February 18, 2009

Slippery Slope

Of all the debates regarding abortion, the most interesting one has to be the question of personhood. What defines a human life? What rights are owed to human beings? Is it fair for the government to decide what personhood is? Especially in the wake of a new North Dakota measure, one important question arises:

Are women "persons?"

There are two main sides to this complex issue. On one side, the pro-choicers, who say that they are not, and that, because they are not technically persons, they do not have the right to own their bodies--rather, fetuses, which are persons, have that right. On the other side, there are the pro-lifers, who hold the extreme belief that women are persons.

But are they really? Or are they nothing more than clumps of mammary, vaginal, and uterine cells? Sure, one day they could potentially create a life via a hypothetical pregnancy, but beyond that, they're just a few measly cells.

And I mean, is something really "alive" if it's totally dependent on another being? Face it: women, who carry real live human babies all the time, even when they're just in pre-human baby form (or, as pro-lifers prefer, the dehumanizing term "fetuses"), are completely dependent on those babies. Everything that affects women factors in the fact that they have babies inside them first, from how they're treated by society to the kinds of medical attention they can receive. But it doesn't make women persons. It just makes them dependent on a full-fledged human being, who already has rights and dignity and autonomy. It simply isn't fair to encroach on those rights for the sake of something else's "life."

The pro-lifers seem to think that if you show someone a picture of a grown woman, it will convince us that they are persons. But that's just condescending. As if we don't understand what women are. It's just another example of how they are always trying to convince the pro-choicers that we're irresponsible for, in their words, destroying a life. But we've already proved that, not only do women have fully autonomous lives, they're not even persons to begin with. As long as a human life can continue in peace with all the rights that belong to it, it doesn't matter what's sacrificed--whether you call that a couple of cells or, in extreme cases, a "person."

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