Bioethics

Abortion Is Not a Reproductive Right

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Author Alan Shlemon Published on 05/20/2020

Abortion-choice advocates routinely refer to abortion as a reproductive right. That’s misleading. Abortion isn’t about reproduction. It can’t be about reproduction. The word “reproduction” is formed from the combination of “re” (again) + “produce” (to make). It means to produce again, make a copy, or—in our context—simply to create another human being.

Abortion, however, refers to just the opposite, even if you grant the euphemistic definition usually offered: “the termination of a pregnancy.” To terminate is almost opposite of producing something. That’s one reason why it doesn’t make sense to classify abortion as a reproductive right.

In every elective abortion, a couple already has made a body. Two human beings have produced another human being by re-producing. Though a couple does have a reproductive right, it is only during the time that precedes the act of reproduction. Any action taken upon the product of reproduction is no longer about reproduction.

According to the law of biogenesis, living things reproduce other living things. Specifically, species reproduce their own kind at the moment of conception. Dogs beget dogs, birds beget birds, and humans beget humans. It is scientifically impossible for two humans to reproduce something that is not a human but then later becomes one. The immediate product of human reproduction is another human being, even by the admission of abortion-choice advocates.

Abortion, then, is not a reproductive right since reproduction has already taken place. The couple has produced a new human being. Reproduction is complete. They still have a reproductive right, but only as it pertains to producing an additional human being, if they choose. That right doesn’t refer to their newly produced human being.

An important transition occurs at the moment of conception. One right ends and two rights begin. The couple’s right to reproduce (or not reproduce) ends because they’ve exercised that right. Two new rights begin: parental rights and human rights. Now that the couple has reproduced another human, they are parents. Parents, by definition, have parental rights as well as parental responsibilities. In addition, the new child—unmistakably a human being—has human rights.

Therefore, abortion is not a reproductive right. Abortion is an action taken by one or more parents on their offspring. To refer to the parents’ action on their existing child as a reproductive right is incorrect based on what we know about reproduction. Any action taken towards their existing child is a parental action, not a reproductive one. Abortion, then, is a parental act, and its effect is on the existing child, not a potential child.