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What is Bodily Autonomy?

By October 5, 2023November 20th, 2023Abortion, Bodily Autonomy, Research, Science
What is Bodily Autonomy? - When Does Life Begin?

Choice advocates are adamant that illegalizing abortion violates a woman’s bodily autonomy. What is “bodily autonomy”? Does this concept hold up in the case of terminating an unintended pregnancy? Let’s break down this concept as it relates to pregnancy and abortion:

Defining Autonomy

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “autonomy” as “the quality or state of being self-governing.”

What is Bodily Autonomy? - When Does Life Begin?

Everyone has the right to exercise control over their own bodies and lives. Personal freedom is one of the many perks of living in a democratic society.

With the right to self-govern, women have the freedom to choose whether they want to have consensual sex or remain celibate. They have the freedom to make reproductive decisions.

If a woman becomes pregnant and doesn’t want to keep the baby, does her right to self-govern permit her to terminate her pregnancy and abort the baby? 

“My Body, My Choice”?

We know two things with certainty: 1) life begins at conception (this is backed by research!) and 2) a fetus is a person.

So if a man and a woman have consensual sex and the woman becomes pregnant, she is carrying a new life inside her — a human being that only requires time and nourishment to continue its journey along the continuum of life. “Fetus” is simply a term used to describe the stage of growth, just as we later use terms such as infant, toddler, adolescent, pre-teen, teenager, adult, etc. This term does not change the fact that a fetus is a genetic human being from the moment of conception.

Some would argue that a woman has the right to exercise her bodily autonomy and abort her baby if she does not wish to be pregnant. However, abortion is not a self-governing action. Abortion is an act of violence against another person. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines abortion as “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus.

What is Bodily Autonomy? - When Does Life Begin?

When a woman chooses abortion, she is not exercising control over her own body but control over another’s body — control that results in that person’s death. Therefore, the “my body, my choice” sentiment is inaccurate and misleading when there are really two separate bodies involved. 

Fetal Rights vs. Abortion Rights

Choice advocates say abortion is a right, but there is no constitutional protection for abortion. However, the constitution does protect our “right to life.” The Right to Life was the first right enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. It is reaffirmed explicitly in the 14th amendment to the Constitution: “…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

“Abortion rights” simply do not exist. Meanwhile, the human and constitutional right to life is clear.

Exercising Bodily Autonomy  

We applaud choice, but it needs to be exercised prior to the creation of a new human being who then has rights of its own. It is a fundamental construct of society that our choices are limited by their impact on other human beings’ rights. So, the unborn human being’s fundamental Right to Life must also be respected. We can respect and support both women and the unborn. We can and must do both!

Learn more about the various stages of fetal development (conception, first, second, and third trimester) and don’t forget to follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok).