“My body, my choice” is a familiar saying that has for many years been connected with the Pro-choice/Pro-abortion movement. Wikipedia refers to it as a feminist slogan, and describes it as related to the struggle for reproductive rights. The history of the statement dates back to the late 1960s. It appears to have originated in late 1969 with the slogan “It’s my body, it should be my decision.” Later, around 1970, it was simplified to “my body, my decision,” and by the late 1970s, it had eventually become what we know today as “my body, my choice.”
At first glance, the statement appears to be connected to bodily autonomy, and it is without question that the concept applies to all women. No woman should be assaulted; no woman should be forced into pregnancy; and, no woman should be forced to harm their body or to kill themselves. In fact, all humans share bodily autonomy, even though it appears that some have recently chosen to reject this idea (as was experienced during the COVID crisis, when bodily autonomy for both men and women was routinely ignored in the case of those who wished not to take certain precautions or not to receive the COVID “vaccine”).
On the other hand, if the original thought in the minds of those who were the first to use this slogan was connected to the notion that an unborn child is a part of the mother’s body, both science and technology have advanced to the point where there is no longer any opportunity for doubt. Today, the idea that a child in the womb is like an arm or a leg, or a heart or a liver, now seems absurd. Science informs us that unborn/pre-born children are separate and distinct from their mothers, with their own unique DNA from the point of inception, and there are few who would question this reality (they may ignore this fact, but generally do not question it).
Changing the Argument from the Body to Property
With body part autonomy not providing a sufficient basis for the right to abort an unwanted child, the slogan “my body, my choice,” when used by pro-abortion advocates, would then currently appear to indicate that the unborn/pre-born exist inside the mother’s body and are dependent on the mother and her body, such that the mother retains complete control to choose the fate of her baby. But does the baby being inside the mother and dependent on her necessarily lead to any specific conclusions? We shall see.
First, it is interesting to observe that after all of these years no individual has stepped forward to take credit for the famous slogan. This is not surprising (keep reading to see why). What is however surprising is that many do not realize that “my body, my choice” is closely linked to the argument: “it’s my house, so I can do whatever I want in it.” While most people do not think of it in this way, “my body, my choice” is closely related to a property rights argument; one that is fundamentally flawed.
In the area of property rights it is true that homeowners have many choices available to them. However, most of us are also aware that laws, ordinances and covenants affect our rights (and our choices) as owners. Furthermore, it is universally understood that property rights carry with them related obligations. It is also fundamental that one’s property rights do not nullify the rights of another. These are all reasons that serve to explain why we do not often hear many people repeat the argument “it’s my house, so I can do what I want in it,” since such a statement has no basis in reality nor in the law. Yet unfortunately, the slogan “my body, my choice” continues to be used as part of the abortion debate.
In analyzing the appropriateness of “my body/house, my choice” as a justification for abortion (historically defined as the deliberate termination of the life of an unborn child), consider the following questions/answers from a property law perspective:
- If you invite a houseguest or houseguests temporarily into your home, do you have the right (constitutional or otherwise) to kill them at any time while they remain within your premises? No, you do not.
- If the houseguests that have been invited temporarily into your home are dependent on you (think of very young infants here), do you have the right to let them die? Again, the answer is no.
- If an intruder forces themselves into your home without your permission, do you have a right to kill them? While some might believe this to be the case, the answer is that the defense of property, by itself, does not include the right to kill another human being.
- What about squatters (unlawful occupants with no legal title to the property)? Can they be killed if they are inside your house? The answer is the same. No.
- How about if the persons invited temporarily into your home have Downs Syndrome or a serious medical condition, does this provide you with a right to kill them? Of course, the answer is no.
There is only one exception that potentially applies to the questions above, and that is the concept of self-defense. Specifically, it is true that in certain limited circumstances, when someone else has entered your house, either invited or uninvited, and your life (as opposed to your home or your personal property) is placed in imminent danger, you might (and then again you might not, depending on the circumstances) be able to take the life of another person and still remain within the law. That is it.
As can be seen, all of the above property rights questions offered above have simple and clear answers that few would disagree with, with only one limited exception (i.e., self-defense).
But wait. As the threat of suicide is currently used as an exception in many states to permit post-viability/late-term abortions for the “health of the mother,” how would this be viewed from a property rights and/or a self-defense perspective?
- If you were to claim that you are going to commit suicide if temporary guests inside your house are not immediately removed, does this somehow grant you a right to kill them? Not surprisingly, it doesn’t.
A Flawed Argument from a Flawed Nature
So why do we somehow miss all of these obvious points by simply changing the focus to a person’s body rather than the physical structure of a house?
The answer is human nature. We sometimes see what we want to see, and other times ignore what we wish to ignore. But when viewed in the proper context, there should be no confusion. Instead, with open eyes we can clearly see that “my body, my choice” is not a valid statement if the question involves considering the choice of life or death for small humans that exist temporarily inside the “homes” of their mothers.
My home, my choice? Yes, sometimes; but not always, such as when the lives of other human beings who are inside your home are at issue.
My body, my choice?
Photo Credit- Reason Magazine and Everyman Commentary staff.