Thursday, June 25, 2009

Getting fuzzy

Jill at Feministe offers up this insight after relaying the case of a woman who was arrested for attempting to breast feed her child while she was allegedly “extremely intoxicated.”
This is one of those situations where bodily autonomy arguments get a little fuzzy (although either way, child neglect is a pretty severe crime to charge her with). If she was pregnant, I think it would be pretty clear that this would be a serious violation of her rights — after all, she has a right to consume legal substances like alcohol, pregnant or not. But things get tricker when they involve another human being, who cannot care for itself, being fed potentially dangerous substances — even if those substances are made dangerous by someone else engaging in a perfectly legal activity.

Isn’t the cognitive dissonance amazing? The whole bodily autonomy argument gets a “little fuzzy” because the woman’s actions endanger “another human being.” Yet Jill can’t seem to grasp that the same actions (becoming extremely intoxicated) while pregnant also involve another human being who cannot care for herself being fed potentially dangerous substances.

Maybe Jill doesn’t really understand the basis of the bodily autonomy argument. If you accept the argument that abortion should be legal (regardless of whether the unborn are human beings or not) because women should be allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies and that they have no special responsibilities to their children (born or unborn), I don’t see how you can be opposed to someone getting drunk and breast feeding. You can’t say “but it could hurt the child” in one case (getting drunk and breast feeding) but not in the other (getting drunk while pregnant) if you accept the premise of the bodily autonomy argument that whether the unborn are human beings or not is something that doesn’t really matter because a woman’s bodily autonomy matters more than the life or health of the child.

No comments:

Post a Comment