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Burdens Women Face

Pro-Choice rally

Right now, the state legislatures are going crazy with amendments to their abortion laws. They are shortening the time that a pregnant woman can decide whether or not to have an abortion to as little as 6 weeks. This is an immoral legislative move, as I explain below.

The decision to shorten the time in this fashion imposes the will of the legislature upon individuals. The justification for this is that an unborn fetus needs the protection of the society. The result is an increase in burdens upon abortion – not an absolute ban, but burdens that approach such a ban.

Let us consider another burden that the society may place upon an individual. When there is war, individuals are forced into the military. But they are paid compensation for this. It is not a lot of money, but it is supposed to be a monetary equivalent to what they would receive in a job.

No anti-abortion law has ever suggested that there be some form of compensation. After all, like a drafted conscript, the woman is being put through a very difficult period of her life that she did not choose to take.

But when a woman is denied the right not to have an abortion, she is forced to be pregnant, and then she is forced to take care of the child (except if she goes through the pain of putting it up for adoption). And yet no anti-abortion law has ever suggested that there be some form of compensation. After all, like a drafted conscript, the woman is being put through a very difficult period of her life that she did not choose to take.

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The legislature can argue that the purpose of the anti-abortion law is to save the life of the fetus. But this is a goal that the legislature has chosen as important, not the woman. It is similar to the war, which society has chosen as important and for that reason has put the life of the conscript into danger. The conscript is paid compensation; why isn’t the woman? Employees are normally paid their full salary (according to law) if the business for which they work is closed due to a natural disaster. The government is required by the constitution to pay compensation if it takes away property. “In a case decided in early 2017 stemming from the 2013 government shutdown, the chief judge on the Court of Federal Claims found that the government violated the FLSA when employees were not paid at least the federal minimum wage (which is already most likely below their normal hourly wage), and overtime due to them, on time.” In other words, the government must pay you compensation in order to take away your property or make you work. (Why isn’t a fetus considered the property of its mother?)

I’m not saying that the abortion issue should be decided according to property or work laws. But these principles contain legal rights that stand in the way of anti-abortionists. Only proof that a fetus is a human being and therefore worthy of protection from murder, with no countervailing interests, justifies burdening the mother without compensation of some sort. And yet no one has suggested the need for such compensation. Compensation may not be the answer; but at least if the anti-abortionists recognized that their rule burdens the mother, it might lead to some sort of compromise.

At present, we have abortionists insisting that the fetus is a human being from the moment its heart starts beating, even though it could not live outside its mother womb without expensive and complex treatment. We have the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade making a decision that suggests that life doesn’t start until the fetus can survive on its own outside its mother’s womb. We have some abortionists saying that a fetus can be aborted almost up to the time of natural childbirth. These are difficult contentions, all of them. But none of the anti-abortionists thinks of the burden on the mother, just the rights of the being within her.

Like the soldier unwillingly drafted, her lost freedom should be subject to compensation of some sort. And the more time and more burden placed on her, the greater the compensation should be.

michael hertz

Michael T. Hertz