My body, my choice?

If you were in the SLC atrium Nov. 19, you probably noticed that volunteers from the UW Women&rsquo;s Centre were manning booths on contraception, abortion, adoption, and parenting as part of their &ldquo;My Body, My Choice&rdquo; event.&nbsp;</p>

I often wince when I hear that slogan because, like all slogans, it can be misleading. Is it ever really as simple as my body, my choice? No, of course not.  

The state restricts what we do with our bodies on many occasions. Take drinking and driving for instance. While one may choose to consume alcohol, one is prohibited from doing so while driving, because that choice has the potential to harm others.  It is clear, then, that all choices are not equal.   

The choice of abortion doesn’t just carry the possibility of harm. A successful abortion is one in which the fetus, a separate individual human being, is killed. A human fetus is not a part of their mother’s body. They have their own unique DNA and may be a different gender than their mother or have a different blood type.  

Yes, a human fetus is different than you or I. They’re smaller, more dependent, and less developed — but so too are newborns. We don’t deny them human rights though, because we recognize that their age has no bearing on their value. The objection, of course, is that abortion is acceptable because the fetus, while it may not be a part of the mother, still exists within her.   

So can abortion be justified on the grounds of bodily autonomy? Well, that’s a very complicated question. I happen to be of the position that it can’t be. The fact that thalidomide, a drug formerly used to relieve morning sickness that carries the unfortunate side effect of stunting the development of a fetus’s limbs, is not available in Canada suggests that even though the fetus may be growing inside the mother, she should not be allowed to deform them. So, I think that when one is stuck between having to support another with their body or kill them (not just merely disfigure them or let them die), one is obligated to choose the former. 

Regardless of your position on abortion, I hope I’ve established that it is, at the very least, not irrational to think that abortion is morally impermissible. And believing that we should not kill innocent human beings does not make one a misogynist, which is something that I am often unfairly accused of. That’s why I wish that the UW Women’s Centre did not declare itself pro-choice. I am not any less of a woman for thinking that abortion is wrong. So let’s have an open discussion about the morality of abortion unblinded by stereotypes of what a pro-lifer or pro-choicer is supposed to be. 


Josephine Luetke

Secretary of UW Students For Life


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Second Year, Honours Arts — Philosophy