Which is more important, a woman or an unborn baby/fetus?
That is the crux of the abortion debate. Of course, we can get into viability and the transition of fetus to baby, but I think it’s a red herring. A person out the womb who is dependent on another isn’t less important than a person who is independently feeding herself. NICU’s have 23- and 24-week-old infants. Mother’s struggle with their babies not being considered a baby loss until 20 weeks old. We can’t debate what is life in a meaningful way right now.
However, we can, and essentially do, debate whose life is most important because in order for a fertilized egg to become a bouncing baby, we need a woman’s uterus. There is no machine or man who can carry a zygote to infancy. Therefore, if a fetus’ life is more important than a woman’s life, a woman can be forced to be an incubator during her lifetime. Otherwise, government must uphold the right to have an abortion because there is no point where the lives can be viewed as equal until the baby takes his first breath.
Here’s where the exceptions come into play. A woman is more important than the baby she carries if the baby is made with a rapist’s sperm. Or by incest. Or if the baby will inadvertently kill the mother. Woman win that argument with most pro-life and all pro-choice people.
But aren’t our exceptions actually saying: Women are incubators unless horribly violated or almost dead? Are we forgetting other exceptions? Like the high percentage of women seeking abortions because of domestic abuse? The ties a woman has with her abuser are terrible even without child and (to him) a bargaining chip involved. Are those women allowed to not be incubators?
What about young teenagers who will not be supported through their pregnancies to make it to adoption? Or the woman who will be unable to do their job at 8 months pregnant so will end up homeless?
What if a woman just doesn’t want to be pregnant? She’s using birth control and it fails. She would still have to give up autonomy of her body for 9 months because of her biology. Her husband/boyfriend/one-night stand gives up nothing. Or maybe gives up the right to live a child-free life as well. Is the story so different if he’s the husband? The price a woman pays for having a sex life is becoming the equivalent to an expensive machine in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Banning abortion even with exceptions leads to the subjugation of women’s bodies and minds. We either trust a woman’s ability to make intelligent choices about whether her body should grow another body, or we believe women are incapable and put the government in charge of her body.
I not only believe my body and my daughter’s body are more important than the body which did and could, respectively, grow, I believe in our ability to make the choice based on our personal circumstances. A pregnant woman can decide to not have an abortion, but the law and government cannot pick and choose our right to our bodies and still call us equal.
Rather than debating exceptions, we must stand against any law that relegates women to incubators who cannot recognize the best decision for ourselves, our babies and our circumstances.