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation? No doubt it would be very nice of you if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accede to it? What if it were not nine months, but nine years? Or longer still? What if the director of the hospital says. “Tough luck. I agree. but now you’ve got to stay in bed, with the violinist plugged into you, for the rest of your life. Because remember this. All persons have a right to life, and violinists are persons. Granted you have a right to decide what happens in and to your body, but a person’s right to life outweighs your right to decide what happens in and to your body. So you cannot ever be unplugged from him.” I imagine you would regard this as outrageous, which suggests that something really is wrong with that plausible-sounding argument I mentioned a moment ago.”
  5. Ayn Rand – “A man who takes it upon himself to prescribe how others should dispose of their own lives – and who seeks to condemn them by law, i.e., by force, to the drudgery of an unchosen, lifelong servitude (which, more often than not, is beyond their economic means or capacity) – such a man has no right to pose as a defender of rights. A man with so little concern or respect for the rights of the individual, cannot and will not be a champion of freedom or of capitalism.”[3]
  6. Forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy subjugates a woman to the fetus. Under no circumstances should a woman’s right to control her own body be curtailed in this way. Or, in other words, a fetus cannot be said to have rights to a woman’s body that enslave the woman and her body in the relationship. This argument is encapsulated in what is known as the “dialysis analogy”, put forward by Judith Jarvis in “A defense of abortion”. The argument is that, an individual that hypothetically lives off of another woman’s body does not have a right to continue to utilize that woman’s body as a kind of “dialysis machine”. The woman has a right to “unplug”. In the same sense, a woman has the right to “unplug” her body from the fetus, which depends on the woman’s body to live, but which does not have rights over the woman’s body for its continued existence.

Reasons to disagree

  1. You can really really wish that having sex didn’t create life, but it does, and once you do, you can’t get rid of it. It doesn’t feel good to get stuck with something that you didn’t think would happen to you. It might not seem fair, when other people don’t get pregnant, but when you take that risk, once you start the life, you can’t just get rid of it… If you are not ready to be a parent, you should give an unwanted baby up for abortion. Parents are slaves to their kids… it might suck, but that is the way it is.