Thursday, July 29, 2010

Challenging question worth thought and response

Dakota Women, a feminist blog, posed this question and invitation to discussion:
"...what exactly is 'feminist' about making abortion illegal? How does that reflect a feminist world view? I'd be fascinated to know what people think."

It is challenging to think through, because it requires one to try and frame a definition of "feminist" (note that even the blogger herself put it in quotes), interpret a feminist world view, and address a massively contentious issue. One the one hand there's the temptation to come back with non-responsive tangents and avoid the question, on the other is the reflex to answer with all the usual slogans and just talk past each other.

So, I took a stab at it. I think there are reasons consistent with the rights, empowerment and dignity of women that could argue against unrestricted abortion, and there are pro-abortion positions that actually oppose the rights, empowerment and dignity of women. See what you think:

"Thanks for raising the question.

Elective abortion can be critiqued as anti-feminist for several reasons:

1) It implies that thoughtful choice (contraception) was neglected, and the woman was just a hapless reactor to circumstances. This diminishes rather than ennobles the woman as a moral agent.

2) The complex reality of abortion is that many elective abortions are not the reflective,individual choice of the woman, but involve considerable pressure (even violence in some cases) from a partner, family or 'friends.' (I have to admit that many woman make the choice based on their own reflection, but unless you are an ideological wing nut you need to confront the reality that abortion is pressed on many women who might not choose it left to their own devices).

3) You are looking at only one form of ideological oppression (men over women). But abortion also involves other utilitarian, corporatist forms of oppression: 'If you have it, the kid will be a drain on society.' In other words, there are messages in favor of abortion which actually minimize the woman's value and choice.

If 'feminist' is just a riff on the libertarian idea of 'I do what I want,' then, yes, any resistance to abortion makes little sense. But if feminism has something to do with articulating the unique aspects of female dignity in the mix of a complex, diverse and interdependent human race, then there are serious questions about the place and limits of abortion in honoring that dignity."


Sibyl said...

This thought came to me immediately....abortion kills females, future women.

TLF+ said...

Sibyl - and we know of places in the world where abortion is used for gender selection, defining both women and men as commodities rather than beings with inalienable rights and dignity.

Anonymous said...

As someone has said, abortion gives men too much power over women. One man impregnates the woman, then another man performs the abortion so that the first man has no consequences.

Not to mention that it can be shown in many ways that the abortion industry does not care for the well-being of women but exploits them for money.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Abortion advocates think in terms of womens' rights. Apparently they regard killing one's baby as a "right". Lord, have mercy!