If it is illegal for a rape victim to kill the rapist after the fact, then why should it be legal for the rape victim to kill a baby that is the product of the rape? It seems to me that abortion is "vigilante justice" in a sense. This is all assuming, of course, that the unborn child is considered a living, human being. If it isn't, then why is an unborn child not then considered "evidence" to be used by a third party? I do not think an unborn child should be considered anything in between a "living human" and an "object," but please take this distinction into consideration.
"My body, my choice" is well known slogan from those who oppose laws that limit a woman's right to an abortion. Yet, the idea that a woman has a right to do what she wants to her body seems to have disturbing consequences. If a woman drinks too much alcohol or takes too many drugs then her baby will suffer the consequences. That child will then suffer many challenges in life because of his mothers supposed right to do what she wants with her body. Yet when I point this out to people they get angry and insist that I want to limit women's rights. In fact it makes me angry that anyone would disagree with the idea that a woman shouldn't be morally and legally responsible for the incalculable harm she can do to her baby by poisoning her fetus. I can grant that there are exceptions such as prescription medications but otherwise isn't the idea that women can't be held responsible for doing damage to a fetus that will then suffer after being born just a very extreme position even if its a popular belief? And I think men should be held responsible for the damage they do to their sperm by doing drugs or at least prevented from giving birth but then I guess that sound extreme as well.
In discussing abortion, I've been told that the woman has a right to bodily integrity. Therefore she has the right to withdraw consent at any time to the fetus using her body, regardless of the situation of the conception (consensual sex, planned conception). Some say any time prior to viability.
Is there a fully fledged philosophical argument along these lines? I'm aware of Judith Jarvis Thompson's thought experiment about the room and the people-seeds, but that didn't invoke the intuition in me, "yes, the seeds can be pulled up at any time."
Does the fetus have a competing right to bodily integrity?
Many pro-choice advocates maintain that, though abortions should be permissible, they are regrettable nonetheless. For instance, Bill Clinton famously said that he wanted to keep abortions "safe, legal and rare." I don't understand this view. To my mind, whether abortion is immoral turns on the question of whether a fetus is a person with a right to life. But this seems a clear dichotomy--either fetuses have such a right, or they don't. If they do, then abortion is immoral. If they don't, then not only should abortion be permitted, but there is nothing objectionable about them at all. Indeed, it is every bit as innocuous as using condoms.
Sometimes I think that what is happening is that people who advocate this position are still captive to some kind of residual pro-life sentiment. They believe that abortions should be permissible, but they can't shake the feeling that they are still, somehow, a bad thing. (And not just because of circumstantial considerations, such as that women who need abortions are often poor or otherwise disadvantaged, or that mothers who choose abortion may come to regret her decision; but because abortions are themselves are bad.) Assuming that abortions are indeed morally permissible, what is there that could make them regrettable?
Kant's contradiction of the will seems to suggest that it is inconsistent for us to allow abortion; that it is inconsistent to simultaneously will that we live and that allow that our mother could have had an abortion (meaning we wouldn't live...) However, I find this a little unconvincing but can't quite get it down. Is it not consistent to argue that the rights of me as a foetus are overridden by my mother's rights as an adult and that I will everybody to be treated according to the rights the can claim despite the consequences?
Thanks a lot in advance!
I have been conflicted over abortion for a long time, and I've reached a sort of stable state in which I accept that especially in early pregnancy a fetus does not have the same rights that an infant does outside of the womb, but later in pregnancy it does. For instance, it seems clear to me that a fetus the day before birth should have equal rights to an infant born the day after, since as has been noted that difference in residency does not seem particularly significant to moral standing. And, of course, the problem with that gradualist view - the inability to assign a time in which such full rights are obtained - continues to trouble me. But, another issue that concerns me is how practices like sex-selective abortion inform the debate. If a women really has the right to choose who or what may reside within her body, and has the right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, shouldn't it be immaterial to a third party on what basis she makes those decisions? In this case, sex-selective abortion is not morally wrong. I feel, however, uncomfortable with this, and think it could very well be wrong. But doesn't that imply I believe the fetus has the right not to be terminated because of its sex? That the fetus has some right against discrimination? If I believe a women has the right to make that choice for whatever reason she may find compelling, then certainly the sex of the fetus can't change the moral question, can it?
How can I both believe the woman has a right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, and also that sex selective abortion is discriminatory and wrong?