“Largest organ” in a woman’s body?: responding to pro-choice criticism of an Alabama representative’s remark
On Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill that has caused some alarm for pro-abortion groups. Some highlights of the bill include:
- Requirement that abortions be performed by licensed physicians with admitting privileges to local hospitals
- Requirement that abortion patients receive “professional standards” of nursing and follow-up care
- Requirement that the name of the father of the unborn child be reported to law enforcement under certain circumstances when a sexual crime may have occurred
- Requirement that abortion clinics meet the standards of ambulatory health care occupancy
- Requirement that abortion-inducing drugs be administered only by a licensed physician
The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin. In an interview with the Montgomery Adviser, she said, “When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body. That’s a big thing. That’s big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.”
In response to this inaccurate assessment by Rep. McClurkin, the pro-choice forces instantly leveled two critiques.
The first critique, as seen in this NARAL Pro-Choice America Facebook photo, is that skin is actually the largest organ in the human body, typically weighing around eight pounds.
The second critique is that fetuses are not organs. Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post (that beloved news source that always demonstrates such sympathy toward the pro-life movement) said, “A ‘child’ is not a bodily ‘organ.’ Indeed, children have organs of their own.”
Kaili Joy Gray of the Daily Kos (yet another great pro-life resource) noted, “Rep.McClurkin, who was obviously absent from school the year they taught science, thinks abortion is ‘big’ organ-removing surgery and therefore, should be classified and restricted as such.”
Of course, my statements about the Daily Kos and the Huffington Post are complete sarcasm, for everyone knows that those two have little patience toward pro-lifers. But what is ironic is how eager pro-choice writers are to point out that the fetus is not an organ.
The typical pro-abortion argument reasons that a woman has the right to do what she wants with her own body. The fetus, in this line of reasoning, is not a real human person, but part of the woman’s body. Therefore, the woman has every right to eliminate the fetus.
Philosopher Mortimer Adler asserted that the fetus is “a part of the mother’s body, in the same sense that an individual’s arm or leg is part of the living organism. An individual’s decision to have an arm or leg amputated falls within the sphere of privacy – the freedom to do as one pleases in all matters that do not injure others or the public welfare” (Haves Without Have-Nots: Essays for the 21st Century on Democracy and Socialism [New York: MacMillan, 1991], 210).
Pro-choice analysts were all too eager to hear Rep. McClurkin refer to the unborn child as an “organ.” Such a misguided analysis (one that the representative probably regrets) easily lends itself to an onslaught of criticism.
But my question to the pro-abortion crowd is this: if the fetus is not an “organ,” then what exactly is it?
Ms. Terkel of the Huffington Post acknowledged that the unborn child has his/her own organs (though she placed child in parentheses). If the unborn child has his/her own organs and he/she is not an organ, then why do pro-choice forces continue to use the argument that a woman can do what she pleases with her own body? If the unborn child is not an organ of the woman’s body, how can he/she be treated as such in the act of abortion?
It’s easy enough to attack Rep. McClurkin for an inaccurate assessment of science (and one that was probably a simple case of poor wording). But the pro-abortion zealots need to cast the plank of wood out of their own eye first before they attempt to remove the speck of dust from the pro-lifer’s eye.
It’s groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood that essentially regard the fetus as an organ. Science is on the side of the pro-life movement, which asserts that the unborn child is a living human person, not simply a body part of the woman.