I came across this article over at JJ's Blog about a pregnant woman in Florida who was ORDERED by a court to stay in bed lest she miscarry. The woman is now in court, rightly arguing that the decision created a dangerous precedent.
There sadly have been other cases in the U.S. where women were confined against their will simply because they were pregnant. I have thankfully never heard of this happening in Canada, but I could be wrong. In most of those U.S. cases, unlike the case above where the woman was simply refusing to stay in bed, illegal substance abuse like cocaine was involved. But it is absolutely, without a doubt, 100% wrong to confine a woman or subject her to any procedure or treatment without her consent simply because she is pregnant. I don't care if she is smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or snorting cocaine. It's wrong.
And yes, it is a tragedy when children are born with fetal alcohol syndrome and other disorders and disabilities caused by the mother. But when you give a fetus the same rights as any other person, then you must automatically take away the rights of the mother, and that is unacceptable. A mother and her unborn child may want/need different things, but because they're both dependent on the same body for survival, you cannot separate them. It is therefore impossible for both the Mother and the baby to hold full rights at the same time, and I am inclined to think that the person who was there first gets priority. While the baby is still dependent on the mother's body for survival, it cannot be considered a person. The rights of the mother therefore come first, full stop, no exceptions. Otherwise, you ARE discriminating against women. You are saying that one half of the population, simply because they have the responsibility of carrying the baby, do not always have the same rights over their own body as the other half of the population.
This is why abortion MUST remain legal and why women need full access to it. It is also why a woman's pregnancy and what she does while she's pregnant is her own damn business.
And if the philosophical argument doesn't convince you, then the practical one should. If there is a chance that a woman seeking prenatal care could be confined against her will because she is doing something that may risk her unborn baby's health, what do you think is going to happen? Women will stop seeking pre-natal care, especially if they engage in risky behaviours like alcohol and drugs, putting both the health of mother and baby at further risk.
Ditto goes for abortion. Abortion rates in countries where abortion is illegal, are not any less than in countries where it is legal, and in some cases, the rate is higher. All it does is drive the practice underground, again further risking the health of women.
If you want fewer abortions to occur, if you want women to not endanger the health of their unborn children, then there are things we can do, things that DO NOT impinge on the rights of women.
Sex-ed and readily available birth control are a good start. And there should be more support for women who are pregnant but have a substance abuse problems. Education about the effects on the child, and free, VOLUNTARY de-tox programs.
And if a woman wants to get up and walk around, even if it means that she loses her baby, then so be it. I can't believe that woman is even in court over that. Oy.