I’ve argued in the past that restricting abortion creates a legal precedent for restricting pregnant women’s legal access to everything from alcohol to jet skis, because recognizing a fetus as a human being with rights inevitably circumscribes the right of the woman gestating it to bodily autonomy in making decisions which affect it. That argument was powerfully illustrated Thursday by the tragic case of Melissa Ann Rowland, who’s facing murder charges for refusing a caesarian section. A conviction here, needless to say, would represent another dangerous step towards reconceptualizing pregnant women in American law as wombs containing legally-protected human beings rather than as legally-protected human beings with fetuses.


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