One of the biggest reasons for allowing abortion is that it somehow helps in the general women’s liberation, specifically in female sexual liberation. By allowing abortion, so the argument goes, it gives a woman complete rights over her reproductive system, which gives her full liberation. It doesn’t matter what the woman chooses, so long as she has a choice. There are, of course, multiple problems with this view:
#1 – It assumes that women (or men for that matter) have an autonomous right over their own bodies.
This way of thinking assumes too much – it assumes that we can do whatever we want to our bodies without having a communal consequence. However, there are times where what I do to my body will inevitably affect those around me (i.e. if I inject myself with an airborne disease, because it will harm those around me I do not have the right to do such a thing). Almost everyone would argue that if we take an action against our body that negatively affects others, that action shouldn’t be taken.
In this case, the child in the womb is ontologically separate from the mother, though reliant. That is to say, the child really isn’t part of the mother’s body. The mother plays host to the body. If a guest comes into your house, eats your food, drinks your water, and sleeps in your bed, does that guest belong to you? Of course not – the guest, though reliant upon you, is not a part of who you are.
The counter to the above argument is that the baby, especially early on, is made up of cells provided by the mother. This is true, but completely irrelevant. No female can spontaneously produce a child without any fertilization from a male. This means that the baby isn’t entirely made up of the mother’s cells, which would seem to indicate that the child in the womb isn’t really part of the mother’s body (in the same way an arm, heart, or lung is part of the mother’s body).
All of this means that the child growing within the mother is really a body inside a body and not just an extension of the mother’s body. It contains foreign matter (via sperm) that is not natural to the mother’s body. If that is true, an abortion is an act that is taken out on the mother’s body that severely affects the child (through death). This would mean that abortion is highly immoral since it is a selfish action that harms an innocent party.
#2 – Abortion actually perpetuates negative characterizations about women.
A woman who has an abortion is often given a social stigma – she’s considered selfish, unprepared, promiscuous, a horrible person, etc. Though I am against character assassination and think Christian should do everything they can to restore a mother who has had an abortion, it doesn’t change the fact that certain social stigmas do exist and will always exist.
The HBO show (and now movie) Sex and the City attempted to change social views of women and sex, that it’s okay for women to have multiple partners and still be successful. Unfortunately, among most Americans the show didn’t do anything to change the social view of promiscuous women. Though it is sadly accepted that men and women will have multiple partners, it is still looked down upon by most aspects of society.
If something less severe – sex with multiple partners – has a societal view that has not changed, what can we conclude for abortion? Abortion still comes with a strict stereotype that actually harms women’s liberation. For women to be truly liberated they would need to avoid social stereotyping in a negative manner, but abortion doesn’t accomplish this at all.
#3 – This version of women’s liberation isn’t just political, but goes against the design of nature.
For whatever reason, women have been designed to birth children. Though this is not their sole purpose, sole design, or even main purpose or design, there is no denying that the female body was given the honor of being the host of human life. In modern culture this honor has been viewed as a curse.
There is no changing the course of what is natural – women, for whatever reason, have been picked to bear children. The problem is that our culture has somehow deemed this act as “lesser” than the acts of men in the work place. Our culture somehow assumes that by forcing a woman to carry a baby instead of aborting the child for her own reasons (other than medical), we are forcing the woman into a lower status in society.
This, however, is absurd. Though our culture puts a higher value on high paying and high profile jobs, this doesn’t necessarily mean that such jobs are really all that valuable. Being a Christian I believe that all vocations are equal (assuming the vocation is not inherently sinful), but if I were to place a hierarchy on vocations then the vocation of being a mother would top the list. There is a bond between children and mothers that runs deep. Is being a CEO or successful lawyer really worth breaking that bond (I would also argue that men who work 40 hours a week and ignore their vocation as a father are also missing out on their natural calling and destroying the bond between father and child – our American culture simply works too much)?
What is more liberating then doing what we have been called to do? This is not to say that every woman is called to be a mother – even if a woman has children this does not mean her sole purpose in life is to stay at home and raise these children. What I am arguing, however, is that pregnancy is natural and by saying abortion helps in the liberation of women, it is essentially saying that abortion helps liberate women from nature – which is completely off the wall.
The bottom line for the entire situation is that abortion really doesn’t help in women’s liberation. Having a child doesn’t lower a woman or make her subservient to a man – it is simply a natural process. How is it liberating to go against what is natural?