‘Bodily autonomy’ doesn’t mean women get to violently kill other humans

abortion, women, bodily autonomy, texas right to life

Some abortion activists justify abortion by using difficult cases, like a poor prenatal diagnosis or even simply Down syndrome, as if these cases make it acceptable to kill the preborn baby. Yet other abortion advocates, like Elly Lonon in an opinion piece published by The Washington Post on May 27th, loudly proclaim that they owe no justification for any kind of abortion whatsoever.

Lonon’s piece, titled “I had an abortion. It’s none of your business why,” ultimately relies heavily on rhetoric and self-righteous emotional appeal, but ends up unable to deliver a coherent argument when we examine the main points.

Flawed Argument #1: I am an adult of sound mind and body. My government has decreed me capable of voting, of operating motor vehicles, of purchasing firearms, of paying taxes. Why is this irrational line drawn at body autonomy?”

This argument may sound persuasive at first glance, but it falls apart when one exerts the smallest amount of critical thinking. For instance, regarding the right to bear arms to which the author alludes, the government requires a number of prerequisites for a citizen to be able to exercise that right, including a background check, a criminal record free of felonies in most states, the safe and proper use of the firearm, and specific rules that govern how firearms can be carried to include special permits and training for concealed carry. The government, in other words, sets considerable limits on autonomy in order to balance the rights and safety of others with one’s own individual right.

What pro-lifers argue with respect to abortion is no different: that a woman’s right to autonomy must be balanced against the rights of others. An expectant mother has a right to autonomy, but that right doesn’t give her authority to violently inflict death on another living person who infringes on her autonomy. Rights are never absolute abstractions, especially when they infringe on the fundamental rights of another — contrary to what abortion activists imply when they use the loaded term bodily “autonomy.” That’s not only a fundamental principle of our society, it’s common sense.

WATCH: Abortion is never medically necessary, and it’s not health care

Flawed Argument #2: For example, as a U.S. citizen, I have the right to refuse lifesaving medical treatment. Unless I give express permission, no one can remove an organ from my body — even to save the life of another person. Even after death, no one can perform research upon or remove parts of my body without prior consent. Why do my reproductive decisions fall outside of these other condoned health-care choices?”

Abortion is neither a “reproductive decision” nor a “health-care choice.” Abortion is violence. Abortion is never medically necessary. Nothing gives one the right to kill, dismember, and tear a living person from his place of existence. On the contrary, the respect for bodily integrity should also extend to the preborn child: he must not be refused medical treatment. Nobody should be able to remove an organ from his body — even to save the life of another person. And should he die, nobody should be allowed to perform research upon or remove parts of his body.


Flawed Argument #3: “Control and subjugation are stories as old as civilization. Exerting authority over what I do or do not house in my body is no less oppressive than restricting what religion I can practice or which consenting adult I can marry.”

Pro-lifers do not call for “control” and “subjugation” of women. These are absurd scare words with misogynistic connotations designed to paint pro-lifers as part of an oppressive patriarchy. In reality, by using the word “what” to describe the preborn baby in a woman’s body, the author has subtly exerted the most oppressive form of authority over another person: dehumanization. The truth is that pro-lifers want a woman to have the right to control her own body, to make informed health care decisions, and to have help when needed — all of which can be done without inflicting violence on another living human.

“I am not my abortion. Everything I am, however, is because of that abortion,” claims Lonon. This statement has ominous implications. Must we really liberate ourselves from another person to become who we want to be — what Pope Francis recently likened to “hiring a hitman to solve a problem”? Pro-lifers believe there is a better way. We believe in a better vision of society, one that stands ready to help women in the most extreme of difficult situations, and one that rejects the myth that women must submit to the violence of abortion to have a chance of achieving their dreams.

In the end, when we examine Lonon’s key points, the seemingly persuasive rhetoric melts away and we are left to see what the article truly is: an exercise in vanity, and a crude display of pride masqueraded as virtue.

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