Tuesday, April 27, 2004

feminism and abortion

To be a feminist does not necessarily mean to be pro-abortion or even pro-choice. To be a feminist and pro-life has always meant being at odds with the overwhelming majority of your peers.

I'd like to spend more time trying to articulate my views on this subject. But in the meantime, here's Teresa Heinz Kerry on the subject: "I don't view abortion as just a nothing."

That is certainly a sentiment I agree with. It has everything to do with addressing the deeper issues of feminism. As a woman who reached puberty after 1973, perhaps I am failing to understand the true state of affairs prior to Roe v. Wade. But advocating legal abortion has always felt like a quick fix, a short cut, a wad of chewing gum to stop a leak instead of replacing the pipe.

And maybe the quick fix was vitally necessary in 1973. But it seems to me that this stop gap can only be justified if we used the time it bought to improve women's lots to the point at which no one need ever have an abortion in order to survive in our society. (Surviving medically is, of course, an entirely different matter.)

I really do want to explore this issue more. One important point to make, however. Although being feminist and pro-life has never been unconflicted, the stance has become a thousand times more complex in the past 3 years. This is because the most recognized pro-life movement, which has so gained in power during this time, is almost as virulently anti-woman as it is pro-life.

The pro-choice movement basically elevates women's rights over those of the unborn. The pro-life movement elevates unborn rights over women's. Nothing made this position so clear as the recent ban on partial-birth abortions, in which no allowance is made to protect a woman's life. All arguments as to whether the circumstance might or might not come up are specious for obvious reasons. The law is just about as overtly anti-woman as you can get.

So in spite of my stance against abortion, it frightens me witless that Roe v. Wade might be overturned. And that's because the pro-life fight today is so completely dismissive of the welfare of women. It tells me that, in spite of the great strides we've made since 1973 in women's rights and in creating a more open society, we're still on the edge.