Because freedom can't protect itself
As a former fetus myself, I'm glad my mommy decided that I was an American and deserved my Civil Liberties from the outset.
The juvenile jabs back and forth about "religion" and "beleifs" are used here, extensively, to belittle the position of one's adversary.
The question of what a woman does with or to her body is moot: we may all do as we please, so long as it does not harm others. This is the guiding principal behind alcohol laws and the new tobacco regulations. As an aside, it is really an infringement of our rights that an adult woman or man cannot acquire and use cocaine. My body, my choice.
I do appreciate the multitude protections afforded me by the laws of our great land (I think it's quite nice, though imperfect, despite what some cranky Canadians might say).
When should this protection of life and liberty begin? At 18, I was allowed to vote. That was great. At 21, I was allowed to drink as much gin as I could get my hands on, and nobody could force their religion or motto on me.
When I was 2, I couldn't vote or buy gin because the consensus is, and remains, that a two-year old might make a regrettable decision. In fact, I really couldn't care for myself at all. Fortunately, my mommy took care of me. And if she couldn't have, the state could have stepped in to provide at least my basic needs for food and shelter, because the constitution grants me life, libery, etc.
I don't remember the details of my life in utero because the cortical architecture was quite immature. I was certainly even more dependent on my mother's kind support. Fortunately, she took care of me. And if she couldn't have, or didn't want to?
Unfortunately, the question has been clouded by arguments from folks with strong religious beleifs, which incite the anger of folks who despise being governed by those who beleive that religion should dictate civil law. We've all hopefully read through the constitution (unless, perhaps you're the Canadian fellow who seems so upset and, frankly, seems quite a misogynist).
Unfortunately, that same constitution guarantees the rights of life, liberty and property only to those who are citizens, and a citizen must be either BORN so or later granted such status.
This, essentially, provides no protection for the fetus. It is, however, illegal in the US to obatin/perfom and abortion past "viability", an arbitrary point at which the fetus may or may not survive outside the womb if given the finest medical care available.
This is a pretty good thing for any fetus hoping to reach soccer-playing or even voting age, as it recognizes that the 32 week old fetus kicking her mommy's belly from the inside could just as well be kicking from the out.
But why "viability"?
Medical science indicates that once the genetic material is combined to form a diploid cell, a distinct and unique organism is formed. This organism is viable, but requires implantation in the uterine wall (sometimes elsewere, though) to continue to retain its viable status. Once implanted, the embryo, placenta and other trappings of pregnancy develop. The umbilical cord and placenta are entirely of the fetus's genetic material, not the mother's. It is a situation of parasitosis - the mother gains nothing by the arrangement (physically) and really is at great risk - which has been favored by evolution. In general, it works out well for both parties in the end.
Now to the point: what, exactly, is meant when one argues that it is "my body"? Which part of the zygote, embryo, fetus, placenta or newborn infant is part of the body of the mother? It certainly RESIDES within her body, and is woefully dependent on the health of her body, and the choices she makes. This pitiful dependence continues well on beyond "viability" and birth, perhaps ending somewhere between the 6th and 12th year of life (no science here, but presented for the sake of argument).
If my presence in my mother's body had threatened her life, I would understand that her decision to preserve her own life would be difficult, but I would not value mine over hers, certainly.
When I am old, and again in diapers, my baby, all grown up, will hopefully take care of me. I will have progressed beyond "viability", and I will have made free choices about my life and my body. I may only hope that no one decides that because I can't provide my own food and shelter I should be terminated.
Fortunately, I have the constitution on my side. While it does not require that I be given food and shelter, it prohibits the active deprivation of my life and liberty.
I had hoped to join the ACLU, for ovbvious reasons (perils of war, trampling of right to privacy, etc), but I clearly take exception to the stance put forth by Ms. Melling and her freedom project (in terms of abortion, not birth control).
If someone could please explain to me, without the usual lofty and bitter finger-pointing (from either side), why the rights of our future citizens are not considered, I'd be much obliged.
As an aside, I'd also appreciate it if the "abstinence" crowd not interfere with any reasonable discussion we might have by clouding the sanctity of life and liberty (CIVIL issues) with that of marriage (religious issues). If you think that abortion is murder, say so, but leave the argument of how the baby got there for a different discussion.
My name is Paula and I'm an intern for Ms. magazine. I just came across your excellent blog post about South Dakota Proposition 11 and wanted to let you know about a new "Vote NO on 11" video just released from the Feminist Majority Foundation, the publisher of Ms.
Please consider posting this video and the related link onto your website so it is made available to your visitors. We must do all that we can to preserve women's reproductive rights and let women know what's at risk this election.
Thanks so much!
The relevant difference as I see it from the analogy of a baby or elderly individual that cannot care for itself is that a fetus cannot be cared for by ANYONE other than the specific host female to which it is attached in utero. It is easy for the government to mandate that those who cannot care for themselves be cared for by someone as the interest in preserving a life by whatever means available is strong in our society. Mandating on the other hand that one specific person utilize their own body functions and life force to provide for the continued existence of one specific other person seems to fall outside of any normal or universally approved and justifiable legal framework. (Government for example could not even go so far as to mandate that a parent donate its extra kidney to its fully born offspring.) While a fetus may constitute a separate living organism from the mother (and her "body"), the fact remains that it does not have a LIFE separate from the mother's from which it might garner some sort of state interest in protecting said separate life. In a sense it has no separate and competing life interest to be balanced against the mother's choice to do what she will with her own body. This seems cruel to those who believe that "life" begins at conception, but if we are to have a free non-theocratic government in this country, a protected right to "life" must have some basis in a legally justifiable personal interest. I believe the point of the Supreme Court's rulings in this regard is that they cannot (perhaps regrettably even) find such a legally justifiable basis for a fetus' right to life to supercede a mother's choice--up to a point--and this is where viability comes in. For most people who support the viability standard the reasoning is that at the earliest possible point at which a fetus is capable of surviving outside the womb (even if it can only survive with the aid of machines and doctors etc), it's continued existence ceses to be entirely dependent solely on the life of the mother, and it gains a interest in its separate life independent of its mother's body. At this point the state has an interest in protecting the right to that separate life. This is why many who use the viability standard are so opposed to partial-birth abortion. While the mother may still retain the right to expel the fetus prematurely from her body (there is disagreement over whether the state should be able to compel her to continue the pregnancy past viability), upon expulsion (ie: birth) the fetus' right to it's own life should preclude any active attempts at destroying it, in fact should mandate active efforts to save it to the best of medical ability. Thus, at the point at which the fetus transitions from that unique period of parasite-like dependence on the specific body and life force of its specific host/mother to a point at which its dependent needs can be met by anyone (just like the young, elderly, and infirmed), than the state should be able to mandate that someone meet those needs and provide the life sustaining care even if the mother is no longer able or willing to do so in her host womb capacity. This is by no means a unanimous opinion among pro-choice advocates, but it is my opinion and I believe it addresses the points you made and the questions you asked, and without delving into a religious debate.
still seeking justice in my false arrest over a year ago while driving through sturgis during rally,homophobic sdhp officer cory johnson, accused me of being drunk, on meth, and more. i was arrested, my car impounded, and my dogs taken away, i was held without food or meds, and they lied about my piss test. there was a fatality at the jail that week also, do to denial of meds and fluids. this shit hole needs to be shut down, and tropper cory johnson needs to be fired. aclu has been notified, but turned me down. suit has been filed to sue, seeking lawyer , to date not a single lawyer in all of south and north dakota has stepped forward to stop this abuse, and help. sincerly, william t. goebel ps. boycott south dakota email@example.com
seeking lawyer to challenge the abuse and false arrest going on by the SDHP and the lawrence county jail, also the deadwood jail,. to date the aclu has turned us away, and all the lawyers have turned us down in both north and south dakota. i guess its really true there is no justice, and even after there was fatalities, no one cares. it leaves you to wonder who is policeing the police??? boycott south dakota, fire cory johnson SDHP officer.
Get breaking news on issues you care about
Help fight for our rights. Donate to the ACLU.
Sign up for the ACLU Action newsletter.
Chip in to help protect all of our rights and liberties.
© ACLU, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor, New York NY 10004
This is the website of the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation.
Learn more about these two components of the ACLU.