Monday, January 24, 2011

Yes, Melinda, Abortion Rights DOES = Feminism

Last June I wrote a very wordy reprimand to journalist Melinda Henneberger with whose article I disagreed. I'm including a link to the article, as well as my email below.


I am ashamed that you would even consider that it is okay for women to be "pro-life" and still call themselves a feminist. For one thing, pro-choice MEANS that you have a right to chose what you want to do with your body if you become pregnant, so anyone that feels abortion is not for them will not chose one. Likewise, being pro-choice respects that for some, abortion is something they would consider and thus should be a medically safe, and judicially sanctioned, process. The underlying current behind the tenets of the pro-life movement are flawed, because it removes a woman's right to make decisions for herself, her health, and the well-being of her family. It is at its core anti-feminist, because it blindly suggests that "pro-choice" means "pro-abortion", and many of its supporters spread lies and use fearmongering (like calling ob/gyns "abortionist" instead of "doctors", circulating pamphlets that claim abortions give you cancer, etc) which in essence work to make people act against their own best interests. In no way does being pro-choice deny anyone the right to keep their unborn child from an unwanted pregnancy. However, being pro-life seeks to eliminate the choice for women to control what happens to their own bodies. Most women that consider an abortion are not doing so frivolously, as if it were a means of birth control. This is a deeply personal and difficult decision for a woman, as is adoption, as it parenthood. There is NO best choice out of these three, regardless of what may be considered acceptable in today's society (since, luckily, the stigma surrounding single mothers is no longer an issue).

To be a political candidate, and be pro-life, suggests that you are willing to take means to convince your constituents to act against their own best interests in order to push your agenda. It suggests that we as the constituency should place our decision-making abilities about our bodies in a higher power that knows better than us, and just sit back and let life happen around us. That is not how politics works (in theory). The constituents have a say, whether they exercise it or not. Their voice is heard in letters and phone calls to their representatives, and on election nights. We have a choice. When we see something happening that we do not approve, we question its validity. At times, the constituents can be wrong, which is when our elected leaders need to lead us like a good parent would instruct a wayward child (i.e., serving eggs, toast, and fruit for breakfast instead of the child's suggestion of chocolate cake). But many other times, our elected leaders do not represent our best interests, and instead act as salesmen pandering to our base wants (i.e., serving chocolate cake for breakfast because the child will say "i hate you" otherwise). This only serves the purpose for the short term, but does not further our progress into the future and can instead lead to many more serious problems later on (i.e., weight gain, ADD, diabetes, etc.).

The faulty logic behind the pro-life movements is usually drowned out by individuals who shout too loudly about "killing your baby" and "it is against god". It creates an environment that fosters young, single mothers in need of government assistance. It restricts the earning power of anyone of these women (and their pursuit of an education that may increase their earning power), making it more difficult for them to provide for their new families. It refuses to see that PR campaigns encouraging men to be better fathers is NOT what will encourage a 15-year old boy to stay with his 15-year old girlfriend and play house. It touts abstinence and restricts sex educations and condom distribution in schools rather than providing real education and real protection. It allows for laws to be changed which prohibit insurance companies from offering medical services, allows pharmacy employees to refuse to fill prescriptions, and justifies huge price hikes for birth control for college students and underpriviledged women. Its proponents push for laws that would "encourage" young women to bring an unwanted pregnancy to term while in the same vein voting for laws that reduce public assistance in the forms of money, health care, job training, day care, and education for these women.

Anyone who defines themselves as pro-life is nothing more than blinded by their opinions, and is heartless to boot. Once upon a time the idea of "no litangare (do not touch)" was how the religious community, as well as the medical community, felt about open-heart surgery. Imagine where we would be if this idea was not challenged. So to all the pro-life feminists, either educate yourselves about feminism and change your views, or remove the "feminist" adjective from the description of yourself. Female you may be. A politician you may be. A feminist you are not.

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