After putting up yesterday’s post on abortion, I wound up having some interesting discussions about it with friends. Interesting, because halfway through, I realized that despite my contestation that I didn’t really buy it, I was arguing the “abortion is a personal moral choice” line to a tee. It suddenly made perfect sense to me that the choice of what to do with any individual fetus has to be made, and can only be made, by the person who is pregnant with that fetus (and cannot be scrutinized or judged by anyone else).
In a nutshell, here’s why:
The ethical question that is abortion, when you get down to brass tacks, is about two things. One the one side, there is the fetus, a living thing with some sort of undefinable moral/ethical value (and while we can debate about that value, I hope we can agree that it exists). On the other side is the pregnant person, and their right to bodily autonomy, and the fact that in order to preserve the life of the fetus, that person will have to make some equally undefinable set of sacrifices in their life. And in any decision about abortion, these two things are weighed against each other.
The thing is, though, that while we all have approximately the same capability to parse and consider the value of fetal life, there is only one person in the world who can fully understand or know the extent of the sacrifices that are required of an individual pregnant person should they choose to carry the fetus to term, and that is the pregnant person themself.
For better or worse, when it comes right down to it, the only person who even understands the values that are being balanced in any individual decision to abort (or not) is the individual person faced with the decision. The rest of us do not, and cannot, ever know what is in the balance, and thus we cannot reasonably claim to be able to judge that decision. And that’s it.