The inequality of abortion rights

David Rodriguez

“So what if abortion ends life?”

Reads the title of a 2013 article published in Salon Magazine written by Mary Elizabeth Williams. My initial reaction to seeing the title was sheer sadness. Worse than the sadness I felt when I learned my mother had cancer and watched from a distance as she battled for her life, or the sadness I experienced when I went through photos of my family to create a presentation for my grandmother’s funeral. The kind of sadness that suspends itself all around me in a halo of rotten emotion and cripples my faculties as I attempt to bend them to my will.

I consider myself nothing more than a human being, currently sharing thoughts and feelings— I am part of a species with complex organizational and communicative offices as a whole and within each individual, and I consider every other human being thusly as well.

I have come to understand that what society wants is equality for all people, whether it be for groups of people or people as individuals.

Which is why I am confused upon reading through Ms. Williams article— She regards the beginning of human life as being at the moment of conception, yet confesses that the life inside a womb is less important than that of the mother who carries the baby. Only “life” for the mother is defined not only “in the most medically literal way… [but] in the possibilities for [mothers] and their families.”

Enter inequality where the baby is presumed to have no non-medical “life,” whereas the mother does, but what differentiates the baby’s future non-medical life from the mother’s future non-medical life? As Ms. Williams inserts, “[The Mother] is the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.” So we are to kill babies in order to lead a more pleasant life? I was always taught that putting myself in a less advantageous position for the sake of helping others was the right thing to do, yet Ms. Williams asserts that the life of a fetus is a life worth sacrificing.

Sacrifice, though, cannot be called “sacrifice” if the life is taken, not given.

Ms. Williams declares that simply because the fetus inside of a mother is non-autonomous (i.e. has no power), the mother, who has power, should therefore have the right to say what happens to the fetus. Here, I find the root of attack on a group of powerless people called “fetus,” resulting in a death toll in the 10’s of millions.

Consider you were approached by an armed assailant with no help in sight— then and there you have no autonomy, just as Ms. Williams points out that a fetus has no autonomy. I pose a question to you, then: Does that assailant have the right to mug you solely because you have no power?