As MTV’s recent documentary on abortion demonstrated, “abortion is common despite the silence around it, it’s not an easy decision, it’s extremely safe, and most women who do it really think long and hard about their decisions”.
In a recent debate on a prolife site, a prolifer who had previously made clear they support human rights regardless of sexual orientation, came out solidly against human rights regardless of gender, arguing that a “subset of humanity” (that is, each individual pregnant woman) ought not to be allowed to be the only people allowed to make decisions about abortion.
My position never changed from the statement I made early-on in the debate:
I think it’s even simpler than trying to mess around with definitions about “potential humans”, etc.
A woman is a human being. No one has a right to use her body against her will. Not even to keep another human being alive.
All prolife legislation and ethics rest on the idea that a woman isn’t really human: she’s just an incubator that can be used without her consent to make a fertilized egg into a baby, regardless of what damage this does to her. This dehumanization of women is what is profoundly wrong with the prolife ethos.
During the discussion, Pterodactyl asserted: “It is not interesting to you to know how a person can be queer, a defender of life at its incarnation and a religious rebel.”
I offered to provide a post where Pterodactyl could, if desired, defend the division between human rights for pregnant woman (not permitted by prolifers) and human rights for LGBT people (most prolifers are against this, too, simply because prolife is generally a religious/anti-human rights movement, though I’ve encountered prolifers who were surprisingly gungho about equal rights for gay men and almost-equal rights for lesbians).
To begin, then: here are the basic human rights violated by the prolife belief that the state, not the individual pregnant woman, has the right to decide if a woman shall terminate or continue a pregnancy.
The big one that prolifers violate by their belief women ought not to be allowed to decide whether to terminate or continue is of course Article One, but there are 11 other Articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that prolife beliefs oppose.
Nowhere in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is there found any Article that prolifers claim is a human right for fetuses only: the right to make use of someone else’s body against her will in order to stay alive.
1. All human beings are born free
Therefore, none should be used against their will.
and equal in dignity and rights.
Therefore, no human should be treated as legally unequal, as a mere collection of organs to be used to save those superior to them.
They are endowed with reason and conscience
Abortion is a reasoned decision that belongs to each woman’s conscience: prolifers deny the right of a woman to her own conscience and her own reason.
and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
It is not “the spirit of brotherhood” or “sisterhood”, to argue that a woman exists to be used against her will, without regard for her health or her life or her wellbeing.
2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Men do not have the right to rule that a woman shall not have the basic human rights in the Declaration: no country has a right to rule that its women citizens do not have the basic human rights.
3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Women’s right to life is shredded by prolifers: women’s liberty is violated: and women’s security of person is utterly denied.
4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Prolifers argue that women can and should be forced to provide, unpaid and unrewarded, nine months of labor against their will: as slaveowners used to breed the slaves they owned.
5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Amnesty International and other human rights organizations agree: forced pregnancy is torture: is cruel, inhuman, degrading punishment. The prolife opposition to women who get illegal abortions getting healthcare after their abortion is further cruelty: further inhuman punishment.
6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
Everyone. Including pregnant women.
7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Everyone. Including pregnant women.
9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
So a woman who is suspected by the state of seeking an illegal abortion may not be arrested or detained or denied re-entry to her own country after returning from an abortion legal in another country.
12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
The state isn’t allowed – as prolifers wish – to investigate a woman’s privacy, to force her to add to her family, to interfere with her home, nor to decry her honor or her reputation because she chooses to have an abortion.
13 (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
This is the article that saves women in Ireland from forced pregnancy or illegal abortion: when Irish prolifers wanted to force a raped child through pregnancy and childbirth (she had been made pregnant by repeated rapes by her father and her uncles) in 1993, the courts stepped in and required the state to permit her to leave Ireland for the usual outsourced abortion in the UK. Other underage rape victims in the EU have been protected the same way, contrary to active prolife opposition. (Prolifers side with rapists a lot, Ptero: somehow this doesn’t induce me to think they “love” women.)
18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Prolifers who justify their opposition to abortion by religion can practice their own religion all they like: they can’t enforce its dictats on others.
19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Prolifers who try to enforce a gag rule on medical staff, preventing them from advising women about accessing contraception and/or abortion, are attempting to violate Article 19.