Why ‘pro-life feminist’ is an oxymoron
Sunday January 22nd 2012, 2:26 pm

In today’s Fairfax op-ed section, Anne Summers writes expansively on how feminism and ‘pro-life’ positions on abortion are mutually exclusive. Of course, she’s dead right.

First, the term ‘pro-life’ is nonsensical. Every normal human on the planet is ‘pro-life.’ To suggest otherwise implies that there’s some ‘pro-death’ people out there who would like to see the termination of the human species in toto. Such is clearly not the case; it is our primary evolutionary purpose to make more copies of ourselves and thus continue the existence of humanity. Genocide is hardly the desire of any normal person.

The actual meaning of the term ‘pro-life,’ as used by fundamentalist Christians, is ‘anti-choice.’ This is to say that said fundies are authoritarians, bent on denying to women the choice on how and when they operate their reproductive organs. Authoritarians deem themselves superior to all others, believing they are more qualified to rule the lives of those they deign to regulate than the poor, feeble plebs themselves. Christian anti-choicers appear to derive their sense of authority from Christian doctrine that they are ‘chosen people,’ though to me, it is utterly gobsmacking that anyone, by mere virtue of their espousal of belief in an imaginary friend, should somehow get the right to tell others how to live their lives.  ‘Pro-life’ is thus a disingenuous fundie buzzphrase which is politically loaded and should be eliminated from the stylebooks of all proper newsgathering operations. The term has no place in neutral reportage. It’s right up there with the oxymoron ‘unborn child,’ since no child exists, nor ever has, that has not first been born.

Feminism is a response to patriarchal domination of women in all their affairs, from women earning their own incomes and owning their own homes to determining when, and indeed if, they will bear children. Feminism is all about women’s self-determination and independence. Feminism is as such anti-authoritarian in its very core. Mind you, it is not only possible but everyday reality that feminist women may not choose abortion for themselves. The point is that it is their own choice to bear children- it is not a decision imposed upon them by some authority, be that patriarchy, church or state.

All that said, it is an absolute logical impossibility for one to identify as a ‘feminist’ while at the same time advocating state control of reproductive choice. ‘Anti-choice feminist,’ deconstructed, translates directly to ‘Authoritarian anti-authoritarian,’ a straight-up oxymoron.

Now, as regards the prompt for Summers’ op-ed bit today (as well mine), that being Melinda Tankard Reist’s threats to sue Dr Jennifer Wilson over her ‘No Place For Sheep’ bit in which Wilson asserts that it is in fact fundamentalist Christian doctrine which drives MTR’s anti-choice posture, a question is prompted: If it is not Christian doctrine informing MTR’s anti-choice stance, what exactly is informing it, given there is no reasonable secular or medical objection to abortion that would justify state interference in women’s reproductive choices?

Only Mrs Tankard Reist knows for sure- and she’s well and truly prepared to use financially ruinous legal threats to make sure no one ever finds out.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Brilliantly put. I’ve been holding off on blogging about it. Now I don’t need to. You just said what I wanted to say.

All I will add is the striking similarity between MTR’s argument and that of denialists. This comment in the Mamamia piece was very telling for me in its avoidance of facts, whilst attempting to state that there are facts behind MTR’s claims (apart from MTR’s ideology), which is demonstrably false:

“[Question] 6. How do you resolve the apparent divide between being pro-life and a feminist?

“For me, being a feminist and being pro-life are consistent. Pro-life feminists – and some feminists who don’t identify as ‘pro-life’ – see abortion as a form of violence against women in a society that won’t accommodate women and babies, especially babies born in less than perfect circumstances or babies with disabilities, for example.

A growing number of feminists are questioning abortion as safe, simple and risk free. Research is also indicating that women have significant negative mental health outcomes after abortions. The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists has published a meta-analysis in the British Journal of Psychiatry finding that women who undergo abortions are 81% more likely to experience subsequent mental health problems. (Substance abuse increased 340%, suicidal behaviour by 155%).

I want to see an expansion of real choices for the women who want alternatives but can’t find them. That’s why I founded and am patron of a supported accommodation service for women who are pregnant without support.” ”


Comment by reasonablehank 01.22.12 @ 2:40 pm

“..given there is no reasonable secular or medical objection to abortion that would justify state interference in women’s reproductive choices”
Excellent, well said!

Comment by joel 01.22.12 @ 4:40 pm

My two cents on the supposed underpinnings of the arguement…

Abortion and mental health outcomes are only found to be correlated in poorly conducted studies. http://www.contraceptionjournal.org/article/S0010-7824(08)00369-7/abstract

“A woman’s risk of dying from abortion-related complications in this country (0.4 deaths per 100,000 procedures performed before eight weeks’ gestation) is significantly lower than her risk of dying as the result of pregnancy or childbirth (seven deaths per 100,000 live births).” Referral to “this country” means U.S.

Comment by rainie 02.06.12 @ 2:33 am

Thanks for that, Rainie.

Would like to draw everyone’s attention to this bit from January 11, 2011 – Melinda’s lies and the lunacy of her followers, in which author greboruri takes Melinda Tankard Reist to task for the very same issues Dr Jennifer Wilson did- but is not getting lawsuit threats from Reist, to the best of my knowledge.

I’ll say it right here & right now- Melinda Tankard Reist is a fundamentalist christian who is masquerading as a feminist, in a deceptive and duplicitous manner. C’mon & sue me, Melinda- I double dog dare ya.

Comment by weez 02.18.12 @ 2:55 pm

Leave a comment