X Close

American feminism has turned its back on women The fight for sex-based rights has been sacrificed to gender ideology

The America Left struggles to say 'women' let alone defend their rights. Credit: Kevin Dietsch/Getty

The America Left struggles to say 'women' let alone defend their rights. Credit: Kevin Dietsch/Getty


May 4, 2022   6 mins

Back in the mid Eighties, a woman named Eleanor Bergstein wrote a movie warning young women what would happen to them if their right to abortion was taken away. “It seemed to me that women in the Eighties no longer cared so much about this stuff, so I set the film in the Sixties to show them how recently in America abortion was banned,” she told me when we spoke a few years ago. That film was Dirty Dancing, and when most people think of that movie they think of Baby (Jennifer Grey, obviously) carrying a watermelon and Johnny (Patrick Swayze, double obviously) holding her above his head on the dancefloor.

But smuggled in amid what Bergstein calls “the fun stuff” is the bloody heart of the film: the white working-class character Penny (Cynthia Rhodes), who has to have an illegal abortion. After being taken to a “butcher” with a “dirty knife” and a “folding table” — Bergstein made sure to included graphic language in the film — she nearly dies, screaming in agony. She doesn’t, but Bergstein had to fight hard to keep the Penny plot in the movie when the studio wanted to remove it: “It had to be in the movie because I could see young women were taking the rights for granted and I wanted to show them what life really could be like in the US.”

They may well be about to find out for themselves. I happen to be in the US this week and waking up to news that a leaked draft shows the US Supreme Court has provisionally voted to overturn Roe v Wade, felt strangely similar to another morning six years ago, when I woke up to learn that Donald Trump was now my president. Suddenly, on both mornings, I was in the land of the unimaginable, a development that was, really, all too foreseeable.

It seems probable that the leak, which will likely be investigated by the FBI, was from a young liberal or conservative clerk working in the court, hoping to excite their bases in the midterms. So reacting to it runs the risk of letting the tail wag the dog: it was done to incite, and incited we all are. And yet. Anyone who cares about women’s rights can’t help but react to it, and getting this confirmed insight into how close American women are to losing their autonomy should shock everyone.

Roe v Wade was always fragile, and, especially in recent years, Republicans have forged an identity out of railing against it. It is stunning to remember now that the party once supported abortion rights, including Gerald Ford and, as governor of California, Ronald Reagan. Justice Harry Blackmun, who was appointed by the unquestionably Republican Richard Nixon, wrote the majority opinion for Roe v Wade. Today, the conservative takeover of the Supreme Court was largely done with the aim of overturning of Roe v Wade. Democrats can and should rail against how nutty the Republican Party has become in the past four decades, especially on social issues like abortion. But they can’t pretend the Republicans ever hid who they are. This has all happened in the open sunlight.

And yet, despite that, too many took women’s bodily rights too much for granted for too long. I don’t exclude myself here. I consider myself a full-throated and wised-up supporter of abortion, but I look back on, for example, my admiration for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her stubborn refusal to make way for a younger justice, who would have been appointed by President Obama, and I cringe at my short-sightedness. Yeah, you go, Girlboss! Gimme more of those photos of you working out with your personal trainer! Ginsburg was a remarkable figure, but by working until she died, and thereby allowing Trump to appoint his third justice, she imperilled so many of the rights she fought for, and that is a tragedy.

Focusing more on the pleasing optics of an elderly lady doing press-ups than on the real risks to women’s rights was a decadent position for me to adopt, and America, the richest democracy in the world, has been distracted by too many decadent positions. Six years ago, I thought there could be no clearer proof of this than the 2016 election, when too many self-described lefties proudly disdained voting for Hillary Clinton, insisting there was no difference between her and Trump, even though one grabbed women’s pussies and the other protected them. Women’s rights? Boring, old, annoying. Like Hillary.

Once Trump was elected, I thought this would lead to a resurgence of feminism, and at first it seemed to, with the global Women’s Marches the day after his inauguration. But this nascent wave was soon overtaken by other issues. According to a 2019 survey from a non-partisan group focused on women’s political education, mass shootings, climate change and racial inequality are all of more concern to Gen Z women than abortion access. “A lot of the language I heard was about protecting Roe v Wade. It felt grounded in the Seventies feminist movement. And it felt like, I can’t focus on abortion access if my people are dying,” one 26-year-old female activist told the New York Times in 2020, explaining why she didn’t feel as impassioned about abortion as she did about police brutality. “Women in the Seventies understood very clearly that having control over reproduction is central to women’s ability to determine their own futures, to get the education they want, to have careers. As people got used to having access to abortion — and there’s a false sense that we’ve achieved a measure of equality — that radicalism women had in the early years got lost,” said Joanna Schoen, the author of Abortion after Roe. Abortion rights are seen by young women as a given — which is understandable, since they have been for their entire lives — and also a bit uncool, something associated with their mothers.

Institutions that could have helped here instead became blithely distracted. In 2021, the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood, Alexis McGill Johnson, wrote a hand-wringing editorial about the “harmful choices” made by Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, who died in 1966, including the allegation that she was a eugenicist. Sanger’s beliefs remain a matter of debate — while Sanger did support some eugenicist beliefs, her real goal was enabling women to control their fertility — but I’d like to focus on two paragraphs McGill Johnson wrote, because they really give an insight into American feminism’s focus in recent years:

“What we don’t want to be, as an organization, is a Karen. You know Karen: She escalates small confrontations because of her own racial anxiety. She calls the manager. She calls the police. She stands with other white parents to maintain school segregation. And then there are the organizational Karens. The groups who show up, assert themselves, and tell you where to march. Those who pursue freedom and fairness, but also leverage their privilege in ways that are dehumanizing.

“And sometimes, that’s how Planned Parenthood has acted. By privileging whiteness, we’ve contributed to America harming Black women and other women of color. And when we focus too narrowly on ‘women’s health’, we have excluded trans and non-binary people.”

Look, eugenics are bad — no argument from me there. But when an organisation that is supposed to support women uses a blatantly misogynistic term like “Karen”, I’m not convinced it has found that right side of history yet. And when an organisation like Planned Parenthood — PLANNED FREAKING PARENTHOOD — puts the term “women’s health” in sarcastic single quotation marks, and prefaces it with an apology for focusing “too narrowly” on the aforementioned apparently non-existent issue, you know something has gone wrong in American feminism.

Many will disagree, but I find it hard to separate the disintegration of a woman’s right to bodily autonomy in America from the rise of gender ideology and the focus, as Planned Parenthood would put it, on trans and non-binary people. Everyone in America, howsoever they identify, should have rights, and it’s wonderful that the younger generation feels so energised by so many social justice issues. But none of this should have been at the expense of women’s sex-based rights.

The right to abortion is specifically about who has control over women’s bodies. How, though, can this be discussed, let alone defended, when too many liberal US politicians and liberal media sites can’t even bring themselves to say the word “woman”, even when covering this issue? “Birthing bodies have the right to freedom,” Representative Francesca Hong, a US Democrat, tweeted early on Tuesday morning, apparently unaware that the bodies being fought over here don’t want to give birth — that’s the point of abortion. Hong made sure to put her pronouns in her Twitter bio, but not the word “woman” in her tweet. The ACLU similarly couldn’t say the dreaded W word in its thoughts on the matter, but, then, what to expect of a once great organisation that insists female athletes should compete against male ones, and whose deputy director for transgender justice tweeted that banning a book he didn’t like “is 100% a hill I will die on”.

Republicans, and more specifically the Christian Right, were keen on crushing access to abortion long before pronouns became a grammatical hill to die on. But by tangling itself up in knots over “birthing bodies” and “cis privilege”, the American Left has made it much harder to talk about women’s rights, and therefore much harder to protect them. Abortion is a women’s issue, and one that needs to be talked about specifically with regards to women, because they are the ones who will die here if Roe v Wade is struck down, and, contrary to gender theory’s teachings, you can’t identify out of that.

Maybe focusing on vaginas and misogyny feels super uncool and smelly and Mum-like to some, but this leak should remind everyone how necessary it still is. Decorating one’s social media bio with zeitgeisty memes and emojis is fun, like being spun around on the dancefloor. But it’s time for American feminism to do the heavy lifting again and carry the watermelon.


Hadley Freeman is a staff writer at The Sunday Times. Her latest book, Good Girls: A Story and Study of Anorexia, was published in 2023.

HadleyFreeman

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

72 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
A Springmellon
A Springmellon
2 years ago

The judgment in Roe v Wade was a ridiculous legal confection. It had no basis in the Constitution or precedent.
Activist judges usurped the constitutional role of democratically elected federal and state legislatures and presumed to become lawmakers in a deeply controversial and contested area of public policy. It was a bad decision legally and democratically.
The limits of the right to abortion will now be democratically determined by the of community of each individual state. It is for those who want extensive abortion rights to make the argument to the voters.
The Author suggests that the distracted focus caused by the obsession with LGBTQ (etc.etc.etc) among “progressives” might had caused the overturning of Roe. I disagree. It was bad law created out of undemocratic judicial activism and could only stand when until there was no longer a sufficient number of ideologues on the Supreme Court to support it.
If blame were to be put anywhere I would put it with the attempt by some feminists to extend abortion rights to a degree that could only be called sadistic barbarism. Third trimester abortions right up a fully formed child is ready to be born; leaving babies born alive after a failed abortion attempt to die for want of medical intervention; perhaps this sickening thinking and the risk it could be enshrined in law via a Supreme Court ruling, had a bearing on the Supreme Court returning abortion rights to be determined at state level.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  A Springmellon

What you are describing is a very American phenomenon: taking a good idea and then going way too far with it. It doesn’t help that American politics have become little more than a Punch and Judy show for the masses.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

It’s the black and white nature of their system of governance – once something is allowed, there are no holds barred, which is why you end up with 3rd trimester abortions.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

This is the problem. The polls I’ve seen seem to show that less than 1/3 of Americans believe abortion should be illegal, the rest simply disagree on the timeframes it should be allowed. In any sensible country this would be the starting point of any legislation, coming to some sort of compromise the majority can get behind as happened the world over. In America with both parties seemingly being led by their lunatic fringes nothing ever gets achieved, they simply call each other names and retreat into their echo chambers

Michael Askew
Michael Askew
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It’s a bit more nuanced than that. The majority of Americans agree with first trimester abortions, believe that second trimester should be limited and disagree with third trimester.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  A Springmellon

“Activist judges usurped the constitutional role of democratically elected federal and state legislatures and presumed to become lawmakers in a deeply controversial and contested area of public policy.”

This assertion seems to miss the rather important point that judges have always possessed the ability, and in fact also the duty, to create law. It’s called Common Law jurisprudence, and it is a core principle of the Anglo-Saxon systems that both the USA and Britain have maintained since the emergence of the modern forms of both nations.

In fact it is arguable that it is the growth of the size of the State through the Progressive expansion of its role in an increasing number of areas of our lives that has “usurped” the role of judges by politicians. Whether you agree with this or not, it is surely not hard to agree at least that politicians are hardly qualified to create law themselves, yet the growth of Statute in the modern age surely shows that this has been happening irrespective of whether you think it’s a good thing or not.

None of this is to argue that Roe vs Wade was either a good or bad piece of law, by the way. We are about to see that attempts to preserve abortion rights through statutory law in the USA will result in just as much controversy as the means by which the USA’s Supreme Court preserved them for the past 50 years. No matter what happens, it will remain toxic to one or other side of a febrile debate dominated by extremists on both sides.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
Michael Askew
Michael Askew
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Creating laws is exactly what politicians are elected to do, The will of the people is to be expressed in statute by the legislation passed by their elected representatives.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Askew

Really? So we need a new act of parliament to decide the every court case that throws up a problem not covered by existing statute?

Roger Irwin
Roger Irwin
1 year ago
Reply to  A Springmellon

I would agree with you that Roe Vs Wade was ridiculous. But if we are going to apportion blame then surely we should be looking at the Democrat party.
They consistently say they are in favour of women’s rights, and abortions, but in 50 years they have failed to provide a single piece of federal legislation that ensures their legality.

Carol Moore
Carol Moore
2 years ago

I don’t agree with the casual disregard for the complexity of the abortion debate, but this article is accurate in identifying the way in which the focus on trans rights is undermining women’s issues.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

Starts so well and and then descends into bat guano.
There is no moral high ground on either side of the abortion argument. There is no right side of history to it. It is simply that it is better to have access to a safe procedure and not need it, than need it and not have it.
The problem today, lies on the seemingly over reliance on the procedure when we have an array of alternatives that should see you not need the procedure, and before anyone shouts “but rape!” We have 3 methods of morning after solutions (2 different kinds of pill which can be used for up to 72 hours and the copper coil which if memory serves is up to five days but could be longer).
The reality of a society that ban abortions is an increase in back street abortion use, which leads to young girls dying needlessly and an increase in children being born to people who don’t want them which in turn leads to more abused and neglected children and an already struggling social services being overwhelmed with children that need looking after. If this is the route society wants to take then society needs to heavily invest in residential childcare. More staff, more homes and more secure units.
The argument for abortions isn’t a moral one, its a practical one.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lindsay S
Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

“The reality of a society that ban abortions is an increase in back street abortion use,”

This is a standard claim. It was used propagandistically by the pro-abortion movement in Britain prior to the Abortion Act of 1967, but a Report of 1966 found that claims of extensive ‘back room’ abortions carried out by the dangerously unqualified were not borne out as the numbers of patients that would be expected to show up in hospital with certain specific conditions as a result of the well-known and particular risks of such alleged procedures were practically non-existent. (Source: Report by The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, British Medical Journal, April 2, 1966).

Last edited 2 years ago by Arnold Grutt
Zirrus VanDevere
Zirrus VanDevere
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Isn’t it possibly a skewed reporting as the greatest likelihood is that in 1966 those harmed by back-alley or self-inflicted abortions might have been too ashamed to come forward?

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

But that was a time when shame existed. Today, absolutely nothing is shameful anymore. Tomorrow, snuffing out old folks, or the handicapped, who are simply an inconvenience, will become the norm.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Women did not come forward to speak about backstreet abortions due to the shame society put on them. The fact that these abortions were illegal and the woman and the abortiinist could be jailed. And so many women ended up dead or badly maimed.
My great great aunt was one such woman. She was a midwife who carried out “backstreet abortions” for desparate women because, being ahead of her time, she believed a woman should have body autonomy especially when she had been raped by a stranger or a family member.
The women in my family all spoke about what she did for women with pride. Other women have told me about the pain of carrying foetuses to term after rape. No society that supposedly believes in equality and human rights would put women through such a trial. No foetus has human rights until it is born and can breathe without the woman who carries it.

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

It’s a fairly cold assessment you present, but a very accurate one also. One thing that removing access to abortion will not cause is people who are already not coping to suddenly pull their socks up and become model citizens for the sake of their child. The assessment of dropping US crime figures in Freakonomics points to abortion rather than ‘broken window’ policing being the driver. Not a nice thought in many ways, but there we are.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

I agree.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Are these procedures forms of abortion that may become illegal ?

Ted Seay
Ted Seay
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

>“The reality of a society that ban abortions is an increase in back street abortion use”
Seriously? What makes you think state, local and/or federal government agencies will have any better luck stopping the use of, say, mifepristone, than it has the use of fentanyl?

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

Why would a conservative clerk leak it? A conservative would have nothing to gain and everything to lose, but a leftist would calculate the possibility of the justices being physically intimidated into changing the final draught. The author must surely appreciate this?

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago

Because a conservative MAG clerk might think that this will be beneficial to the Trump cause, by getting the debate out in the open? You are right about a leftist clerks motives of course, but there are good reasons why excitable persons of either leaning might leak it

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

Perhaps the conservative clerk doesn’t agree with this particular ruling? While some people blindly follow an ideology (all Republicans good/all Democrats evil or vice versa) most will sit somewhere in the middle and have opinions that can fall into both camps.

Joe Wein
Joe Wein
2 years ago

It is inconceivable to me that a conservative clerk would leak, because by definition, a conservative is one who values process over outcome. It is remotely possible that a clerk of a Justice who plans to overturn, would be the leaker, but they would hardly be describable as conservative.

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

Roe vs Wade was bizarre because it fixed abortion through legal judgement, not primary legislation. And doing away with Roe vs Wade doesn’t make abortion illegal in the US, it just reverts judgement to the elected legislatures in each individual State, with varying degrees of permissibility.
And because of that legislation, in some ways Roe vs Wade is now irrelevant as it has served its purpose. It was a ruling that ensured abortion was allowed, and from which abortion moved to become enshrined in State laws as a result. Debates about when, how and what funding will continue, but realistically will not remove abortion entirely. And these technical details are fundamentally legislative and not judicial issues.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Absolutely so

tom j
tom j
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

And it was based on the US constitutional right to privacy, as if that’s the nub of the issue. It was utterly shameless partisan use of the supreme court majority, and no amount of hand waving or yelling can change that. It is as you say, a matter for politicians.

Lionel Woodcock
Lionel Woodcock
2 years ago

Pared down to its essence, the Supreme Court’s sole purpose is to protect and interpret the Constitution. Anything that does not connect with the Constitution is not their business and consequently must devolve down to individual States.
The current leaked opinion proposes that the SC can find no part in the Constitution that can be used to support the concept that abortion is a constitutional right. Their earlier ruling on Roe was therefore out of their authority and should now be ignored and removed.
States must individually decide.So it is political, but not unavailable.
But as you can see here, this is being deliberately misunderstood and bandwagons are rolling on both sides of this argument.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lionel Woodcock
Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago

This is so obviously true. It’s depressing how deep you have to scroll in comment sections to read it.

Dominic A
Dominic A
2 years ago

In its landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), the Supreme Court
recognized that the right to abortion is a fundamental liberty protected by the
Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Since Roe the Court has repeatedly
reaffirmed the Constitution’s protection for this essential liberty, which guarantees each
individual the right to make personal decisions about family and childbearing.

I guess those earlier justices never encountered the genius of Lionel Woodcock. He would have set them right

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Lionel Woodcock’s comment is entirely accurate. The Roe v Wade decision has always been known to be very dubious and a huge overreach of the Court’s power by all sides who have any knowledge of the Constitution. Firstly, anyone can see for himself that there is absolutely no mention of abortion in the Amendment. And it is vanishingly unlikely that a Constitutional Amendment passed in 1868(!)) was ever conceived, let alone intended, to sanction a right to abortion. If people want to instate such rights, let them make the argument through the democratic process.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
2 years ago

Also Hilary and her fellow travellers like Gloria Steinem have evidently forgotten what a woman actually is so small wonder that abortion rights are endangered. When you are pretending men can be women, the women’s interests are erased.

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
2 years ago

Hilary Clinton is a blood thirsty war monger – that’s why people didn’t vote for her. Also her brand of uber capitalist, corporate feminism leaves most women behind. She’s a creature of the system that she has propped up so assiduously since she first entered politics.

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
2 years ago

The Left is eating itself. Grab the popcorn.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
2 years ago

I believe in abortion rights, but roe vs wade is clearly nonsensical. There’s nothing about abortion in the constitution so the Supreme Court should have left it to the States or federal politicians. Overturning it doesn’t overturn abortion rights in those states that already have those rights anyway.

Meic Thompson
Meic Thompson
2 years ago

I like UnHerd because it is NOT the Guardian !

Davy Humerme
Davy Humerme
2 years ago

I always come to Unherd to put contentious news into context and to give a strongly argued and relevant perspective.Hadley’s article does just that. As a man i support women in this epic battle for rights i just wish leftist poseurs like PP and the ACLU would do the same.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago
Reply to  Davy Humerme

If you try and found a society on ‘positive rights’ every issue becomes an epic battle, as there is no useful way of deciding whose ‘rights’ should prevail. It’s merely a matter of opinion, or brute force.
Accordingly a country beset by rights claims has only one real solution. To split in two, and create two differing societies, based respectively on the presence, or lack, of ‘positive rights’. I favour the latter.

Last edited 2 years ago by Arnold Grutt
Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

I’m glad my country didn’t ‘split in two’ during the long debates that eventually gave everyone a right to school education, healthcare, a minimum wage, a vote etc. One of the latest was a right to same sex marriage – you could see the polls on that subject slowly change and change over the years as the pro side persuaded a majority to their position. I think this is the way to do change – an open marketplace of ideas, lots of discussion, and a willingness to live with the results of a vote. Demanding that you get your way won’t only divide a country into two, it will splinter it.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago

The transgender issue does confuse matters a little. Now that men can become women, does that mean they get a say in what happens to women’s bodies?

M Shewbridge
M Shewbridge
2 years ago

Shame the Guardian doesn’t understand the damage they’ve done by legitisimising this nonsense.

You’re a great writer, but I’ll always hate the Guardian for missing every opportunity to be the voice of reason in the MSM.

But the Guardian was founded to protect the interests of the middle class and I guess that’s its priority.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

“having control over reproduction is central to women’s ability to determine their own futures”
Is there no birth control available in America?
Women in Europe have over 20 different forms of birth control. You must be really backward.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

There is but they’d have to use it.

R. Lee Quinn
R. Lee Quinn
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

Birth control could well be next on the Supreme Court’s chopping block. And look for some states to pass laws outlawing birth control methods that act post-ovulation.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

An ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, asserted that everything changes, and (I paraphrase) into the opposite of itself.
So attitudes towards abortion, or female bodily autonomy, or just about any ‘past victory’, are not fixed for all time. There will always be pushback, and pushback keeps going.

Last edited 2 years ago by AC Harper
Campbell P
Campbell P
2 years ago

‘The SC can find no part in the Constitution that can be used to support the concept that abortion is a constitutional right. Their earlier ruling on Roe was therefore out of their authority and should now be ignored and removed.’ quoted below is surely the key point in all this. But what happens next, if removed, may well cause as much anger and even violence as the BLM riots. The author’s view of Hilary Clinton is just what one would expect, sadly; yet another rabid self-glorifier who is prepared to sacrifice viable life on the altar of self-indulgence…. ‘A foetus is not a child until it leaves the hospital’ – Democrat policy from Clinton, Sanders, and their like; how dehumanising is that!. Well some of us see all human life as sacred, best protected when individuals act responsibly and accept responsibility for themselves, for others, and for the unborn but alive. Do Democrats or anyone else for that matter say to a pregnant woman, ‘How’s the foetus doing?’ Of course not!. I just wish a few more Left Wing pundits would spend a little more time amongst the folk they claim to speak for rather than just pronouncing on their behalf as camouflage for their own irresponsibility and selfishness.

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
2 years ago

“Democrats can and should rail against how nutty the Republican Party has become in the past four decades”
Not half as nutty as the Democrats who have been the cheerleaders and useful idiots of the Woke movement.

Dominic A
Dominic A
2 years ago

It’s as if the extreme Trans activists have acted like the soldiers in the Trojan Horse. Gotten inside the female group and taking it down from there.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago

I can see why Hadley Freeman won the columnist of the year award – she makes her points very well.

Australia is also a federal state and each of the states has reformed its abortion laws at various times. Perhaps if we were divided into 50 states there would be some smaller ones that were reluctant to decriminalise abortion. Thankfully the states are large enough that ‘mainstream’ opinion carries the day – though I well remember the fight in W.A. to get decriminalisation.

Looks like the U.S. may be in for an interesting battle between states’ rights and human rights – or who decides what human rights includes.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago

… a leaked draft shows the US Supreme Court has provisionally voted to overturn Roe v Wade,…
It would have been more apropos to at least unpack what “overturn” means in this context.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

So what? Feminism turned its back on child welfare and development. What goes around comes around.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago

Does the constitution mention anything about rights specific to males?

James Volk
James Volk
2 years ago

The Constitution does refer to women’s rights. Look at the XIX Amendment. But nowhere else in the Constitution do the words “man/men” or “woman/women” exist. Instead “person/s” and “citizen/s” are used.

Joe Wein
Joe Wein
2 years ago

I think that the disintegration of feminism as related to biological women has had many harmful effects, but I don’t think the controversy about abortion or Roe is among them.
How to define human life and how to find the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable taking of life, are complicated and emotional and without clear answer. In other words, the sort of issue that belongs in the messy debate and compromise of the political process. This is what democracy is for.
Roe was an awful decision as matter of constitutional law, something that even pro-legalized abortion supporters admitted at the time. Ready Ely. Hell, read what Ginsburg said about Roe.
Letting states craft their own answers is imperfect and messy. It will be odd if abortions are permitted on a different basis in New York and in Mississippi. But so what? Is it any odder than that the same act would be considered murder in Chicago and justifiable self-defense in Miami?
Organizations will quickly spring up to provide financial and logistical support for women who must travel for abortions. And life will go on.

Last edited 2 years ago by Joe Wein
uterati ovaria
uterati ovaria
2 years ago

This article fails to connect the dots on women’s rights vs. transactivist wins. WHY are government agencies allowing “penised people” in women’s prisons at the same time as destroying reproductive rights for “people with uteruses?”

tom j
tom j
2 years ago

Yeah. Abortion rights are just a set of trade-offs depending on your set of priorities. Stop pretending there is a clear cut progressive outcome, it never will be, which is why it never goes away.

Graham Campbell
Graham Campbell
2 years ago

The problem with Roe v Wade is that 9 senior lawyers made the decision, and made it on flimsy grounds. It was never going to win acceptance across the whole of American society. Better to let the People decide. Have a referendum or amend the constitution.

Aidan Trimble
Aidan Trimble
2 years ago

Tell me you write for The Guardian without telling me you write for The Guardian.

Michael Askew
Michael Askew
2 years ago

Hadley Freeman is right to raise the alarm about the erosion of women’s rights in a gender confused world. We can salute the women who have done so despite the vilification that followed (JK Rowling, Kathleen Stock et al.). However, it is important not to catastrophise the possible repeal of Roe v. Wade – abortion law will be decided democratically state by state. Any woman seeking an abortion in a state which restricts access will cross state lines. If she lacks the money, pro-abortion groups will fund her costs, just as they did 50 years ago. Pro-abortionists also need to engage properly with the argument, and demonstrate factually why a human life is not at stake when an abortion is conducted. And why is abortion discussed as if it was the only method of birth control? Safe effective contraceptives are freely available.

Last edited 2 years ago by Michael Askew
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago

“Republicans have forged an identity out of railing against it.”
Not really. This is just another pants-on-fire essay bereft of legal or constitutional context. This is not the end-of-the-world folks. The law is being clarified.

Roger Irwin
Roger Irwin
1 year ago

Right from the day Roe Vs Wade was first pronounced it was controversial. Let’s face it, it was a very odd interpretation.
Over the years people have been warned again and again that abortion needs it’s own federal law, if not it’s place in the Constitution itself.
And yet 50 years on there is still no such federal protection. Who’s fault is that?
And while we’re here, let’s remind ourselves that the European Court of Human Rights does not explicitly protect abortion either, and at least two European states do not allow it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Roger Irwin
Zaph Mann
Zaph Mann
2 years ago

Unlike many commentators on unherd I’m not invested in the evangelist off/on political left/right. I have been telling my friends who wish for a better life (typically ⅔ democrats) that the LGBT and the educational reforms of literature were a push too many and were in many cases just wrong. The main point though was that this would enable Republican and – normal – control over things – i.e. fringe matters lose majority middle class, middle exposed to time or interest to politics. It’s coming to pass. the issue is the ultra rich verses the the honest people – tax the first and boost the middle – the poor (don’t get on my back) will pull through with the middle but not with this imbalance – it’s class not color

B Davis
B Davis
2 years ago

Democrats can and should rail against how nutty the Republican Party has become in the past four decades, especially on social issues like abortion.”
I am confused.
How is rejecting the killing of innocent children nutty? Why is it nutty to insist on a God-given “right to life” (even if others would deny that right) ….or to suggest that Little Suzie, created, living and growing within her mother’s womb, possesses her own right to ‘bodily autonomy’ which supersedes her mother’s?
How is it nutty to refuse to accept the contention that Suzie’s Mom is endowed by her Creator with an unalienable right to murder her own children (as long as they’re not ‘too’ old, depending on GPS location)…until she decides, as per Ilyse Hogue, that it’s the ‘right time’ to let them live?
We speak of ‘reproductive freedom’ and ‘control over reproduction’ ; we might as well speak of growing wings and flying. These things are myths. They don’t exist; they’ve never existed.. If we had ‘control over reproduction’ there would be no infertile couples….no unwanted pregnancies; our control over reproduction would not allow such things. If we had ‘reproductive freedom’ we could freely decide to become pregnant or not…but we can’t. The only thing we CAN control…the only thing we have a right to control…the choice we are, indeed, absolutely free to make is the choice to have or not have sex with the potential father of our children…to use or not use birth control. But once the choice to have intercourse is made, whether or not a new life is created is entirely up to God (fate, the universal whim, call it whatever). Whether sperm merges with egg is entirely uncontrollable.
When it happens, a human life is made.
The author suggests the issue here is ‘who has control over women’s bodies’…and she’s right. Women do and should have control over their bodies. They do and should control with whom their bodies have sex and to what extent they protect their bodies with birth control. But when, within that body, a new life is created….the question then becomes, ‘who has control over that child’s body’ — who speaks for Suzie — and what are the requirements & expectations that society imposes on every parent to protect & enable that child’s healthy development?
But still, in the midst of this Progressive post-leak hysteria, we must remember: if & when SCOTUS overturns Roe v Wade that is not the banning of abortion. It is simply the return of the abortion issue to the States and to each of our elected representatives who are empowered to make abortion laws. IF, as is hammered relentlessly within the media, the ‘majority’ of Americans favor the in-utero murder of children, then — at the state level — the right to do such an unthinkable thing will be validated. If the majority object to that barbaric practice, then it will be forbidden.
Is that not reasonable and just to allow that question to be decided by 330M Americans and not 5 Clowns in Robes?

Teresa Tomasella
Teresa Tomasella
1 year ago
Reply to  B Davis

I agree 100%

Julian Dodds
Julian Dodds
2 years ago

Good start but I’m afraid you lost me!

William Hickey
William Hickey
2 years ago

As Mary Harrington noted in her December essay, “The Feminist Case Against Abortion:”

“We must have abortion.” the feminists cry. “We must control our reproduction. We are not breeders. We are women.”

“Their issues aren’t ours because they aren’t women,” they assert about transgenders. “They can’t breed.”

And:

“My body should make no difference to how I am seen and treated as a woman in society,” say feminists.

“He can’t be treated as a woman,” they say about transgenders, “because he doesn’t have a woman’s body.”

Last edited 2 years ago by William Hickey
Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

You write as if human reproduction is a recent phenomenon, created out of thin air back in the 1970’s by a bunch of cigar smoking, white men sitting around a poker table at the club. Human rights are human rights, not particular to one’s sex.
And should anything ever written by a male be invalidated now?

Last edited 2 years ago by Warren T
Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
2 years ago

Brava! Brilliantly argued and sadly true.

Gretchen West
Gretchen West
2 years ago

Author needs to lay off RBG. Even she couldn’t have forseen the laziness, ignorance & misogyny of Democrats, especially young Democrats. The reason abortion rights are doomed in this country is because Democrat voters in 2016 proudly refused to vote for the only person who could’ve defeated tRump, many preferring to “write in” an underachieving Senator who believes a 16 yr old girl is already 3 yrs into her “sexual prime”. I’m 63 & I confess to an overwhelming feeling of “meh”. I voted in every election, agonized over repeated threats to Roe, mourned the failure of the ERA & supported Planned Parenthood. Now it’s time for younger women to carry the torch. But hey, if they’d rather praise LARPers prancing in womanface for being so “stunning & brave” or defend a seedy, aging abuser like Johnny Depp, why should I knock myself out? I’ll very likely be dead in 20 yrs & I’ve stressed over this shit long enough.

And why does this author think that Obama could’ve replaced RBG if she had retired? As I recall, he was stymied by the Senate from replacing Scalia.

Maureen Finucane
Maureen Finucane
1 year ago

While the left were discussing the right of men to become women, the right sneaked up on them and banned their reproductive rights. No doubt there will be BTL comments supporting this decision but I’d like to ask what kind of person would force a girl or woman who is the victim of rape or incest to bring that baby to full term? Who are you? Secondly, what g-d business is it of yours what a woman does with her body?

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
2 years ago

Regardless of the specific issue, I particularly appreciated the author’s comment about the indicators of a decadent society and the dangers it creates, making me think about a whole lot of other issues.

Last edited 2 years ago by Simon Diggins
R. Lee Quinn
R. Lee Quinn
2 years ago

Ginsburg was a remarkable figure, but by working until she died, and thereby allowing Trump to appoint his third justice, she imperilled so many of the rights she fought for, and that is a tragedy.

I agree with the author on this point, and the US Democrats paid a horrible price in 2016 for trying to have a historic woman President succeed a historic Black president. Hillary and RBG both had incredibly inflated egos and were out of touch with ordinary Americans. Also, there is just no evidence that Americans overall are ready to accept a woman President.
The larger point is that women will never see themselves collectively as an oppressed class, contrary to what the man-hating gender critical radical feminists say. But perhaps the rad fems, who seem to be more abundant in the UK than in the US, can justify themselves to American women by helping to raise money to pay the abortion-related expenses of poor and minority women who are coping with unwanted pregnancies while living in states that outlaw abortion.

Last edited 2 years ago by R. Lee Quinn