The Truth About ‘Reproductive Rights’ in the United States
Our guest author, Georgia native Kevin Geary is a commercial, corporate, and editorial portrait photographer, martial arts instructor, dedicated husband, and soon-to-be father. Feel free to follow him on Twitter (@KevinGeary) or visit his website.
The People’s Republic of China, in an attempt to control population, has enforced a one-child policy since 1979. This policy, eerily deemed the “family planning policy,” restricts urban married couples from having more than one child. From 1979 to 2011, the policy has prevented an estimated 400 million births through forced abortions, fines, female infanticide, abandonment, and under-reporting.
Earlier reports also show that women as far along as 8.5 months pregnant were forced to abort by injection of saline solution. There have also been reports of women, in their 9th month of pregnancy or already in labour, having their children killed whilst in the birth canal or immediately after birth.
Combine that with children being abandoned in the streets, orphanages being over-capacity, and women being forced to use contraception and this law can only be defined as a massive assault on human rights.
In the United States, the progressive left frames the discussion over reproductive rights as men against women and conservatives against women. The men and the conservatives, they say, want to limit the reproductive rights of women by taking away control over “their own body” to abort a child. Contrast this discussion with China, where the government has undoubtedly infringed on the reproductive rights of women by forcing them to have abortions, abstain, and adopt-out. When analyzing the argument over reproductive rights in terms of Americans versus Chinese, it’s clear that only one group is actually having their rights infringed upon.
The progressives in the United States have made very clever and appealing arguments in favor of a woman’s “right to choose,” but they’ve been making those arguments based on false premises. When progressives define “reproductive rights,” they’re almost always defining them politically. They’re not defining them in the context of any other rights. Consequently, if we were fighting for the reproductive rights of Chinese women to keep their babies, we’d be arguing within the context of all other rights. The key lies in understanding how rights are granted and what can and can’t be considered a right.
Rights are not granted by government, they are granted by God. For atheists, they are granted by your humanity. And these rights must follow strict guidelines. At the most basic level, the rights of one individual cannot infringe on the rights of others. Fortunately for both of us, your right end where mine begin. The premise of any discussion about rights must start and finish with respect to this core principle.
Progressives, however, define rights without regard to any principle. Their argument is that women have the right to abort the baby should they desire. But this argument fails the core principle test. What about the man’s reproductive right to keep his child? What about the child’s right to life, which happens to be the first and ultimate right ever granted? To give women the “right” to abort, effectively disenfranchises the rights of at least two other parties.
To skirt around this inconsistency, progressives make two clever adjustments: they frame the discussion around the woman’s body and they dehumanize the baby to that of a fetus. Now, we’re suddenly talking about how the woman has a right to do what she wishes with her body and the fetus has no rights because, well, it’s just a clump of cells with no viability outside the mother.
The woman would have a legitimate right to do with her body what she wishes if the discussion were centered around say, getting a tattoo or having plastic surgery. Those decisions only affect her and disenfranchise no others. But the discussion over reproductive rights has nothing to do with a woman’s body and everything to do with the baby inside it. To argue otherwise requires one to wholly disrespect human life altogether, much like Chinese government officials apparently do, and to disrespect the rights of both men and unborn children.
As for the baby, which has now been downgraded to a fetus or a clump of cells for better appeal to emotion, progressives use the viability argument. They claim that the fetus has no right to the mother’s support and thus can be aborted. But that argument assumes that the child invaded her against her will. It assumes she had no choice in the matter. It’s a clever way to skirt the real issue and once again redefine what constitutes a right. But it fails even a basic reality check.
The vast majority of women voluntarily make the choice to start the chain of events leading to pregnancy. And once two other human beings are involved–the baby and the father–the mother’s rights suddenly must account for the rights of others as per our underlying principle regarding rights not infringing on the rights of others. Ignoring the reproductive rights of the father and the baby’s right to life for purposes of expediency would be a tragedy that undermines the security of every right we enjoy.
And their argument begs the question, if viability is so important to the matter of abortion then what is to stop the mother from killing the child after birth? A newborn baby isn’t anymore viable than an unborn fetus. Can’t she claim it has no right to her breast milk? Or to her money for formula and shelter? Are we confident enough in these flimsy arguments to make overarching policies that have the power to end human life at will?
Contrary to the case progressives make, conservatives are not against women’s rights in the slightest. They’re for the rights of all parties involved. They respect the rights of the unborn to life. They respect the reproductive rights of men to have a child they helped create. And they respect the reproductive rights of women to be protected from forced abortion by either men or the government–a true rights violation. Conservatives are fighting for equal rights. Progressives are fighting for exclusive rights.
Certainly, there can be times when women face immense complications associated with carrying a child to term. Her own life could be in danger or she could be carrying a child that is the result of a rape or incest. Progressives use these circumstances to bolster their “right to choose” argument. But policies could easily be made to deal with these circumstances without sweeping legislation that infringes the rights of everyone involved.
As we have seen in China, women’s reproductive rights can truly be at risk. When men or government officials decide that women must subject themselves to abortion, adoption, or abstinence, society is presented with a real issue. Unfortunately, while Chinese women fight for something tangible overseas–true reproductive rights–the progressive left in America is busy hijacking the term so they can use it as a political nightstick to beat down men and conservatives in order to retain control over their prized possession: an ejection seat for their responsibilities and the consequences of their actions. And to obtain free contraception.