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.
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