Feminists now face a new battle over abortion
There will be an endless war of attrition against well-funded groups
I awoke this week aghast to discover that the Supreme Court in America has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
The 1973 decision ruled that the constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to have an abortion without unreasonable government restrictions. It expunged many US federal and state abortion laws, replacing them with a woman’s right to choose.
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Ever since that decision, American conservatives have fought to remove the rights of women to choose if and when we give birth. Removing these rights will affect all women, but most of all, those who are black, poor, and the victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse. They will be forced to carry their pregnancies to term in a country that has no paid maternity leave and, in addition, has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world.
Political and religious organisations that claim to be “pro-life” but do not support the provision of excellent, free maternity care as well as paid maternity leave, are showing their true colours; they are not pro-life, they are anti-woman. The right to control our own reproduction is the bedrock of women’s liberation from abusive relationships.
Some argue that abortion stays at the same rate per capita whether it’s legal or banned. But what this doesn’t take into account is the number of women that die from illegal abortion, and the number of women that suffer ongoing health effects from unwanted pregnancies, both physical and psychological. And of course, such statistics can never measure the number of babies that are born through enforced pregnancy — not to mention the problems that arise after birth.
And what help for the women in the US now? So-called progressives, including those who claim to be feminists, have lost sight of issues like women’s sexual and reproductive freedom and self-determination. Instead, their big ticket issues are the rights of transwomen to access female-only spaces. When these groups deny the reality and significance of biological sex, it’s no wonder that issues such as abortion rights go down the pan. Progressives can shout ‘Hands off my body” until they are hoarse, but when women ask for the same rights to be free of sexual assault in jail by transwoman, they are accused of bigotry and hatred.
The US is not a feminist-friendly country — far from it. Some states barely have any decent sex education, leaving young women with little understanding of how pregnancy occurs or how to prevent it. Feminists will have to fight this state by state, in an endless war of attrition against well-funded and well-organised religious and political groups. Meanwhile, women and girls, who may have been raped, will now be forced to carry their unwanted pregnancies to term in a country with poor maternity protection. It is an act of callous disregard for women.
I happen to agree with Miss Bindel that women are best placed to decide when or if they will have a child. I see abortion as a regrettable and tragic decision in an awful situation.
However, I don’t think it’s fair of her to categorise all who differ with her as woman-haters, which she invariably does.
True, a proportion of opponents do hate women, but the proportion who don’t have valid arguments.
Their main point, tangential to Miss Bindel’s gender looking glass, is that a woman’s rights do not extend to the right to take a child’s life.
The debate then rapidly becomes about when a clump of cells can be said to be human.
And there are no clear scientific or biblical answers to this, to my knowledge.
Science does not know when consciousness comes to be, much less what it really is.
The bible talks about “ensoulment”, which happens some weeks after birth.
Whatever the various positions, this is a debate we must have, keeping in mind that each solution comes with horrible tradeoffs, some of which are suffered by the individual, and some of which are suffered by society.
Much of the debate must focus on details: how late is too late for an abortion? What about rape and incest? What about terminal genetic disorders that will make for a grim, short and painful life?
It doesn’t help when the debate is hijacked by radical leftists who use the issue as an axe to fight a larger culture war, and who cannot help but frame the issue through the narrow identity lens which best suits them.
Opponents of abortion have other legitimate concerns: The erosion of personal responsibility, the ever shifting quest to break taboos, as though breaking them is a good in and of itself, the cheapening of sexual relations, among many more.
It would do far more for the author’s case if she would engage with the arguments put forward by her opponents, rather than lazily categorise them as evil and stupid.
A response full of intelligence and insight, making reasonable and thoughtful points and something in there which anyone thinking sensibly ought to agree with. In other words, apt to be entirely ignored by both sides, who would rather spend their time screaming the same points over and over again to deaf ears. I like the attempt, though…
“Some states barely have any decent sex education, leaving young women with little understanding of how pregnancy occurs or how to prevent it”. Absolutely laughable. Well over fifty years ago, the kid next door told me and my fellow eight-year-olds all about sex. By the time my mom gave me The Talk at age ten, we girls knew what our mothers’ plastic containers of little pills were for. Condoms were in our brothers’ wallets. Teenage pregnancy was very rare in my high school; most of my friends were on the pill. Edith Bunker was raped and Maude Findlay we’re story lines on 70s TV. 80s soaps were soft porn. Sex, technique, and pregnancy prevention is literally everywhere. What century does this writer live in?
When Julie frames the problem this way she is perhaps avoiding a (for her) less acceptable acknowledgement that the issue is lack of impulse control and forward planning. Absence of both is a sign of lower intelligence. And we can’t say that, can we?
Totally agree with you. The argument about poor black girls is also patronising. Does that mean black girls aren’t smart enough to understand how pregnancy occurs? Does the author believe, as supposedly already small children are taught about transsexuality in school , that they are ignorant about how babies are made? Also the first argument for abortion is pointing out sexual assaults etc. There are places, also in the US health service, where you can go, when rape occurred. Usually you will be given the “day after pill” to prevent pregnancy.
Nowadays to receive free birth control is getting easier all the time, preventative devices, 3 monthly birth control injections or pills are available everywhere.
“black girls .. patronising” – Quite a solid point.
Wow. A diatribe from beginning to end. Sorry, ma’am, you’ve convinced no one at all.
I suspect the vast majority of young women, even in those benighted states of America, have some idea how pregnancy occurs.
I suspect the problem isn’t not knowing how pregnancy occurs, but lack of impulse control and forward planning. Both of these are signs of intelligence.
Most women who get abortions already have at least one child. The plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, “Jane Roe”, already had two.
And yet one third of American women are against abortion. And they aren’t all religious either.
Most doctors will not perform abortions, and often not for religious reasons either. Some say that they have sworn an oath to first do no harm, and that extends to a fetus. In Spain, where abortion is legal, in many areas it is unavailable due to lack of doctors and hospitals to offer it.
I’m sorry, but after having been coerced to inject experimental vaccines into my arm in the name of the supposed collective good, to wear filthy masks over my face, prevented from going to work or travelling and after seeing the opinions of eminent scientists smeared and censored – I find this sudden concern for the sanctity of individual rights a bit absurd. All rights are privileges now. That’s the world we made.
I support the idea of abortion in principle, although I wish there was less of it. But a huge problem with the likely Roe reversal (probably good legally but with a significant downside practically) is that all the activist groups (feminists, Pro Life, Pro Choice, political parties, various religious organisations, commercial interests) will immediately pile on the new ‘opportunities’ to push their conflicting agendas, ignoring the women who will be affected.
So a ‘feminist’ approach to settling the issues is just one of many. Others are available and we will hear them all over the next few years.
Would be really nice to have an opinion piece on Unherd from a representative of New Wave Feminists (slogan: Consistent Pro-life from the womb to the tomb’), Rehumanize International, Secular Pro-life, Democrats for Life of America and so on. There are multiple non-religious groups in the US whose focus is on helping the mother and supporting her through pregnancy and beyond. Many of these groups are bipartisan or left wing.
All women were babies once. I reject this frame in terms of women vs. men. What if the baby is female? Does that make a difference? Have fathers no rights?
I’m not certain of this, but I feel the writer has no children (I tried to fact check – correct me if I’m wrong!). I wonder how many supporters of abortion change their minds when they hold their first born.
I feel the day will come when abortion is viewed as a historical horror on the same lines as slavery and other crimes against humanity.
Sadly, it won’t come soon.
Sorry, the rest of us are going to move forward into a world where we murder fewer babies. This article is littered with straw man arguments and logical fallacies. It’s also more condescending to the female sex than the feminism she supposedly represents. A hard trick to manage, to be sure.
Why do writers like Julie Bindel bother with these long critiques of the inadequate safety net that mothers and prospective mothers face in the US?
Ms Bindel knows, but doesn’t say, that even if the US had a gold-plated welfare state and free everything, she would still be adamantly in favor of abortion up to the last minute of pregnancy.
The quality of public services for mothers and children is totally irrelevant to her position. It doesn’t matter one iota to her. She only brings it up, as do so many feminists, to obfuscate and virtue-signal.
Killing the baby a woman is carrying is not an acceptable childcare option, nor is it in any way moral.
”And of course, such statistics can never measure the number of babies that are born through enforced pregnancy”
Must be terrible for the babies
Seems I woke up 1956… but more power to you. It pays the bills.
I mean, I support abortion. I personally have no issue with killing the unwanted seeing as it is common practise throughout history (and good for demographic control), but this article is fantasy. Most states will fall back on abortion laws. Some of which will be the most liberal in the world. A few won’t but even then, will they? Doubtful. Abortion is a modern western human right, as dubious the concept is, and a good secular faith keeping liberals asleep at night and protesting in the day. Well funded protesting I’ll add.
“I personally have no issue with killing the unwanted seeing as it is common practise throughout history (and good for demographic control)”
Eugenicists like you are rare these days. At least those who will admit it so openly. It has largely gone out of fashion since 1945.
Nah, there are eugenicist policies operating everywhere, but disguised with an acceptable moral veneer.
“The USA is not a feminist-friendly country”.
Really? Compared to what? Just about every American woman I’ve ever met has been a feminist.
You say removing abortion rights will hit black women especially hard. How so?
I’ve heard there are people out there who consider parenthood a thing in itself, not an intrusion which the state should relieve them of. The ideas some people come up with, eh?
If banning abortion without offering maternity services in exchange is an “act of callous disregard for women”, it is an act of callous disregard of women by other women. The commentary on abortion in the US, by either American or British writers, always neglects to mention just how many women are active in, and often leaders of, the US anti-abortion movement. Abortion rights activists love the patriarchal optics of white, male politicians limiting a woman’s right to control her own body, but plenty of female anti-abortion activists seek to do the same thing. How are feminists supposed to interpret their motives? Are they brain-washed dupes of the Christian, male-dominated right wing? Are they rich white married women with great health care who could easily afford to have a baby and raise it and assume other women can too? Are they exercising their own moral agency because they are sincerely opposed to abortion even knowing they could be facing an unwanted pregnancy? Please, lets get some good articles analyzing the WOMEN of the anti-abortion movement.
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