Womens' Reproductive Rights

Oklahoma Law should recognize that all women have an inalienable right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term. Further, the law should recognize that a human embryo, as long as it dwells inside its mother and is dependent upon her for nourishment, is not a legal person, but the sole property of the woman who carries it. Though this may be offensive to many, the alternative view would lay the legal groundwork for the virtual enslavement of fertile women.

From personal experience, I have found that the modern Anti-Choice movement has two components – those who feel a sincere anguish at the thought of innocent babies dying, and those who rebel at the thought that, thanks to the advances in medicine, technology, and culture over the past 50 years, women have gained the freedom to be unafraid and unashamed sexual beings, a concept available only to men for the past 50,000 years or so. No matter what the motivation, however, they seldom carry their ideas to the logical conclusion.

If a human embryo has the legal status of a person, it follows that the law must act to protect that person from harm. Since we are then faced with the fact of two persons inhabiting the same body, it is probable that the law will try to perform some sort of balancing act in order to protect the rights of both the unborn child and the mother. Perhaps pregnant women will be required by law to follow a strict nutritional regimen, or refrain from smoking or drinking, or attend an inquest in the case of a miscarraige. Or perhaps not. Still, the legal path for this and more will have been laid.

Those who oppose abortion should be happy with the US Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. It seems a reasonable compromise, since most women will know in their first trimester whether or not they want to carry a child to term. Terminating a pregnancy is seldom an easy or frivolous decision, but, since only the woman involved knows whether that child will be loved or unloved, cared for or isolated, a joy or a burden, the decision should be up to her, and her alone.

15 years ago, Robert Murphy wrote a political sci-fi piece about this subject. Those who are interested may read it here as a pdf file.