CMV: Even if you think early fetuses are already a whole person, abortion should still be allowed.

The bodily autonomy arguments I have seen have been some variation of the following: A woman’s sister needs a kidney to save her life. The woman has a compatible kidney. If she donates her kidney her sister will be saved. But, even though her generous act of donating a kidney would save her sister’s life, she would not be forced to make the donation as she has the final decision over her own body. The analogy therefore makes the point that a woman should not have to use her own body to support the foetus even though her decision to get an abortion would kill the foetus.

In this example concerning the donation of a kidney, I think it is clear that the person would not be obliged to donate their kidney to save their sister’s life. However, it could be argued that this narrative has been designed to lead us towards a conclusion that supports the pro-choice case. If we make a slight modification to the narrative we are lead to a very different conclusion.

For instance, imagine the situation as follows: A woman’s sister requires a kidney to live. The woman donates the kidney to her sister. Her sister makes a recovery after receiving the kidney. Then three months later the woman decides, for whatever reason, that she wants the kidney back. In this scenario it is clear that it would not be ethical for the woman to demand the return of the kidney knowing it would kill her sister. Instead, the woman would be required to take responsibility for the consequences of her original decision (her free choice) to donate the kidney.

It is worth noting here that this second example is actually more analogous to the situation of pregnancy and abortion than the original example. The distinction is that in the original example the woman has made no choice to donate and is, through her inaction, passively letting her sister die, but in the second example, the woman has made a choice to donate and is later, actively making a decision which is killing her sister. Our freedom to make choices means that we are accountable for the decisions that we make.

/r/changemyview Thread Parent