Friday, August 21, 2009

Pro-lifer says 'hands off my body,' no contradiction

Paul Schmelzer at the liberal Minnesota Independent notes a recent comment from pro-life Rep. Michele Bachmann on the proposed health care plan:
Then comes Rep. Bachmann, whose logic about health care would seem to also apply to reproductive health. She told Sean Hannity on his Tuesday radio show that "people need to continue to go to the town halls, continue to melt the phone lines of their liberal members of Congress and let them know, under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions."

As Matthew DeLong puts it at our sister site in Washington, "Somebody call Planned Parenthood. Looks like they've got a surprising new spokesperson."
Pro-life advocates tend to avoid the "hands off my body" language altogether -- though there's nothing inherently wrong with it -- because it has been used for decades as a (fallacious) argument for legalized abortion.

Abortion proponents who read Bachmann's comments think she is employing a premise that also logically works to justify a pro-abortion rights position -- so they've caught her in a contradiction.

But that's certainly not true. Bachmann thinks government should cede to us a certain amount of personal autonomy over health care decisions. In fact, I'm sure she favors a great deal of personal autonomy in general -- but one thing the government should not allow is the killing of innocent human beings. No one should have the freedom to intentionally take innocent human life.

The "hands off my body" argument for abortion fails because it begs the question as to whether only one body is involved or two. Bachmann, and probably most pro-lifers, wants to allow (at least as a matter of public policy) people to do almost anything with their own bodies, but abortion is doing something (killing by dismemberment) to someone else.

The real contradiction, it seems to me, is that of left-wing pro-choice advocates who think women should have the freedom to kill their offspring but not the freedom to make their own health care decisions. What happened to "trusting women"?