Do Women Have the Right Not to be Pregnant?
"Do women have the right not to be pregnant?"This is the query that was raised in a recent email, based on the information provided in the "Competing Rights" section of the Abort73 website. There you will find the statement, "Politically speaking, abortion is an issue that involves competing rights. On the one hand, you have the mother's right not to be pregnant. On the other hand, you have the baby's right not to be killed." Such statement prompted the following concerns:
Interesting material; however, I do have a question about one point. On the one hand, you seem to suggest that there can be a rational opposition to abortion; on the other hand you indicate that an unborn child has a right to life and you balanace it against the mother's right "not to be pregnant."
Obviously for a right to exist, there must be a source for that right, in other words, that right must have been conferred or granted by someone. The only possible source for the unborn's right to life is God; furthermore, while a woman has a right not to engage in sexual intercourse, if she does engage in sexual intercourse how do you establish and what is the source of her "right not to be pregnant?"
In fact, to the contrary, if a woman engages in sexual intercourse and becomes pregnant, she does not have a "right not to be pregnant," rather she has a responsibilty to insure that the unborn child is safe and healthy during her pregnancy and that the child is properly reared and educated. Clearly, the father of the child has the same responsibilty. To hold otherwise is to turn sexual intercourse into a casual recreation. Remember that the problem of abortion has developed and grown because of the contraceptive mentality embraced by the world circa 1930 and this contraceptive mentality, which is an affront to God, is the hallmark of most cultures today.
The following was my response:
Thanks for your feedback. You raise a good point, and have given me pause to wrestle again with my choice of wording. In the particular section that you address, I am coming from a broad and more secular, civil-rights perspective. While you're absolutely correct in noting that rights have to come from somewhere in order to be binding and legitimate, I think it's fair to distinguish between God-given rights and state-given rights. In this country, citizens, by and large, are free to do what they choose so long as those choices don't injure or destroy the life or livelihood of other people. As such, there are all manner of sins which God prohibits, but the state permits. There are the obvious ones like drunkenness and fornication and the much greater and harder to enforce ones like loving God with all our soul, mind and strength and loving each other as ourselves. All this to say that the government, sometimes erroneously, but sometimes legitimately grants to its citizens certain rights that the Bible does not. There can be no such thing as state-mandated Christianity.
Returning to the issue you raise, the government's responsibility to oppose abortion does not stem from the fact that abortion stops a woman from being pregnant, but rather because abortion kills an innocent human being. If there were a way (and there may someday be) for an embryo or fetus to be safely removed from the biological mother and artificially sustained without harm, for the duration of its prenatal development, would that be a course of action that the government should give pregnant women the right to pursue? Wouldn't that be a much better alternative than abortion? Assuming that medical technology could make this possible, would there be any distinction between a woman placing her child for adoption after a few weeks of pregnancy versus placing her child for adoption after birth? Even though women have the responsibility to ensure that their children are "properly reared and educated", I think it is right and good for the state to allow for the abdication of this responsibility through adoption. It is certainly much better for a child to be adopted rather to be neglected or killed (and there is biblical precedent for such assumption in the circumstances surrounding the birth of Moses). Furthermore, if it is the choice to engage in sexual intercourse that strips a woman of any right to not be pregnant, does that mean that women who are impregnated through rape thereby do have a right not to be pregnant, and thereby do have a just cause to abort? Certainly not. Therefore, I think it is fair and gracious to focus squarely on the violence of abortion while granting that if there were a way to end pregnancy early without harming or injuring the child, the government would not be wrong to grant women that right.
Ultimately, I hope it is clear from the content of the entire Abort73 website that we are in no way suggesting that "a woman's right to not be pregnant" is in any way a justification for abortion. We are simply trying to be as even-handed as possible as we engage a secular culture with the devastating truth of abortion.Thanks so much for your time, and I hope that helps to clarify.
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.