Reframing the argument is key to understanding all sides of the abortion issue. The two main opposing views can be summarized briefly by assuming the focus to be on when life begins. One side says it begins at conception, and that the zygote/embryo/fetus has equal rights with any other fully developed human being. The other side says that the unborn is a living thing, but that it is not a "real person" yet, so it does not have equal rights. Also, the focus is on whether or not the beginning stages of human life are held to be as sacred as a fully formed human being. But what if both sides could agree that life begins at conception, and that the unborn life is as sacred a life as in any other stage of development? It only seems logical then, that abortion is murder. Or, is it?
Throughout human history, the willful killing or taking of human life, has been sanctioned by the laws of man in one form or another. The abortion issue does not set a precedent here. Would it not also be logical to say that the taking of fetal life, is in some cases lawful, and in other cases murder?
As a child of the 60s, my views on abortion come from a time when women did not have full reproductive rights. They didn't have the right to decide what would take place within their own bodies. They had no right to a legal abortion for any reason. The decision to abort a fetus was a medical decision, made by the doctor, with the constraints of the state. The wants of the woman for herself, and for her baby, were only a consideration if the woman had money and/or status.
I knew from an early age, that I didn't want the church or state to have dominion over my body. I wanted women to have the right to a legal abortion for this reason, in addition to the obvious tragic consequences of "back alley" abortions. Now this perspective is only from the point of view of the rights of the mother. What about the rights of the unborn? I believe in fighting for the rights of the unborn, but not over the rights of the mother or other human beings.
Speaking personally, and as a woman, I am pro-life and pro-choice. I would not want to undergo an abortion for any reason. But that is not to say that I would not do so in a circumstance that I cannot fully understand now, that may take place sometime in the future. I would want total jurisdiction over this most personal, life altering decision. I would not want the courts, the church, a family member, or even my doctor making this decision for me. I would take counsel as I saw prudent, but the final decision should be mine alone.
I believe that it is up to the mother to decide what is best for her, and her unborn child, as long as that child can only be viable within the mother's body. In my view, this right cannot be compromised. If the mother does not want to keep her unborn child for any reason (good or bad), does she have the right to kill it? If she has domain over the cells that live within her body, the answer has to be yes. As long as the child is not viable outside of the mother's body, the answer has to be, yes.
If the unborn child could be successfully, and safely transferred from the mother's body to another host, or to an artificial environment in which it could continue to develop, the answer could then be, no. Could the mother be forced to consider this option as opposed to taking the life of the fetus? This is an argument for another time, maybe in the near future, when this technology is available.
I also believe that life begins at conception. This does not mean that I believe the life of the unborn has equal rights with a child who is viable outside the mother's body. This distinction is the key to the abortion argument. As long as the child is not viable outside of the mother, then it remains a part of the mother's body, and she has full jurisdiction over it. Once the child is viable outside of the mother's body, it has full human rights equal to any other.
So, if we can all agree that the beginning of a new life takes place at the moment of conception, and that all life is sacred, and furthermore, if we can all agree that a human being has the authority to control the manipulation of the cells within their own body, so long as these cells cannot be a viable, separate life outside their body, then it would follow that their can be some agreement as to how to write the law.
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