Virtually everyone appreciates that pregnant women have needs that must be considered when we’re crafting policy on abortion. There are significant differences, however, between a stance that looks to balance those needs against the interests of the developing child, and one that prioritizes the mother’s autonomy absolutely. However much they soft-pedal the gorier details, defenders of abortion rights are mostly committed to the second. That becomes pretty evident when they oppose any and all restrictions on abortion, and regularly decry the injustice of denying a woman her “right to choose.”
We can debate when exactly human life begins — but we cannot debate that it naturally begins inside the female body. Every one of us was, at some early point in our personal history, dependent on a human woman for physical survival. How then should we think about the rights and obligations of the “bonded” mother and child?
We could see them both as precious human beings deserving of legal protection. Our laws and mores could then try to balance those interests, valuing the developing child while still recognizing the mother as a person with her own rights.