Summary & Guidelines
The big picture of the abortion debate can be understood by asking three questions. The First Question is "When did your life begin?" The answer is that your life began between 23-27 weeks gestation, when your mind came into existence.
The Second Question is "Do you have a right to use another person’s body without their permission?" The answer is no. You never have a right to use another person's body without their permission.
The Third Question is "What are you allowed to do if a person is using your body without your permission?" The answer is that you may separate yourself from this person, and in the process of separating this person from your person, you are not allowed to murder but you are allowed to ask for help and, as a last resort, you are allowed to kill in self-defense. If the person passes away after being separated from your body, because their own body was not able to sustain their life, then their death is a wholly natural death, for natural death occurs when our bodies are unable to sustain our life. Is it compassionate/kind/good to help another person in need when you are able? Absolutely. But should you ever be forced to bodily serve another person against your will? No.
Together, these three questions reveal that any person with a uterus, no matter the stage of pregnancy, has the right to determine whether or not their body remains pregnant, with the caveat that the way a pregnancy may be terminated (via abortion or early delivery) depends on the status of the body within the uterus—i.e. whether or not the body within the uterus contains a person. To permit someone to use a part of your body is a precious gift that you may grant, but no one should ever be forced to give a gift. Forcing someone to give a gift is theft.
Overall, in moral, ethical, and constitutional reproductive rights policy, the right to security of person, the right to freedom from involuntary servitude or forced labor, and the rights to life, liberty, and property of all people must be respected. Through our commitment to respecting those dearly held rights, Respect People's Guidelines for reproductive rights embodies both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice values.
Respect People's Guidelines for Reproductive Rights
1. Use reliable contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy during recreational sex (and practice safer sex). There's an old idiom that says "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It is far more practical to spend a little bit of energy toward preventing the crisis of an unwanted pregnancy than it is to spend enormous amounts of energy repeatedly solving a highly preventable situation.
2. From 0 to 22 weeks gestation, you have the option to terminate your pregnancy via abortion. Before 23 weeks gestation, there is no person in your uterus, therefore, your right to liberty and bodily security enables your right to access abortion care. If abortion is your choice, then the earlier you abort, the better because a) earlier abortions typically costs less money than later abortions, b) pregnancy places stress on your body that intensifies as the pregnancy progresses, and c) earlier abortion experiences are significantly less painful and less gruesome than both later abortion experiences and birth experiences.
3. From 23 weeks gestation to the end of gestation, there are three rare situations that instigate a need to terminate a pregnancy, via abortion or early delivery. When we say rare, we mean rare. Contrary to what some people are taught to believe, later abortions are a rare and serious occurrence—not a cavalier choice. According to the CDC, over three-fourths (77.7%) of abortions are performed before the 10th-week gestation; over nine-tenths (92.2%) of abortions are performed before the second trimester (aka before the 14th-week gestation); and nearly all (more than 99%) of abortions are performed before the 22nd-week gestation. The three rare situations that may necessitate the need for pregnancy termination after 22 weeks gestation are:
Mother’s health crisis: heart disease, lung disease, poor kidney function, uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, autoimmune conditions, blood-clotting disorders, severe depression/suicidal tendencies, and pregnancy complications like incomplete miscarriage/stillbirth, preeclampsia/eclampsia, chorioamnionitis, placenta accreta, placental abruption, etc. -> Preference is early delivery, but abortion is permitted to safeguard the mother’s life and health.
Baby’s health crisis: underdeveloped/misdeveloped or missing vital organs (kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, etc.), vital organ failure, inoperable tumors, etc. -> Preference is early delivery with supportive care, palliative care, and/or hospice care depending on the situation. Doctor may recommend abortion up to week 28. There are some extremely rare, severe situations where a coup de grâce before a person is ever wholly conscious for the first time is the most humane course of action. It is an act of mercy for extreme circumstances.
Don’t want to be a parent/Unable to support a child and Didn’t have access to abortion before 23 weeks due to: lack of finances, lack of transportation, no time off work, no one to watch her children/couldn’t afford childcare, abusive living situation, etc. -> We should have programs in place to prevent this scenario from ever happening! If a woman wants to remove a person from her body, at any time, she has the right. This particular situation is terrible, but the options here are maternal support services, adoption services, and early delivery. Early delivery, though morally dubious in this scenario, must remain permittable in accordance with the holding of McFall v. Shimp. To force one person to bodily serve another person against their will is not only morally untenable but also unconstitutional (the Thirteenth Amendment prohibits involuntary servitude).
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