Here’s a version of the “bodily autonomy” argument for abortion.
1. The fetus is a part of a woman’s body.
2. A woman has the right to do whatever she wants with any part of her body.
3. Therefore, a woman has the right to do whatever she wants with the fetus.
This argument is crass, but it’s fairly accurate to how we see many people arguing for abortion. For example, see this video
Another interesting fact about this argument is that it’s probably the most widely endorsed argument for abortion among internet atheists. For example, PZ Meyers endorses it here. Atheist Matt Dillahunty also uses this argument in his debates on abortion (see e.g., here). As these atheists understand the argument, it doesn’t matter whether the fetus is a human person or not, bodily autonomy trumps whatever rights the child might have. This is the strongest version of the argument, and it’s the one I’ll assume in this post.
Now, I said that it’s interesting that atheists use this argument. Why? Well, because atheists also think evil is a problem for theism. Indeed, for many atheists, it’s the primary reason they are an atheist. It seems to me that these atheists, antecedent to the argument I’ll be giving below, would endorse the claim that it is immoral or wrong for a good God to create human persons and then do an action that would result in their death simply because he chose to.
But now what about panentheism? On some versions of panentheistic metaphysics, the universe and human persons are said to be in (ontologically contained within) the being of God. Indeed, panentheists will often explain their view as being analogous to the relation between a person and her body. In any case, the distinction between God and the world is described in terms of the distinction between wholes and parts. We, us humans, are part of God, and ontologically contained within God. This is why many panentheists will cite Acts 17:28 as teaching panentheism: “In him we live and move and have our being.” Very similar things could be said of the relation between the fetus and its mother, e.g., “In her the fetus lives and moves and has its being.”
So, on this view, we can affirm:
1*. Human persons are part of God’s body.
We then apply the autonomy principle
2*. A person has the right to do whatever they want with any part of their body.
And we get the conclusion,
3*. Therefore, God has the right to do whatever he wants with human persons.
Now, just as 3 is consistent with the women being good or not blameworthy, so is 3*. There’s other relevant similarities. Just like with the body argument for abortion, the panentheistic version of the body argument is not affected by the personhood of humans. Second, in defending the body argument for abortion, atheists will deny that the fact that the mother helped (sometimes intentionally) creates the fetus is morally relevant to whether she may abort the fetus. Same with the panentheistic version. Just as we cannot tell the mother, “You shouldn’t have done something to bring about the child if you weren’t prepared to take care of it,” we can’t say that to God either. There’s actually many similarities between the two such that if they work as an argument for or defense of the body argument for abortion, they work for the panentheistic variation too. To be sure, there are some disanalogies. The world-body isn’t like the human body, for example. The question will be whether the disanalogies are morally relevant disanalogies.
So the tentative conclusion is this: the bodily autonomy argument for the permissibility of aborting human fetuses implies that a panentheistic God could “abort” (do something such that he did not have to sustain their lives, and which would bring about their death if he did it) all human persons. But we saw that atheists were antecedently committed to the falsity of this latter claim. Thus, they should reject the bodily autonomy argument for abortion since it implies a proposition they believe is false. They can, of course, claim that God’s aborting all human persons does not raise a problem of evil, but such would be ad hoc retrofitting designed to save their argument.