Who has more legal rights in the eyes of the state, an adult woman or her unborn fetus? In a conflict of interest between a mother and her child, whose rights does the state protect, and at whose expense?
State Property was my response to a very thought-provoking book, At Women’s Expense: State Power and the Politics of Fetal Rights, by Synthia R. Daniels. It explores the political aspects of pregnancy, especially how women’s rights to self-agency and reproductive freedom are infringed upon by enforcing the rights of unborn fetuses.
Reading this book made me wonder if in the eyes of the state, the legal rights of a man or even an unborn fetus are greater than those of a woman, due to her inherent ability to reproduce.
For if the state can claim control over a woman’s womb, then who is to say that it can’t demand that she hand over her liver and kidneys as well. If the state protects an unborn fetus at the expense of a woman, then in a sense her body is public property used in the involuntary service to provide the state with future taxpayers.
This is a very complex political, ideological and philosophical debate without any easy answers. For my part I am inclined to side with women’s rights. The way I see it, a woman’s body is hers, not the property of the state. I think that a true test of freedom is allowing any person, regardless of their biological function or gender, to choose their own fate.
Engraved porcelain tattoos, ball-jointed, china paint, industrial springs, mohair, leather. 13.5” (34.5cm) tall.