The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

It doesn’t matter whether a fetus is human or not

Bodily autonomy and the right to life

I’ve engaged in far too many pro-choice vs. anti-choice arguments that revolved around the discussion of “is a fetus human or not?” and “is abortion a destruction of a human life?” It took me — and many other pro-choicers — far too long to recognize that this factor doesn’t matter.

I spent much of my earlier days in pro-choice activism arguing that a fetus was not human and could not feel pain; there are scientific studies proving that a fetus before the gestation length of 24 weeks has the same brain activity as a brain-dead person and is not alive. 

It took me years to acknowledge that the core of pro-choice ideology is not the abstract definition of life but of the basic human right of bodily autonomy.

The right to life of another human being has never, will never and should never trump another human’s right to bodily autonomy no matter what the circumstances. 

Story continues below advertisement

The most clear-cut example of this basic principle is shown in the court case “McFall v. Shimp,” in which Robert Mcfall, who was diagnosed with a near-fatal bone marrow disease, attempted to sue David Shimp to force him to donate marrow after he refused. 

Judge Flaherty ruled in favor of Shimp’s right to bodily autonomy.

Flaherty said that although he could not agree to Shimp’s case morally, to force him to “submit to an intrusion of his body … would defeat the sanctity of the individual and would impose a rule which would know no limits, and one could not imagine where the line would be drawn.” 

“For a society which respects the rights of one individual, to sink its teeth into the … neck of one of its members and suck from it sustenance for another member, is revolting,” Flaherty said.

In the words of the pro-choice organization Pro-Choice with Heart, “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a fetus, if it’s a baby, if it’s an embryo, if it’s a teen, if it’s a grandparent; no one has the right to use your body against your will.”

There is no such thing as a pregnancy without risks and side effects. 

To sustain a pregnancy for nine months would include — but is certainly not limited to — the inability to consume certain life-saving medicine, the inability to receive certain life medical procedures, irreversible changes to the body and infection.

This is all, of course, excluding the unfathomable pain of childbirth and even possible death resulting from complications.

To force anyone to sustain a pregnancy, risk their life and possibly even die against their will, is nothing short of a horrifically immoral infringement upon their bodily autonomy and basic rights as a human.  

If the government cannot force you to donate any organ against your will — even post-mortem — they should not be able to force you to use your uterus and body for the benefit of a fetus. 

It is dehumanizing and inhumane to protect everyone’s right to choose what they do with their organs and their body but to neglect the same protection when it comes to individuals assigned female at birth.

Tuong can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *