Abortion Is Every Woman's Right
The abortion of a pregnancy is every woman’s right.
Rights are not "God-given" nor "nature-given". "Natural right" is a mistaken idea. Rights, instead, are moral principles that are identified and recognized by rational thought. Thinking is where moral principles come from, including rights.
A right (meaning an individual right, which means the right of an individual) is a moral principle entitling an individual to act in a particular way in the presence of other people. Rights concern what individuals must be allowed, by others, to do, morally speaking. When I say "I have a right to do X", I mean "If you try to stop me from doing X, I will do what I must do to stop you, and I am morally entitled to assistance from the government in doing so."
To violate someone's right is a serious thing, with serious, perhaps dangerous, or even fatal consequences.
With that in mind, in the context of a woman being pregnant, how might individual rights apply? A woman, before she becomes pregnant, is an individual. Does becoming pregnant change this? No. Does she become less of a person because she becomes pregnant? No. Human beings, as such, have a right to determine what goes into their bodies, and they also have a right to determine what stays in their bodies. Each person has rightful dominion over his/her body.
(Some, here, would argue that his/her body is his/her property, and that said rightful dominion over one's body derives from its status as personal property. That's an error. A person's dominion over his/her body derives from his/her right to liberty. Liberty is freedom from physical interference in one's life by other people.)
As a person, I have the right to cut open my body, destroy my own kidney, and pull it out. Why? Because it's my action towards my body. It's nobody else's business. I also have a right to pay someone to do this for me. This is because I am a human individual and my kidney is not.
If instead, I were a woman, and the kidney were a fetus, my right to perform the same act does not change—because, again, it's my body, and the fetus is not a human individual while it lives inside my body.
Attributing rights to the fetus commits two errors:
- It attributes individuality to something which is not yet an individual.
- It negates the woman's right to determine to what ends her body is used.
In other words, giving a fetus legal rights makes a woman a slave to a legally protected part of herself.
Since the fetus is defenseless, this means the woman becomes a slave to the government, since the government is the agency that serves to protect the (supposed) right of the fetus to continue existing at the woman's expense. If the fetus has rights, then, regarding the fetus, the woman is literally compelled to do what the government tells her to do.
Restricting abortion makes the fetus a metaphorical shackle that the mother is forbidden to cast off her body.
Rights apply to individuals, in the context of other individuals. An individual is a physically separate living entity. A woman is a human individual, and so she has rights. Her rightful actions are to be protected, from other people, by the government.
A fetus is not an individual yet. The government has no proper reason to treat it as one. The fetus becomes an individual at birth, at which point it enters society and acquires the full proper protection of the law from anyone who would harm it.
Until birth, however, there's only one individual—the woman—and she should be legally protected from anyone who might harm her or interfere with any intentions she might have to abort her pregnancy.
To restrict abortion is to make staying pregnant mandatory. Such a mandate is a moral outrage because each woman's life is hers to direct as long as she doesn't harm any other individuals.
The alternate view negates the moral principle of individual liberty and makes a pregnant woman a slave to the state.
Addendum 10/23/2023 (a summary):
If something grows inside my body and has never been outside of my body, it is, properly, mine to destroy, if I wish. This holds whether the object in question is a kidney stone, a tumor, an appendix, a liver, a kidney, a lung, a brain, a heart, or a potential baby.
The potential baby is different from the others only in that once it exits my body it enters society as a legally recognizable person.
Until such time as it exits my body, it is only a part of me, within my domain, properly subject to my decisions and only my decisions.
At no point until I allow it to exit my body should it have any legal protection against me whatsoever, unless I have signed a contract with another party granting them the privilege of restricting my action.
No one has any right to use force against me unless I first initiate force against another member of society.
A potential baby is not a member of society and therefore has no rights until it is born.
Government properly regulates what happens between individuals, and not within individuals.