The Winning Argument
Today the Governor of South Dakota signed a bill outlawing all abortions except in cases when the mother's life is in danger. This law is scheduled to take effect on July 1 but will probably never do so because of legal action. The true purpose of this bill is to force Planned Parenthood to sue the state so the issue can be raised in the supreme court.
While it will probably be years until the high court hears this case, the action by the legislature and governor of South Dakota has once again catapulted the issue of abortion into the public eye. Both sides are digging their trenches. Activists on the pro-life and pro-choice sides are preparing for the imminent public debate surrounding this new law.
And I am ready to join the fray.
Many arguments have been made to support abortion over the years. The popular one today is that it is a woman's choice what she wants to do with her body. In general I would agree with that. There are exceptions of course. A woman is not allowed to destroy her body with drugs, nor is she allowed to sell her body for sex (though I bet many abortion rights activists would say women should be allowed to do these things too). But in general I would accept this principle as appropriate and moral. But there is a problem. A big problem. And we are going to have to go back to Biology 101 to find out what it is.
In the legal system today, identity is most firmly established by DNA evidence. The ability to detect and decode the DNA of an individual is a relatively new technology, yet it has already changed the legal system dramatically. Convicted criminals have been exonerated and suspects have been convicted based on DNA evidence. Men and women have proven their relation to long lost sons, daughters, and parents with this technology. No other innovation has reshaped the courts so significantly since the fingerprint was first admitted as evidence. DNA evidence is so powerful for two reasons:
First, DNA is absolutely unique to each individual. No other person dead, living, or yet to be born has the same genetic code as me. If hair with my genetic information is found in a hotel room, that means either I was in that room, or someone put my hair there. But there is no doubt that the hair is mine.
Second, for the most part, DNA is consistent in every cell of a persons body. My hair has the same genetic code as my skin or my saliva. Now I say for the most part because there is one exception. Reproductive cells only contain half the genetic information of an individual. But this information is still a part of the whole which means it can be identified as a particular individual's.
This is where we find our problem. The consistency of DNA is prevalent in every woman, meaning we can identify the cells that belong to a woman's body by their genetic code. And because genetic codes are unique we can identify to which woman those cells belong.
But what about an unborn baby (or fetus if you're pro-choice)? If a fetus is really part of its mother's body it should have the same genetic code right? But it doesn't. The DNA of the fetus is completely different from its mothers. Oh it does contain half of the information from the egg of the mother but legally that is not enough (you can't convict a man when you find the DNA of his son at a crime scene). Therefore an unborn baby cannot legally be considered part of its mother's body. It may live inside the mother's body, but location and nature are entirely separate matters.
So Planned Parenthood it looks like your argument doesn't really work. A woman does have the right to do what she wants with her body, but she does not have the right to do whatever she wants with another individual's body, even if that body is living inside her. Looks like it's back to the drawing board for the abortion rights activists.