I am a strong proponent of freedom of choice, freedom of association, freedom of expression; of freedom in general. However one person’s freedom ends where another’s freedom begins. I do not have the freedom to take your life against your will; that is contrary to the meaning of freedom. Pre-born babies are not asked for their opinion before the suction tube is inserted into their mother. As saline-abortion survivor Gianna Jessen has said, “if abortion is about women’s rights, then where were mine?”
It is clear that every non-coerced action we make is a choice. That a given action was a choice has no bearing on its morality. Rape is a choice. Men have a choice whether they rape a woman or not, however it would be outrageous for me to suggest that somehow, because this is a choice, that it makes rape an acceptable activity. The fact that it’s a choice has nothing to do with its morality, therefore I would be stupid to bring up “choice” as an argument in favour of decriminalising rape. There is only one correct choice, and that is the choice not to commit rape.
The two questions we must ask, – and answer before we make a decision about abortion are: 1) Whose choice are we taking into consideration, and 2) Which choice is the correct one?
1) The decision whether to abort a foetus or not affects two people: the mother and her pre-born child. Therefore, as with all contracts, both parties must have their choice respected. If one of the parties’ choice is ignored, then the decision will be unjust. We cannot know what the baby’s choice will be, as we are currently unable to communicate with pre-born children to ask them whether they wish for their life to be terminated or not. If a foetus gave consent to its destruction, I would support abortion in this instance. Realistically speaking however, a foetus not only lacks the rational capacity to make such a decision, but we would be unable to ascertain its decision even if it were able to make one. Therefore, as with all contracts, we have an obligation to err on the side of caution, and postpone killing the pre-born child until such time as it is able to consent to its death. This may all sound fairly cold and heartless, but consider: how many people do you know who would agree to your proposition of killing them? None.
If a mother, or a relative, friend or doctor of the mother wishes to kill the pre-born child, this wish is superceded by the natural rights held by the foetus – to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
2) Which choice is the correct one? I absolutely support a woman’s right to choose – given that she makes a moral choice. Nobody has the right to choose to harm another person without their consent. The correct choice is life for the baby.
The pro-life group that I work with in New Zealand has a popular t-shirt that reads “Unborn babies are pro-choice too”. This statement is not only untrue, but it is also unverifiable. As far as I can tell, pre-born babies are not yet of a rational capacity to even contemplate whether they wish to die or live. Their natural bodily functions are all crying out “live”, however they have not yet grasped the concept of the desirability of living within their own minds. Therefore they do not have the ability to choose one way or the other. In saying this, pre-born babies do have other thoughts, such as recognising the sound of their mother’s voice… The statement is unverifiable because we cannot be 100% sure that all babies would advocate for choice – were they able. It is possible that there may be some pre-born babies – who, if asked, (were the technology available) – if they supported upholding choice on the issue of abortion, who would respond that they do not. All that aside, with our t-shirts we’ve made a well-educated guess that were pre-born babies able to respond, that they would support choice. It follows that the vast majority of babies would support the non-abortion choice, as very few humans – when asked, will volunteer to have their lives ended.
In summary: Choice has nothing to do with morality, therefore choice does not impact on the acceptability of abortion. A choice is only permissible if it does not take away the choice of another person.