If we find it abhorrent to even consider commandeering a man’s body to keep alive with his organs another man with failing ones, then we must find it abhorrent to commandeer a woman’s body to keep alive a fetus who depends on her organs to exist.
If we believe that the woman can be treated as a human incubator against her will, then we must also believe it is appropriate to hold a lottery to procure kidneys for those who need them. After all, one needs only one healthy kidney to live and most humans have two healthy ones. More than one hundred thousand Americans are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, and around twelve of them die every day because they cannot find a suitable donor.
Based on a right to privacy, which is assumed but not explicit in the Bill of Rights, leaves the reasoning behind Roe vulnerable. However, liberty is blatantly central to the foundation of the republic. (The late jurist Ruth Bader Ginsburg made this point in criticizing Roe.) Personal sovereignty and individualism represent the essence of the American way of life, explicitly identified in our founding documents. It is, moreover, universally true if human rights is to mean anything objectively.
Roe should have been decided on the basis that forcing a man to sustain with his organs the life of another man is paradigmatically tyrannical, a negation of everything for which the American republic stands. Liberty is America’s raison d’être.
I agree with those who argue that because women have the unique burden to bear children equal treatment requires we recognize this unique burden. (Ginsburg made this point, as well.) But there is also a general principle that makes the feminist struggle to secure reproductive freedom at the same time the struggle of men to preserve their freedom. Men are not allies in this fight; they are in this fight side-by-side with women for themselves as humans.
The desire to control a woman’s reproductive capacity, whatever the ideology, represents a moral double standard. Advocates of restrictions would never willingly agree to a regime that commandeered men’s bodies to exploit their organs for the sake of exclusively preserving individual life. They would find this offensive to morality. But women? It is so easy for too many to disregard their sovereignty. A stealth misogyny lurks there, masquerading as empathy. It’s worst form of objectification; it denies the woman’s humanity.
To be sure, we agree to commandeer bodies to defend liberty in war. This is in itself a difficult moral dilemma. But that’s not a contradiction. On the contrary. The fact that most of us would agree to war in defense of liberty makes the aborted fetus a martyr for human rights. I offer that consolation to those who feel anguish over the aborted.