You wake up one morning to find that you’ve been kidnapped and plugged into a machine that is using your body to give life support to a world-famous violinist. 1 The violinist is suffering from an illness that will take 9 months (wink wink) to cure, and you are the only one with the blood type necessary to keep the violinist alive. If you unplug yourself from the machine before 9 months are up, the violinist will die. So the question is, “Do you have the RIGHT to unplug yourself from the violinist?”
Obviously, no one has the right to kidnap you and force you into giving life support, even if the person you are giving life support to is highly valued by society. So, by analogy, the argument for abortion is that a pregnant woman has the right to ‘unplug’ her body from her preborn child through abortion.
There are many reasons why this argument fails. Here are two:
Number 1: Abortion is killing, not simply declining life support. Abortion is the direct and intentional killing of a child in the womb. Pardon my frank descriptions here, but abortions use suction or forceps to violently dismember a child while he or she is still alive, followed by crushing the chest cavity and head. Or, they use large needles to inject poison into the child’s head or her heart. Or they exsanguinate the child, meaning draining the blood from his or her body. Or, they use pills to starve the child of nutrients until he or she dies. So, while you may be allowed to unplug yourself from the violinist, you are not allowed to tear the violinist apart with suction or forceps, give a lethal injection to the violinist, drain the violinist’s blood, or starve the violinist to death. A person’s bodily autonomy does not give them permission to actively kill an innocent person, which is what abortion entails. The cause of death in the case of the violinist is the illness. The cause of death in an abortion is killing. It’s as simple as that.
Number 2: Parents have obligations to care for their children. The violinist argument fails to take into account the special relationship between parents and children. Parents have natural obligations to support their children, and our laws recognize these obligations. This is why we require that fathers pay child support, and we should require fathers pay child support while the child is still in the womb. He shouldn’t get to say “My body, my choice” and opt out of paying child support. Both parents are responsible to feed, house, care for, and otherwise not neglect their dependent, vulnerable children. If they don't, they go to jail for parental neglect. The fact that parents shouldn’t starve their children isn’t “forced life-support”, it’s common sense. In the event that they cannot care for a child, a mother or father is not allowed to kill that child. They must make an adoption plan so that someone else can take on the responsibilities of parenthood.
Carrying a pregnancy to term is natural, not forced. Pro-lifers are accused of “forced birth” but in reality, the only forced birth in this discussion is abortion, which is the forced birth of a dead child. A woman’s uterus has one purpose: to nurture a child. The child belongs in the uterus. This is a completely different situation than using artificial means to give life support to a stranger.
So, if someone says that abortion is just declining life support, or uses something like the violinist argument, remember these two points: 1. Abortion is killing, not declining life support. 2. Parents have natural obligations to love and support their children. Pro-Lifers are not forcing anyone to give life support, we are protecting human beings from murder.
For all pro-lifers have done to debunk the “bodily autonomy” argument for abortion—the idea that abortion is merely exercising a pregnant woman’s absolute right to revoke her unborn son or daughter’s “permission” to use her body whenever, however, and why-ever she wants—it occurs to me there’s one aspect of it we’ve been neglecting.