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After Ralph Northam, The ‘Bodily Autonomy’ Argument For Abortion Is Shot


My body, my choice! has long been the rallying cry of the abortion movement. In recent years, advocates made a more concerted effort to substantiate the sound bite by pushing a philosophical argument for abortion they called the “bodily autonomy” (or bodily “integrity”) argument.

The argument goes like this: The highest moral good is to have autonomy over one’s own body. This autonomy includes the right to kill the body of a preborn child attached to and reliant on my body. Therefore, abortion is moral.

Bodily autonomy is the abortion dogma pushed from the top down by groups like Planned Parenthood. The abortion giant released an actual manifesto on bodily autonomy last year, which reads, in part: “We believe your body is your own. If it is not, you cannot be truly free or equal… We are building a world where everyone has the freedom and opportunity to control their own bodies and their own futures…”

And it’s working. A quick search for the term “bodily autonomy” on Twitter yields countless examples of the term being used in defense of abortion every day.

The argument departs from classical personal autonomy beliefs by subsuming within it a right to kill another person’s body. Adherents to this argument cannot cogently explain why, if bodily autonomy is the highest good (trumping the inherent human right to life itself), it can be withheld from the body of the preborn child.

The argument becomes almost comical when, to circumvent this problem, abortion apologists are reduced to characterizing the preborn child as an unjust aggressor who somehow forced his way into his mother’s body against her will and now maliciously uses her in parasitic fashion (see virtually any Twitter debate with a bodily autonomy proponent).

In the face of indisputable science and technology proving that the child in the womb is a unique and human being, abortion advocates can no longer have recourse to arguing that the child in the womb is “not really human.” Therefore, the pro-life position that the right to life belongs to all humans and is the basis upon which all other rights are predicated usually meets an insistence that the child’s right to life is subjugated to the mother’s bodily autonomy. But this version of bodily autonomy, however flawed, is the only foundation left upon which to argue that killing that separate, innocent human being is morally justified.

The new national debate over the legality and morality of infanticide may have just unraveled what was left of the bodily autonomy argument. First, the abortion industry’s most powerful ally—the Democrat Party—has spearheaded legislation that would allow abortion until the point of birth (which is now legal in eight states and the District of Columbia), and sanction infanticide when a so-called unwanted child emerged from her mother’s body.

This is exactly what happened recently in Virginia, where Del. Kathy Tran argued for HB 2491, the Repeal Act. The failed bill would have permitted abortion up to birth and, as the American people learned, would allow for infanticide after the child was born.

When asked by Del. Todd Gilbert whether her bill would allow abortion while a mother was in active labor at full term, Tran responded: “My bill would allow that, yes.” Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, coolly and candidly explained on camera that, under Tran’s bill, live babies could be delivered and made comfortable before a “discussion” ensued between the mother and doctor as to the baby’s fate.

The nation predictably exploded in outrage after Tran’s and Northam’s respective revelations, taking to social media and op-ed pages across the country to express disbelief and shock. Nevertheless, both Tran and Northambolstered by the public solidarity of their Democratic Party, dug in their heels and insisted their views were not outside the mainstream of abortion thought. They actually went so far as to paint themselves as victims of Republican extremism.

To save the bodily autonomy argument—which, keep in mind, is the only argument the abortion industry has left—this would have been the moment for groups like the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Abortion Federation, and other leading abortion groups and their allies to draw a line in the sand.

If bodily autonomy is the foundation upon which the right to abortion is built, there is no justification by extension for infanticide. The umbilical cord is severed. The child killed in infanticide is no longer inside of or attached to her mother.

But from the abortion industry, we have heard silence. Complete, utter, deafening silence.

The few peeps we heard came from the abortion lobby’s media allies, and those have only been to deny the actual verbiage of Tran’s and Northam’s statements, gaslighting their movement and the American people into thinking that they didn’t hear what they heard (see herehere, and here for examples).

There never was a sound argument for killing innocent human beings in abortion. And there never will be. But whatever stronghold the abortion movement had on its single remaining line of defense—the bodily autonomy argument—has now been lost.

Instead, their silent complicity confirms what we have all known in the pro-life movement for half a century: The abortion industry is faithful to one thing, and that is the license to kill children at any stage and for whatever reason they can get away with.