Monday, January 23, 2012

Body autonomy, at the core of abortion rights

In a perfect world, everyone’s rights would be given the same weight. But, the practical matter is, in a community that has its entire existence invested in the freedom of the individual, there are times when someone’s right must be overridden by someone else.

As examples, we can say troubling things that can harm people, but it is our right to express. When Occupy took over ground to stage their protests, they prevented others from using the property for other reasons. We take up arms to fight the enemy to save ourselves and our way of life, but many of our own and others die in the process. In the end, these and other freedoms that we as a community feel so fervently about are worth the loss.

All freedoms are based on body autonomy. It is the basic idea that individuals can’t be forced to submit to the will of others. It may have had a different meaning in the past, perhaps anchored in the anti-slavery movement. But, in this expanded usage, not only does it apply to involuntary servitude, but also to other freedoms.

As it is with all other freedoms, it is also true with abortion, perhaps with deeper implications. But, because the end result may be more troubling to some, it doesn’t mean that the individual freedom to make the choice is any less sacred. The fact is, a woman can’t be made to labor for someone else if she doesn’t choose to. To discount her right of body autonomy would be placing an entire class of people below the rights of all others.

Abortion will be a big issue in the upcoming election. Many of the candidates will talk high mindedly about how abortions should be stopped. But, when all the rhetoric is set aside, it will mean a woman is being forced to give up her right to body autonomy. During the election season, many states will also make an attempt to pass citizens initiatives that restrict or prevent abortions. Many will attempt to define life at conception or at the first heartbeat so abortion can be curtailed. It still means the same thing, woman will lose control.

Whatever the rhetoric or the passion, abortion must remain legal and safe in this world, this country and this community.

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