Before we can have a meaningful discussion on the topic of abortion we must answer a previous question. Are women “persons” under the constitution? Do they have inalienable rights, or are they a kind of community property whose rights can be voted upon?

In pregnancy, life develops within a life. Legally, one of those lives must be declared the context of the other or else there is no criterion from which to make a choice. Some are far too willing to put the needs and rights of a pregnant woman on the same scale with a microscopic egg. Unlike the egg, the pregnant woman can have a host of medical and personal issues, and she can have responsibilities to other children that pregnancy might make impossible to fulfill.

To claim that a fertilized human egg is a person is to say that the woman is essentially an incubator for that egg. To pretend that the human egg is developing in a Petri dish without needs and rights of its own is to dehumanize the woman before the discussion ever begins.

Problem is, these initial assumptions are never examined. So before we can meaningfully discuss the topic of abortion it is helpful to answer a fundamental question first. Is a woman community property so that her right over her own body can be put up for a vote? If so, the pro-life position makes perfect sense. Or, is a woman a person with inalienable rights, in which case the pro-choice position is the only possible ethical response.