I’m not concerned with Women’s Rights. I’m equally unconcerned with the rights of People of Color, or with the rights of members of the LGBTQ community. I have no interest in the rights of this religion or that one. I have even less interest in the rights of white heterosexual males. Why? Because those are all just subgroups of the rights that interest me. I’m interested in Human Rights.
Women’s Rights are Human Rights. All rights are Human Rights. No person deserves special rights for being a member of a particular group. Too many groups, however, are denied rights by those to whom we have given the power to define the rights we have. And that is simply wrong. I’m concerned, at the moment, about laws that ban abortions from the moment a heartbeat can be detected. The claim is that this occurs at approximately six weeks, but, that turns out not to be be true in any meaningful way.
Rather, at six weeks of pregnancy, an ultrasound can detect “a little flutter in the area that will become the future heart of the baby,” said Dr. Saima Aftab, medical director of the Fetal Care Center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. This flutter happens because the group of cells that will become the future “pacemaker” of the heart gain the capacity to fire electrical signals, she said.
But the heart is far from fully formed at this stage, and the “beat” isn’t audible; if doctors put a stethoscope up to a woman’s belly this early on in her pregnancy, they would not hear a heartbeat, Aftab told Live Science. (What’s more, it isn’t until the eighth week of pregnancy that the baby is called a fetus; prior to that, it’s still considered an embryo, according to the Cleveland Clinic.)
It’s been only in the last few decades that doctors have even been able to detect this flutter at six weeks, thanks to the use of more-sophisticated ultrasound technologies, Aftab said. Previously, the technology wasn’t advanced enough to detect the flutter that early on in pregnancy.
Some laws seek to prevent abortion even earlier.
There are also laws that outlaw birth control, or that won’t allow insurance companies to provide it for their customers. Birth control is only for the wealthy. There is plenty of information about this topic available here.
Why do we feel the need to deny slightly over half of the population of the Earth the basic right of bodily autonomy?
If I don’t wish to give blood, even to save the life of my relative, I can’t be forced to do that. Understand, an actual human being, whose heart has been beating for quite some time is going to die because of my choice. And yet, no one would deny my right to make that choice. Why? Because it’s my blood. It’s my body. I get to choose what will happen with it.
Why should women be denied the same bodily autonomy that I have?
If a person dies, and his organs could be harvested to save another person, the organs are off limits unless the dead person has signed a paper saying they may be used. And yet, no one would deny the right of the Dead to choose.
Why should living women, with hearts that beat independently, be denied the same bodily autonomy that a dead body has?
Well, the argument goes, she is carrying another life. Her body is no longer entirely her own. She’s sharing it with another human being.
I have a couple of problems with that argument. First, it is STILL her body. Regardless of who or what may be inside of her, the body contains her consciousness. It is her body that is going to experience whatever happens to it.
Yes, Fred, but it also contains another life. That life also has a consciousness. That life counts as much as the life of the woman.
I would argue that, first, I’m not entirely sure when what she is carrying inside her is a life. Neither are you. Certainly it’s not yet a life when the man ejaculates inside the woman. The sperm hasn’t even fertilized the egg yet. On the other hand, it is absolutely a life, worthy of all the rights, care, love, and help necessary for survival the moment it is born. Somewhere between ejaculation and birth, it probably is a human life. I’m just not sure where to draw that line.
There is no doubt, however, that it lacks a consciousness for quite some time. The brain doesn’t begin to form for six weeks. Consciousness, in any meaningful form, doesn’t begin for six months, and even then, it’s open to debate. For more on this topic, see the link below.
There is scientific evidence that tells me that human life begins at the moment of conception. Cells fuse, and this is the first step in becoming a human being.
The conclusion that human life begins at sperm-egg fusion is uncontested, objective, based on the universally accepted scientific method of distinguishing different cell types from each other and on ample scientific evidence (thousands of independent, peer-reviewed publications). Moreover, it is entirely independent of any specific ethical, moral, political, or religious view of human life or of human embryos. Indeed, this definition does not directly address the central ethical question surrounding the embryo: What value ought society place on human life at the earliest stages of development? A neutral examination of the evidence merely establishes the onset of a new human life at a scientifically well-defined “moment of conception,” a conclusion that unequivocally indicates that human embryos from the one-cell stage forward are indeed living individuals of the human species; i.e., human beings.
Well, then, Fred, that’s it! Life begins at the moment of conception. The woman’s body is no longer exclusively her own. She owes those cells the opportunity to become a fully developed human being.
That sounds like a reasonable argument, at least at first blush. But, let’s follow it through to its conclusion. If the life of barely developed cells is as valuable, as worthy of rights, as the life of a fully developed human being, then we must also say that all human lives are of equal value. And, I agree with that idea. All human lives are, in fact, of equal value.
My life is as valuable as yours, and yours is as valuable as mine. The life of the homeless guy at Circle K asking for a dollar is as valuable as that of the wealthiest billionaire. And, if all lives are of equal value, then it follows all lives deserve equal rights. Women, those of different religions, those of different sexual orientations, those of different races, those of different nationalities, those from other countries all deserve the same rights that you do. If you don’t accept this, then I question whether you really believe that the value of a fertilized egg is the same as the value of the woman whose egg got fertilized. Too often those who oppose abortion also oppose helping other humans because they were not born in America. If you’re among those people, I would like you to reconsider your beliefs. How is a fertilized egg entitled to more rights than a fully formed, conscious human being with a heart that beats on its own?
Let’s explore the value of human life a bit more deeply. We have frequently heard that life – at least human life – is sacred. I don’t know why that’s necessarily true, since, finally, it’s brief. Perhaps it’s because it’s so short that it’s sacred. None of us is likely to be here for 150 years. The record, as far as I know, is 122 years. But, if we believe that all human life is sacred, then what does that tell us?
We should care for all human life. This doesn’t mean just me and the people who are most like me. We just said all human life is sacred. That means the life of a refugee from another country is sacred. It means the life of Osama bin Laden was sacred. If it’s sacred, we should preserve and care for it. But, do we?
If a mother has a child, it is, very often, her problem, and hers alone. We will give her minimal, if any, help feeding, clothing, and caring for her child. She has to pay for child care, food, diapers, clothes, doctors, dentists, and anything else the baby needs.
Well, if she didn’t want to do that, she shouldn’t have had a baby!
Yes, well, perhaps she didn’t want to have a baby, but it happened anyway. She was raped. A condom broke. Or, perhaps she didn’t have access to the information she needed. Or, maybe she just made a decision with which I might disagree. Why do I get to decide how, when, with whom, and under what circumstances a woman can have sex? Why do you? Who appointed us The Morality Police? What makes sex moral or immoral? Who am I to decide that for someone else? Morality is an incredibly fraught subject. It’s almost never clear that this is an absolute Good and that is an absolute Evil. And the times when it is clear usually involve a body count.
Forcing a woman to give birth against her will without giving her the support she needs to raise the child is simply wrong. A woman is more than an incubator for a man’s seed. She is a complete human being, with the right to choose for herself what happens to her body. She has all the rights a fetus does, and then some.
So, all human beings deserve the same rights. That includes women.
And that brings us back to my original point. Why do I have the right to decide what will happen to my body, but a woman doesn’t have the right to decide what will happen to hers? If it’s because she’s carrying a potential life inside of her, then you’ve denied her of a right that I have. I will never have a potential life growing inside of me. I can, however, get one started in a woman. And when I do, I should be required to take responsibility for the consequences of my action. The fact is that most men are not required by law to do anything more than pay child support. To believe that paying any amount of money is sharing an equal burden with the woman who is giving birth is absurd.
She will, at the very least, undergo a painful experience. Even the easiest births are no cakewalk. The worst of them actually kill women. If she gives the baby up for adoption, she will have an emotionally traumatic experience. If she raises the child, she will have a good portion of her life changed dramatically and forever.
If the pregnancy came from an experience she didn’t choose, such as a rape, the man might be able to attempt to get custody of the child the victim bore. We’ve probably all seen this meme:
It’s not entirely true that in 31 states a rapist can sue for custody, but there is no law specifically banning it. The issue is a bit murky, but Snopes did a fairly good job of sorting through it. The upshot of their research is this:
Some states do not have laws to prevent the perpetrators of rape from seeking custody and visitation of children conceived during that act.
No laws restrict rape victims from seeking child support from their rapists.
The complete article can be found here, for those seeking additional clarification. It’s worth your time to read it.
Rape victims often want to keep as far from their attackers as possible. How can one blame them? It is, therefore, not likely they’re going to sue for child support.
The laws being enacted now are, in my view, less about the value of human life than they are an effort to deny women of rights that I have. Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, and several other states have passed laws that effectively ban abortion, in direct violation of the Roe V Wade decision. Why are they doing this? I suspect it’s because with a very Conservative Supreme Court, they hope to be able to reverse Roe V Wade. Why do they want to do that? I won’t accept the idea that it’s because they value all lives equally. I’ve covered that above. The Alabama law, for example, doesn’t apply to fetuses in fertility clinics.
When Alabama Senator Bobby Singleton, a Democrat, pointed out that Alabama’s new law could punish those who dispose of fertilized eggs at an IVF clinic, Chambliss responded, “The egg in the lab doesn’t apply. It’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant.”
If the law were, in fact, about the value of the fetus, it would apply to laboratories as well as women. That fetus is precisely as human as one carried in a mother’s womb. But a fetus in an IVF facility is not protected. What do they do with excess fetuses then? I thought this would be a simple Google search. It turns out, it’s not a simple question at all. There has been one widely accepted study done on the issue, and it found the following:
Nearly all (97 percent) were willing to create and cryopreserve extra embryos. Fewer, but still a majority (59 percent), were explicitly willing to avoid creating extras. When embryos did remain in excess, clinics offered various options: continual cryopreservation for a charge (96 percent) or for no charge (4 percent), donation for reproductive use by other couples (76 percent), disposal prior to (60 percent) or following (54 percent) cryopreservation, and donation for research (60 percent) or embryologist training (19 percent). Qualifications varied widely among those personnel responsible for securing couples’ consent for disposal and for conducting disposal itself. Some clinics performed a religious or quasi-religious disposal ceremony. Some clinics required a couple’s participation in disposal; some allowed but did not require it; some others discouraged or disallowed it.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16859369
There is no law requiring labs to divulge to the public what they do with extra fetuses. Cryopreservation is the process of freezing and preserving unborn fetuses. This is expensive and can continue for years. There have been fetuses cryopreserved for in excess of a decade. Preservation is often expensive. It is not an option for the poor.
But, please notice 60% of the labs are willing to dispose of the excess fetuses. There may or may not be a ceremony involved, but they are not required to keep it alive. The Alabama law isn’t, in any meaningful way, protecting the life of the unborn fetus. It’s restricting the choices of women.
We have lived, nearly forever, with the idea that women are secondary to men. Their function is to provide us orgasms and give us sons and daughters, and then to raise those children while we go do something else. And this idea is being challenged, frequently and compellingly, in our society. And it should be.
There is nothing that makes women less than men. There is no reason to pass laws restricting their choices while the same laws don’t apply to men. The time of the patriarchy is gone. It’s now time to recognize that women are complete human beings with all the same rights, all the same needs, and all the same value as men. They are no less important, no less deserving of making choices, and no less human than I am.
Finally, let’s be clear about something. Banning abortions is never going to stop people from having them. It’s simply going to stop them from having safe and legal abortions. It’s the same as banning guns. Criminals will still have them. If prostitution and drugs are illegal, people will still hire prostitutes and use drugs. We can just lock them up for those things. And the people passing these laws know that. What they really want is to return to the time when only white male landowners had any rights at all. There is an ancient, deeply embedded idea in the minds of many men (and some women) that males are, by virtue of being male, superior to females. And changing that idea is not going to be an easy task.
Now, what are my feelings about abortion? I wish no one would ever have one. It’s sad to keep a life from coming into the world. I do, in fact, feel empathy for the unborn child. Then, why don’t I want them to be illegal?
I don’t know of anyone who ever wanted an abortion. I want a pastrami sandwich. I want to go to dinner with Valerie Bertinelli. I want to make a living as a writer. Those are things I want.
I don’t know of any woman who feels about abortion the way I feel about pastrami sandwiches. I do know, however, women who may need an abortion. Not just because she was raped, or was the victim of incest, or for any other single reason, but because for any of 3.9 billion reasons, she may not be in a place where having a child is a good choice. The decision whether or not to have an abortion must certainly be an agonizingly difficult one. I’m relieved I will never be faced with that decision. People I love, however, have had to make the choice. Why on Earth should we make that decision any more difficult by threatening to imprison her and her doctor? Who is better off for doing that? If your argument is the unborn child is better off, I can’t agree with you. You’re condemning a child to a life in which he or she is unwanted.
No, I’m not! Do you know how many couples want to adopt children? The child will be loved in deeper ways than other babies!
I understand that feeling intimately. When I was married the first time, my wife and I were unable to conceive. We went to doctors. We went to fertility clinics. We did all we could. It simply wasn’t going to happen. So, we wanted to adopt. A relative of mine got pregnant while my wife and I were hoping to adopt, and we wanted to adopt her child. She had an abortion. I was furious with her. But, I got over it. Do you know why? Because, finally, that was her choice to make. It was her body. She gets to decide what is right for it. My wife and I don’t. My wife and I never did adopt. It turns out to be a very difficult process.
If you would like to adopt, I’m completely in favor of it. There are many children waiting for you to give them all of your love. According to The Adoption Network, “There are 107,918 foster children eligible for and waiting to be adopted. In 2014, 50,644 foster kids were adopted — a number that has stayed roughly consistent for the past five years. The average age of a waiting child is 7.7 years old and 29% of them will spend at least three years in foster care.” https://adoptionnetwork.com/adoption-statistics
There is no shortage of children. There is a shortage of eligible parents. Why? This is because the definition of eligible is narrowing. In many states, gay couples are ineligible. My first wife and I were unsuccessful in adopting because I’m an atheist, and no one wanted their child raised without a church. I would love for you to adopt if that’s your desire. It is a beautiful thing to do. It can, however, be a long, hard road.
I hope you never need an abortion. I hope you find love, you get married, you have children, and you have a family that loves you for the rest of your life, if those are things you want. But, if you do need an abortion, I hope you can find love, support, correct medical information to help you decide, and a safe and legal means of obtaining it. It’s your body, first and foremost. If you choose to share it with someone and become a mother, I applaud your decision. You’ve made what I believe to be a beautiful and deeply meaningful choice. But if you choose differently, I will support your decision, even if I disagree with it. My opinion doesn’t matter. Yours is the only one that’s relevant.
You are a human being. You have a human right to choose what is best for you.