Only pregnant women should make decision on abortion
Of course, the question of coercion does not enter into it for the vast majority of pregnant women: most are delighted and enriched by the giving of their bodies to the sustenance of their babies. But for some women this is not the case.
And what those who term themselves “pro-life” are saying, essentially, to those women who are traumatised, distressed, even at times hysterical at the thought and reality of pregnancy, is that if they don’t give their bodies to the sustenance of this being for up to nine months, they face the wrath of the criminal code.
Why only in these circumstances do we require people to give of their selves so much for the survival of another human being, when, for instance, we place no such obligations on the rest of us for the survival of millions of humans?
Isn’t it obvious, especially for us middle- class people, that if we curtailed our lifestyles and gave the saved resources to the poor, we would save millions of lives? But we don’t do that and if the State threatened us with criminal sanctions for not giving of ourselves in that relatively trivial way, there would be uproar.
So why should women, for instance those who are raped and for whom the idea of bringing the child of their rapist to full term is hugely traumatic, be forced to give so much of their selves on the grounds that unless they do so, another human will die?
The rest of us are permitted to escape similar moral obligations scot-free of any sanctions, even the sanction of a moral rebuke by society.
It may be the case that in a pro-choice environment some pregnant women would opt for abortions for reasons that would appear to many of us insubstantial.
But how in any individual case could anyone tell that the reasons for a pregnant woman opting for an abortion were trivial? How could anyone’s moral judgment be substituted for hers? Isn’t it obvious that only the woman herself is the person to make that moral judgment? Isn’t it obvious too that the criminalisation of a woman’s decision to end a pregnancy is but yet another instance of a patriarchal society seeking to control women?
A new amendment is required permitting the termination of pregnancy if a woman so demands and if medical – including psychiatric – reasons support her demand. The unborn do not have an unqualified right to life: that qualification centres crucially on the pregnant woman and only she should decide.