The sanctity of a woman’s right to decide
Personally, I have found the recent discussion about abortion to be much more disturbing than all of the back and forth about the economy and foreign policy. Setting aside the more absurd positions (pregnancies from rape are “something that God intended to happen“?), what we’ve heard in the past few weeks has been a debate about whether there should be exceptions to an outright ban on abortion (for rape, incest, etc.), whether one’s Catholic dogma should influence one’s legislative agenda, whether new Supreme Court appointees will affect Roe v. Wade and by how much, etc. The more serious-sounding discussions have been about where to draw the line on abortion.
All of these positions assume that a woman should not have the absolute right to make decisions about her own body and life. In the case of abortion, the decision is often complex and difficult. It carries with it consequences that can be life-long. If a woman does decide to abort, there may be many around her who disapprove, even vehemently, with her choice. But it is still a decision that only the woman involved can make, and it should be her legal right to do so. What motivates anti-abortionists to want to substitute their judgment for the woman’s?
This passage by Ayn Rand helped me understand why anti-abortionists advocate what they do (Ayn Rand wrote this in 1981, when there were some women’s groups protesting against abortion):
The question of abortion involves much more than the termination of a pregnancy: it is a question of the entire life of the parents. As I have said before, parenthood is an enormous responsibility; it is an impossible responsibility for young people who are ambitious and struggling, but poor; particularly if they are intelligent and conscientious enough not to abandon their child on a doorstep nor to surrender it to adoption. For such young people, pregnancy is a death sentence: parenthood would force them to give up their future, and condemn them to a life of hopeless drudgery, of slavery to a child’s physical and financial needs. The situation of an unwed mother, abandoned by her lover, is even worse.
I cannot quite imagine the state of mind of a person who would wish to condemn a fellow human being to such a horror. I cannot project the degree of hatred required to make those women run around in crusades against abortion. Hatred is what they certainly project, not love for the embryos, which is a piece of nonsense no one could experience, but hatred, a virulent hatred for an unnamed object. Judging by the degree of those women’s intensity, I would say that it is an issue of self-esteem and that their fear is metaphysical. Their hatred is directed against human beings as such, against the mind, against reason, against ambition, against success, against love, against any value that brings happiness to human life. In compliance with the dishonesty that dominates today’s intellectual field, they call themselves “pro-life.”
By what right does anyone claim the power to dispose of the lives of others and to dictate their personal choices?