Thanks to modern science, it is unarguable today that the unborn child – from the earliest moment of his or her existence – is a living human being. Yes, people may still debate “personhood,” a word that suffers from several definitions. But there is no question that at the moment of fertilization, a new and living human has come into being.
Despite the fact that every unborn child is a living human being, some argue that no one has the right to force a woman to continue a pregnancy. Some argue that “forced pregnancies” are not at all different from China’s One-Child Policy, which includes forced abortions. Others contend that no one should be allowed to demand that a woman give up her own body’s nutrition – and possibly some degree of her own health – for the life of a human being who is completely dependent on her.
When pro-lifers argue that parents are not allowed to kill their newborns, despite any drain on the parents’ finances, mental health, or any other part of their own “personhood,” abortion supporters often argue that this is different. After all, parents of a newborn have a way out – foster care, for one. A newborn baby can actually be given to someone else to raise. The parents’ responsibilities can arguably be abdicated without too much danger to the child.
While these are interesting thoughts, they are not the final word on this argument. Yes, it’s easy in today’s America to argue that parents who get tired of their children, find them inconvenient, or believe they are damaging to the parents’ health can give them up to someone who can better care for them. But what if that were not the case?
What if adoption and foster care did not exist? What if our states didn’t have “Baby Moses” laws, where mothers can leave their infants on the doorsteps of fire stations and hospitals without fear of prosecution? What if we did not have safe havens like these for unwanted born children?
Then what? Would parents then have the freedom to kill their infants? If the answer is no, it is inconsistent to argue that mothers have the right to kill their unborn children for similar reasons of dependence.
No one can argue that an unborn child is not – at least until the age of viability (which keeps getting closer and closer to 21 weeks) – wholly dependent on his or her mother. But it is also indisputable that an infant is wholly dependent on his or her caretaker. True, an infant is no longer in the mother’s body. (Note that the infant never was a part of the mother’s body.)
But, for some families, infants do take the nutrition and resources that would otherwise belong to the parents. Some families have to choose to buy either formula and diapers or extra food for the rest of the family. Some single moms have to choose between paying for their babies’ needs and paying the rent. Yet we don’t argue that parents in these situations have the right to kill their infants.
If foster care and adoption were nonexistent in the U.S., would abortion advocates argue that “forced parenting” is wrong? Would they argue that it is wrong to force parents to let their infants live? It’s sadly clear that some of them already do make this argument. The problem is that arguing against “forced pregnancy” logically leads to arguing against “forced parenting” if U.S. laws or the circumstances in our country ever change.
It’s also worth asking, in this discussion, if the right to be fully healthy is more important than the basic right to live. I am not talking about women whose physical lives are actually at risk in pregnancy. But for the majority of women, while pregnancy may be difficult, make you sick some or much of the time, and take some nutrition and resources from your body, it is not equal to being deprived of your life in an inhumane and painful manner.
Even if you have previously argued against “forced pregnancy,” are you certain that a woman being “forced” to do something for nine months is truly worse than ripping another innocent human being apart, limb from limb? I also wonder why those who speak so vehemently against “forced pregnancy” do not – at least in many cases – support banning abortion as soon as a baby could be removed from his mother’s womb and survive on his own (a point now close to 21 weeks).
It’s true that some women never wanted to be pregnant. Yet, except in cases of rape, they bear more responsibility for the existence of the unborn child than the child does. The woman (and the man) are the ones who engaged in the act we all know has the potential to create a child. The child did not create himself. So why are we asking a wholly innocent human being to pay for the misjudgments, the “accidents,” or the choices of two adults or teens who ought to take responsibility for their actions instead of killing another human?