In November, are you voting for embryo rights or human rights?

Richard Mourdock, a Republican running for Senate in Indiana, said yesterday that when a woman becomes pregnant by rape, “it is something that God intended.”

USA Today reports:

Asked whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, Mourdock said during Tuesday’s debate, “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God.”

Of course Mourdock “struggled” with the rape/ incest/ life of the mother abortion exceptions that some pro-life Republicans support. If you believe that the embryo has human rights, no abortion exception makes sense. If abortion is murder, you can never justify that murder, regardless of how that embryo came into being. That’s just logic.

You’d think, logically, at the very least, pro-life candidates would be fighting like hell to make sure all women have access to contraception so at least raped women would have a better chance of not getting pregnant.

Mitt Romney, who is pro-life, is trying to differentiate his position from Mourdock’s controversial statement. Unfortunately, it’s Romney’s position, which, on a good day allows three abortion exceptions, that is, once again, unclear, inconsistent, and illogical. If you are pro-life, embryo rights must supersede women’s rights. Eventually, Romney will admit that.

13 thoughts on “In November, are you voting for embryo rights or human rights?

  1. Surely, an anwanted pregnancy is always a terrible thing for a woman. Whatever she decides, she will pay a high price for it, in all aspects of her life.
    And the kid, if she comes to life, will come with the rejection printed in her gens.
    There is no good in all this. There is no ideal, correct ethic solution. That is why women should have ALL the support (medical, psychological, etc) whatever she decides about the matter. Margot, you do a wonderful job.
    I am a grandma (63), and I see our fight still has a long way to go.

  2. I believe that deliberately cutting off life from resources that are avaliable is not good.

    If there are conjoined twins. One of them wants to seperate for his/her comfort, but if they wait nine months they can both live. Should the conjoined twin be able to leave?

      • The baby/fetus/embryo is meant to be there. It is a natural process, but cutting it off from supplies that are meant for it is inhumane.

        Personally I would give exceptions for rape/incest/life of mother and a certain amount of time.

  3. I agree on the logic of the rape/incest exceptions, but I disagree when it comes to the life of the mother; to me it’s illogical to claim to be pro-life and then advocate the death of two people (going with their assumption that the embryo is a human being just like the woman) rather than one. It’s no less murderous in my mind to knowingly and deliberately let someone die through inaction than to actively kill them, so if someone is truly in favour of preserving life at all costs and in whatever form it takes, taken to its logical conclusion they should allow for exemptions when the woman will die, given that most of the time the embryo will die, too.

    Or, y’know, we can just acknowledge that the right to live does not trump the right to bodily autonomy.

  4. The abortion debate is really about patriarchalism, control over woman, I think.
    If they care so much about life, they would be fighting all the time against war.

  5. I completely agree with your general argument here, so I don’t want this to look like I’m being contentious, but this is something I’ve been thinking about myself a lot lately. I mean, in a world where some (usually male, usually Republican, usually running for office) person brings up abortion on an almost daily basis, it’s hard not to be thinking about it.

    But you say here that “If you believe that the embryo has human rights, no abortion exception makes sense. If abortion is murder, you can never justify that murder, regardless of how that embryo came into being.”

    But is it possible to agree that an embryo is human (even with certain rights) without saying that those rights supersede those of the woman carrying it?

    I’m thinking here of an analogy to organ donation. If someone needs a kidney transplant to live, they are human and have the right to life to the extent that they can attain it, but they do not have the right to someone else’s organs in order to enact that right. Someone else can choose to give that person a kidney, but at no time does the person’s right to life extend to the use of someone else’s organs without permission.

    I don’t understand why abortion arguments can’t follow the same logic. The embryo has the right to life to the extent that it is capable of attaining it, but it doesn’t have the right to use someone else’s organs without her consent.

    So I guess, I agree with you that “if abortion is murder, you can never justify that murder,” but isn’t it possible to say that the embryo is human without granting that abortion is murder? After all, we don’t say that everyone who refuses to donate a kidney is murdering someone on the donor waiting list.

    • Hi Balancing Jane,

      I completely agree with the analogy, and I think it’s a great one: you cannot force a human being to use her organs to support a person or an embryo. I do not think it is ethical, or can be ethical, to give an embryo rights.


    • And by “human” do you mean “life”? I was not writing about when life begins. Reproductive rights should not be centered on an ambiguous, philosophical question that has no universal, correct answer. I am blogging about the rights of an embryo versus the rights of a human, which is what the abortion debate is, in its essence, about.

      • To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what I mean. This is something I’ve been trying to think through as I have close friends who absolutely believe that an embryo is a human that deserves all the rights that any other human gets. When I try to talk about abortion and women’s rights with them, it seems completely pointless to try to convince them that that isn’t true–it basically kills the conversation. However, I don’t see why someone can’t maintain that belief (that an embryo is a human and has human rights) while still recognizing that the woman’s right to her own organs supersedes the embryo’s “right” to them.

        So your post interested me because it seems to be coming at this from the same rhetorical analysis. Is Romney going to hit a point where he has to admit that there can be no rape/incest exceptions because his beliefs would have to mean endorsing murder? I’m interested in whether there is a rhetorical way to position the abortion debate where you could both believe what he says he believes (that the embryo is a person with rights) while still recognizing that women have the right to choose whether they continue a pregnancy or not. I feel like it is possible, but I never hear it talked about in that way.

        • Hi Nicola,

          I have not heard specifically of the dying violinist but in the 90s, when I was in college and a philosophy major, I remember my professor presented a similar argument. I believe this is where the abortion debate has to go: human rights versus embryo rights.


Leave a Reply