It’s My Body And I’ll Pry If I Want To…

One should note that the title of this blog is taken from an old rock song in which a young girl is crying over a boy she is mad at. The song by Lesley Gore was originally entitled, “It’s My Party.” The nomination of a new Supreme Court Justice has prompted no small amount of protest from the Left. While not surprising in and of itself, it has resurrected discussions about the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973. One of the more ridiculous comments that has been repeated in my hearing several times is, “I do not want nine men deciding what I do with my body.” This response, designed to create a knee-jerk reaction, is ridiculous on several levels. I think a brief discussion on the ludicrousness of this comment, and why it is being used, is worthy of consideration.

First, a disclaimer. There are those horrible instances in which a woman finds herself bringing forth a child through an act of violence. I am being deliberately discrete here. Such an instance would not in any way entail the normal relations between a man and woman. I want to make it clear that such sad cases, which are part of the mosaic of our fallen world, are to be treated with the utmost compassion and gravity. Therefore, they are not included in this particular discussion, but rather represent a grievous exception to the dialogue about abortion in general. Let us call these, “the exceptions that need to be looked at on a unique, case-by-case basis.” Of course, there is another situation which needs to be looked at in such a way: those cases in which a choice must be made between the life of the mother and the life of the child (again, such a heartbreaking situation is a result of the fallen world in which we live). It is important to remember that since children could be born at an earlier and earlier gestational age, these cases are becoming less frequent. Nonetheless, these situations must be treated as important exceptions and we should not glibly dismiss them.

The comment directed at the Supreme Court as a group of nine men making decisions about women’s bodies, however, is not about these exceptions, but something far deeper. Let us grant the premise that it is a legitimate argument, just for the sake of examination. If a woman should not be told what she can do with her body, it logically follows that a man cannot be told what he can do with his body. If that is the case, then what is the basis for objecting to a man committing rape, since he is simply doing what he wants with his body? Any sane person would make the distinction that a woman is being abused by his actions - they don’t just affect his body, but they affect hers as well. And that is just the point - in the case of abortion, not just the woman’s body but also another body and another person is being affected. If it is logical that a man is restricted from doing what he wants with his body because it will harm another person, then it is logical that a woman is restricted in what she does with her body because it will harm another person. Let us take this line of thinking a step further: should a woman have the right to tell other women what can be done with their bodies? The woman affirming abortion would obviously say no. But doesn’t a mother who aborted her unborn daughter become a woman who is telling another female what will happen to her body?

 Beyond this, what is ignored is the importance of the rule of moral law. Every day when I am not allowed to speed, steal, or murder other people I am being told what I can and cannot do with my body. We are society of laws and principles and people are expected to submit, or restrict what they can do with their bodies, to follow those laws. The rights of an individual never supersede the obligations of moral law in a just and free society! Let us get down to something far more fundamental: the issue of moral obligation. Our society, informed by a Judeo-Christian ethic, has always held that individuals have a moral obligation to do that which is right and to avoid doing that which is wrong. In other words, people should do what is right because it is right, and avoid wrong because it is wrong - not just because the law tells us to do or not do something. Any mother who has told her child to share her toys with another child exercising this very moral principle.

 So, when a woman says, “I do not want nine men telling me what to do with my body,” she is really saying that even if those nine men (or women) rightly posit and enshrine in law a moral obligation, she does not want to be held to that obligation. Therein is the problem: individuals want to be able to act autonomously apart from moral obligations. What the woman is ignoring is the fact that, as a woman (who has a unique role in the miracle of birth), at the point of conception her body is no longer just hers, but both hers and the child’s - for the time being. Now, I know this creates some impositions on the woman - and one can argue whether these impositions, which are an intrinsic component of her gender, are fair or unfair. But, what one should not argue with is that there exists a moral obligation to that child at the point of conception. There is a moral obligation for a woman to control her body to the extent that she is capable of. By the way, the same obligation exists for men, who are not to take advantage of women to get what they desire. A man has certain moral obligations also (what is good for the goose is good for the gander). I do not let my gender off the hook. But the principle of moral obligation must be upheld. It is not a matter of which Supreme Court Justice is sitting on the high court; it is a matter of a moral obligation that needs to be remembered. You may do with your body only what does no unnecessary harm to another - this is true whether you’re a man or a woman and has nothing to do with the makeup of the Supreme Court. The relative merits of Roe v. Wade can be debated till the cows come home, but the principle remains the same: I do not have the right to do whatever I want with my body, whether I am a male or female, because moral obligation and moral law constrain me.

As a final word or two in passing, we created this problem in a sense by giving people the idea that ethics in their sexual behavior do not exist. Organizations like Unplanned Parenthood (which should be the actual name of Planned Parenthood), have told our youth for too long that they have no responsibility for that area of life towards which their awakening drives begin to lead them. Lastly, from this particular blog, one can see that I will in no way, ever, come close to being considered for a Supreme Court post. While realistically the reason would be my lack of legal education, even if I had the proper credentials and education, it would most certainly be due to my views on moral obligation (which, ironically, are not shared by many of the Justices).