#notblinkered: Because we’d all be anti-choice if only they gave out more wristbands

I wouldn’t normally rant about Life, the anti-choice organisation. What’s the point? It’s more fun ranting about life. Today, however, I am making an exception. I am feeling particularly incensed by Life’s promotion of #notblinkered, an utterly lame cool and trendy website that briefs anti-choicers on all the crap they need to pretend pro-choicers think.

#notblinkered is a bit like those ads for the Alpha Course you see when you’re on the bus. The ones that say stuff like “Who’s there 4U?” in the hope that you’ll think “cool! They spelled ‘for you’ like in a text! There MUST be a supernatural deity after all!” Life describe #notblinkered as their “biggest social movement to date” (bless!). It would be funny if it wasn’t so arrogant, callous and basically awful.

There are plenty of lies and distortions to pick from on the #notblinkered website, but I’ve listed my top ten here. I’m sure you’ll have your own faves. If I drum up enough support I might start handing out #notnotblinkered / #blinkered wristbands! (No trendy movement is, apparently, complete without them.)

1.       Anti-choicers merely have an image problem – it’s nothing to do with their beliefs

Stereotypes. Some are funny and some, well – they’re just not. But almost every community is tarred with one stereotype or another: from blondes, the Irish and people with disabilities to Muslims, Christians, gay men and women – the list is endless. And most of us are guilty of stereotyping sometimes, if we’re honest.

Do you have a stereotype of someone who’s “prolife”? White? Middle-aged? Middle-class? Right-wing? Religious? Anti-women’s rights? Blinkered? At #notblinkered we want to challenge those stereotypes.

Oh, if only it were so easy. If only it was a matter of “I don’t like anti-choicers because they wear funny shoes” or “I don’t trust them because they’re all called Dave”. The thing is, even if that were true, I wouldn’t care. It’s the being opposed to women deciding what to do with their own bodies that’s the problem. Honestly, Dave! Wear whatever shoes you like!

It’s not even the case that pro-choicers don’t like anti-choicers. My mum’s anti-choice and I love her. She’s ace. I just don’t agree with her beliefs on abortion. That’s not stereotyping. It’s disagreeing.

2.       Anti-choicers are victims of prejudice

Anyone who casually compares other people disagreeing with them to the concrete structural discrimination suffered by genuinely marginalised groups needs to take a good look at themselves. Moreover, anyone complaining about prejudice and stereotyping should be careful when setting up a whole website based around the presumed beliefs of a group they don’t like. I mean, as a pro-choicer I’m not going to claim the #notblinkered website makes me feel oppressed. It just makes me feel annoyed. These are different things.

3.       If pro-choicers knew you could be a feminist AND anti-abortion, their minds would be blown!

“I know some people are surprised when I say I’m a feminist and prolife,” says the severe-looking actress/feminist lady. I guess it’s kind of cute. You almost hate to break it to her that no, they’re not really surprised. Not even mildly taken aback. They’re just disappointed. Yes, that’s the word.

Saying “I’m feminist and prolife” is a bit like saying “I’m a turkey and pro-Christmas”. Except, since you’re obviously not a feminist experiencing an unwanted pregnancy or supporting someone who is, you’d be a turkey who wasn’t going to get slaughtered (perhaps you’re someone’s pet). You’d be there at the slaughterhouse, helping the others along the conveyor belt. “Look, guys!” you’d say. “I’m not anti-turkey, I’m just pro the festive season! See, I even brought some crackers!” But your friends wouldn’t answer because they’d be dead.

A bit like the 78,000 women who die every year due to unsafe abortions, mainly in countries with severe restrictions on legal abortion. Only they’re real people and they’re really dead.

4.       Choosing to have an abortion isn’t really a choice

For me, feminism is pro-women, not pro-abortion. A woman facing an unwanted pregnancy often won’t experience abortion as a choice, but as the only option made available to her, by her partner, her financial situation, employer, landlord, parents, friends, school, you name it. 

Ooh, it’s complicated, this one. Choosing to have an abortion isn’t really choosing hence not being able to choose would be choosing because the choice is a not-choice and choosing not to have choice isn’t a theoretical impossibility because … Anyhow, it’d be a real philosophical conundrum if it wasn’t such total bollocks. If you want women to make a particular choice you can’t achieve it by taking that choice away. It’s like saying “I don’t like people having to eat value fish-fingers because they can’t afford caviar, therefore I’ll ban the sale of fish-fingers”. Only abortion and pregnancy are more serious than that. More serious and you can’t get either in Waitrose.

5.       Women have abortions because they think they’re “liberating”

“Abortion’s not liberating – in my experience it usually arises from a situation where a woman feels powerless” says our feminist turkey. She’s not wrong there. Usually the “feeling powerless” comes from being pregnant and not wanting to be. Unfortunately, in such a scenario, remaining pregnant isn’t “liberating” either. There’s no liberation either way. Never mind. At least there’s a new Bridget Jones out.

6.       If one woman has an abortion and regrets it, no women should be allowed an abortion

“I have lost count of the number of women I know who, many years later, bitterly regret the decision they thought was theirs, but which was, in fact, someone else’s.”

That’s a bit sad, isn’t it? Still, hardly a reason to give the women who regret not being able to make their own decisions the deciding vote in what all other women should do.

The other thing is *whispers* some women regret having children *raises voice again* I don’t, obviously. Even after the disastrous six-year-old birthday party with the poo in soft play I don’t regret having children. But some women do, either because of the impact it’s had on their own or their family’s lives, or because they were forced to give birth to babies who they knew would suffer brief, painful lives in the name of “human dignity”. That is horrendous. It’s not a reason to force every other woman to have an abortion, but it is a reason to allow women to choose.

7. Abortion is about equality and human rights

Ha, gotcha, knee-jerk lefties! Listen to the wise man – counterpoint to grumpy feminist – and hear his words of justice and truth:

It doesn’t matter how you arrive at a prolife position – people with a faith have their own reasons and I have mine. What’s great is that we have common ground rooted in concern for vulnerable children, for women – for society as a whole. After all, the way we treat those most vulnerable of human beings, the unborn, must have a huge bearing on how we all treat one another and on what values we hold dear.

Sod off, wise man. It doesn’t matter how you dress up an anti-choice position – people have abortions for their own reasons and you know nothing about them. What’s great is that we’re not taken in by your patronising crap about “society as a whole”. As long as we are all equal, pregnant people will have the same rights to bodily autonomy as all other human beings. Except they won’t, because in many countries they’re still not granted them. Damn. Now that is an offence against human rights.

8. But the fetus! It’s a person!

“There have been two important moments in my journey towards being prolife,” says the wise man, deluding himself that we’re still interested, “and the first goes way back to a school biology lesson. I think I realised in that classroom, seeing those basic, child-friendly images of the sperm and the egg, that a human life begins at fertilisation and no-one can really argue with that.”

Well, whatever. They don’t really have to. The fetus can be as much of a human as it wants to. No human has the right to occupy the body of another, putting the latter’s life at risk. A pregnant woman is not a special sub-category of human who should not be permitted dominion over the boundaries of her own body. And yes, I know those books you see in classrooms often just show a cross-section of the gravida’s body but believe me – pregnant women are people too! They have skin and heads and everything!

9. But branding! But logos!

I’ll be honest, I am quite wary of staring too long into the freaky, drugtastic eyes of the #notblinkered emoticon. It’s not that I think it will make me anti-choice but it will make me think I’m back in the 1990s and I’ll get confused.

10. Be ostentatiously anti-choice on twitter and you could be in with a chance of winning a Roberts Revival DAB RD60 radio

Actually, sod it. I want one of those. I’m all for bodily autonomy but this is free stuff! Hey, I could always sell it and give the proceeds to BPAS. Or split the proceeds. Yes, split them. I can’t help it. My pro-choice politics make me hopelessly consumerist – or is it the other way round?

Anyhow, that is just a bit of the crapness of the #notblinkered website. Apparently more people are set to accompany feminist turkey and wise man in the weeks to come. You will be surprised and amazed at their ability to be simultaneously cool AND anti-choice! Only kidding. You’ll just be annoyed. But now you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

29 thoughts on “#notblinkered: Because we’d all be anti-choice if only they gave out more wristbands

  1. As usual, per “pro-life” standards, the fetus might be a person but the woman isn’t.

    And apparently the child doesn’t need to eat, or anything pedestrian like that.

  2. Good blog! But it too has its own share of ‘distortions’. Here’s seven of them:

    1.‘Anti-choice’. Use that phrase and you kill all debate stone dead. After all, what feminist – what reasonable person – could possibly be anti-choice? It’s the written equivalent of a hand over our silly, pro-life mouths. But it’s a very simplistic response to a complex issue. No?

    Ok – take a (fictional) pregnant woman who, if she goes ahead with her pregnancy will have to take such a cut in her income (maternity pay is still rubbish) that she won’t be able to pay her mortgage. So she takes the only possible route she can and aborts. Another (fictional) woman is also faced with an unplanned pregnancy but the cut in her income won’t have dire consequences so she goes to term with her pregnancy. Don’t’ talk about choice as if we all have equal amounts of it because we don’t.

    2. The assumption that feminism and being pro-life are mutually exclusive. There are a lot of feminists out there who would disagree with you. Germaine Greer is one of many who have argued that abortion is a consequence of women’s oppression – she does it far better than me so here you go http://www.life.org.nz/abortion/aboutabortion/aboutabortion34/ And I’m sure you know the old chestnut about the early pioneering feminists not being pro-abortion at all and it not being until the 1960s/70s that abortion became the holy grail. Furthermore, hasn’t the feminist movement always prided itself on its diversity?

    3. Prejudice. Comes in degrees, from that which invokes serious consequences to the merely annoying kind. Nowhere do we, or would we, claim that prolifers are ‘victims’ of anything! But come on – you’re a feminist! You know exactly the kind of prejudice we mean. How many times have you been called a ‘man-hater’? Annoying isn’t it. Try being a prolife feminist. That can really suck.

    4. The assumption that most, if not all, abortions are free choices. If you take away the women who felt they had no other option than to abort because of loss of income, loss of a home, loss of a significant relationship (parents/partners), reduction in status/life style, and a myriad other reasons, you might be left with a small minority of women for whom abortion was genuinely a free choice.

    This isn’t about women ‘being easily led’ or “weak-minded”. (“Oh if it wasn’t for that boyfriend of mine, twisting my arm, I’d have had that baby!”) It’s about being told that something’s good for us because the powers-that-be have a vested interest in keeping it that way. After all, abortion on a mass-scale is far cheaper and easier than women having their needs met properly; cheaper than say, paying women a living wage during their maternity leave, putting in place safeguards to protect women’s career progression if they take time off to raise children, and, most importantly, making sure that men really do contribute their 50% towards the care of their children. Far, far easier to maintain the status quo.

    And the icing on the cake? We think all this is our idea and we should fight for it; that this sad ‘duty’ that thousands of women endure each year is, in fact, some kind of privilege we’ve won.

    How often do women tell each other that the best way to get men to do something is to make them think they thought of it themselves? Think men got there first with that one.

    5. Forced birth. Who’s talking about ‘forced birth’? We’re not. See point 4 above. We are not about removing choices, but about giving women more and more and more choice. We’re about aiming high for women, being ambitious for women. No woman, we don’t think, takes abortion lightly. You can’t do something like that and it not have some kind of consequence – it’s a life-changing decision no matter what. And we’ve got so used to bearing all the pain in a crisis pregnancy situation, that we haven’t stopped and thought that it could actually be different. We shouldn’t always be the ones that suck it up. Why should so many women have to face such dire consequences if they carry an unplanned pregnancy to term. It’s evidence that we are not really having our needs met at all.

    6. Sorry – but the fetus is a person and you’re doing women a disservice if you claim anything else. You’re also dismissing the feelings of many women who suffer emotionally after their abortion, and there are many, whether it messes up your argument or not.

    That is, at least in part, why this is such a contentious issue, is it not? After all, we don’t get such heated debate about the mass removal of tonsils. There is a moral element to the debate and saying ‘the fetus can be as much of a human as it wants to’ is rather like saying ‘whatevs’ whenever an argument gets a bit tricky.

    However, another prolife misconception cleared up – of course, we completely agree with you that ‘no human has the right to occupy the body of another, putting the latter’s life at risk’.

    7. Yeh, the wristbands. We’re still not sure about those either.

    1. 1. I think opposing women having a choice over abortion is pretty anti-choice (due to the bringing together of being “anti” something and that thing you’re anti being “choice”). It’s not some complex linguistic trick. There is a choice and you don’t women to be able to make it.
      2. I think you are confusing women facing unfair conditions which make them not want to continue with pregnancies they’d otherwise welcome (a situation we can all oppose) with any woman wanting an abortion. Some women will never, ever want children. Some will never want them at a particular time or given a particular health risk. You should be honest enough to admit that you don’t want to help those women achieve their goals and control their bodies; you want precisely the opposite.
      3. I think “prolife” is a prejudice; you’re judging the choices of women whose lives you’ll never have to live. I don’t buy into the idea that one can be prejudiced about the prejudiced (is anti-racism a form of prejudice against racists? feminism a form of prejudice against misogynists?)
      4. Improving the conditions in which women make choices and increasing their options is one thing; taking away one option because it may be chosen due to a lack of other options is something completely different. I don’t think that’s particularly complicated. I’d like another baby right now but my job situation is too precarious. Which of these two things do you think I’d prefer: a better economy or the banning of abortion? Which is actually helping women reach decisions which are right for them and which improve their lives?
      5. I didn’t use the phrase “forced birth”. Although, if a person who wishes to end a pregnancy is not permitted to do so, birth is an outcome that is forced upon her. That’s just the truth.
      6. I never said a fetus wasn’t a person. I said I don’t think that’s the issue. After all, I know what it’s like to be excited over a pregnancy and devastated over a miscarriage. Those feelings are valid and I define the contents of my body how I choose to. What I take issue with is how you are defining the bodies and personhood of those carrying fetuses.
      7. No, they’re fine. Least offensive thing about the whole campaign.

    2. Yeah, actually, you are talking about forced birth. In fact, I’ve seen people say, outright, that someone is “only” being “forced to give birth.” And at least here in the U.S., you folks quite obviously don’t care about the health and welfare of the child once it’s born.

    3. 1. It seems a bit rich to complain that “anti-choice” is a “distortion” and some sort of silencing tactic while practically in the same breath insisting on the self-descriptor “pro-life”. I think implicitly accusing your opponents of being “anti-life” is both considerably less civil, and considerably less accurate. (Not wild about “pro-abortion”, either.)

      2. Greer believes that abortion should be freely available on request. You’re quote-mining her via an anti-choice website, speaking to a question other than the one of legal availability of abortion. Are we enough “distortions” deep yet?

      3. Diddums. It may indeed be a continual struggle with the attendant cognitive dissonance to keep your feminist credentials burnished while cosying up to the religious fundamentalists, but I’m struggling to see why it’s one we should feel any sympathy for.

      4. I see no such assumption in GW’s piece. If you were arguing for “safe, legal and rare”, by means _entirely_ of enhancing the life options of women who might otherwise have felt compelled to have an abortion, this might have some pertinence. And if your claim were correct, then surely you’d be able to eliminate most abortions by such civil society means. But this is just the sugar coating on an agenda of making abortions legally, practically and psychologically more _difficult_ to access. That’s not offering better choices, it’s about “offering” worse ones.

      5. You are. (In reference to your point #1, I was going to offer “forced birther” as an alternative to “anti-choice”, as I admit I’m occasionally prone to do when abortion-rights-restricters complain too much about the latter term, or are otherwise too unbearable in general.) You’re shilling for an organisation whose “mission” includes “challenging governments and policy makers to adopt policies which reflect and uphold the utmost respect for human life from fertilisation until natural death”. That’s pretty much straight out the Vatican Guide to Doublespeak, but translates rather directly to “if there’s some amount of criminalisation of reproductive rights on offer, we’ll be having it”. (Naturally given the status quo in the UK, you’re not quite as up-front and strident about it as the Irish case, where it’s full-bore bishops manning the picket lines in front of parliament to oppose even the most. But if didn’t have small matters like UK public opinion, protecting your charitable status, and keeping government funding of your projects to concern yourself, isn’t that pretty much where you’d be?) If, after being offered your promised “alternative options”, a pregnant woman still doesn’t wish (for whatever reason) to give birth, it’s your position that she should nonetheless be legally forced to — right?

      6. “Personhood” is a philosophical and legal concept. Rather than flat assertions on this, you need a philosophical argument (even if it’s only God Did It) as to why gametes are inconsequential non-persons, there’s suddenly a Magical Moment, and thereafter zygotes are the full moral equivalents of the living, breathing, multicellular post-natal entities the rest of us deem “persons”. And legally, to change a whole lot of laws that make clear that this is _not_ the case. (Even US states that have statutes on foetal homicide don’t use “personhood from conception” as the legal mechanism for establishing this.) And what would be other implications of foetal legal personhood be? If you’re going to give legal counsel to the blastocyst standing in legal proceedings, we really edging into _The Handmaid’s Tale_ territory.

      All pregnancy is a risk to maternal life, to some degree or other. If you agree that undertaking that risk nonconsensually shouldn’t be legally compelled, then I think we’re in complete agreement! Otherwise, and I suspect suspect more likely, you’re about to tell me “well, actually, when I said ‘risk’, I meant ‘quite a lot of such risk of death, but not so much that I’ll explicitly defend this proposition in any of the actual resultant deaths, like Savita Halappanavar'”.

      What about “mere” risk to health, like the Polish woman partially blinded after being refused an abortion? Does the foetus’ supposed “right to occupy” still apply in such cases?

      7. Weren’t you purporting to be listing “distortions”? Not sure if you’re losing track of your own rhetorical structure here, attempting the “agree-disagree-agree” sandwich technique, or a bit of both.

    4. If you get to call yourself ‘pro-life’ when banning abortion means a crapload more deaths of both women and fetuses, I don’t think you can really complain about ‘anti-choice’ which is clearly more accurate for your position. You’re the one with the creepy Orwellian name.

      Also, pretty weird how all your arguments are about how women should have more choices about not having an abortion but you want to eliminate their choice to have one. So basically it’s ok to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term but not to be pressured to abort by difficult circumstances? Make up your mind.

  3. This is a brilliant post. Bravo.

    I’m rather lost on the point that someone being forced into an abortion is an issue of abortion. It is an issue of abuse. Surely there are many forms of pregnancy-related abuse and control, such as sabotaging someone’s birth control, or making sure they become pregnant/have children so that they are dependent. The issue with all of these scenarios is the abuse and control.

    I would far rather someone regret having an abortion than someone regret having a child. If you regret having a child the chances are that you, or the child, have been unhappy, unhealthy or deprived as a result of the birth. Regretting an abortion may be tragic for some, but it doesn’t involve vulnerable children.

    Honestly, I do not think you can be a feminist if you do not believe in fair and equal access to safe abortion. Or rather, you can call yourself a feminist, but your feminism will be bullshit. Women either have access to abortion or they die, painfully and needlessly. And I want no part of any feminism that involves that.

    1. “I would far rather someone regret having an abortion than regret having a child” – this is so right on. Very sad if someone regrets an abortion, I’m lucky I’ve never had to face such a difficult decision. I’d support anyone in that position wholeheartedly. But regretting having a child? That’s a massive, dangerous tragedy for a person who was never involved in making the decision, as well as those who did. How is that acceptable?

      1. You’re exactly right – anti-choicers make the argument that a fetus doesn’t get the choice in an abortion. Well, a child that is born to parents that cannot (or do not want to) care for it adequately don’t have a choice in that either. In one situation a fetus is aborted, in another there is a chance that a child is hurt and neglected. So tell me again, anti-choicers, how you care about the rights of the child.

        1. As Glosswitch has said probably said before, if women and children really wanted their rights respected, they would just climb back into their mothers…

        2. Bingo. See this is the crux of it: anti-choicers will fight for the right of a fetus to be born, but seem far less concerned about the right of a child to live a happy and healthy life with access to education and opportunities. I don’t see being born as the ultimate goal.

    1. Failing to acknowledge that pregnant women should be able to choose whether or not to give life is also wrong. How dare you take the process and cost of pregnancy – and indeed the basic humanity of all people who are pregnant – for granted!

      1. How dare you take the process and cost of pregnancy – and indeed the basic humanity of all people who are pregnant

        Important dudely reasons are much more important than humanity of any female.

  4. The abortion lobby has always realized that abortion itself is indefensible. This has forced them to argue that whether abortion is the deliberate killing of a living human being or not, is unrelated to the question of whether it should be legal. In short, they have to divert attention toward the philosophical concepts of “choice” and “who decides” because they can’t afford for the public to look at what’s being chosen and decided.

    To imply that the issue is not abortion, but choice, is to say that what’s being chosen is irrelevant. That is clearly illogical given that all choices are not equal. Choosing whether to buy a new car is vastly different than choosing whether to produce child pornography, and the morality of those choices is not affected by the eventual decision. However, the pro-choice position is that abortion becomes acceptable simply by the act of choosing to do it.

    Defenders of slavery also used this same strategy. During the 1858 Abraham Lincoln- Stephen Douglas debates, Douglas said he did not support outlawing slavery, saying, “I am now speaking of rights under the Constitution, and not of moral or religious rights. I do not discuss the morals of the people favoring slavery, but let them settle that matter for themselves. I hold that the people who favor slavery are civilized, that they bear consciences, and that they are accountable to God and their posterity and not to us. It is for them to decide therefore the moral and religious right of the slavery question for themselves within their own limits.”

    Just substitute the word abortion every place the word slavery appears, and this statement perfectly defines the pro-choice position in America today. Lincoln’s response to Douglas’ pro-choice position on slavery was, “He cannot say that he would as soon see a wrong voted up as voted down. When Judge Douglas says whoever, or whatever community, wants slaves, they have a right to them, he is perfectly logical if there is nothing wrong in the institution; but if you admit that it is wrong, he cannot logically say that anybody has a right to do a wrong.”

    Lincoln recognized that there is nothing intrinsically noble about the concept of choice, and that there are choices which a society cannot allow the individual to make.

    The fact is, before one can rightly claim that the issue is “choice” or “who decides,” he or she must first examine what’s being chosen. If it’s what color shoes to wear, that’s one thing; if it’s whether to kill another human being, that’s another. Except in self-defense, the decision about whether one human being can kill another one cannot be left up to the individual who wants to do the killing.

    Besides, this “who decides, the woman or the state” rhetoric is idiotic on its face. Laws against abortion would not let the state decide who gets abortions any more than laws against rape let the state decide who gets raped. Instead, they establish that certain behaviors are so unacceptable they must be illegal.

    Finally, as used by abortion advocates, the term “pro-choice” is both inaccurate and dishonest. In an abortion, at least three people are directly impacted: the mother, the father, and the child. The pro-choice argument is that only one is entitled to a choice. Additionally, it has never been a part of their agenda to protect any choice other than abortion. They don’t lobby for women to have the legal right to be prostitutes or use crack cocaine. Yet these laws, and thousands of others, deny women “the right to choose” just as much as laws preventing abortion would.

    1. Wow. To write so much and not even mention the cost of not permitting women to make decisions on their own pregnancies. Just wow. The forced labour analogy is apt but alas not in the way you think.

    2. @KGarner

      The abortion lobby has always realized that abortion itself is indefensible.

      Well, actually, no. Terminating a pregnancy for whatever reason is well within a woman’s rights as it is her body and her choice. There is nothing indefensible about the notion that women should have bodily autonomy.

      is the deliberate killing of a living human being or not,

      Wow, you see this so often in anti-choice argle-bargle, trying to equivocate fetus with fully formed human beings. They really are not the same. Seek help if you cannot tell the difference between an adult and a fetus.

      if it’s whether to kill another human being,

      Vaguely defined terms such as human being offer the opportunity for so much fappery when it comes to anti-choice rhetoric.

      Dude. No one, no adult, no child, no fetus, has the right to use my body without my consent. Deep breath now. Let that sink in. (It’s hard because accepting it means that you regard women as autonomous human beings)

      Laws against abortion would not let the state decide who gets abortions any more than laws against rape let the state decide who gets raped.

      Really?

      So closing down clinics and forbidding the termination of pregnancies as a decree by the state would not be the state deciding? It certainly *looks* like the state making a decision and it would have consequences as women could then not access a key features of their reproductive health portfolio.

      Then why have any abortion law at all? Would it be chaos? No, it would be Canada – a country that is doing okay with regards to having no abortion laws. We still need to improve access to abortion, but there is no chaos, no cats sleeping with dogs, not even a plague of toads. Just the gentle hum of the rights of women being respected and women being treated like more human beings and less like chattel.

  5. Ooo, is modding back off? Levels of MRA nuttery can go down, as well as up? (Or did I just get “whitelisted”? If so, I shall proudly burnish my “approved GlossWitch commenter” gold star all week.)

    I’ll try to be brief, especially in the light of my mega-screed to the Life rep. Agree entirely with the post. If I can’t summon quite the same energy myself, it’s largely because of not encountering this campaign directly, but on the other hand, having rather worse “priced in” around here (as alluded to in said other reply). Well, worse in the sense of more hardline: at least it’s not quite the same cloying attempt at “cool” and “friendly face of”, which might be some sort of perverse blessing.

    I did want to comment on the “pro-life feminist” angle, though. This probably looks fairly silly on a site like this, where the forcedbirthers find themselves exposed on the “more feminist” flank. But my experience of its use in political fora is a frustratingly common one, especially if they happen to be male-contributor-heavy. It’s very handy for the religious hardliners to have a “feminist” useful idiot to hold up as an ablative shield, and rather awkward to risk getting drawn into “so, you’ll be telling us ‘mere women’ what feminism is, then?” blind alleys. (Even if what one, recognising the “feminism definitional problem”, is attempting to is merely hedge around what _most_ self-professed feminists assert on this.)

    But short of that Big Meeting to Decide All The Feminist Positions on Things, it’s an issue I’ll have to do my best to cope with for the foreseeable future, so I’ll try to keep the whining about it down to reasonable(ish) levels.

  6. A few key points here. Several inquiries have established that the main factors behind Savita Halappanavar’s death were serious and widespread failures in clinical management, not lack of access to abortion. The coroner’s inquest, the Health Service Executive report, and the Health Information and Quality Authority all came to this conclusion.

    We have nowhere claimed that Germaine Greer is not prochoice. But she is on the record as expressing reservations about some aspects of the prochoice case. We don’t see why it should be a problem to draw attention to those reservations as part of the abortion conversation.

    We’re well aware that there is an ongoing philosophical and legal debate about exactly what personhood means. Believe it or not, many prolife people have reflected quite deeply on these issues, and can draw on long and respectable intellectual traditions to guide them.

    You refer scornfully to our believing in a “magic moment” when gametes join to form a new individual; it’s not a question of believing in magic. It’s a question of recognising that a developing human being is something very different from an unfertilised ovum or a sperm cell. It is a genetically unique human individual, a clear point at which a new life can be said to have begun.

    Prochoice people argue that “real” human life begins elsewhere – which is fine, but throws up certain philosophical problems of its own. What is the measure we use for “real” life? Is it consciousness? Is it the ability to feel pain? Is it a certain level of mental or physiological function? Is it having an advanced level of *self*-consciousness, as claimed by Peter Singer when he suggests that human moral value doesn’t begin until two years of age? If life begins at birth, what is it about birth that is significant? And who gets to decide?

    Anyone who takes a position on abortion has to pick a point at which they think the right to life begins. In that sense, everyone believes in a “magic moment”. Prochoice people, for instance, attach great significance to “wantedness”, the idea being that the right to life depends to some degree on that abstract thought going on in the mother’s – or the couple’s – mind(s). If we were interrogating this idea, we might wonder how the existence or not of a thought can dictate someone else rights.

    The question is not so much whether we believe in such a moment, but how we decide what that moment is and *why*. It’s good rhetorical knockabout to talk about Vatican conspiracies and misogynist dystopias, but it doesn’t help us have a constructive debate about the value of early human life.

    Being feminist and prolife produces no “cognitive dissonance” and has nothing to do with “cosying up to religious fundamentalists”, particularly if you are one of the many atheist or feminist prolifers. In these days of routine scan pictures of unborn babies in the womb anyone can see the humanity of the unborn baby; there must be a degree of cognitive dissonance in even the most enthusiastic prochoicer. The difficulty of getting over abortion which many women experience is a powerful illustration that on some level they understand that abortion is not just another procedure.

    This is why it seems most prochoice arguments skip over the whole issue of the status of the unborn, preferring to focus on wider political arguments about “reproductive rights” and the danger of the “backstreet abortionists”.

    1. Prochoice people engage fully with the status of the foetus, which is, by definition, dependent on the gravida. It is you, in eliminating the pregnant women from the debate, who dehumanises others.
      If I were to take a kidney or bone marrow from you against your will, would it be enough for me to talk endlessly of how people in need of a transplant have a right to life and how they’re human too? No, it wouldn’t, because you still have your own body and you still have a right to say no. It’s not about who is or isn’t human, it’s about pregnant women and why they should not be the only class of human being who, according to you, should be forced to give life rather than able to choose freely to do so.

    2. Being feminist and prolife produces no “cognitive dissonance”

      *Bzzzzzzz* Cognitive dissonance detected.

      Feminism: The promotion and fight for idea that women, in fact, are people.

      Pro-Life: Women are mere incubators with no say as to what goes in their body…..

      Err….

  7. I wonder how many of these vociferously anti-choicers/forced birthers (note: in the US, they actually also don’t want pregnant women to have access to prenatal care — that tends to be left to evil pro-choice people like ME to advocate for!) also believe that “‘the only moral abortion is MY abortion'”? Hmmm…. http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/anti-tales.html

    I will add that history has shown, time and again, that restrictions disproportionately harm the poor and the middle class.

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