Rights of Mom and Rights of Fetus

Dear Fr. Phil Bloom,

I am pro-choice, so we may not agree on many topics, but I would like to make a couple comments on your discussion about the problems with the pro-choice argument. You gave an example of a woman being abused by her husband and how it was the government's job to protect those who can't protect themselves. You then made a very large, and I believe unjustifiable, leap to saying that means the government has to protect the fetus from the mother aborting it. This analogy is very shaky for one main reason. A woman who is married to a man is not ONE with her husband. She never ceases to be a completely distinct human that can exist without her husband at any point. A fetus, on the other hand, can not exist on it's own until much later in the pregnancy than the first trimester when a majority of abortions are performed. At that point, and even farther along, a fetus absolutely can not exist without being connected to the mother. Until this fetus can exist outside the womb, as a distinct human being (and I'm not talking about 15 week premature fetuses that must live in incubators for months), then it is a part of the mother, and she should have the right to make what ever decisions she desires about her body.

I have one more quick comment, and then I will close. You said that women would not choose an abortion if they had understanding and caring husbands/boyfriends etc. While I whole-heartedly support men being caring and supportive of their partners, I wish to make an exception to that statement. I have had only one partner in my life. We have been together for six years and will marry after we graduate college. He is the most supportive person I know, and would share in the responsibility of raising our child, if we ever choose to have one. Despite all of this, I know that I would choose an abortion if I were to become pregnant right now, and I know many women who would if they were in the same situtation. The reason is because women must make decisions that are best for them. I have future plans for a promising career and they don't include a child. If I were to be forced to have a child, I may not achieve my life goals. Many women don't see having children as their one goal, and until 100% effective, non-harmful, birth control methods are available abortion will always have to be an option for the millions of women who want to control their own reproduction.

In closing, I appreciate and understand your point of view, but I wanted to question some of your statements that seemed to suggest most women think the same way. Women are not a single-thinking group or entity. We are as multifaceted as men, and as a result, require different options be available to us in order for each woman to develop her life in the manner she chooses.


January 4, 1999

Thank you for taking the time to express your opinion. I started this site two and half years ago as a forum to discuss basic life issues, so I welcome a variety of viewpoints. As much as anyone else I am trying to grapple with these fundamental questions and a challenging letter like yours is helpful in doing that.

Before addressing your main point, I would like to congratulate you and your fiance on discovering each other and the obvious depth of love you have. I would only ask that you consider that in your self-giving you not close yourselves to what is deepest about being male and female, namely your fertility. Archbishop Chaput has some powerful reflections on that topic.

In your letter you stated, "A fetus, on the other hand, can not exist on it's own until much later in the pregnancy..." A quick analogy came to mind: Suppose you and I were sole survivors of a shipwreck and I was so badly injured that I was totally dependent on you. Would you have a right to terminate my life? Now I'm not saying you would. After all you seem like a compassionate person and I am confident you would take care of me, even being a great inconvenience. Still, would it be a question of you conceding a right to me? What I am ultimately asking is: where do rights come from? Do we concede them to weaker persons out of compassion or are they somehow inherent?

Fr. Phil Bloom

P.S. When I gave the analogy about husband and wife being one, I was using the biblical viewpoint ("the two shall become one flesh" Gen 2:24).

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