In the book I am currently reading, a couple was chosen by the birth mother to adopt her soon-to-be born baby. All goes well until the child is nine-months old. Then the birth father decides he wants the baby he has never even seen.
This scenario has me whitewater rafting on a wild stream of thoughts, starting with the oft-quoted presumption that a woman’s body is her right. She gets to choose to have an abortion or bring the baby to term. But when does her right end? When the baby is born? If so, why would that be? The child is still part of her, and if you doubt that, ask any bereaved woman who has lost her child — at whatever age — how she feels, and she will tell you she feels as if part of her has died too, as if a limb has been amputated, as if her heart has been scooped out of her body and stomped on.
In other words, whether inside or outside a mother’s body, the baby is still a part of her. So what about father’s rights? In this scenario, it seems as if the only rights he has are those the mother confers on him. Why else would he have any rights? Adding to the whole weird situation, if a woman had a child by another man, then that man’s DNA can migrate to her body from the fetus, so any subsequent baby could have the first man’s DNA, too.
Even if the baby only had the father’s DNA, being a sperm donor or a DNA imparter doesn’t really change anything because our DNA doesn’t necessarily belong to us. It belongs to whoever mines it from our bodies.
That sounds dramatic I know, but the truth is, every time you have blood drawn or any other invasive test, the doctors are mining your body for information. They send it to various labs to be processed. And that part of your body no longer belongs to you. There have been scenarios where a person’s blood was so valuable that the lab company laid claim to it legally. And if the person ever finds out how valuable their blood is (for example, if the person’s blood produces antibodies against The Bob that would protect people forever and against all variants) the person can’t sell it to the highest bidder or even give it away because someone else owns their blood.
In addition, it seems as if aborted babies belong to the abortionist or whoever the person works for because so much medical research, including stem cell research, is done with fetal cells, and where else would the researches get all those fetal cells, unless they are growing them in incubators, which adds a whole other level of insanity to the equation.
Then who does the baby belong to? The midwife or doctor who delivers it? Of course not. It’s the mother’s. She “baked” it. It came from her body. In that case, how could anyone but the mother have any rights? (Though it was not my intention, this would seem to negate the whole child-support question.)
And if we do have rights to our bodies, how can any government mandate any sort of medical procedure, even those they consider as innocuous as inoculations?
I told you this was a wild raft ride of thoughts. As with any wild ride, I’m not sure where I’m going with all these hypothetical questions (meaning I’m not sure what I think and I’m not looking for answers). Mostly I’m taking certain political and scientific presumptions to a logical conclusion, or what seems logical to me. It for sure has nothing to do with my thoughts on abortion, which basically are nonexistent since the issue has nothing to do with me. I have no right to decide what anyone does with any part of their body, though I do give serious thought before I let anything be taken out of — or put into — my body.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator
May 26, 2021 at 11:54 am
Thinking about “rights” can get me thinking in circles, particularly where they conflict (eg. individual vs collective rights). To untangle the thoughts, I sometimes dismiss the whole notion of rights, and think instead about wrongs. You’d think the former would simply be the reciprocal of the latter, but maybe not.
At the core of a right is really a law or other social convention intended to prevent, mitigate, or compensate for some sort of potential or actual wrong. As we seem to have a better developed moral and ethical “hierarchy of evil” than of “virtue”, thinking in terms of the wrongs can be helpful in sorting out the mess of conflicting rights.
In thinking about issues like who “owns your blood”, it may help to remember that there are at least two separate elements to this sort of “ownership”. There’s the information or data itself, and there’s the specific expression or use of that data. An analogy would be an old-school phone book. The data itself is public domain, but the expression in the form of the phone book is proprietary to the publisher. A somewhat more distant analogy would be work done on your car (or house). By doing the work, the mechanic gains an ownership interest in your car, which he can formally assert by way of a mechanic’s lien. In order to extinguish the lien, you pay the cost of the repairs. In the blood example, the ownership of the blood itself isn’t really the issue. The issue is the work done on it to get the information expressed in the derivative product.
In some ways, maybe the paternity issue could be thought of in a similar fashion. The father may or may not have an “ownership” interest, depending on the extent to which he was involved in the further work required to produce the final “product”. Circling back to the wrongs, it seems quite wrong to take the child away from those who have (presumably successfully) put the effort into his/her development in favour of a biological father who hasn’t.
May 26, 2021 at 9:43 pm
That’s really an interesting way of looking at the matter — focusing on mitigating wrongs rather than enforcing rights. Politically, either is a mess, because by enforcing one right or addressing one wrong, they up damaging someone.
As for the other matter, I hadn’t considered the separate elements of ownership. The phone book analogy is particularly apt, since the two sides are both claiming ownership of some form of the phone number, and it leaves out the issue of the person who the phone number belongs to. In the old days, it was always the phone company who owned the number. I suppose nowadays it’s more or less the same. So even if we’ve had a phone number for more than a decade, it doesn’t really belong to us.