I view the basic human rights as life, liberty, and property. Bodily
autonomy fits under liberty, because liberty is the freedom to live how
you want. That includes the right not to have your body violated by
The preborn child, as a member of the human species
just like us, has a right to bodily autonomy that is violated when that
child is torn limb from limb by abortion.
If I am holding a
newborn in my arms, I have the right to not hold that child. However, my
right not to hold that child does not give me the right to drop that
child on the ground. It doesn’t even give me the right to set a child
down on the pavement and walk away. It does give me the right to put
that child in the care of another responsible person who can protect and
provide for that child.
The woman who is pregnant does have
the right to bodily autonomy. However, given current medical technology,
there is no way to remove the child from her womb without killing the
child, and she does not have the right to have that child killed.
Some people will bring up what’s known as the Violinist Argument, which goes something like this:
wake up in the hospital, and have no idea why you’re there. You realize
you are connected by a tube to a man in the bed next to you. The doctor
walks in and explains that the man next to you is a famous violinist
who is dying of kidney problems, and that you are the only match who can
keep him alive. So the Society of Music Lovers kidnapped you and hooked
He tells you that if you stay hooked up for nine
months, the violinist will survive. If you disconnect now, he will die.
Do you have the right to unplug yourself?
There are a
couple of problems with this. One is that the scenario is not analogous
to pregnancy. The vast majority of pregnant women are not bedridden for
the entirety of their pregnancy. Also, it does not take nine months for
the preborn child to be able to survive outside the womb, as premature
babies have survived after being born as early as 21-22 weeks.
importantly, however, there is a large difference between allowing
someone to die from a serious illness and killing them when they were
otherwise thriving. The violinist does not acknowledge that difference.