“My body, my choice” is possibly the most common slogan in defense of abortion right now and an embarrassing number of pro-life people completely misunderstand it. Consider the following popular meme:
Hilarious right? Aren’t pro-choice people stupid? Aren’t they logic-impaired?
No. Please stop.
To what is “my body” referring in the “my body, my choice” slogan? Pro-life people far too often incorrectly assume that it is the body of the unborn. If that was the case, then yes, it would be a dumb thing to say. Let’s call this the Scientifically Ignorant View. That is almost never what pro-choice people mean. They mean the parts of the woman’s body that are affected by pregnancy, such as her uterus, vagina, ovaries, etc. Those are indisputably her body parts and pregnancy affects them.
The pro-life mind is naturally inclined to be focused on the unborn, and understandably so. They are being killed daily by the thousands. Almost nothing justifies killing a human person. But to most pro-choice people, even if the unborn is a human person, women have the right to kill the unborn if they are inside her body. This is the Bodily Rights View. Shouting that the unborn is a human being does nothing to respond to the Bodily Rights View. Absolutely nothing.
To put it another way, consider the following basic pro-life syllogism:
Premise 1: It is morally wrong to intentionally kill human persons.
Premise 2: Abortion intentionally kills human persons.
Conclusion: Therefore abortion is morally wrong.
When pro-life people hear “my body, my choice” far too many assume that the pro-choice person is denying Premise 2, when in fact they are denying Premise 1. They aren’t saying that the unborn child isn’t a human person, they’re saying that the woman is justified in killing him because he is in her body.
If a pro-choice person says, “my body, my choice,” never, ever, ever respond by saying “but the baby has its own body,” or “but the baby is a human being.” Always respond with a clarification question to find out if they have the Bodily Rights View or the Scientifically Ignorant View.
I want to make sure I understand what you mean, and I’ve heard people use that phrase in different ways, so help me out. Do you mean that the embryo’s body is literally just part of the mother’s body, like a kidney or another organ, or do you mean that because the embryo is in her body she has the right to kill it?
I have asked some variation of this clarification question literally hundreds of times. At least 95% of the time the pro-choice person has had a Bodily Rights View.
If they are part of the 5% of pro-choice people that hold the Scientifically Ignorant View, graciously educate them. But if they are part of the 95% of pro-choice people that hold the Bodily Rights View, you have to respond with something other than a declaration that the unborn is human. To learn more about how to do that, see the following resources:
- Autumn in the Sovereign Zone: Why “It’s My Body, I Can Do What I Want” Won’t Do
- Bodily Rights Arguments Necessitate Extremism
- De Facto Guardian and Abortion
- Two Bad Pro-Life Responses to Bodily Rights Arguments
Some pro-choice people don’t communicate clearly, so I’ll give some pro-life people a pass for not understanding this distinction. But many pro-choice people are perfectly clear. The level of confusion pro-life people have about what pro-choice people actually believe is often a failure on their part to listen well and a failure on the part of their pro-life friends to educate them and clarify this misunderstanding.
Make no mistake, this confusion is a full-fledged catastrophe for the pro-life movement. In order for us to end abortion, we need to actively (and graciously) educate pro-life people who don’t understand this. If we don’t, then many pro-choice people will never hear a good response to their Bodily Rights View, and the well-meaning, ignorant, unintentionally obnoxious pro-life people will continue to drive them away.
When one of your well-meaning pro-life friends shares a meme like the one above, take a few minutes to explain why they are misunderstanding the pro-choice position, or at least take a few seconds and share this post with them.
Please tweet this article!
- Tweet: Fellow Pro-Lifers: Please Stop Sharing This Straw Man Meme
- Tweet: Shouting that the unborn is a human being does nothing to respond to the Bodily Rights View.
- Tweet: Make no mistake, this confusion is a full-fledged catastrophe for the pro-life movement.
- Tweet: In order for us to end abortion, we need to actively educate pro-life people who don’t understand this.
The post “Fellow Pro-Lifers: Please Stop Sharing this Straw Man Meme” originally appeared at the Equal Rights Institute blog. Subscribe to our email list with the form below and get a FREE gift. Click here to learn more about our pro-life apologetics course, “Equipped for Life: A Fresh Approach to Conversations About Abortion.”