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My Body … My Choice?

“My Body, My Choice.” It’s a slogan used not only on signs held by those who would defend Planned Parenthood on a sidewalk or protest at the March for Life, but in opinion pieces found in major publications and even in political campaigns.

It’s pretty clear why the idea that abortion is only — or even just primarily — about a woman’s body is used. After all, it’s hard to argue that a woman shouldn’t have control over her own body, or that if the state of a woman’s body is of at least primary importance in the matter, that it might make it harder to argue that abortion should be outlawed.

But is abortion really just about a woman’s body or “bodily autonomy” in their minds? Or does their language in other contexts betray their true thoughts?

Occasionally, an attempt at abortion will result in the birth of a living baby. In fact, we heard from such a baby — all grown up — at the Grand Rapids Right to Life annual dinner five years ago, when Gianna Jessen was the featured speaker.

The curious thing is that everyone agrees that such a situation represents a failed abortion, including mainstream news organizations. But this makes no sense in light of the pro-choice rhetoric. If abortion is only — or even just primarily — about a woman’s body, then a procedure that leaves a pregnant woman unpregnant done at her request should be deemed at least mostly successful, should it not? Gianna Jessen’s mother’s body ended up precisely as she intended it to following her request for an abortion. So how can it be considered a “failed” procedure?

Or maybe abortion isn’t really about a woman’s body after all, even in the minds of those who ostensibly claim it is. G.K. Chesterton said, “An act can only be judged by defining its object.” Those who use phrases like “My Body, My Choice” to justify abortion use a false object (or at least they want us to use one) to judge it.

We know from practically everyone’s language — pro-choice as well as prolife — that the true primary object of abortion is to kill a human being. It is a travesty of reason to judge it apart from that fact.