Whose Body Is It?

If I was to suppose as to the most popular defense of elective abortion, it would be some variation of bodily autonomy — It’s a woman’s body to do with what she chooses.  A British woman made news by being sentenced to eight years for self-inducing a late-term abortion in order to hide an adulterous affair.

(NYDailyNews) — A married British woman who aborted her baby in the final week of her  pregnancy was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday — a brutal crime that  investigators called “cold and calculating.”

Sarah Catt, 35, of North Yorkshire, England, was accused of using a drug she  bought online from a company in India to induce labor past the 24 week limit  allowed under law, The Telegraph newspaper reported.

She was 40 weeks along when she terminated her pregnancy in May 2010, authorities  said.

Catt, who has two children with her husband, said the baby boy was born  lifeless and she decided to bury him alone, The Telegraph said. She never told  police where she put the body.

Catt believed the baby was the result of a seven-year extramarital affair  with a co-worker that eventually ended, the BBC said.

She reportedly never told her husband she was pregnant, although he remained  supportive of her during her arrest.

The judge, Justice Jeremy Cooke, scolded Catt for taking away the life of a  child who was presumably days from being born.

“What you have done is rob an apparently healthy child, vulnerable and  defenseless, of the life which he was about to commence,” Cooke said, according to The Huffington Post UK.

“The child in the womb was so near to birth, in my judgment all  right-thinking people would think this offense more serious than unintentional  manslaughter,” he added.

Should this be a crime?  Regardless of how far along in the pregnancy, the woman’s body remains her own.  Why then should anyone be prosecuted for self-aborting in this kind of situation regardless of gestation time?  If in fact bodily autonomy diffuses arguments against abortion, then whether the baby is viable or not is irrelevant.  Often pro-lifers are accused of operating on a double standard by supporting just war or capital punishment.  But if elective abortion is morally acceptable, can one make a pro-choice argument against abortion at any stage?


  1. Yes. If birth is the standard, then there should be no punishment. If conception is the standard, then women around the world would be on trial for murder, every day. Elective abortion is morally acceptable, but if we all have a rational discussion based on the rights of the mother and the development of the child, it’s entirely likely that we may come up with some standard in the vicinity of 25 or 30 weeks. Birth seems arbitrary considering birth fluctuates up to a month in either direction both naturally and artificially with minimal impact on the child. Conception is a ludicrous standard (as is menstruation in Arizona or ejaculation in Missouri). Conception isn’t even obvious for a month or more and spontaneous abortions are very common especially in the first few weeks. We should put aside conception and birth and have a more sensible discussion based on fetal development and a reasonable opportunity for consideration by the mother.

    • I don’t have any problem with women being on trial for intentionally causing the death of their children. But when life begins isn’t really open for debate, its a biological and medical fact that life begins at conception. But that isn’t even necessary to know since all elective abortions are performed well after there is unassailable evidence that a life is being terminated.

      But as someone who is pro choice, and as someone who argues for abortion based on bodily autonomy, I don’t see how you can’t defend abortion so long as the baby is still internal to its mother.

  2. And what makes abortion “morally acceptable”? By what moral standard is the murder of the unborn acceptable?

  3. Here we go again.

  4. Jason, what does spontaneous abortion have to do with it? I could argue that death from heart attacks at the age of 65 is perfectly natural and therefore we (as a society) should be able to kill anyone who is at a reasonable risk of having a heart attack. There’s no moral dilemma here because it already happens in nature, right?

  5. Conception is a ludicrous standard (as is menstruation in Arizona or ejaculation in Missouri). Conception isn’t even obvious for a month or more and spontaneous abortions are very common especially in the first few weeks….

    I see. Your humanity is dependent on other’s knowledge of your existence…Asinine.

    Anyway, women who obtain abortions know they are pregnant…

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