Abortion Should Be Constitutionally Protected

Hello Dazzle! Thanks for coming and hanging out with me today, I’m glad that you are here. Today I want to talk about the reasons that I believe that abortion should be Constitutionally Protected. Since I have been getting so many questions on my various social media accounts, I figured that I would take some time to write out my thoughts so that I could direct people to one place. I’m rather lazy like that.

My views on this topic are based upon principles of medical ethics. I do not believe that religion has any place in legal or medical decision making. Thus, I will not be bringing up my own religious view points on this matter. Patients can absolutely use their religion to guide their decisions for their health care choices. However, their providers should not be using religion to determine what care their patients should be getting. Thus, I think religious view points on this topic are not relevant to what should be legally allowed. Religion has no place in the law in countries that have a separation of church and state as the USA claims to have.

The first topic that always comes up when people are talking about abortion rights is whether or not a fetus should be considered a human. I personally would argue that this is an irrelevant point due to the principles of body autonomy. I will get to that topic next. For now, I will entertain the question. There are three realms that this question can be considered from: religiously, legally and medically. It is impossible to answer the question from a religious perspective as there are so many religious views that coming to a consensus in a pure impossibility. Thus, why religion should stay out of legal and medical matters. The law does not consider the fetus a human and does not afford the fetus human rights. They are not considered American citizens until they are born and at that time they are given their legal personhood and rights. Medically, a fetus is more a kin to a parasite then a person and thus medicine also does not consider them to yet be human.

Medical ethics upholds the value of body autonomy. This is the ethical principle that states that every individual should have the right to choose what happens to their body. In the context of abortion, this principle raises a single question: should a person be required to undergo a medical procedure or put their health and well being at risk for the life of another person? The answer all across the world and even within the USA has been a resounding: NO. A person should always maintain their right to choose what is done to their bodies.

No one should ever be asked to put their life, health or well being at risk to save the life of another person. That is a basic principle of body autonomy. It is that ethical principal that has protected us from being forced to accept medical care that we don’t want. It is that principal that has kept us from being forced to donate organs and blood against our will. If we are going to maintain the precious power to choose what is done with our bodies then we must allow everyone to choose what is done with their bodies even when they choose to do things that we do not approve of or understand or like. That’s how the powers of freedom work.

The fetus, that is not legally or medically considered human, cannot be given priority over the human bearing the uterus. It clearly makes ethical sense that we protect the person that actually exists rather then the tissue that has the potential to become a human. But even if the fetus were to be considered human from the perspective that is left (religious), it is still not ethical to give priority to the fetus. This is because body autonomy dictates that we cannot demand that a person risk anything on behalf of another life. It doesn’t matter who that life is or how old that life is. The ethical principal of body autonomy is absolute.

Once you begin deciding that there are some procedures or conditions that a person can be required to risk their well being for, you open a Pandora’s box. Because if not an absolute, then where do you draw the line? By making it legal for people with a uterus to be legally required to risk their life for a potential human, that Pandora’s box has been opened. Where will the line be drawn now that body autonomy is no longer legally protected? It is now possible for the government to decide that a person can be forced to donate a kidney or donate blood against their will. There are much worse extremes that they could go to such as forced sterilization and forcing people to participate in medical research.

While an abortion carries risk, there are two things to consider. The first thing is that having an abortion carries less medical risk then having a full term pregnancy. Thus, when considering nothing other then the risk of each, the abortion would become the favored medical scenario. The other factor is body autonomy. We should not have the legal power to dictate what risks are acceptable for a person to take for their life, health or well being. The person whose body is effected should be the only person who has the power to decide if the risks of any given medical decision are worth the benefits of that procedure.

I’ve heard the argument that a person with a uterus should have thought about the consequences of becoming pregnant before they became pregnant if they did not want to take the risks of pregnancy. To that I simply retort that almost every patient who goes to the hospital has made a choice or a series of choices that has led them to being at that hospital seeking the care that they need. Should a person having a heart attack be denied life saving care if they cannot demonstrate that they appropriately managed their modifiable risk factors? Should a person with COVID be denied care if they did not wear a mask or have not been fully vaccinated? Because they too made choices that led them to the hospital seeking medical care.

The ethical value of medical equity requires that we give all patients high quality care, regardless of the choices that they have made in their lives and regardless of being a part of any particular social group or gender. Thus, under the principle of medical equity, it would be considered unethical to deny a person care just because they could have prevented the medical situation they find themselves in. This means that despite if a person with a uterus chose to use protection or not, despite if they chose to use birth control or not and despite having chosen to have sex or not, they are still ethically entitled to receive care. That is how medical equity works.

There is also the matters of population and social management. In a time that the human race has over populated the world to the point that we are literally threatening to collapse the ecosystems that we live in, is it ethical to legally require people who bear a uterus to bring more children into the world? Not to mention that it is irresponsible and unethical to bring children into a world where their society is not prepared to fully meet their needs. If you choose to carry a pregnancy to term and not put that child up for adoption, then you become legally responsible for that person up until they are of legal age (currently 18). Given that there are few supports for low income, single parents, ethnic parents or those with disabilities it seems rather damning to the child to demand that they be brought into a home that cannot afford to care for them in a humane manner. Especially when one considers the horrid state of affairs that the adoption and foster programs are currently in.

Let’s also consider the fact that providing free and readily available birth control is a much better way to prevent abortions then trying to legally regulate them. When abortions were previously illegal in this country, people who have a uterus were still having those abortions. They were illegal and very risky, but they were still being performed. When birth control was made more readily available, the numbers of abortions significantly dropped. This means that efforts to reduce the numbers of abortions performed in our country would be better served by focusing on making sure that birth control was free and readily available to anyone that wanted it. Having birth control that could be used by those with a penis would also serve to reduce the abortion numbers.

Additionally, in countries where parents are better supported and children’s needs are better met, there are fewer abortions. When parents believe that they can meet the needs of a child, they are less likely to choose to have an abortion. When a person with a uterus feels that they will be able to maintain their job and still care for the child adequately, they are less likely to choose to have an abortion. Research has shown that those who are considering having an abortion are much more concerned with having a child that will suffer then they are about causing themselves any suffering with the pain of the procedure or the possibility of future regrets. Thus, ensuring that our society can properly support and care for it’s people is an essential step in reducing the number of abortions being performed in our country. Not to mention that tackling the problem from this angle improves the lives of everyone while stripping rights from no one.

When abortion is legal, there is nothing prohibiting a person from choosing to not have one. This means that the right to religious freedom is maintained for those that believe that an abortion is religiously wrong. When abortion is made illegal, it prohibits individuals from making their own religious or ethical choices. Not all religions prohibit abortion and by making it illegal one could argue that religious freedom is being restricted because the person is no longer legally allowed to make the choice based upon their religious value set. Thus, in a complex, mixed society where we do not share religious views it becomes essential that we give people the opportunity to make those religious choices for themselves based upon their choice of diverse possible religious beliefs represented in this country. This has already been done in the case of accepting blood transfusions, post mortem care and in organ transplants. Abortions should not be an exception to the separation of church and state.

Fetal suffering has also been put forth as an argument against abortion. Given that the cortex only becomes functional and the tracts only develop after 24 weeks, science has ruled out fetal pain until the final trimester. Additionally, the manner in which the 24 week abortions are completed are, in part, to ensure that no suffering can possibly be felt even if the science is later proven incorrect. By quickly destroying the brain of the fetus before extraction, it is ensured that it is quite impossible for the fetus to perceive any form of suffering during the procedure. Late term abortions (those performed after 23 weeks) are clinically uncommon. They are performed in extreme and unusual circumstances such as acephaly and fetal demise. These are cases that the fetus is non-viable and thus there is nothing there to preserve nor to experience anything.

There are those that say: “But all life is sacred.” First, I will point out that this is a religious view point and thus really doesn’t have much bearing in a legal or medical discussion. However, I will entertain it. The reality of the universe is such that some things must die in order for other things to continue to live and thrive. Within this system, there are times that you simply cannot save both lives that are in jeopardy and must choose which to save. If you free a fly from the spider’s web you save the fly but starve the spider and must eventually kill the spider in order to save everything from it’s web. We take antibiotics, antivirals and such medications all the time to kill parasitic invaders. These are living creatures too, yet we kill them to resolve the infection and safe the life of the human. The fetus is parasitic tissue and carrying it to full term always comes with risk for the person who bears the uterus.

Sometimes we have to choose. When choices like these need to be made, the ethical principles of triage are employed. In the case of a fetus and a person with a uterus, it is ethical to choose the actual person rather then the fetus that has the potential to become a human. Triage makes this decision for two reasons. First, is because we give medical priority to humans over all other forms of life. Hence why we will kill parasites to cure an infection. Second, we save the life that has the highest probability of self sustaining without care. Since a fetus cannot sustain life without the host uterus, the person bearing the uterus is given the priority.

There are those that express sorrow and suffering in regards to the loss of the potential life. This is valid. There is nothing abnormal or pathological about mourning a future that we have imagined that will now no longer come into being. This type of grief is quite common for us humans. Nothing I have said here, in favor of abortion, is meant as any kind of attempt to deny or quash the emotional response we have to a lost or aborted pregnancy. Those feelings are complex and worthy of being allowed space.

However, this sadness and mourning for the potential person that fetus could have become does not negate the reality that allowing abortions is still the ethical thing to do. There is much in medicine that is both sad and the ethical thing to do. It is very sad to watch a person die without making any efforts to save their life, yet it is the ethical thing to do when they have a DNR. It is sad to watch a person with severe anemia die when they refused a blood transfusion that would save their life, but it is the ethical thing to do. It is sad to watch a person die from sepsis and gangrene when they refuse to have a limb amputated, but it is the ethical thing to do. We are mortal beings who are bound up with sadness and death; they are inherently part of our creation. We cannot make our decisions based on whether or not it causes us sadness or whether or not someone dies. We must weigh these matters carefully and stare at them long and hard through the lens of medical ethics. For there is much in medicine that is sadness and still the ethical thing to do.

The final point that must be made is that not every fetus has the potential to become a human. There are medical circumstances that do occur in which there is no way for that fetus to ever fully develop into a human. An ectopic pregnancy is one such type of pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is one that has a zero percent chance of ever becoming a human and also puts the person bearing a uterus at a very high risk for mortality. Pregnancies such as these have no logical treatment course other then to be aborted. When abortions are illegal or significantly restricted the lives of these individuals are being risked for literally nothing. This is unethical medical care and cannot be allowed.

Well, that’s about it for my rambling today. Thanks for coming and spending some time with me. If you like what you read, click on that like button. It really does help! Until we talk again, you take care of yourselves!

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