My Body, My Right

Bodily integrity is a very important issue to cover. In order to live happy and live fulfilled life, bodily integrity needs to be protected and supported. In cases such as abortion, sex work, and euthanasia, we must stand together and support these issues. Abortion gives women the choice of deciding what will be inside their own bodies and decide if they are willing to commit to creating and bringing life into the world. Like abortion, prostitution should be supported as well. It gives individuals control over their body and not allow others to judge and determine what is right for them. It gives people the freedom to express themselves however they wish. Euthanasia needs to be supported as well because it offers individuals the power over their life. It gives people power and rights over our their own body. For patients who have terminal illnesses, they are given the chance to determine how much more pain they will experience and when they have had enough. All these issue involve bodily integrity and their right to do what is best for them. In the following paragraph, I will argue that in order to protect bodily integrity, we must support abortion, prostitution, and euthanasia.

Having demonstrated the importance of maintaining bodily integrity, in order for it to be successful, all women should have abortion as an option in their lives. Creating and carrying a life for nine months can affect a woman physically, mentally, and emotionally. Forcing a woman to have a child and not giving her an option to refuse can be harmful for herself and even for the community that she lives in. It is unethical to force a woman to lend her body to another human being without her consent. Judith Jarvis Thomas, a professor emeritus of philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explains how a woman, out of kindness, can allow a fetus to use her body to live; however, she is not obligated.[1] In cases such as rape, where a woman is force to have sexual relations and gets pregnant, she has the right to terminate the pregnancy. Even in cases where a woman decides to have consensual intercourse and gets pregnant, she should still have the right of whether going through with the pregnancy or not. Some individuals and religious groups believe that abortion is wrong. For instance, their point of view is that once the egg has been fertilized the baby immediately starts developing.[2] Therefore, abortion takes the life of an innocent child. Yet, these individuals are not taking into account the sacrifices, physical and emotional changes women experience while having a child. It is much more than just carrying a developing child around for nine months; it is a permanent change and a commitment that one is making. It is a woman’s choice of whether she would go through with it or not. This decision should not be forced, but rather be given as an option.  In order to protect bodily integrity, abortion is essential. It gives women the right to decide what they would like to do with their own body. Therefore, sex work should be a choice as well in order to maintain bodily integrity.

Build on the same principle of bodily integrity, we must also support sex work as a regulated legal business. Many people see sex work as degradation of one’s body, treating it as a piece of meat, and/or a play toy. However, having prostitution as a regulated business is important in order to protect bodily integrity. First, it allows individual to have the right over their body. If one wishes to trade sexual favors for something of value, it is completely up to that individual to do so. It is a service that is being traded, not one’s body. Lars O. Ericsson, a teacher at the Filosofika Institution, explains that the sex workers do not sell themselves. He further explains that the booker is not for sell but his or her services are. Many people may argue that prostitution treats human beings as sexual objects. Yet, Ericsson explains that the person who is paying for the sex worker is not interested in his/her as a person but is instead interested in the sexual performance. “[However, since when does the fact that we, when visiting a professional, are not interested in him or her as a person, but only in his or her professional performance, constitute a ground for saying that the professional is dehumanized, turned into an object?”[3] In addition, regulating prostitution offers protection for the people in the business. In order maintain body integrity, individuals should have the right to do whatever they like with their bodies and have protection for it. For instance, sex workers should receive “full protection of all existing laws, regardless of the context and without discrimination. There include all law relating to harassment, violence, threats, intimidation, health and safely and theft.”[4] This way, it offers sex workers to continue their business without fear of harm. Overall, prostitution should be supported as a legal business because it helps maintain bodily integrity.

In order to enact bodily integrity, abortion and prostitution must be supported, and it follows that people should be given the option to use euthanasia. Individuals should be in control over their own bodies and decide what is best for them. The use of euthanasia for patients who have terminal illness can be seen as a way for them to decide when their bodies have had enough. Some people argue, however, that it is unethical. For example, J. Gay-Williams explains that euthanasia violates the nature and dignity of human beings.[5] He believes that taking a life away on propose is going against human nature, and it is cruel. Yet, Williams is not taking into account how cruel it could be to force a human being to live in pain and not give them the option to do whatever they like with their body even if it means death. To protect bodily integrity, euthanasia should be an option for dying individuals. It is up to the person to decide if they wish to continue with medication, which in the long run will do no effect, or decide if euthanasia is the best option for them. For example, shown in a YouTube video, Roger Sagner is given the option to use euthanasia. In the video, one is able to see that he was given the option of choosing to end his own life. Ohio, being one of the few states that allow assisted suicide, allowed Sagner to make that decision. In the video, the audience is able to see how much pain Sagner was experiencing. He begged for it. However, before he passed away, he explained how grateful he was for being given the option to use euthanasia and allow him, “to solve [his] own problems.”[6] Euthanasia, prostitution and abortion should be supported to protect bodily integrity because it gives individuals power over their own body.

Bodily integrity needs to be protected and supported. Issues such as abortion, sex work and euthanasia are important issues to support. First, abortion gives women control over their own body by giving them the choice of terminating or continuing a pregnancy. It is a life changing experience that would affect them physically, mentally, and emotionally. Second, supporting prostitution, it gives individuals the freedom to do what they would like with their own body and not be judge for it. Lastly, euthanasia gives patients who have terminal illness a chance to decide when their bodies have had enough and when it is the time to end it all. When is comes to bodily integrity, one need to take a stand and give individuals the opportunity to make their own decision about their bodies.

[1] Thomas, Judith Jarvis. “A Defense of Abortion.” Princeton University Press, 1971.

[2]  Christian Net. “Pro-Life Arguments Against Abortion.” accessed May 27, 2013.

[3]Ericsson, Lars O. “Charges Against Prostitution: An Attempt at a Philosophical Assessment.” University Chicago Press, 1980.

[4] IUSW. “International Union of Sex Workers.” accessed May 27, 2013.

[5] Gay-WIlliams, J. “The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia.” Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Medical Ethics, 7th Edition. Ronald Munson: CA, 1979.

[6] Youtube. “Rodger Sager in Oregon, USA Assisted Suicide.” accessed May 27, 2013.


26 thoughts on “My Body, My Right

  1. The way you presented Euthanasia makes it sound like the cure to an ailment, and as any remedy it can be administered by a doctor. My question is, if euthanasia is viewed as a medical procedure then are insurance companies going to be covering it, how about social medicine like the health care reform being pushed through how long before we have government subsided euthanasia? Is this a thought we are comfortable accepting and if so what limitations can we put on the government so that it doesn’t abuse the new power in the ways it abuses almost all powers granted to it.

    • Ricardo, in a way, euthanasia can be viewed as a cure for an illness. One can interpret it in many ways. That is the way that I decided to interpret it. Euthanasia gives people the power to determine when enough pain has been experienced. Like Sagner, for example, he decided that it was his time. He took it without hesitation. He thanked everyone and passed away.

      To answer your question, I hope insurance companies would cover it if euthanasia would be permitted and legalized. It’s a right that a human being should be offered even if some people don’t agree with it. Of course, like many things, there is a possibility that it can be abuse. However, like everything else, people will try to find a way to abuse it.

      • I agree that the humans have the right to bodily integrity, its their body and their choice to do with it as they please. In the issue of euthanasia i believe that people should be first offered help and different steps have to be made in order for someone to be euthanized. People kill themselves everyday, allowing people to have the choice to die painlessly however establishing a process could possibly prevent suicides from occurring by providing the mentally unstable with the help they needed.

      • I don’t think we should give tools to a government when we know they will be abused . Instead maybe we should figure out a way to prevent these abuses before they occur . Another thing is I would be against helping people kill themselves not because of any moral stance but because I shouldn’t be forced to flip the bill for other peoples problems especially if the practice is going to be abused. Not to long ago their were big reports on Medicare abuse where people would set up mock clinics and charge the government millions for fake treatments this really ticks me off and I would hate to think that this is only another tool to screw tax payers.

    • It is quite coarse the way you speak of euthanasia, Ricardo. And it is interesting to me that you meshed into the role of the government. The answer to your question is, yes, if one day euthanasia became the law of the land it would make sense for government to support in the affordable healthcare act. Just like cancer treatment, reconstructive surgery, veterans benefits, children’s healthcare, etc. I am so sick of hearing about the affordable health care act’s oppositions and it sickens me to think that a portion of congress has used time we as tax payers pay them for to try to repeal this act that was signed into law and voted for by the American public (yes, when they voted for the President again they voted for healthcare – at least they did and we ended up with this lame us cock blocked version of it) almost 40 times. Get over it. Several developed countries have and have had this instituted for many years. It’s not the end of the world, in fact the whole darn point of this is to create a healthier world.

      • And lastly, I don’t see you and others that share your beliefs all up in arms about medicare. Which in essence is the SAME THING! And btw, a Republican president instituted that. You know, back when there were republican moderates.

  2. If you believe euthanasia should be an option do you belive there should be any rules upon it. What if someone does not have a terminal illness but are old and feel as if they are a burden. Would it be an option for them? Also do you believe the person needs to have capacity to make the decision? For example, if the individual says they want the procedure done while intoxicated will that be an acceptable situation to listen to them? If you are intoxicated or underage you can not enter a legal contract. I believe considering what this procedure is I feel there should be some sort of checklist. This can only bring up the question if the person has cloudy judgment after being found ill should their choice still be honored?

    • Yes. I do believe that there should be rules for euthanasia. My stance in euthanasia: it is acceptable to use euthanasia for individuals who suffer from a terminal illness. In a case, where an individual is completely healthy, physically, but suffer from depression and wish to end their life? It would be difficult for me to support them in that situation. It’s hard to picture giving euthanasia to a physically healthy person. Giving euthanasia to a person that has no hope of recovering and knows that there is no possibility avoiding death… Then that’s when I consider for it to be acceptable. In other cases, it would be difficult for me to say.

  3. Great post! We have the same views regarding abortion and euthanasia, so it was really easy to relate to. I too believe that if it is your body, then therefore it should be your choice. Inaccessibility to abortion and euthanasia can result in unsafe and suffering results of individuals that can lead to physical and psychological results, which is exactly why I share the pro-choice perspective regarding these ethical issues. One issue that I still haven’t completely made my mind up about is the ethical issue regarding sex work. Your claim regarding this issue really made me realize, that if I am advocating for one to have control over their own body when it comes to abortion and euthanasia, then that should cover all kinds of bodily integrity. If it is your choice to work in the sex work industry, than so be it because it should be up to every individual whether or not you can live with yourself or not, and nobody else’s.

    • Thanks you! Abortion and euthanasia are difficult topics to discuss. The only reason why I came to the conclusion that I did about abortion and euthanasia was because I have close friends and family members who have experienced one or the other. I was able to see through their experience that sometimes one has to make choices that one wouldn’t make at first. However, in the end, it’s the only option that is left or the choice that one can live with.
      Sex work was a topic that I was unsure about at first. However, once I went over Ericsson’s argument about prostitution, it was hard to argue against it. He made some excellent points and made me view it differently.

      • I remember watching “Whore’s of Glory,” a documentary on Netflix that showed the life of prostitutes from three different cultures: Thailand, Bangladesh and Mexico. This documentary shows many explicit experiences these women encountered. The hardest part of this documentary to watch was when over twenty different girls from Thailand prepped themselves, including their hair, makeup and put on revealing outfits to sit behind a platted glass window. There they sat while men in other words shopped for them and picked whatever girl they wanted, like they were on display. The most disturbing part was that they even had a salesman selling these girls to these mean, telling them what they were especially good at. It was hard to watch knowing that some of these girls thought that this was their only option to support themselves and or their family. If it is your choice so be it, but watching an individual who thinks they are forced into these conditions can be a little eye opening. I still believe that everyone has the right over their own body, but in some countries I feel that sex work can be a way of life.

  4. [melisasponholz]:
    I agree with you. Patients should first be offered help and exhaust every other option before considering euthanasia. In cases where you are dealing with terminally ill patients and they wish to pass away in peace, I wouldn’t hesitate in supporting them. However, in a situation where individuals are physically healthy, but suffer from depression and wish to end their life. Why shouldn’t they be supported as well? It’s their body, so it’s their right. However, in that case, it would be hard for me to support. Like I mention in an other post, it would be difficult for me to picture a doctor giving euthanasia to a physically healthy individual.

    • [ricardoperez2]: I believe that everything in the world has a way of being abuse. People will always find loopholes and find a way around the system. However, just because of that reason, should we not allow certain things from happening such as offering welfare? There are families who are in need of assistance and additional help. Many of us know that there are thousands of people who take advantage of welfare, but should we allow them ruin it for the rest of the people who really need it? For that reason, just because euthanasia can be abuse, we should not reject it completely.

    • Right, i find it hard to separate the pain and suffering form a terminal illness and from depression. I too would find it hard to end a life of a person that is physically healthy however to support my stance on free choice I feel that they should be allowed to end their life if they choose to. However should go though an long intensive process to ensure that death is the right choice for them. Ending the suffering of a terminally ill patient or one that is depressed, euthanasia uses death in a positive way for the betterment of society.

  5. Anayeli, I have no defining oppositions to your claim that everyone should have the option of abortion made available to them. This is not to say I recommend it or advertise abortion but I believe the choice should be left the the pertinent woman. Someone who is as close as close can get to me hailed abortion and believed in it so much that when she talked about it it almost sounded like she was trying to inflict it upon you. She was faced with having the option to have an abortion when she got pregnant. It was a very personal, private and emotional time for her. In the end, she decided to abort. For many years after the abortion she had significant emotional damage and even sometimes, regret about the decision she made. Although, she is in a good position in life now and is accomplishing things that undoubtedly would have been a lot harder to accomplish with a child, she will never know if it was her own inner and true feelings that made her temporarily regret her decision or if it was the abundance of hate-speech and criticism that she received before, during and after the abortion. It’s a complicated and delicate issue to say the least but at the end of the day. It is ethically just to leave this choice in the hands of the ones at issue.

    • As far as the sex work/prostitution topic goes… under a blanket women’s rights argument I can see the justice in proposing the argument you make, I just cannot get over or ignore the fact of the realities of prostitution in our society (and by that I mean American society.) I do not by any means come from any religious group that offers bible or god intended backing to support my weariness of prostitution protection; nonetheless, I do feel that allowing prostitution and accepting it in the current society we live in today would be a mistake and would set women’s rights backwards. Let me explain. Prostitution is not a novel existence. It dates back thousands of years (hint hint just like barbarism and cavemen), so what safe assertions can we make of the act of prostitution considering history and today? (1) it is an archaic form of employment for women (2) society, as in yes, us, have demonized it for the most part making women cheap and subordinate members of society (3) in today’s culture, you can rest assured that a woman who is selling sexual services came from a broken home, a poor upbringing, an uneducated lifestyle and likely are still living in similar circumstances (4) it is not a foreign concept to assume that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree so there is cause to breed more of the foregoing and (5) it would be a highly ill-informed idea to suggest that women in prostitution and violence are not directly linked to each other. Please name one thing that is good out of any of these issues. Yes, should people have the right to make their own decisions and not be judged for them as long as they are not directly harming others? Yes, that sounds like a nice ideal. The problem is life just isn’t that simple. The constitution as far as I am concerned leaves so much of these issues up in the air and I am not saying it shouldn’t but it is just common sense (at least in my mind it is) that simply because America is “the land of the free” we can all take those 5 words and rationalize any behavior we see fit and at the same time don’t see fit. It’s just not that simple. What you and others suggest when it comes to protecting and legalizing sex work is a great idea. The problem is that we do not live in a society nor have the history to support prostitution in its purest form.

      • I agree, at the moment, we don’t live in a society that is ready for prostitution. Many people view it as degrading and not as a professional career. However, when will we make that change and allow something, which many of us know, exist in our society. Like you’ve mention, this has been occurring for thousands of years. So why haven’t we, as a society, allow the government to regulate it and make it into a legitimate business? That way, people can do what they wish with their bodies, yet be safe whiling doing so. Of course, this will take years for this to even occur.

      • One last thing I was going to say about prostitution is… if all these issues were performed by and affected men the same way… my stance would have a slightly different tone.

        And lastly, euthanasia. I understand why you support it. I understand why people are against it. This is a rare topic for me as I am mostly on one side of the fence on any given issue and on this topic I am surprisingly flexible. Although, I suppose it is not that much different that abortion as I believe every woman should have the option of individual decision. I usually do not pull out the culture card in my argumentative points but have no choice to on this topic if I want to be real about my opinions. As previously mentioned in class, when my great grandmother had a stroke and ended up a vegetable, my mother quit her job and traveled 3-4 hours daily to take care of her during her vegetable state, this occurred for a year when I was a teenager. Pulling the plug (much less euthanasia) was never an option for our family. We stuck through it until the end. Of course, there was no will written about what to do with her if she ever got to that point, my guess is that if pulling the plug wasn’t an option, euthanasia was not also. I support the decision my family made. I know that it is probably a selfish one. If she had determined beforehand that she wanted assisted passing (assuming it was legal) then I am sure that we would have respected her wishes. I discussed this issue with my fiance the week that we covered it in class and he was hellbent that it was going in his will that if he ever was in a state that he could not take care of himself he would rather die. That was extremely hurtful to hear. I would never make that kind of choice. If he were ever in that kind of state I would never think of supporting assisted suicide (yes, I know choice of words are important). But at the end of the day, I respect the fact that it is his body and his choice – no matter how much it hurts. I guess what my ultimate assertion is is that everyone should be able to make the decision on their own given there be plenty of information provided regarding the process, some mandatory intervention and a cognitive state of mind.

    • Yes, abortion is a very difficult topic to discuss. Is it right or is it wrong? It’s really up to the individual. Like you, I wouldn’t recommend or advise it either, but I believe that it’s an option that should be given. I’ve had friends who have had abortions and regretted it, but I’ve also had friends who had it and felt relieved. Yet, it’s an option that was offered and they took it. I can only imagine how hard it can be to become pregnant and not be ready for it. No matter what, however, I know for sure it would be a life changing experience which ever route that would taken.

      • Abortion is always going to be a sticky issue because it has so much stigma and negative view points on it due to others religions or personal beliefs. Yet I do not feel that others have a say whatsoever in what happens in the doctors office involving anyone. No one has the right to bud in and tell someone that they have to do something their way because they feel it in your best interest along with societies. When really all that it involves is their own personal stand point. I feel personally that the whole abortion issue is being played out way too much and is something that should not even be debated on in the house or senate! How is it that people can idiotically justify such irrational statements that cause so much distress and judgment to be fair or even God like? For once listen to the voices of young woman and the cry for help there. People need to get out of our doctors offices and let us live our lives, unless they want to pay the bill for it. lol

  6. I agree that we ultimately should have complete control of our bodies. All three of these issues are very difficult to discuss, but at the end of the day, these decisions should be made by us and no one else. It is hard to imagine what I would do if I was faced with pregnancy at an inconvenient time or if I was old and constantly suffering. I don’t know that I would ever abort my child or that I would choose to die, but I believe I should still have the option to do whatever I wish at the time. We should not have others limiting our rights to our bodies. If we don’t even have control of our bodies, what can we control?

  7. I feel bodily integrity should be protected. I did know this was should a big topic because it deals with other countries beside the U.S.. I feel that topic does match up with allow abortion because of freedom of choice. The female has so many direction that she has been pull in the past year and now. We as a society need to let go and let women decide for themselves and not for the sake of others. My view on prostitution is again a choice one makes to pursue. Does it make me view all women as prostitutes? No! I don’t feel it sets women’s rights back at all, I feel it empowers women to fight for what they desire to do. Prostitution is only wrong if you view it as wrong.

  8. Glad to find someone with basically the same view as my own! For my post I argued the same thing but instead I had 2 of your 3 Topics: Abortion, Euthanasia, Death Penalty. Bringing a child into this world is a very complicated thing. Its not something your should just to on a whim and hope everything goes well, for the sake of the baby anyway. And if someone cannot support a child then I don’t think it is fair to have them. Not only from that point but another point that I agree with that you said was the effects it can have on the mother. If it is unsafe for a women to have a child emotionally physically or anything then they should not be forced to have it. It is their body and no one has the right to tell them what they can and cannot do with it but themselves.

  9. I enjoyed your post! Looking at the topic of abortion through the perspective of bodily integrity makes the pro-choice stance seem clear cut. No woman wants to have an abortion. No one is making the conscious choice of getting pregnant in order to have an abortion. Abortion is a decision made in time of crisis. Carrying and then caring for another life is a commitment some are just not ready or willing to make. Are we not then giving the child born to this situation a bum deal? If the unborn child is truly the concern then shouldn’t we consider the quality of life of an unwanted child.

  10. So many comments and so many opposing stand points. I am for death but I am against abortion. It seems weird to view it in that manner but my truth differs from all others. I do believe that someone is entitled to their body as the post author reviewed but there should be a stop when it is someone else’s body. A fetus is a body and entity alone and until it is about 5 years old you wont be able to ask it “Hey, do you want to live or die?” So in this case we must assume life for most children and we definitely must report them if they are doing something to initiate a change.

  11. Thanks for a great conversation here. This thread shows that people are really doing a great job expressing their own perspectives and respectfully challenging others’ perspectives. That is the goal of critical thinking! woohoo! 🙂

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