Mississippi asks US Supreme Court to Overturn Roe v. Wade

Mississippi’s argument against abortion concerns viability. People have long argued about how such a thing is or could be determined. But viability is a red herring. The real issue is right to life in tandem with personal liberty. No person has an absolute right to life. It depends on the circumstances. Break into my house at night and see whether I recognize your right to life. On second thought, don’t. ‘Cause I certainly disrespect your right to life.

In other words, don’t be confused about what it as stake here. This is not about life. This is about freedom. Without that, is life really worth living? The paramount right is that of a woman to not be used as an incubator against her will. If women do not have the right to refuse to be or remain hooked up to another person in order to keep that person alive, then women are not considered fully human. Government or corporate control over reproduction is the paradigm of tyranny.

I have written several essays on this topic. Here are some previous entries so you can better understand my argument.

In The Fetus is a Person. Now What? (2008), I lean on Judith Jarvis Thomson “A Defense of Abortion” (Philosophy & Public Affairs, Fall 1971) to argue that advocating state control over women’s bodies is incompatible with the principles of liberty underlying the legal and moral order necessary for a free society. The pro-life position has no reasonable justification for its advocacy for tyranny.

April 2013, I write in Abortion is Really About Freedom, “The question of the permissibility of abortion is not about the status fetus but the right of a woman (or any person) to determine what purposes her body is used for, presuming she is not a slave (and if she it, she must be liberated).” And this: “Personal autonomy is the first right—every person must be free from oppression. Life can be and often is sacrificed to preserve this right. If a woman cannot determine how her body is used, she is not free.”

In Liberty is America’s raison d’être. Preserving Reproductive Freedom for the Sake of the Republic (2020), I contend that the desire to control a woman’s reproductive capacity stands condemned for its 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. That it is so easy for so many to disregard the personal sovereignty of women suggests a stealth misogyny, one masquerading as empathy for the fetus. It’s the worst form of objectification, for it denies the woman’s humanity.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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