Monday, May 12, 2014

Is Consent to Sex Consent to Pregnancy?

Consider the following logical argument:

1. Actions have naturally occurring consequences.

One of the well-known consequences of sex (even with contraception) is pregnancy. This does NOT mean that procreation is the only purpose for sex. However, pregnancy does naturally result from sex. That fact is inescapable and everyone knows it. Even if some sort of contraception is used, pregnancy may naturally result from sex. So one must be prepared for that possibility.

2. We are responsible for the natural consequences of our actions.

In the real world, we are and ought to be held responsible for the natural consequences of our actions. Even if we do not intend for a particular consequence (such as pregnancy) to happen, and intentionally take steps (such as contraception) to avoid that consequence, we are still responsible for that consequence if our preventative measures fail. It is not unreasonable to require people to take responsibility for the natural consequences of their actions. If those consequences can be avoided or ignored without violating someone else’s rights, that’s OK. However, if that is not the case, then one must be required to take responsibility for his actions.

3. We do not have the right to kill another innocent human being in order to avoid taking responsibility for the natural consequences of our actions.

As premise 2 states, we are responsible for the natural consequences of our actions. In addition to that, we certainly do not have the right to avoid taking that responsibility by killing another innocent human being.

4. An unborn baby is an innocent human being.

That this unborn child is innocent of any wrongdoing should be obvious. Clearly, he is not guilty of any crime whatsoever. In particular, he is not even responsible for being present in his mother’s uterus using the bodily resources that her body (intentionally) delivers to him via the placenta. He had no say in his formation there. So how could he be responsible for that? Instead, he was created there by the consensual actions of his biological mother and father. The mother and father are the ones responsible for the unborn child’s existence and for his need of his mother’s resources.

That this unborn child IS a human is unquestionable. Fertilization produces a new human individual. Only those who are very ignorant of some very basic science regarding embryology deny that fact.

"Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte."

Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.

5. Therefore, by consenting to sex, women simultaneously consent to any resulting pregnancy, because they do not have the right to end that pregnancy by killing another innocent human being (i.e. their unborn child).

Premise 1 is firmly supported by observation (i.e. it is confirmed by science).

Premises 2 and 3 are both perfectly logical, and it is upon these principles that laws governing human behavior are based.

Premise 4 is firmly supported by observation (i.e. it is confirmed by science).

Thus, the Conclusion (5) follows naturally and is a logically valid conclusion. That is, consent to sex IS consent to pregnancy. This means that an unborn baby does have the right to live within his mother's uterus - even if she changes her mind. Her "ongoing consent" is NOT required, because she gave initial consent and she does not have the right to rescind that consent if doing so involves killing someone (her unborn child).

By the way, you should note that "consent" does not mean that one WANTS to do something (i.e. to be pregnant). The word consent simply means that one "agrees to" or "approves." Furthermore, this consent need not be explicitly stated, and in many cases that consent is only given in the form of tacit consent. A woman gives tacit approval (or consent) to any resulting pregnancy when she engages in the one activity which she knows may naturally result in a pregnancy. She must give this approval (whether intentionally or not) because she does not have the right to kill someone (her human offspring) in order to end the pregnancy.

Since pregnancy is a natural consequence of sex, claiming that consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy makes as little sense as claiming that consent to jump off a roof does not mean consent to hitting the ground. One thing naturally results from the other - even if precautionary measures are taken.

Also, folks have suggested to me that this must mean that if one gets in a car, then one consents to be in a car wreck because a car wreck may be a natural consequence. This is absolutely correct! One does, in fact, consent to the possibility of an accidental car wreck every time one rides in a car. This does not mean that a car wreck need be inevitable, however. As with pregnancy, one can take precautionary measures (driver’s education classes, etc.). Nor does it mean that a driver is justified in intentionally causing a car wreck. However, an accidental car wreck is a natural consequence (though rare) of riding in a car, and one must be prepared for that possibility. Otherwise, one should avoid riding in a car. Likewise, if one is not prepared for pregnancy, then one might want to consider not engaging in the one activity which naturally results in pregnancy.


  1. Very good argument; I like the logical progression.

  2. Here's another good article that argues the same point, but from a different perspective [].

    Btw, I followed the link from Eternity Matters, as I suppose also Glenn did, since I recognize him as a regular commenter there. :-)

  3. Of course, this makes absolute sense. But since when did arguments for abortion rest on logic?

    I have had a number of friends who had abortions and I believe that women who have abortions are riddled with guilt and shame and are affected psychologically for the rest of their lives. Another logical consequence of taking a human life. As a mother myself I can say that the very worst kind of murder is that of your own child. It is not only illogical - turning an unborn baby into the enemy of your own body - but it is morally insane.

    The consequence of morally insane acts is that it changes who you are until you deal with it properly. ie. I killed my child, I was wrong. God forgive me.

  4. I notice you of course you don't have a Post yet on whether or not your for allowing a Rape exception. I must say that I have come to view that Rape should be an exception.

    Yes I know it's not the Child's fault and all that. But individuals do have a right to reject any foreign intrusion into their body they did not in any way consent to. No matter how innocent the intruder is. Because an unwanted pregnancy can have innumerable health risks for the Woman. And in the case of Rape very potential psychologically damaging to have to endure 9 months in massive inconvenience for something she did not consent to.

    1. So, if someone brings a child into your home and leaves them there to be cared for by you without your consent, do you have a right to kill that child? Rape is like that.

      Pregnancy from rape is a bad situation with no perfect outcomes. Yet when you weigh the potential damage to the woman versus the potential damage to the baby, the baby's right not to be killed outweighs the woman's right not to be forced into pregnancy. Dying is always more damaging than going through a pregnancy. Having the woman carry the child causes the lesser damage. The child should not have to die for the sins of his father.

      Yes, this means more burden on an already victimized woman. But that victimization was caused by the rapist, not the child, and the rapist should be punished, not the child.

    2. The difference between that situation is pretty obvious I feel. A child left on your doorstep leaves far more options then having one inside you.

      I don't want to sound Cold here. But at least when you die it's over. Which is why we often deem Rape an ever worse offense then murder.

      "the rapist should be punished, not the child" is exactly what I try to tell fellow Pro-Lifers not say, whatever their position on this sub issue is. Punishing the child is not the intent of an Abortion.

    3. No, rape is NOT worse than death. I have no idea where you get that. Some people are more afraid of rape than death (one thinks of women in repressive societies like Muslim countries). But rape is something that can be overcome and a good life lived afterwards. Death isn't.

      From an inalienable rights perspective, murder is a greater violation of rights than rape. Rape involves violating the right to liberty and an intrusion on someone's body. Murder involves violating the right to life. Without life, one cannot have any rights, and thus violating the right to life involves violating all the other rights as well. Thus, murder is a greater violation of rights than rape.

      While abortion after rape may not be intended to "punish the child," that is its effect. If someone should not be able to abuse a child conceived in rape, they shouldn't be allowed to kill one either. Both child abuse and abortion violate the rights of an innocent child. Neither is justified, regardless of what harm has been done to the mother in the past.

  5. And what if the woman DOES NOT consent to sex? You have completely left out laws of consent in your "rational argument". You also forgot the elephant in the room: Rape. So you will force raped women to carry a baby to term. How is that rational?

    1. This post is about consensual sex. Cases of rape involve a different argument.

      You can read what I've written about rape and other difficult situations here.


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