I agree with those of you who say that each woman is the sovereign owner of her own body, and when it comes to reproduction, the government should not usurp those ownership rights by denying choice. This principle of self ownership has a profound and fundamental moral consequence. If you own your self, then nobody has the right to tell you what you will or will not produce, nobody can tell you what you can and cannot ingest, or tell you where you can and cannot go, or dictate anything to you about your personal decisions, unless you voluntarily agree, and so long as you don’t deprive others of the same rights. You are the sovereign owner of your self.

If you accept the principle of self ownership, then when did you acquire that ownership? The Declaration of Independence says you were endowed by your creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But when was this right endowed? Did you become owner of yourself on the day you were born? If so, did you have no rights the day before you were born? Why?

The U. S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Roe v. Wade says you had no right to life until you were born. It says that the states had an interest in protecting the potentiality of your life once you became viable (i.e., once you were able to survive outside the womb), but you had no rights during any of your gestation. None. Not even in the third trimester. And the states were free to disregard their so called “interest” in your “potential” life. Does it strike you as somewhat creepy that the state had the power to decide if you should live or not, at a time when you were viable but had no right to life? And why is viability the right standard? Does it really follow, if you cannot survive outside of the womb, that others (mother, church, government) have the power, indeed even the right, to decide if you continue to exist at all?

Should you have acquired ownership of your self when you were conceived, or at some point between conception and birth?  When did you change from a collection of cells, or a mere fertilized egg, into a person?

Who should decide when you aquired ownership of your self? The government? By a majority vote? Should your mother get to decide? What if your mother decides that you don’t own yourself until you are born? Should she then have the right to abort 8 months and 29 days into the pregnancy? Is it moral then and immoral, even criminal, 3 days later? Did your mother have the “right” to decide when you became owner of your self? Is there any single point in time when you became owner of your self but an instant before then, you owned nothing – not even your self?

These are vexing questions because there is no bright line between personhood and non-personhood. Of course you should have the right to make decisions about your own body. Once you aquire that right, nobody, not even your mother, should be able to take that right away because, as the Declaration of independence says, that right is inalienable, and the function of government is to protect that right.

So when did your ownership rights in your self begin? Once you answer that question, you are answering the question about when your mother’s right to choose ended.

If you were conceived violently, and against your mothers’ will, do you have fewer rights than someone who was conceived voluntarily? If you were an unwanted child, do you have fewer rights because you are statistically more likely to become a burden on society? Should these things make any difference on the question of if and when you aquire ownership of yourself? I don’t have the answers. Maybe technology will eventually make all or some of these issues moot. But if you think the answer is clear and unambiguous, are you sure you’re asking the right questions? Do you have the right to life? Yes, of course. Do you have the right to choose about your own body? Yes, of course. Now try to answer the hard questions.