Given this development in the debate over abortion, I think the pro-life movement has been given a new opportunity to respond to an argument given in defense of abortion that is beginning to gain more popularity in lay-level discussions, the argument from bodily autonomy, or bodily rights.
To summarize the argument, defenders of abortion rights, such as David Boonin and Judith Thomson, argue that just as a woman would have no moral obligation to remain plugged into a human being for a period of time to whom she bears no moral responsibility, she would also not be obligated to carry an unborn human “person” to full term. The argument has been gaining popularity through many lay-level discussions in recent years.
The problem with the argument is that it proves too much about bodily autonomy in relation to pregnancy. The recent debate over the Planned Parenthood videos can help pro-lifers make this case. Even if the videos were “faked” or “deceptively edited”, they do bring up an important question: Is “my body, my choice” really applicable to the abortion of a human being?
Suppose, based on the idea that fetal body parts can generate a pretty good profit, a woman becomes pregnant for the sole purpose of having an abortion. Using the slogan “my body, my choice”, she obtains an abortion and sells the fetal remains to the highest bidder. Would that be an acceptable action? Suppose it goes a step further, and a market is created for body parts of unborn human beings. Using the “my body, my choice” euphemism, human fetuses are conceived to be dismembered, have their organs and tissues divided up and sold to the highest bidders.
Many advocates of abortion choice would say that this is unacceptable. But why? If it's justifiable to eliminate a human being who is attached to another human, why not “connect” human beings so that they can be justifiably killed, and have the aftermath used for whatever purpose the woman desires? Given that a person can willingly donate a body part, such as a kidney, to those in need of an organ, then what would be wrong with allowing women to conceive human fetuses for the sole purpose of killing them and then harvesting their organs or tissues to treat other illnesses?
This is an absurd position to hold. In fact, since the videos were revealed almost two years ago, many pro-choice defenders have shied away from defending all elective abortions. I think the videos shed further light on the problems with the bodily rights argument, as that approach would mean that the only thing wrong with the sale of fetal body parts scandal would be that the woman wasn't notified about the use of the aborted remains, and thus missed out on potential profit. Incidentally, I had a conversation recently where someone said that the most horrifying aspect of the entire scandal was the idea that abortionists made a profit of the sale of body parts, as opposed to the methods used to obtain the body parts in the first place. This is ridiculous.
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