Is it Really “My Choice” When “My Body” is Not the Only One in the Equation? by Shirley Jobson
It is one of the most controversial expressions ever coined—and it has been around for over 50 years! When the phrase “my body, my choice” started being heard at protests in the 70s, it was the mantra many women shouted out in the name of empowerment and gender equality. Today, the phrase is still at the forefront of many heated discussions in the fight for reproductive rights and access to abortion.
But is it legitimate for a pregnant woman to refer to her body in the singular?
Let us, first of all, consider a woman who is happy to be pregnant. She has just had a positive pregnancy test and maybe confirmed the result with her doctor. She is over the moon. She starts calling her family, her friends—and what does she tell them? “I’m having a baby!”
She reads up on the natural process of the baby’s growth and development. She looks forward to the ultrasound appointments, peering at the screen to try and see the baby’s forming body parts. She marvels at the sound of the tiny heartbeat. She is surprised at how fiercely she wants to protect the small human growing inside her.
Whenever she thinks about her baby, she strokes her swollen belly lovingly. She is careful about what she eats or drinks. She talks to her baby throughout her day, thinking up different names while wondering whether it is a girl or a boy. Her friends throw her baby showers and gender reveal parties, celebrating the new life she is so eager to hold in her arms.
In other words, when it is wanted, the baby is viewed as a separate human being.
Of course, not every pregnancy is wanted or planned. A girl or woman in a crisis pregnancy is in turmoil. Her doctor offers her the option of abortion. She is terrified. She reaches out to her family and friends—and what do they tell her? “It’s fine to terminate; it’s not even a baby yet!”
She tries to look up more information about abortion, but is left with more questions. At the abortion clinic, she is not even allowed to view the ultrasound. She has no idea that the baby inside her already has visible body parts. Terminating is the only solution that she assumes is available to her. She feels alone and scared.
Whenever she thinks back about the abortion, her belly feels empty and bereft. She loses her appetite and starts to drink at all hours. She wonders whether it would have been a boy or a girl. All she wanted—all she had needed—was just one person to support her, to show her that there were other options.
But all she is actually told is that it is her right; her body; and therefore, her choice.
Abortion supporters frequently refer to the preborn baby as mere “tissue” or “cells”. They claim it is a “parasite” invading the woman’s body. They refute the humanity of the fetus to make abortion sound like a normal medical procedure which harms no one. They push forward the “my body, my choice” mantra and simply ignore the fact that there is another body involved—a body which ends up dead after an abortion.
Women have every right to state “my body, my choice” when it comes to making personal decisions—for themselves alone! A woman can opt for regular exercise, or choose to laze around the house all day. She can decide whether she wants to eat healthily, or have a diet of fast food, cigarettes, and alcohol. She has the right to choose how to live her life, because it will affect her and her alone.
When she is pregnant, however, her choices will affect another person.
Sadly, many scoff at the scientific claim that life begins at conception. They are adamant that there is no different person in the womb with distinct DNA and characteristics from the mother. They do not see anything wrong with abortion, because, for them, the other person simply does not yet exist.
There is, however, no question about it—a baby in the womb cannot simply be referred to as a “clump of cells” when it is undesired, and yet regarded as a human being when it is wanted. There is no miraculous switch in the womb that changes one into the other!
Furthermore, the argument that the baby in the womb is not important because it relies on the mother for survival is moot when you consider that even a one-year-old toddler relies completely on its parents. And if a woman can state that a pregnancy is a violation of her bodily autonomy, then, the baby in the womb—as a person independent from her—embodies the same concept with regards to abortion.
Because, no matter the circumstances, the baby still has the right to live!
From conception, every human being has rights which are distinct from the mother’s, even when still in the womb. When women state “my body, my choice” with regards to pregnancy, they are effectively aiming to stop their rights being taken away, while simultaneously dismissing the rights of the preborn baby.
One adult cannot just decide to attack another person just because they feel that, since it is their body, they can do anything they want with it. If their actions hurt others, then it is not acceptable behaviour in any society, even more so if the chosen action ends the life of the other human being. The same holds true if the other human being is still in the womb!
The phrase “my body, my choice” may be a shout for empowerment, but it completely ignores the other people in the equation. The baby within the body is a unique person who also needs to be taken into consideration. Just as the girl or woman experiencing a crisis pregnancy must be cared for and supported in every way, so must the baby inside her body be protected from all life-threatening choices.