Ireland will vote Friday on whether they will keep an amendment intact that has protected unborn children from being intentionally killed by elective abortion. To quote their 8th amendment, Ireland, “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
In order to keep this protection of unborn human beings intact, Ireland must remember to maintain accurate representations of what pregnancy is, while at the same time rejecting reductionist portrayals that demean the nature of pregnancy.
Pregnancy Is Not Merely ‘Using’ A Woman’s Body
The most common objection to abortion that Ireland must continue to reject is the notion that restricting abortion is in violation of a woman’s bodily autonomy. It is reasoned that no human being has the right to “use” another human being’s body. Not “using” in the descriptive sense, but the derogatory sense.
The pro-choice proponent means to imply that the unborn objectifies a woman. By insisting a woman must continue her pregnancy, they claim that this degrades the woman as nothing more than an object to be used for a specific purpose. For instance, many in favor of repealing the 8th amendment are in the habit of comparing pregnant women to incubators. This “using” of another body has also been compared to organ donation, as most would agree that we could not demand someone else donate their organs to us.
But the framing of pregnancy as organ donation or “using” another’s body are improper reductions of what pregnancy actually is. By “improper reduction,” I mean it reduces a concept so much that it is no longer an accurate description.
For example, we are molecules in motion, but that is not all we are. If I tried to say that human beings don’t have value because they are molecules in motion, that would be using an improper reduction to make a point. Human beings are much more than that. The same with pregnancy. Besides the fact that we don’t poison or dismember other human beings in need of working organs, pregnancy is much more than donating an organ or “using” a woman’s body. Then what is pregnancy really?
Ireland Has Recognized That Pregnancy Is Parenthood
Parents should have a legal obligation to care for their children when their children are at a stage of development when they are unable to properly care for themselves. It is the legal obligation of parenthood that Ireland has rightly recognized. This responsibility is only removed when the child has reached the age when they are deemed competent to care for themselves. We would not argue that a toddler has less of a right to life because they are not able to properly care for themselves. We would not claim that an infant has even less of a right to live than a toddler because they are completely dependent on their parents for survival at every hour.
In fact, we would say it is the degree of dependency that actually adds weight to the legal obligations of parenthood. All pregnant women have children that are dependent on them for care because pregnancy is the beginning of parenthood. Children who depend on their mothers for life are not “using” their mothers bodies in the derogatory sense. They are receiving care. More specifically, they are receiving the care of motherhood.
Cases of foster parenting and adoption only work reinforce rather than deny the obligations of parenthood. These are individuals that have taken on the legal obligations of parenthood even though they are not biologically related. In other words, Ireland rightly recognizes that all children have a right to be cared for, and someone must take on the legal obligation of parenthood, whether they are biologically related or not. Those that want to repeal the 8th Amendment are claiming there are some children no one has an obligation to care for.
Abortion Is Not the One Exception to Every Moral Principle
Start with any blatantly obvious premise that is grounded in a basic moral principle for producing a good and just society, and you will find that, according to the pro-choice proponent, abortion is the sole exception to all those standards. They would agree that all innocent human beings should be afforded protections under the law, except for the unborn.
They would concede that we have a responsibility to make sure all children are cared for, except for the unborn. They would argue that children with more needs and more dependence for survival should garner more compassion and heighten our responsibility to care for them rather than diminish it, except for the unborn.
They would argue that intentionally killing an innocent human being is always unjust, except for, well you get the idea. Ireland has recognized that this one exception has not been in line with reason. It is ad hoc. In other words, this one exception as has been concocted to defend the turf of abortion only.
Parents have a unique obligation to care for their children. Pregnancy is properly understood as parenthood for every child in this particular stage of development. Pregnant women are not organ donators or incubators. They are mothers.
Ireland, maintain your rightly held principle that parents should have an obligation under the law to care for their children in all stages of development, rather than intentionally kill them.