02.20.12

Contradictory ideas: personhood and mothers

Posted in Society at 11:43 by RjZ

Back in 2005, Christian conservatives were on the rise. Back then I struggled with this idea that abortion rights advocates and pro-life advocates couldn’t even begin a conversation much less have a real discussion about this difficult issue.

I proposed, imagine this, a middle ground, simply by reviewing the definitions of life during pregnancy.

There is something special about the ‘life’ inside the womb that distinguishes it from a newborn baby. The fetus inside the womb is utterly and exclusively dependent on the mother. Once the baby is born any human would be capable of taking care of it. The mother, a midwife, an adopted parent, anyone. Before it is born, it is quite literally part of the mothers body. And here’s the sticky part: as an integral part of her body, she has complete domain over it. Are we denying the rights of this unborn baby? Yes! For it is not an independent life like the mother’s. This is not without precedent. Once the baby is born it still will only have limited rights until it is 18 years old. The parents can’t arbitrarily end it’s life or even make the child perform undue labor but the baby and teenager do not have the same rights as adults do.

The idea is that, at least during some period of pregnancy, we could acknowledge that, propaganda to the contrary, there really is a difference between conception and birth. With this in mind, we might be able to make some progress in this debate.

Pro-life advocates are on to me. For years, a referendum has been voted down in Colorado for “Personhood”. It would have granted all the rights of a person to an unborn fetus, regardless of when it was conceived. Now Virginia has made even more progress on the concept of “Personhood”, and a law is working its way through their legislature.

“Personhood” laws are obviously only a backdoor to limit women’s rights and do nothing to address any of truly pro-family arguments that discourage societies from having unwanted children. Furthermore, such laws are inconsistent with our laws now (ascribing, quite possibly, more rights to a fetus than a child. Finally, they are just plain difficult to actually implement. Just imagine doctors fear at even providing pre-natal care, now that they’re liable for two not one individuals, one of whom has a tenuous hold on independent life and may seriously endanger the other. It turns out 2012 isn’t so much different than 2005.

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