Some pro-choice people may not think that the unborn baby is a human being with equal rights. But others may completely accept that the unborn baby is a living human but still think abortion is an acceptable choice, because they believe the right to bodily autonomy of the woman is more important than the right to life of the baby. It’s really important to clarify which type of pro-choice person you’re talking to.
By dodging the question of the morality of the abortion and focusing exclusively on the law – and in particular on a particular legal regime involving punishing women – people who talk about ‘forced pregnancy’ are subtly but effectively shifting the ground onto territory that favours them at the expense of having a conversation about the central issue: is abortion right or wrong? Everything else, including your attitude to the law, should be discussed once you’ve decided what you think on that critical question.
The Equal Rights Institute (ERI) is a great website for people looking for resources on how to talk about abortion both smartly and sensitively. One of my favourite posts of theirs is on what they call ‘the most underrated argument in the pro-life movement’: the Equal Rights Argument. This post discusses both the content of the argument and the way that the ERI recommends using it.
It’s not enough to ask whether the unborn human has an objective right to life, just as a human being not located in a uterus has. We also need to consider whether a woman’s right to determine what she does with her body (specifically, whether she uses her body to support another human being) overrides the other human being’s right to life. It’s very difficult to find a thought experiment that mirrors the unique human condition that is pregnancy, but I have found one that seems to come close: that of conjoined twins.
The thought experiment itself is long and can be quickly summarised: you’re in an IVF clinic that is burning to the ground, and as you try to escape you come across a crying five year old child and 1000 frozen embryos. You can save the child or the embryos, but not both. Which do you choose?
An interview with Kelsey Hazzard, founder of Secular Pro-Lfe.
If you’re part of a movement that people have negative impressions of, these impressions can be quite difficult to dispel. This is sometimes what it’s like trying to convince people feminism isn’t some hypocritical, self-centred movement for rich western women. It’s also what it can be like for pro-life feminists trying to win over our pro-choice counter parts – there are some pretty common ideas that people will believe about you without necessarily having any good reason to do so. Here are some ideas and tactics I think could help counter that.