Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Myth of "Bodily Autonomy"

It is not uncommon for adherents of the pro-choice platform to claim that anti-abortion laws force women to give birth, and thus violate their bodily autonomy. Some even go so far as to claim such violations of bodily autonomy are equivalent to slavery, just as slavery in the antebellum South violated the bodily autonomy of those so enslaved. However, such claims are specious, as they rest upon an absurd notion of "bodily autonomy."

The notion of "bodily autonomy" conveys the idea of having the right to do whatever one wants with one's own body. As a consequence, no one has the right to impose conditions upon what a person can or cannot do with one's own body. There is a certain extent to which this idea is correct. Inasmuch as man is endowed with inalienable rights to life and liberty, there is a certain extent to which the autonomy of the individual is to be honored by others.

However, such autonomy is not absolute, as there are definite moral restrictions upon what a person may and may not do with his or her own body. Consider an example where one man uses his body to kill another man. God's moral law, as well as the laws of human societies, prohibit the use of one's body for the purposes of unjustifiably killing another human being. Thus, no human being possesses absolute bodily autonomy. Even more so, whatever autonomy a human being does possess is not inherent, but endowed by God. Thus, it is absurd to chafe at a certain moral regulation (such as the prohibition of murder) as a restriction of one's "autonomy," when it is the same God that made the moral proscription who has also given man his basic human rights in the first place.

In the end analysis, absolute bodily autonomy is equivalent to anarchy - the absence of laws. Inasmuch as there is a law that restricts people from doing things like stealing, assaulting, and murdering, then people in that society do not have absolute "bodily autonomy," since there are things that they can physically do with their bodies that are prohibited by law. If a law that "strips a woman of bodily autonomy" (in the absolute sense, as is generally intended in pro-choice rhetoric) is equivalent to slavery, then anything short of anarchy is equivalent to slavery. Laws prohibiting theft are "slavery." Laws prohibiting murder are "slavery."

A law that prohibits abortion is simply a law that prohibits murder. An act of murdering an unborn human being is no different in its moral essence than the act of murdering one's spouse. A law prohibiting a woman from hiring a doctor to unjustifiably kill her unborn child is no different, in essence, from a law prohibiting a woman from hiring a hit man to murder her husband. If laws of the former kind rob her of "bodily autonomy," then so do laws of the latter kind.

1 comment:

d said...

Really, "The Voice of Truth". YOUR beliefs (to which you are entitled" and your beliefs alone. The point in our cultural struggle is that we will not allow you to impose your beliefs upon us. If it be war, so be it!