In the debate over abortion, the chief defence of the pro-choice lobby is, “it’s my right to do what I want with my body”. How valid is that argument?

There is one big question that this statement begs; it assumes that our body is ours. It seems a safe bet; after all, we direct where our body goes and what it does. However, we can drive a car or live in a house without owning those things. Ownership of an object implies that we have the right both to possess and to use it, but the reverse is not the case: neither possession nor use confers ownership. So what does? A contract? What if there is no legal authority to enforce our claim and we alone have to defend our possessions? Will a contract be enough? Hardly: theft is the common cold of crime. In the absence of a society to enforce contracts, how can we truly own anything? We can’t, not in this legal sense.

To own something means that we control it: we can do with it whatever we want, no matter what anyone else says or does. If this is true ownership, can it be said that we own our bodies? Finally, no: we get sick, we die. Medicine can heal us, but it can’t stop our inevitable decay and death.

So the natural question to ask is, if not us, who does own our bodies? There are only two possibilities, and they are two sides of the same coin. The coin is cosmogony: how did life, the universe and everything, come to be? Heads, it was deliberate: tails, it was an accident. If tails, we can’t claim total ownership of our bodies: time also has a say. Even then, other people can usurp our rule and do things to us that we don’t want done. The best we can say is that we have squatter’s rights over our bodies. Eventually, time leaves us in her wake, until we finally founder. All our vaunted rights and authority are shown to be nothing but accidental.

The flip side of the coin is that the creation of life was deliberate and (to keep the matter simple) there is an entity in control over the world. It is this being to whom all things belong. Whether that being is good or evil is, for our purposes, irrelevant. If none of their actions can be overturned, they own us. Whatever rights we may have our bodies depends on them.

As far as this goes, everyone should agree on the theory. But will it change anyone’s belief on abortion? In practice, it’s unlikely. To the objective mind, learning that a foetus is essentially human at 10 weeks old will probably have a greater impact. But how many people — especially females — dealing with abortion are able to be this objective?

What we believe about abortion depends largely on our worldview; what we believe about life as a whole. Our worldview revolves around the big questions of life: do we have a purpose? What happens after we die? Does God exist or not? If so, what is God like? Our worldview must change before our position on abortion will. From a Biblical point of view, only God can do that. All Christians can and should do is show compassion to those who disagree with is —all the more because the topic is an emotive one — learn the facts, and not get in Jesus’ way as He invites the people we meet to His wedding banquet.

copyright Troy Grisgonelle 2006.

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