Believe a fetus is a life and still want to have an abortion? Go for it, writes Mary Elizabeth Williams in a Salon essay today:
I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life. And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice. . . .
Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.
By this same logic, isn’t infanticide also fine and dandy? After all, if we’re talking about autonomy, kids aren’t exactly independent as soon as they are born. No infant can take care of themselves. And even later on in childhood, children rely heavily on the adults in their life to provide shelter, food, and emotional support. What about kids and adults who become disabled in life? What about quadriplegics? They’re not going to be able to take care of themselves. Is it okay if we just off the lot of them? Heck, what about needy friends who seem to be falling apart unless we talk to them regularly and console them? Okay to just shoot a couple of them so that we don’t have the burden? Should we ship the grandparents that spent all their money and are now financially dependent on us to the local executioner?
Yes, if the fetus is a life — and a human being — and not a clump of cells, that makes a huge difference. No one would ask a woman to respect the rights of a clump of cells. But it is valid to ask her, difficult as it is to have an unwanted pregnancy, to realize that the death of the child — the child who was totally innocent and has done nothing except be conceived — is not an appropriate way to handle this.