Summary & Guidelines
Summary of Respect People
www.RespectPeople.org is a 21st century effort to mitigate the contentiousness of the abortion debate in the USA. This website is a work of love, a work of peace, and a work of respect. The name Respect People is a reminder of what we all need and want: We want abortion laws that respect people, and we want people to treat each other respectfully when discussing personal views about abortion.
We believe the big picture of the abortion debate can be understood by asking three main questions.
We approach these questions through the lens of our shared values.
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. For more information, please refer to the Three Criteria for Human Personhood.
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 cost 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 for pregnancy termination 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 very 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, drug addiction, and pregnancy complications like incomplete miscarriage/stillbirth, preeclampsia/eclampsia, chorioamnionitis, placenta accreta, placental abruption, etc. -> Very strong preference for early delivery, however, abortion is permitted when necessary to safeguard the mother’s life and/or quality of life.
Baby’s health crisis: misdeveloped or missing vital organs (kidneys, heart, lungs, brain*, etc.), vital organ failure, inoperable tumors, etc. -> Very strong preference for early delivery with supportive care, palliative care, and/or hospice care depending on the situation. In the specific case that a fetal body's brain is misdeveloped or missing such that the body will never develop the ability to think thoughts and feel emotions, then the Three Criteria for Human Personhood are not met and abortion is permittable because no living baby exists in that fetal body.
Wanted an abortion but 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. -> No person should ever be forced to endure pregnancy unwillingly. This particular situation is challenging, and we need to improve our social programs that work to prevent this scenario from happening. In this case, the options are maternal support services, adoption services, and/or early delivery (but not abortion). If a woman wants to remove a person from her body, at any time, she has the right. 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). Furthermore, the holding of McFall v. Shimp affirms that one person cannot be morally or legally forced to share body parts with another person. Regarding early delivery, it is important to note that current technology is limited in its ability to prevent adverse health outcomes in prematurely delivered babies. In the future, that technology will likely improve, but in the meantime, a pregnant person in this situation has a serious choice to make. You can choose early delivery, or you can choose to carry the pregnancy to term for the sake of supporting the baby's health. The choice to help others in need is always encouraged.
Thank you so much for reading RespectPeople.org, and many more thanks for your dedication to ending the abortion debate in a respectful way.
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