With recent news both good and bad, abortion has been on the minds of many, myself included. In Missouri, the abortion restrictions are being challenged in a case being heard by the state Supreme Court. In bad news on the national level, a twenty week ban has been proposed.
I’m going to explain here why I have come to a few conclusions. First, that while abortion affects women far more, it is an issue for everyone, even gay and asexual men. Second, that it seeks to enforce a religious opinion upon women. Third, that it violates the first amendment rights of everyone. Finally, that it amounts to the state telling people what they must think. This means that there can be no wavering on this issue.
Frequently in debates people want to conflate what “life” means. Life in general, as in just being alive is conflated with sentient life. Everything with human DNA is human, and sex cells are alive long before they ever join, and all the ones that never join are alive at some point. Despite the conflation, we only mean sentience.
There are no facts as to when human life reaches the point of sentience. In science, there is no point where sentience “happens”. We can be nearly certain that it is sentient when it is viable, and it being a separate life dependent on no other for a life support system, makes it a moot point at that stage anyway. However, prior to that point, there are not any actual facts about when it becomes a person.
The beginning of life is a religious opinion. Various religions have all sorts of different opinions on when life begins. Some religions believe in a soul, and think it joins with the body at one stage or another. Other religions don’t believe in souls, and look to brain development.
While the total lack of a religion is not a religion, it is an opinion that religion is unnecessary. So even people like that have a religious opinion of sorts, that being that the views of organized groups have no bearing on their opinions.
With the beginning of life being a matter of opinion, there can be no mandate on non-viable fetuses, or human tissue of earlier stages. Everyone has a right to their opinion, and the opinion of all must be respected.
If one is opposed to abortion, then it is their right to not even consider abortion during their pregnancy. If someone feels abortion is acceptable up to a certain point, then they should be able to do that. If someone feels it is all right at any point, that should be fine as well.
This is simplified to choice. As life is a religious opinion, and everyone has freedom of religion and a right to their opinion, each given person should be able to decide what to do about a pregnancy. Any restriction on abortion is a denial of religious opinion, in favor of a state-mandated religious opinion.
Abortion, like birth control, is part of family planning. When people are going to have children, decisions about when to have them, and how to plan a family, are deeply personal opinions. Sometimes these views may be religious or cultural, but they are always personal. Any abortion restriction amounts to the state enforcing a family planning opinion. They are saying that your family planning must have a chance of random children in the event of unintended conception.
The decision of whether or not to have children at all, is a personal decision, and a matter of opinion. Abortion restrictions are telling you that you must accept a chance of having children, regardless of your opinion on that matter. One should be entitled to their own opinion, as we are in all other personal matters, whether or not one ever has any children.
The meaning and significance of sex and sexuality are usually the most personal opinions one has. They are sometimes cultural and/or religious as well. Some people may see it as sacred, only for couples to have kids, and that it involves the approval of a deity, some see it as nothing but a biological function, and a multitude of opinions lie in between.
Abortion restrictions are always predicated on one accepting a chance of children when engaging in sexual activity. It is frequently stated that people should not have sex at all if they do not want children. This not only dictates sexual behavior, but also the significance and meaning one must place on sex and sexuality.
We cannot allow any restrictions at all on abortion because of the bodily autonomy of women and trans men. Even if one does not care about others, it is still important, even for gay and asexual men.
When abortion is restricted in any way, the state is mandating a few different opinions. It is saying that life begins at conception or other point they have determined, that family planning must allow for children from unintended pregnancies, that any sexual activity must have some chance of children, that abstaining from sex is the only way not to have children, that sex carries a minimum level of significance and meaning.
Abortion restrictions are ultimately a state-mandate on what we think regarding our most personal opinions. While it isn’t possible to directly mandate thought, abortion restrictions are predicated on beliefs, which are all opinions, all deeply personal in nature, and the effects of which are identical to that of people who share those state-mandated beliefs.
By being forced to act in accordance with a set of state-mandated beliefs, our beliefs on those points are being overridden. Usually laws are not entirely devoid of all objective fact, whether right or wrong, and based entirely on opinions. In no other case are laws based on nothing but opinions, when all the opinions are religious, cultural, and personal, and ones that are so deeply held.
With choice everyone has a right to their opinion, their own beliefs about the most personal elements of one’s life. Any restriction to that is the state dictating what the beliefs of everyone must be. Lawmakers and lobbyists are legislating their religious beliefs, forcing them off on all of us.
Women and trans men bear the greatest burden, as it is an assault on their bodily autonomy. It is also an assault on our most personal beliefs about the beginning of life, and the significance and meaning of sex and sexuality.
Even if you just consider people who favor some sort of abortion restriction, what they are saying is that their opinion should override the opinions of other people. They are for the state forcing other people to live as if they share those opinions, regardless of the opinions held by everyone else.
I’m not going to “respect” the opinion of someone, when that opinion, is that their opinions on the most deeply personal matters must override the opinions of everyone else, via a state mandate. They are saying they think everyone else must be forced to live as if they share opinions contrary to the ones they actually have.
If someone has no respect for the most personal beliefs of others, and thinks the state should force them to live in accordance with different beliefs, on matters that are entirely subjective, with no objective component at all, then I have no reason to respect any of their opinions at all. I also refuse to accept a view that some group of people doesn’t get the same level of bodily autonomy.
Any views favoring any abortion restrictions are an opinion against the most fundamental human rights of others. It is a view that some get less bodily autonomy than others, and that everyone must live as if they accept a set of fundamental beliefs about life, sexuality, and the very essence of what it is to be human, that contradict the beliefs they actually hold.
The abortion issue being so contentious, has nothing to do with aborting fetuses. It is about the fundamental beliefs we have about what it is to be human, and the meaning of life. One group of people feels that everyone has a set of beliefs and their own understanding of what it means to be human, and what the meaning of life is. Another group of people feels that the existence of opinions outside a particular range, regarding what it means to be human and the meaning of life, are intolerable, as such beliefs are an offense to their concept of life and to their deity, who allegedly shares that view. They feel the remedy is to force all others into behaviors consistent with their acceptable range of beliefs on the aforementioned things.
For the sake of completeness, it is worth circling back to another point I did not work into the essay. This is more typically where I go when arguing on this topic, but I wanted to get right into the points I planned on digging into.
In no other circumstance, can the body of one person be used to keep another person alive. Without consent, you cannot take organs or even blood from someone, even if it saves the life of another.
Without consent you cannot even take blood or organs from a corpse, even to save a living person. So by that standard, you do not even need to get into points about religious opinion. The only reason I did was because people who want to override the opinions of others, always demand respect for their opinion that other people do not get an opinion.