The De Facto Guardian thought experiment posited by philosopher Stephen Wagner seems to offer a very compelling counter to this sort of statement. You can read it in full here, but it goes something like this:

Imagine that a woman named Mary wakes up in a strange cabin and has no idea how she got there. She goes to the window and sees snow piled so high that she can’t leave. On the desk by the window, she finds a note that says, “You will be here for six weeks. You are safe, and your child is, too. There is plenty of food and water.”

Since she just gave birth a week ago, she instinctively begins tearing through each room of the cabin looking for her infant son. She finds an infant in a second room, but it is not her infant. It is a girl who appears to be about one week old, just like her son. She then goes to the kitchen area of the cabin and finds a huge store of food and a ready source of water. The baby begins to cry, and she rightly assesses that the baby is hungry. Mary sees a three-month supply of formula on the counter in the kitchen area.

Now imagine that the police show up at the cabin six weeks later. The police say, “We’re so glad you’re okay. Is there anyone else in the cabin?” Mary says, “There was.” The police search the cabin and find the infant formula unopened on the counter. They find the infant dead on a bed. The coroner confirms that the infant died from starvation. Did Mary do anything wrong?

Wondering if you see any defense for Mary’s position here, which seems to have a lot of the same earmarks of an unwanted pregnancy, and the sole defense of bodily autonomy at her disposal.

One-time copywriter, now hobbywriting on ethics, values, religion, philosophy & truth, with a dash of humor. Views are my own (and others’, but not my employer)

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