Wed | Dec 1, 2021

Letter of the Day | Does the right to abortion exist?

Published:Thursday | April 4, 2019 | 12:00 AM


Pro-choice activists are postulating that there is a right to abortion. Yet, in actuality, no such right exists. It is difficult for pro-lifers to invalidate abortion using the rights approach since pro-choice activists do not take their usually religious positions seriously. Therefore, this piece will show why the rights-based approach fails to justify abortion:

1. The principle of natural law asserts that some rights are endowed by human nature, thus making them inalienable and necessary for human flourishing. Natural law does not recognise a right to abortion. However, if having a child will put the woman’s life at risk, then the principle of double effect may be applied.

According to this principle, it is permissible to induce an action causing harm if such action will result in a favourable result, providing that the negative act was not intended. Moreover, no Jamaican law identifies a right to abortion; therefore, there cannot be a positive right to abortion granted by the state.

2. There is a right to self-ownership, but abortion is not a subsidiary of this right because the foetus is a separate entity from his mother. Participating in cosmetic surgery, for example, is an expression of a bodily right and hence a proper subsidiary of the right to self-ownership.

3. Pro-choice activists posit that abortion is justified under the right to privacy. However, no such right to privacy exists. Privacy is only a benefit of having a right to property. Human beings have a right to freely enjoy property without invasion. The foetus is not the property of the woman, so she can have no property right to abortion.

4. Tozzi (2010) notes that international law does not recognise a right to abortion. The view that there is a global right to abortion is fictitious.

Justifications for abortion utilising the rights-based approach fail. The pragmatic approach states that the illegality of the act will allow women to have unsafe abortions. As a result, legalising abortion will protect the health of a woman. This is a sensible argument, but one could always state that adoption is an alternative. There is no right to abortion, and feminist dogma will not make it a right.

Lipton Matthews