Jesurgislac’s Journal

September 9, 2010

Do pro-lifers really think of women as animals?

The pro-life argument is, in essence, a refusal to see women as human – or to perceive women at all.

It’s easy to see this in terms of slavery. The pro-life movement is the heir of the aggressive, racist-eugenic fascism before WWII*: which in turn inherited so many of its beliefs from the calm white-centric belief that inferior people shall be slaves to their superiors. Women in this scenario are the slaves of men: women have no right to decide for themselves how many children to have, and when. The forms of contraception which the pro-life movement is most likely to passionately campaign against are the contraceptive pill, its younger sister emergency contraception, and the IUD: contraception which is under the control of the women who use it, and which a man is not likely to be able to sabotage and may not even be aware the woman who is “his” is using. Emergency contraception even enables a rape victim to take control of her body and say no, at the least you will not make me pregnant: naturally, pro-lifers oppose emergency contraception being provided automatically to rape victims as soon as they seek medical treatment.

*The aggression in pro-life attacks on Margaret Sanger speaks of an enmity far older than the modern pro-life movement: Sanger was a believer that even the poorest women should be allowed to “improve the breed” (yes, she was a eugenicist, as were the pro-lifers who opposed her then) by her passionate pro-choice support of even the poorest woman’s right to decide how many children to have, rather than – as in her day – being forced by denial of contraception and denial of the right to refuse their husbands, to have as many children as they could until they died of it. Margaret Sanger’s eugenics was a form profoundly opposed to the fascism inherent in the white pro-lifers who opposed her: who believed white women owed it to “the breed” to be forced to have as many children as they could, and let two-thirds of them die. The strongest would survive, these pro-lifers felt: why give women the right to decide?

Slaves are not allowed to decide when they will be bred, or how many children they will have: pro-lifers want to roll back the human rights movement to the days when a man could literally own the women he bred, and the children he produced.

But even a slave may be cared for by her owner, at least to the degree of concern that she should be maintained as a healthy breeder: for some pro-lifers, who openly maintain that when a pregnancy goes wrong, the woman should be forced to continue the pregnancy though she dies of it, and regardless of what damage the pregnancy does to her. This is thinking of a woman as an incubator – a cheap, easily replaceable machine, used to produce babies, use till it breaks.

But there is still another sticky undercurrent to the pro-life movement: the belief that women are morally equivalent to farm animals.

A few weeks ago a New Zealand pro-life blogger, Brendan Malone, published an outraged post in which he complained that a Green politician, who’s pro-choice, had recently

issued an official press release which passionately attacked the NZ dairy industry for inducing the premature birth of unborn cows, a practice which often results in the death of the calf.
Yes, you did read that right; unborn cows, and look at the language used by Kedgley when talking about this issue, and the sort of action she wants the government to take against it…

Brendan describes this as “unbelievably hypocritical”, because the same politician is pro-choice.

Now, if you’re pro-choice, you believe that the pregnant woman is the person who has the best right to decide whether to terminate or continue her pregnancy: it’s a basic human rights issue, a basic healthcare issue.

What does this have to do with humane farming practices?

Dairy farming is an inhumane business. Male calves are of no value to a dairy farmer: they’re sold young for veal. Female calves are taken from their mothers young, reared and fed indifferently by humans, so that their mothers can be milked for food for our use: milk, cream, butter, cheese. Cows are bred to produce far more milk than their calves could use, so much milk that if they aren’t milked twice a day they suffer terrible pain and eventually die. Dairy farming is emblematic of how we as humans treat animals as if we have the absolute right to use them at our will to provide for our needs, regardless of how this twists and distorts their lives.

What does this have to do with a woman’s right to choose? If you are pro-life, you believe that women can be bred against their will – but surely even a pro-lifer would see some distinction between a human woman, even one deprived of her basic human rights, and a dairy cow? Women do not, even in the most extreme pro-life fantasies, lead lives in any way resembling a dairy cow’s.

But apparently Brendan Malone, and multiple regular pro-life commenters who follow his blog, really see no difference at all between a pregnant woman and a dairy cow. To them, arguing that the farmer of dairy cows ought not to be allowed to induce the cow early to get the milk production started, because this is an additional layer of cruelty on top of the regular day to day use of a dairy cow’s life, is “hypocritical”, because this same politician who opposes a farmer’s mistreatment of cows, opposes pro-life mistreatment of women: she believes that women ought to allowed to decide for themselves about their pregnancies. But to these pro-lifers, and I wish I was joking, women are no more than cows.

Indeed, in a later thread on the same blog, a pro-lifer Mikestruth was insistently arguing a Dolcett-like belief that being vegetarian and being pro-choice was somehow “inconsistent”: as if believing women have the right to choose was somehow inconsistent with not eating meat. (Dolcett, if you didn’t know and I often wish I didn’t, is the eroticisation of cannibalism – specifically, men consuming women as meat. Sorry: my tolerance for human perversity lapses at that point, as it has firmly lapsed with Mikestruth’s belief that women are food animals and arguing for human rights for women is weird if you’re a vegetarian.)

December 8, 2009

For the sake of fairness

Abortion is legal in mainland UK with the consent of two doctors.

Abortion is not legal in Northern Ireland – the 1967 Act which made abortion legal did not cover Northern Ireland, and changes in the law (and changes in the political independence of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom) mean that abortion is likely to remain illegal in Northern Ireland for the foreseeable future: the politicians in the Stormont Assembly have, whether Protestant or Catholic, a united front when it comes to acknowledging that women’s rights are human rights.

So, women living in Northern Ireland who need an abortion do the same as women living in the Republic of Ireland do: they make the trip to the mainland, London or Liverpool or Glasgow, have their abortion, and travel back – a quick, relatively cheap trip, if travel and accommodation costs were all. A normal uncomplicated early abortion can take place within two days, and must, when a woman is compelled to travel to get one.

A woman from Northern Ireland is a UK citizen. She pays the same taxes for the NHS as she would if she were living anywhere else in the UK. But when she needs an abortion, she cannot get one on the NHS, as she could if she lived anywhere else in the UK. She is required to go private – to find somehow £1500 or more,, on top of what it costs her to travel to the mainland and stay overnight.

It is unjust that women living in Northern Ireland are not allowed to make use of the NHS to have an abortion. It is not fair, it is not right, and it should be changed.

If you are a UK citizen, please sign the petition to the Prime Minister to let him know that women in Northern Ireland deserve the same access to full NHS services as women anywhere else in the UK.

November 10, 2009

What the Stupak-Pitts coathanger amendment means for Americans

Bart Stupak, Democrat for Death, decided he hated women and he didn’t want women who needed abortions to get healthcare: he wants taxpayers who are women to be required to pay for government subsidies for health insurance plans, but he wants those health insurance companies to be allowed to deny those women life/fertility-saving healthcare.

The amendment will prohibit federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions. However, it allows individuals, both who receive affordability credits and who do not, to separately purchase with their own funds plans that cover elective abortions. It also clarifies that private plans may still offer elective abortions.

From a woman who had an abortion on Hallowe’en:

As much as I struggled with the sudden realization that the pregnancy was over, I also found myself trying to decide financially what I was willing to do. A chemical abortion would cost $40, but I would be alone, bleeding, and it could still be incomplete and I would require a D&C anyway, since my pregnancy was so advanced. Surgery would be quick, total, and under controlled circumstances, but would likely be our full maxed insurance amount of $1500. And of course, there was the free option of waiting for my body to finally realize I wasn’t pregnant, but after 4 weeks the risk of infection was steadily climbing, increasing my chances of future miscarriage, infertility, or even death. With a toddler at home, and still nursing hopes for extending our family some day, this was not an option.

I chose the quick and total route of the D&C, despite the costs, prioritizing my health and the health of possible future children. I was lucky, and could afford to make that choice, because currently, my insurance cannot chose to refuse to cover what the hospital as termed an abortion.

Thanks to the Stupak amendment, that can now change.

This is an anti-women amendement – the kind of misogynist crap that women-haters spew – but it is also a typically rich-bastard anti-poor people amendment. A woman who already has a good insurance plan – one that covers abortion – or who has the kind of income that can afford to pay a couple of thousand for an unexpected medical expense that her health insurance, she discovers, won’t cover – will be OK.

A woman who figures she can scrape together $40 for a chemical abortion and just hope that will do it? Or a woman who can’t afford anything but a coathanger?

Congressman Bart Stupak has decided such worthless women can die. Or become involuntarily infertile. Or whatever. Their lives, and the lives of the children they hoped to have, are of less than no importance to a man like him. He has an e-mail form here, if you want to let him know what you think. (You will need to provide him with a zip code inside Michigan’s 1st District, which you can do by looking a city up here and the zipcode for it here. )

July 30, 2008

The basics: why pro-choice is the only moral option

Pro-choice is often referred to as if it were synonymous with pro-abortion. It isn’t. Being pro-choice says nothing whatsoever about your own personal views on your own abortion, your best friend’s abortion, or a complete stranger’s abortion; being pro-choice means you believe that the pregnant woman ought to be the one to decide whether, and when, to terminate her pregnancy.

That’s because it’s thoroughly immoral to force a woman to use her body – at potential risk to her life, and likely risk to her health – to make a baby out of a fertilised egg, when she has decided she does not want to make use of her body in this way, and/or she does not want the baby.

If you want the complicated details, read on.


May 21, 2008

Running very fast to stay in place

Sometimes, good stuff happens.

After a strong political effort by the forced-pregnancy movement, the attempts to reduce access to abortion in the UK were roundly defeated last night: the closest vote, a proposal to reduce the upper limit for abortions to 22 weeks (which would in practice have meant 18 weeks) was rejected by 304 to 233.

(In the same debate, a succession of homophobic/misogynistic attempts to stop the children of same-sex couples having the same basic rights as the children of mixed-sex couples, was also defeated: a child born to a lesbian couple via fertility treatment will now have two legal parents, just like a child born to a mixed-sex couple. This is also cause for cheering.)

When the Abortion Act was passed in 1967, though it set legal limits on abortion that appear quite restrictive (a woman must get the consent of two doctors, etc) the women’s liberation movement focussed on widening real access rather than changing the law, and in practice, providing a woman has the nous, when she wants an abortion, to react to her GP telling her “wait a few weeks” (a standard strategy for anti-choice doctors) with “Thanks, I’ll go somewhere else right now”, women who need abortions can have them – though in some parts of the UK it is problematic getting an abortion via the NHS, and in Northern Ireland a woman who needs an abortion usually needs to go to mainland UK to get one. (This has worked primarily because travel from Northern Ireland to the mainland has always been fast and cheap: but it’s certainly an added cost and trouble.) Forced-pregnancy terrorism has never taken off in this country, unlike in the US: the “pro-lifers” have stayed, in general, within the law.

But we shouldn’t have to run so fast to stay in place. This is a victory for common sense and women’s rights: but it’s a victory in a campaign we shouldn’t have to have. Cardinal O’Connor claimed to be terribly concerned about the number of abortions taking place in the UK: but his claims were bogus, since he was not attempting to encourage the widespread availability or use of contraception, nor was he advocating better sex education in Catholic schools and free availability of contraception for boys and girls via the school nurse at Catholic schools. (In fact, Cardinal O’Connor has done his little best to encourage more abortions and more late-term abortions via the hospital of which he is patron, by forbidding even the provision of advice on contraception or abortion at that hospital. His very own little gag rule!)

What we need is decriminalisation of abortion. We need to end completely the notion that a woman making medical decisions in consultation with her doctor is subject to state regulation of her uterus.

Join the Pro-Choice Majority.

(You can read all debates and see who voted which way here: TheyWorkForYou: debates 20th May 2008. I’m pleased to say my MP voted the right way every time and I’m thinking of sending him 20 Fairtrade roses.)

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