Fetuses First

February 2010

Amelia, a 27-year-old Nicaraguan woman, has a ten-year-old daughter. She also has cancer and desperately needs treatment, but is being denied care because she’s pregnant. Abortion is entirely illegal in Nicaragua, even in a case like Amelia’s where she needs a therapeutic abortion to save her life. In Amelia’s case, it’s not just abortion that is being denied — it’s treatment for the cancer as well, since such treatment could harm the fetus. Amelia might die and her ten-year-old daughter may be left without her mother because of “pro-life” orthodoxy.

Fetuses First — Feministe (via Shakesville)

This is what “pro-life” really means, and is exactly why women need the right to make their own decisions for their own bodies.

KT commented:

Hm...I agree in general, but I've never felt comfortable with 'a woman has the right to choose what happens to her own body' as an argument, because it's not just her body anymore when she's pregnant. And in this case it seems to me that the issue is not just about her body anyway, if you're going to use the 10 year old daughter as part of the argument.

To me it seems more useful to keep 'rights' out of it and just make a stark utilitarian pros-and-cons calculation.

Matt commented:

I think, though, that it's important to note that the pregnant women is the one with the true… investment? It's easy for other people to make demands, because it's not going to cost them anything (except emotionally, in some cases.) On the other hand, any decision will have very concrete consequences for the woman. As such, I don't think anyone else can or should make those decisions.

I think I disagree that it's not just her body anymore, too, in the sense that she has every right to reject what is realistically a parasite. (A parasite with potential and an emotional bond, but at the fetal stage a parasite nonetheless.) I don't think anyone can demand that a woman must support a direct and significant drain on her limited bodily resources, and I don't think anyone other than the woman in question should be making that decision.

KT commented:

...that is a way I had not quite thought of it before. I shall ponder further.