The very health of a fetus requires the direct coercion of the mother’s body. The fetus may be life, but it is not always independent life, and for that reason alone, the mother reserves the right to terminate her pregnancy.
I’ll be brief today. You’d have to be living in a cave not to realize that there has been a recent push by various state legislators to grant personhood to a fetus, giving it full legal protection. The problem with this is that if you give rights to a fetus, you’d need to take rights away from the mother. For this reason, alone, the idea of fetal personhood is a horrible idea. Whatever agency that would be given jurisdiction over a fetus would need to have complete control and supervision over the body of the mother. It’s that simple, really.
There are laws protecting a human child from negligent mothers in areas of health, safety, nutrition, physical and mental abuse. When these laws are violated, the child can be removed from the custody of irresponsible parents. This cannot be done with a fetus without controlling the mother’s body. No matter how irresponsibly a pregnant woman behaves, charges cannot be levied against her until her fetus becomes viable, and even then there are complicated issues until the child is actually born.
Abortion Is Not Murder…
While there exists no definitive at what stage of development a fetus becomes viable, the Supreme Court decided in 1973 that the unborn fetus had no constitutional rights until the third trimester. This decision was reached based on scientific data, which revealed a post-birth survival rate of less than ten percent due to undifferentiated respiratory, and central nervous systems. Pre-term birth remains the most common cause of perinatal mortality and it is rare for a baby weighing less than five hundred grams to survive.
In a nutshell, a fetus is life within a life. There is no possibility of distinction or regulation without direct imposition on a woman’s reproductive processes. Because the life of the fetus depends on the life of the mother, decisions regarding the fetus should be the decision of the mother.
With few exceptions, the pro-life argument is theological. The First Amendment implies that legislation should not reflect theological doctrines, including evangelical Christianity. Personal religious convictions toward abortion do not constitute legal opposition to the right to an abortion. Laws should not exist to enforce morality, and history shows the problems that inevitably arise when we attempt to legislate religious morality.
Murder and abortion were in existence before Christianity, and so were laws prohibiting murder. We need laws against murder to regulate behavior and allow civil function of human society. A god is not needed to regulate murder. Society is capable of regulating murder, because if left unregulated, civil society could not exist.
Because a fetus does not have the ability to exist independently from its mother until it reaches viability, it cannot be considered a person with all the rights and responsibilities of someone who has been born. If we were to grant the same rights to a fetus as we do to the born, it would automatically subjugate the rights of the woman, thus giving the fetus greater rights than the woman carrying it. It is illogical, unreasonable and unfair to the mother.