An old essay on abortion and bodily domain
This post was originally published August 07, 2009 here.
Addendum: The court case is actually McFall vs. Shimp, not Shrimp. This appears to be a common misspelling. Oops!
Back in early 2006 (approximately) I was a member of a internet discussion forum called GaiaOnline under a different name then here. This was before my transition to female and really pre realization of my need for transition. I actually am still around on that site, under Recursive Paradox instead of the previous name although not technically since I haven’t linked on in ages. I wrote an essay on something that I had decided to refer to as bodily domain. Specifically the Ethical Basis for Bodily Domain as an extension of the principle of bodily integrity brought up in the important court case McFall vs. Shrimp (This link should bring you straight to the part of the book that mentions it. If not, simply search in the side bar on google books for McFall v Shrimp).
The essay is still entirely relevant if perhaps a little… harsh in its treatment of the anti abortion folk (I was a very angry, very bitter person back then, hurrah for dysphoria). The original essay, with the only change being the formatting (because I can’t retain bbcode here), has been brought to this blog for the express purpose of retaining its material. Not just because I’m a little egotistical and want to claim that I coined the phrase bodily domain back in 2006 as used for this ethical principle (it certainly has spread a bit, if you check google) XD but also because I don’t know how long that thread will last and this essay raises the important concerns of the pro choice side in an ethical analysis.
But mostly, I don’t want to lose my old work, especially since its a lot more concise and direct than I am now. I’m getting verbose and flighty as I age. XD
The Ethical Basis for Bodily Domain and the Rights to Bodily Integrity:
What is Bodily Domain?
Bodily Domain is the medically defined area of your body, a territory of sorts, owned and controlled specifically by you and ONLY by you.
It is your skin and the all the area within your skin, it includes your organs, your bones and your blood and the spaces in between.
You are the sole determiner of what happens to those organs, that blood, and even the space within the area of your Bodily Domain.
That is your right to Bodily Integrity, which is also referred to as Bodily Domain.
There are three basic categories that describe essentially every interaction that can be done between your Body and other things.
Intrusion, Occupation and Removal.
They are given negative names mainly because they are the self defensible rights within the Bodily Domain, Bodily Integrity, and Bodily Autonomy trio.
Self defensible means they are only negative if you yourself consider them negative, because if you consent to something, there is nothing to defend against.
Bodily Domain is a Consent Based Ethical Construct
BD is based on consent. Something is not a violation of your BD if you consent to its occurance.
However, this consent must be explicit. You must specifically state that you want this to happen to you. It is also based on current consent. A person can not hold you to a past contract made if your view changes and you no longer consent to something.
Otherwise I could be having sex and then if I suddenly wanted to stop for whatever reason and my partner continued against my consent, it would not be considered rape. This would be unacceptable to society from a logical standpoint.
The Three Interactions With Your Domain.
Intrusion is any entry into your Bodily Domain that is negatively viewed from your perspective.
This makes it a violation of your Bodily Domain rights, normally referred to as Bodily Integrity.
It covers everything from rape, to delivery of injury (bullets, knives) injection of poisons, diseases, even non harmful or beneficial substances can be seen as a violation if consent is not given.
Removal refers to the taking of anything from your body. It can cover your own organs and blood, or even artificial or foreign material in your body, like prosthetics or substances that you wish to keep within you.
It is also a violation of your Bodily Domain rights.
It covers everything from organ theft, to blood stealing, to nutrient leeching.
Occupation refers to any continuous presence of material or presence of living things within your Bodily Domain that is unconsented to. And therefore a violation.
It covers everything from parasites, unwanted implants and pregnancies.
But What About Clashes of Rights?
These are all things that no human being should be subjected to unless they themselves are causing a violation of the same set of ethical principles.
So Bodily Domain should only be violated if doing so will protect your own or the BD of others from being violated by ending a current violation in progress.
If you are violating someone’s BD, your own becomes forfeit if they decide to defend themselves from your actions, and their defense violates your BD.
Let’s make this nice and explicit for the more dense folks out there.
You can only violate the BD of another if and only if doing so is the only viable way to end a violation of your Bodily Domain by them that is currently in progress.
Conclusion: Why Bodily Domain Supports The Right to Abort
An unwanted fetus is violating a woman’s BD.
There is no way around this.
The fetus has no call to do so as the woman has done nothing to violate the BD of the fetus, and even if the woman had done something to violate its BD (Like drinking alcohol while pregnant), there is no concievable way that remaining inside the woman’s body would do anything to end that current violation.
Hence a fetus has no right to violate the woman’s BD.
But the woman does have a right to do so to the fetus in response to its violation of her, especially since that is currently the only way to end its Occupation of her BD and Removal of her resources.
To not allow a woman to defend her BD rights violates a set of ethical principles that protect us from having our organs taken for others’ use, to avoid being raped, to avoid being enslaved, to avoid having our bodies used as tools for the benefit of others.
To do so would strip the usefulness of society to the individual in terms of promoting survival and comfort.
It would make remaining within society less beneficial then leaving it, and to lose these ethical principles would degrade our society in many deterimental ways.
Therefore attempts to remove the right to abort from a woman is not only misogynistic, anti-woman’s rights, and ethically unsupportable from a viewpoint that values human rights to their own body, it is also a self destructive view that endangers all of us.
Edited 10-08-2006: Added title partitions and made certain parts a little more concise then before. Corrected minor spelling errors. –Fires
Go here to read the comments on the original post.
Filed under: activism | 5 Comments
Tags: abortion, bodily domain, ethics, feminism, old stuff