Roe Protects the Full Range of Pregnant Women’s Rights


Yesterday, National Advocates for Pregnant Women released a letter
to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee in order to draw attention to
the violation of women’s rights and the erosion of women’s personhood that
would surely follow if the Supreme Court ever overturned Roe v. Wade.  Along with the other 100-plus people who signed the
letter, I hope it will encourage members of the Judiciary Committee to engage
Judge Sonia Sotomayor in a broad discussion about reproductive rights and about
the status of pregnant women as full persons, which are increasingly under attack.

When Judge Sotomayor appears in front of the Committee this
July, senators across the political spectrum will likely try to ascertain her
views on Roe v. Wade.  But do they – and do people across the
country – appreciate the broader scope of that famous Supreme Court decision? Roe v. Wade stands for women’s
reproductive self-determination: for the right to have an abortion and the
right to have a baby.  Both dimensions of Roe‘s
promise are critical to women’s lives, yet most people are far more familiar
with one than the other.

Women’s Right to Abortion

Most of us know that Roe
v. Wade
recognized women’s constitutional right to an abortion.  In a case about the right to
use contraception decided one year before Roe,
the Court declared that if the right to privacy means anything, it is the right
"to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so
fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a
child."  The Court applied this logic to abortion, concluding that
women’s rights to liberty and privacy encompass the decision to terminate a
pregnancy. The Court understood "the
detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman" if it denied her
the ability to make that decision.

Elaborating on this detriment almost 20 years later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Court
stated that each woman
who carries a pregnancy to term "is subject to anxieties, to physical
constraints, to pain that only she must bear." Just because women have always
borne these burdens is not enough of a reason for the state to insist that they
do so; a woman’s "suffering is too intimate and personal for the State to
insist, without more, upon its own vision of the woman’s role… The destiny of
the woman must be shaped to a large extent on her own conception of her
spiritual imperatives and her place in society."

The late Dr. George Tiller expressed this philosophy more
succinctly when he said that abortion is about women’s "hopes and dreams." For
most women in the United States, those hopes and dreams include raising
children. Because women want to decide how many children to have and when to
have them, many also end a pregnancy at some point in their lives.  At current rates, one in three women in the U.S. will have an abortion in her lifetime.

The Court held in Roe
v. Wade
that women’s rights are not absolute, and struck a compromise
between women’s rights to reproductive autonomy on the one hand and the state’s
interest in potential life on the other. Roe
did not establish a contest between women’s rights and "fetal rights;" rather,
it recognized a state interest in the
potential life of the fetus, because fetuses are not persons with rights or
interests of their own under the constitution.

Over time, the Court has given greater deference to state
interests in potential life, allowing more restrictions on women’s abortion
rights throughout pregnancy, but the Court has always been clear that the final
decision rests with women, and that a woman’s health and life always come
first; this is why women can have abortions after viability, when their health
or life is at stake.

Women’s Rights during Pregnancy

Some people misunderstand – or misrepresent – the compromise
the Court struck, and argue that after a woman’s pregnancy reaches the stage of
viability, the state can intervene not only to stop a woman from having an
abortion, but to dictate how she should live as well.

Based on this misreading of Roe, some judges have granted orders to force women to submit to
cesarean surgery or blood transfusions against their will. Prosecutors have
invented crimes of "fetal abuse" that have no basis in statutes, such as
"delivering drugs to a minor" through the umbilical cord, or equating
stillbirth with homicide. Even though these cases rarely stand up to the
scrutiny of appellate courts, there is always another prosecutor in another
jurisdiction willing to bring such charges against women.

Judges have also sentenced women to jail time to "protect"
their fetuses, despite the troubling conditions in jails and prisons, including
documented cases of women giving birth in their cells without any medical
attention.  Just this month, a
judge in Maine ordered a pregnant woman to remain in jail
because she is
HIV-positive, until her attorneys and a coalition of "friends of the court" persuaded
the judge that this not only violated the woman’s rights to fair treatment, but
would likely result in disruptions in the medical care that he claimed was his
reason for imprisoning her.

Ours is a culture where a pregnant woman’s every move is
increasingly scrutinized by family, friends, co-workers, and perfect strangers.
People feel free to pass judgment on what a pregnant woman eats, drinks, and
does: Is she gaining too much weight or not enough? Is that coffee
decaffeinated? Is that a glass of wine in her hand? Pregnant women themselves
may be confused by conflicting messages, even from within the scientific
community, about what they should do, for example, whether it is safe to eat
fish. As unwelcome as these judgments and uncertainties may be, they pale in
comparison to what happens when those in the government decide to wield their
power as state actors to monitor and punish a woman for her actions during
pregnancy.

The Confirmation Hearings as an Opportunity to Affirm
Women’s Rights

We know we can expect members of the Judiciary Committee to
ask questions about Roe v. Wade and
abortion rights in the confirmation hearings, and they should – Judge Sotomayor
does not have much of a record on these vital issues.

We also hope the Committee will ask Judge Sotomayor whether
she believes there is a point in pregnancy at which women lose their civil
rights, and if so, on what basis they lose them. This question is important,
because the actions of judges, prosecutors, and other state actors who would
deprive pregnant women of their rights rest on the assumption that pregnant
women are no longer persons. They rest on the assumption that when women become
pregnant, they somehow fall out of the category of "person" and into another category,
more reminiscent of the 19th century, where they can be erased
from the protections of the constitution. For example, when a judge sided with
hospital administrators who wanted to surgically remove Angela
Carder
‘s fetus at 26 weeks of pregnancy because she was dying of cancer,
those parties treated Carder literally as if she were no more than a vessel for
the fetus, not as a person with her own aspirations for her future child, who
maintained her rights to informed consent and bodily integrity.

Similarly,
when police, prosecutors, and judges seek to jail women for using drugs when
they are pregnant, they are deciding that the normal rules don’t apply – while
they would rarely if ever arrest a man and charge him with drug possession on
the basis of a positive drug test, they do arrest women on that basis, because
in their eyes, being pregnant means that women have forfeited their rights to
equal treatment and due process of law.

The Court’s decision in Roe
v. Wade
is not perfect. Feminists, as well as those who believe that
abortion should be illegal, have found fault with the decision; for instance,
feminists have critiqued the way that the Roe
decision relies on constitutional notions of privacy instead of equality. Yet
the meaning and significance of Roe
has been unmistakable: for 36 years, it has broadcast the message that women
have the right to make decisions about their bodies and their lives.

In practice, women cannot carry out their decisions without
access to reproductive health care, including safe abortion. Medical
professionals who provide abortion care are facing renewed risks of harassment
and violence. Dr. Tiller lost his life because of his commitment to ensuring
that women could control theirs. The Judiciary Committee, the entire Congress,
the Obama Administration, and the courts need to do more to protect the rights
and safety of women and medical providers.

Resources:

  • Timeline
    of Supreme Court decisions on contraception and abortion
  • Stories of
    women who have had abortions, and
    of physicians who provide abortions
  • Information
    and analysis
    of women’s status and the politics of fetal rights

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with Rachel Roth please contact Communications Director Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • http://www.historicalfictionbook.net invalid-0

    I wonder what Elizabeth Cady Stanton would say about a woman’s right to abortion. When she helped launch the First Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848, her big concerns were inheritance rights, property rights, the right to equal education and good jobs, and the right to vote. As one of eleven children and the mother of seven–and with a husband gone much of the time–Lizzie Stanton’s devotions wavered between the responsibilities of motherhood and her quest for the just and equal treatment of women and men. Some battles have been won.

  • invalid-0

    This is a very thoughtful and well-written piece. While so many people try to boil down reproductive rights issues to a black-white, pro-choice or anti-abortion dichotomy, I’ve come to realize that reproductive rights are truly women’s rights. Too many of the laws that aim to “protect the fetus” are really just cleverly designed attempts to turn back the clock and put woman back in her traditional place: the home where she can be controlled by a patriarchal husband figure.
    Anti-choicers rely on emotional arguments about the suffering of the poor fetuses because they can’t articulate the real origin of their angst–that women are now free to control their own destinies, hold down well-paying jobs and choose to engage in casual sex if they want to–just like men have always done.

  • invalid-0

    I wonder what Elizabeth Cady Stanton would say about a woman’s right to abortion. … As one of eleven children and the mother of seven–and with a husband gone much of the time

    I wonder what Elizabeth Cady Stanton would have to say about birth control. With her husband gone most of the time making speeches calling for the abolition of slavery, perhaps she might have been intrigued by the possibility of choosing to have fewer children.

  • invalid-0

    Abortion “rights” is the great folly of our time. Just as the Dred Scott decision did to slaves, Roe v. Wade stripped the unborn of their rights as human beings. Unborn children are now legally nothing more than the mere chattel of the mother.

  • invalid-0

    it’s easy to think being born a woman is a sign of “what God wants” it’s easy to expect that, of course, a sane woman will welcome every pregnancy. The opposite side of a fetus not being “mere chattel of the mother” is the pregnant woman being “mere chattel of the state”

    I think my biological sex was a coin-toss, not a sign from god, and I don’t want to be a second class citizen (more than I already am) for the sake enforcing the expected “sex role of women”.

    Over the millenia, women and poor people — in addition to slaves — have been treated like property by the ruling class. They’ve got a vested interest in the status quo. A lot of that, over the years, has gone into the discussions about what social norms & what women are expected to do.
    I would rather have medical standards, not laws.

    .

  • invalid-0

    I know you think abortion is all about YOU. It’s NOT. Whether by divine intervention or luck, however you look at it, it’s undeniable that there’s another life involved here. Our rights are not absolute. We can’t yell fire in a crowded theater for example. But somehow it’s OK to end a life because you’re not ready for the responsibility? Recognizing the rights of the unborn to live does not make you property of the state or make you a second-class citizen, it simply treats the unborn as the humans they are. This is a burden for women – no doubt. One more thing, while it’s true that women were treated as property over the ages, it has no relevance to the discussion today. I come from a long line of peasants and laborers who were certainly mistreated. That doesn’t make ME a victim today.

  • http://www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org invalid-0

    The decision in Dred Scott reinforced a government sponsored institution of slavery. The decision in Roe v. Wade ensured that the government would not substitute its judgments for those of pregnant women and their families.

    Recognizing the personhood of African-Americans did not require other Americans to give up their personhood. Recognizing separate personhood for the “unborn” would require pregnant women to give up their constitutional personhood.

    According constitutional rights to fetuses would not only jeopardize women’s lives and health by denying them access to legal abortion, but would also undermine substantially their status as constitutional persons including their ability to participate as full and equal citizens in our society. In Casey, Justice Stevens articulated this concern. Quoting Ronald Dworkin, he observed that “The suggestion that states are free to declare a fetus a person . . . . assumes that a state can curtail some persons’ constitutional rights by adding new persons to the constitutional population. . . . If a fetus is not part of the constitutional population, under the national constitutional arrangement, then states have no power to overrule that national arrangement by themselves declaring that fetuses have rights competitive with the constitutional rights of pregnant women.”

    To oppose the recognition of fetal personhood as a matter of law is not to deny the value of potential life as matter of religious belief, emotional conviction or personal experience. Rather, it is to recognize that such a legal construct effectively removes pregnant women from the protections of the constitution and civil law.

    Lynn M. Paltrow
    National Advocates for Pregnant Women

  • invalid-0

    In Dred Scott, the court ruled that slaves were property and thus could not be citizens or have rights. Roe v. Wade, for all intents and purposes, did the same thing to the detriment of the unborn. Justice Stevens was clear on this – the unborn are not persons. And if you’re not a person, you’re property. “My body – my baby.” Right? Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade are absolutely linked. You wrote, “Recognizing separate personhood for the “unborn” would require pregnant women to give up their constitutional personhood.” No it wouldn’t. You’re overstating the case. Recognizing the unborn as persons would give their interest a weight in the decision. Honestly, I think you’re confusing the concept of “getting what you want” with “rights” in a Democratic Republic. They’re not the same thing.

  • http://www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org invalid-0

    Thanks for your reply and the clarification. Fetal rights were the basis for forcing Angela Carder to undergo un-consented to cesarean surgery that she and her doctors knew might kill her. In fact the surgery contributed to her death and the fetus did not survive. I think it is comforting to many people to believe that legal rights for fetuses can be recognized without resulting in a balancing that deprives women of their personhood. The Carder case and hundreds of others demonstrate that this is not the case. Angela Carder certainly didn’t get what she wanted — the right to live.

  • invalid-0

    Lynn, If a third of all women in the US will have an abortion in their lifetime, surely most of them don’t involve a question as to the health of the mother, let alone the life of a mother. In any event, I will grant you this (who decides and based on what criteria) is one of MANY “practical” issues I’m uncomfortable with if and when I “get my way.” Your concern in this area is quite justified. I think many “right-to-lifers” like myself would favor wide latitude regarding the health and life of the mother, but that doesn’t mean that the others won’t get to decide. Believe me, I’m with you on this. To get back to my original point, I support the idea that the unborn should have the basic right to live that every person has and this should carry some weight. If we’re weighing the fact that a young woman has “her whole life in front of her” against the life of the unborn you know where I would side. I know the practical implications of what I’m saying are a burden for women and are not (even remotely) entirely solvable. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done though.

  • jodi-jacobson

    that early term abortions are about the “life and health” of the mother in the way you define these categories.

    Rather, as Roe stated, it is the woman’s right to decide whether to go through with a pregnancy or not.

    It all comes down to the very same thing: You believe life begins at conception and that from that very moment a zygote has the same rights as a woman.

    Others have much more nuanced, complex or very different views from yours on what constitutes “life,” when it begins and what choices they face regarding their lives and their abilities and their goals and dreams.

    Let’s not keep confusing and changing the arguments by conflating all these things and refusing to understand the line of argument, which is quite consistent. Women have the right to determine whether or not the carry a pregnancy to term and to give birth to a child, until, as Roe notes, and those full rights are balanced against the rights of a fetus at viability. This is why Roe created what i think generally is a sane balance: If the fetus is viable in the sense of numbers of weeks of pregnancy, but is not “viable” due to catastrophic anomalies, and/or if the woman’s life or health is in danger, then she decides with her family and her doctors.

    Again, this all comes down to trust of women as moral, ethical sentient beings….unless you are suggesting we lock women up at the begininng of menarchy….keep them under surveillance for the rest of their reproductive lives, and then also have you and your friends follow them to every doctor’s appointment.

    Jodi Jacobson

  • invalid-0

    I was using birth control. When my birth control failed and we got pregnant (I was already married 5 years) we had already decided on no children — I had made no commitment to any potential person. Since IUD wasn’t reliable in my body I got my tubes tied — and that worked. I didn’t get pregnant again and now I’m in menopause. When we made our decision, it wasn’t just about me. My husband didn’t want children, the world was already overpopulated. So I opted for a legal abortion. I don’t know what I would have done if abortion wasn’t legal. Maybe my marriage would have failed — that wasn’t something I wanted to risk.

    Recognizing the rights of the unborn to live does not make you property of the state or make you a second-class citizen, it simply treats the unborn as the humans they are.

    There isn’t room in one body for two person’s rights. Forcing me to continue a pregnancy would be making me a second class citizen [an indentured servant for the time of the pregnancy & recovery] – even if you wave your hands and say it isn’t so. It’s your opinion that an unwanted fetus is “human” [a person with rights]. I agree the fetus is alive and biologically “human”, but my belief is it is a “potential person”, and it’s the woman’s choice to accept the pregnancy or not. There is no laws to force a person with the one-and-only blood-marrow match to help another person; but people (maybe including you) want to make abortion illegal. Feels like making women second class citizens to me.

    while it’s true that women were treated as property over the ages, it has no relevance to the discussion today. I come from a long line of peasants and laborers who were certainly mistreated. That doesn’t make ME a victim today.

    Laws and Church doctrine don’t happen in a vacuum. It’s built on what happened in the past. Groups that have power and influence can (and do) use their power and influence to keep their class privileges. Laws don’t apply equally to rich & poor. At the very least, I’m paying more than my fair share of taxes when the top brackets pay a much smaller percentage than I do.

  • invalid-0

    Lynn,

    What do you mean by the phrase, “Recognizing separate personhood for the “unborn” would require pregnant women to give up their constitutional personhood?” Are you saying by declaring that the unborn are persons then pregnant women would have NO RIGHTS. For example, they couldn’t demand a fair trial, or even more extreme, their husbands or parents could euthanize them in the same way one has the right to euthanize a non-person like a cat or dog? Or do you mean that pregnant women would have to give up some “rights.” For example, the right to smoke or drink during pregnancy. Of course, the question of whether this (and similar “rights”) are bona fide rights is exactly what’s being debated. It’s possible these destructive rights are on par with the supposed right of restaurant owners to choose to serve patrons based on race or religion. Do you have an argument as to why the unborn are a being who don’t qualify for rights, or is your entire case based on the rights women should have irregardless of the moral status of the fetus?

  • colleen

     What do you mean by the phrase, "Recognizing separate personhood for
    the "unborn" would require pregnant women to give up their
    constitutional personhood?"

     I’m not Lynn but I will say that various members of Team Zygote have been quite open about this. Take, for instance, the bill that recently failed in ND which tried to grant fertilized eggs the rights of persons (revealingly and hiillariously except for purposes of the census). It specifically stated that while women had the right to ‘life’ we aren’t entitled to either liberty or the pursuit of happiness. The bill is the work of savages but at least more honest than you are being in this response

     

     

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    Or do you mean that pregnant women would have to give up some “rights.” For example, the right to smoke or drink during pregnancy. Of course, the question of whether this (and similar “rights”) are bona fide rights is exactly what’s being debated. It’s possible these destructive rights are on par with the supposed right of restaurant owners to choose to serve patrons based on race or religion. Do you have an argument as to why the unborn are a being who don’t qualify for rights, or is your entire case based on the rights women should have irregardless of the moral status of the fetus?

    Excuse me? In one breath, Derek, you manage to ridicule the not unfounded fear that “fetal personhood” will cost women their constitutional rights while simultaneously suggesting that such must be the case…if the fetus is a person. Wow. Gotta hand it to ya. This is male privilege at its most arrogant.

  • invalid-0

    “The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.” I don’t doubt that the religious extremists in the anti-abortion camp would love to go “Taliban” on us. Believe me. We’re not all who you think we are. I voted for Pres. Obama. I’m just an average person who happens to believe the unborn should not be seen as property, but as living beings with a fundamental right to life, which has weight to bare on an abortion decision. This is not an extreme or unreasonable position.

  • invalid-0

    I’m just an average person who happens to believe the unborn should not be seen as property, but as living beings with a fundamental right to life, which has weight to bare on an abortion decision.

    You do realize, do you not, that legally enshrining your beliefs effectively renders women the “PROPERTY” of the state?

  • invalid-0

    ahunt, You’re confusing getting what you want with rights. None of us has absolute rights in this country. Our rights are always weighed against those of others. The question here is should the unborn have rights. If so, then those rights have weight.

  • invalid-0

    “You do realize, do you not, that legally enshrining your beliefs effectively renders women the “PROPERTY” of the state?” You’re overreaching.

  • invalid-0

    Come again? There is no confusion. I require the same “rights” as every other citizen of this nation. Are you suggesting that women are not entitled to equal rights?

  • invalid-0

    ahunt, No. I’m suggesting the unborn should have “rights.” If you could stop thinking about yourself for a split second you might get this.

  • invalid-0

    If you could stop thinking about yourself for a split second you might get this.

    As an individual and as a member of the sex you apparently wish to reduce to breeding stock, legally speaking, I can assure you that I do “get it” and absolutely “reject it,” as is my “right,” under the constitution.

  • invalid-0

    ahunt, I got a bit testy there. Sorry about that. I just wanted to express my thoughts on this and unexpectedly got some responses. I certainly respect all of you and your opinions. I hope I didn’t hurt anyone. Thanks.

  • invalid-0

    Overreaching? Search RH…look for Tennessee House Bill SB1065/HB0890…

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/node/9395

  • invalid-0

    Not to worry, Anonymous…RH is often rough and tumble, and you are absolutely welcome to participate.

  • invalid-0

    I support the idea that the unborn should have the basic right to live that every person has and this should carry some weight.

    While I will agree with you that every person has the basic right to live they do not have the right to live off somebody else. Citizens in the United States have a “right to life” but they do not have “a right” to food, shelter, clothing or medical care. The case of fetus is unique in that giving it “the right to life” REQUIRES another “unique and separate human being” to put their health and life at risk in order to provide for someone else the equivalent of food, shelter, clothing and medical care which she herself does not have a “right” to demand.

  • colleen

    I don’t doubt that the religious extremists in the anti-abortion camp would love to go "Taliban" on us.

     Who is there to to stop them? Look, I really do understand that there are degrees of extremism within the anti-abortion movement.  I also understand that there is nothing and no one willing or able to stop them amongst the religious right. 

    You’re not going to prevent zygotes from being treated as property if you treat  women like livestock. The ‘unborn person’ is always located in someone else’s body you aren’t going to protect anybody by denying other women, women who do not share your beliefs, something as basic as bodily sovereignty, freedom of conscience and autonomy.

     

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • colleen

    That’s a really decent and generous response, Anonymous. May I suggest that you start an account and continue to post here?

     

     

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    Or do you mean that pregnant women would have to give up some “rights.” For example, the right to smoke or drink during pregnancy. Of course, the question of whether this (and similar “rights”) are bona fide rights is exactly what’s being debated.

    I had to think for a while before responding to this one. I find it interesting that you assume the pregnant woman’s “rights” are all opposed to the fetus and that you reveal so clearly your view that when the fetus gets the rights you think it should have, the pregnant woman’s behavior should rightly be monitored and controlled by the State to protect the fetus.

    Some of the rights you believe the pregnant woman doesn’t really need are the right to take necessary medication for physical or mental illness, the right to have her cancer treated, the right to bodily integrity since the rights of the fetus could be used to require her to have a caesarian, the right to fertility since some believe it’s ‘morally superior to treat ectopic pregnancy by removal of the fallopian tube or cervix instead of with RU-486, and the right to health, since even pregnancy complications while are not imminently fatal can leave lasting disabilities.

  • rachel-roth

    Jodi’s comment contains a common slip of the tongue — or slip of the keyboard — that warrants correction. As I explained in my post, "Roe did not establish a contest between women’s rights and "fetal rights;" rather, it recognized a state interest in the potential life of the fetus."

     

    This is a very important distinction. As Lynn Paltrow explains in her comments, legal rights are different from emotional convictions or religious convictions that people may hold in regard to fetuses. As much of the discussion here makes clear, what is at stake is women’s control over their lives, and whether the state can dictate the course of women’s lives, or whether ours will be a society in which we, as the phrase on one of Dr. Tiller’s favorite buttons said, "Trust Women."

     

     

  • jodi-jacobson

    Rachel,

    Thanks a bunch for that correction. You are totally correct and it was in fact a mistake on my part to state it that way.

    Thanks for catching that important mistake and put it down to my feeble brain!

    Jodi

  • invalid-0

    “…they do not have the right to live off somebody else.” In marriage and divorce they do. It’s legal.

  • invalid-0

    Rachel, With all due respect a fetus can’t speak. If an adult is incapacitated we recognize Powers of Attorney. For children we have parents to make decisions. Clearly, we can’t rely on Mom to take the best interests of the unborn into consideration all the time. I don’t like the “state” any more than you do, but the state always takes on the role of guardian for unwanted children. The “state interest” language should not be surprising or especially meaningful in the discussion of wether or not the unborn should have rights. Also, clearly a fetus is ALIVE – it’s growing. They very idea that a fetus is “potential” life doesn’t sit very well with me. Thanks for the good debate everyone. Don’t think I haven’t heard you. I understand many of your fears and concerns. Other times I think you’re just being selfish.

  • invalid-0

    Clearly, we can’t rely on Mom to take the best interests of the unborn into consideration all the time.

    Clearly? It isn’t clear to me. Why ever would you think that the State would do a better job? The State might decide that devoting scarce medical resources to maintaining a doomed anencephalic pregnancy is wasteful, that allowing the fetus to develop more pain sensing nerve endings is not in its best interest and prolongs its suffering, and demand that a woman who is absolutely opposed to an abortion be required to have one anyway.

  • invalid-0

    Using rare and special cases to defend your position does nothing for me. IMO EXTREMELY WIDE definitions for the life and health of the mother and merciful treatment of the unborn with serious medical issues should be used if more restrictions were to be placed on abortion. The vast majority of people in America have no interest in having women dieing from complicated pregnancies or prolonging a dieing baby’s suffering in the womb. There’s a big difference between what you’re talking about and the run-of-the-mill convenience abortion, which is what troubles most people.

  • invalid-0

    There’s a big difference between what you’re talking about and the run-of-the-mill convenience abortion, which is what troubles most people.

    Sure there is, and that’s exactly my point – once ‘people’ decide that other people can’t be trusted to run their own lives, and that the government should be running it for them instead, every single case IN BOTH DIRECTIONS is open for public consensus as to solutions generating as well the usual cluster of unintended consequences.

    Just as a for instance, it would certainly be reasonable for people ‘troubled’ about already-born children to decide that since the State gets to force reproduction on some women who are too stupid to understand they’re supposed to want to be mothers, then it’s equally reasonable for the State to be make decisions for those who are too dumb to understand they shouldn’t be parents: known child abusers, registered child molesters, the seriously mentally ill, alcoholics, drug users, etc., because obviously those people need society to ‘help’ them make reproductive decisions. At that point we’re right back into the entirely discredited eugenics business.

    How about requiring men who are consistently behind on their child support to their already existing children to get a vasectomy so that the taxpayers don’t have to bear the burden of supporting their children? If society can require women to remain pregnant because they’re selfish then isn’t it equally reasonable to prevent selfish men from causing pregnancies?

    If people are free then they are free to make troubling, even stupid decisions. The assumption that if people disagree then it must be because one side is immoral/stupid and the other side is morally superior/more intelligent is not well-founded but instead tends to be rooted in the delusion that those who agree with us are superior to those who don’t.

    In a free country, the person who is actually in the situation and who is actually affected by it personally has to be assumed to be the person who has clearest knowledge about what is going on, the most information about the options available, and the responsibility for making the decision, because that person has the most at stake and the outcome affects that person more than anyone else.

  • invalid-0

    Lynn Paltrow states that granting personhood rights to the child in the womb would strip away the personhood of the mother. This is a lie. Being a person does not mean that you can do whatever you want with your child, before or after birth, and not being able to do whatever you want with your child does not strip away your rights as a person, it only makes you responsible for your child. By the way, since you are a lawyer, I assume that you know about vicarious liability: a parent can be prosecuted for standing not acting to save her child’s life, because our society and culture are not as heartless and egotistical as to allow a parent no responsibility for the well being of their children, in other words a parent has an affirmative duty to protect his or her child. That does not make us parents lesser persons, quite the opposite, it makes us persons with greater responsibility.

  • invalid-0

    Lynn Paltrow states that granting personhood rights to the child in the womb would strip away the personhood of the mother. This is a lie. Being a person does not mean that you can do whatever you want with your child, before or after birth, and not being able to do whatever you want with your child does not strip away your rights as a person, it only makes you responsible for your child. By the way, since you are a lawyer, I assume that you know about vicarious liability: a parent can be prosecuted for standing not acting to save her child’s life, because our society and culture are not as heartless and egotistical as to allow a parent no responsibility for the well being of their children, in other words a parent has an affirmative duty to protect his or her child. That does not make us parents lesser persons, quite the opposite, it makes us persons with greater responsibility.

  • invalid-0

    - The right to pursuit of happiness. I require anti-depressants to function, anti-depressants that aren’t qualified as safe to a fetus.
    - The right to control of my own reproductive system.
    - The right to control how many children I have.
    - The right to my health.