The Texas Inkling


Rights and Abortion by Jim Noble

The ongoing fight over abortion is phrased in many different ways, from whether the fetus “counts” as a human to whether or not the pro-life side is merely trying to impose its values on society.  One version of the debate suggested that the debate is not about abortion at all, but rather about women’s rights.  This argument is flawed on a number of levels.

In the first place, this argument attempts to move the debate away from what is actually being debated:  abortion.  This has been a typical tactic used by the pro-abortion side, and who can blame them?  The very idea is unpleasant; what’s being defended is the “right” to destroy a life.  The pro-life side is not out to destroy women’s rights, but rather to defend their children’s lives.

It’s very easy for those who would defend such heinous acts to do so by changing the questions being debated.  However, the ultimate idea of the debate must be preserved, and so this change of question necessitates a new set of complimentary questions.  Thus, in order to preserve the debate’s true meaning, a new question must be asked.  This question is, in essence, “Do the rights of one person supersede the rights of another?”

The answer to this question must ultimately be “yes,” as one set of rights may be in conflict with another set.  Thus, some form of compromise must be made, or barring that possibly, one set of rights must be sacrificed for another.  But which right or rights must take precedent?

Ultimately, there can be only one real answer to this question:  the most fundamental rights must take precedent.  This is innately true, as the “lesser” rights are ultimately derived from, and therefore require the existence of, the more fundamental rights.  Simply put, what this means is that certain rights must be granted in order for other rights to exist.  For example, the right to privacy on one’s own property requires that one has the right to own his or her own property.  Ergo, if the right to own property is removed, then the right to privacy on the said property is also removed.

The most fundamental right that can exist is the right to life.  Without this right, all others are forfeit.  The right to own property, the right to enjoy the company of one’s friends, the very right to freedom, these are all rendered moot if the right to live has been taken away.  It therefore follows that in a society in which people are to have any rights at all must not remove the right to life.

In other words, this right to live must supercede all other rights.  That includes the so-called “women’s rights.”  Without the right to live, even these rights are ultimately forfeit.  Therefore, the “right” to abort an unborn child cannot ultimately supercede that child’s right to live in a free society.

Many of the defenders of abortion contend that since the child is unborn, it can have no rights.  This is utter folly.  It does, in effect, create an artificial definition of personhood, thus confirming many rights on one set of people while denying these to another.  This becomes even more apparent when partial-birth abortions are allowed for.  In any case, there is negligible difference between the newborn infant person and the “nonperson” child who is only moments from birth.  Yet one has been granted rights while the other has not.

Now, the argument often fronted to counter this is that the unborn child requires the mother’s womb to survive.  This is merely another smokescreen, even if those infants that can in fact survive outside of the womb are removed from the picture.  Does the infirm old woman lose her right to live merely because she requires a respirator to breathe?  What of the man who requires a pacemaker?  For that matter, what of, say, a scuba diver who needs his oxygen tanks to survive under water for an extensive periods of time?

The most fundamental right, and thus the one that cannot be superceded for the sake of any other, is the right to live.  In spite of this, the pro-abortion side of the debate insists that this right ought to be superceded, and all for the sake of “women’s rights.”  Thus, in creating a few rights for one group of people, they have destroyed all of the rights of another set.  Sadly, in exchange for a few freedoms for one set of people, they will sacrifice all the freedoms of another.

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