A few months ago, there was a woman who was abandoned while pregnant by her boyfriend, who was actually married to another woman. Distraught, this woman, who was pregnant, took rat poison in an attempt to kill herself. Friends convinced her to seek help at a hospital, but it was already too late for the unborn child. She received treatment for the poison and gave birth on New Year's Eve, but the child died four days later. The full story can be read here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/15/woman-attempted-suicide-pregnant-accused
I really sympathize with her position. I have struggled with thoughts of suicide in the past. The only thing that got me through the darkest period in my life was my faith in God. Thankfully she had friends nearby who cared enough about her to urge her to get help and save her.
But this raises some serious questions. Just how far can we go to protect the unborn from harm? Pro-choicers constantly raise a smoke screen by claiming that we place a greater value on the fetus than on the woman, but this couldn't be further from the truth. We place equal value on both and since the right to life is the most basic of all human rights, since the fetus is just as valuable as the woman then no justification for abortion can ever be sufficient to warrant killing the unborn human (with one exception, where the mother's life is in immediate danger and the child cannot also be saved, then abortions are justifiable).
Some ask, as an attempt to trap or embarrass pro-lifers, what should happen to a woman should abortion become illegal again? Should they go to jail for murder? Hardly. At most, they'd be an accomplice. However, there's no reason to believe that the same principles that applied before Roe v. Wade wouldn't also be applied if Roe v. Wade were overturned. A woman could be given immunity if she told law enforcement who performed the abortion.
The right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights. Every unborn child should be protected. Even pro-choicers will say that if a woman doesn't have an abortion, then she bears responsibility for caring for the child because she is choosing to keep it. So it puzzles me that there are pro-choicers who are enraged that she's being held responsible for killing her child by attempting suicide while pregnant with her kid, the child she chose to keep and raise (almost to term before she attempted suicide).
Since the child died four days after birth, there were some who were questioning whether it really was the rat poison or the medications she received at the hospital. Regardless of which it is, she wouldn't have needed the medicine if she hadn't taken the rat poison. She would still be at fault.
So the question has been posed: Where do we draw the line? I believe laws that protect the unborn would be a good thing. I don't believe we should be paranoid and assume that anything she does, she should be held liable for as potentially dangerous to the child. Nor do I believe we would be. Before Roe v. Wade was passed, as far as I know, they had to be able to prove there was malicious intent to the unborn. Saying that a woman will be arrested for drinking caffeine is a scare tactic and frankly, a slippery slope fallacy.
I am sympathetic to this woman's position and I'm glad she was able to get help so that she didn't succeed. But we need to be cognizant that our actions have consequences on others, and pregnant women need to be aware of this, too. This woman is not being punished for being pregnant, she's being punished for the death of her child. If a woman was distraught and drove her car off the side of the road into a river with her child in the back seat, but she was rescued at the last minute and her child still drowned, should that woman not be punished? The simple fact that the child was inside her shouldn't make her exempt from harming the unborn child.
In fact the child died after she was born for four days. If she shouldn't be held responsible for the child's death, does this mean that a woman should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies including harming the fetus, and not be held responsible after the child is born? Thalidomide was a drug used back in the 1960's to ease morning sickness. However, it also caused children to be born without arms and legs. If a woman requests thalidomide, knowing full well that her child may (or probably will) be born without limbs, should she be held responsible for her child's state? Should the doctor be held responsible for prescribing the medication, knowing full-well what it does?
One might also ask in this case, where do we draw the line?