Osgoode Hall Law School professor Shelley Gavigan, the most militant and stereotypically feminist of the conference panelists, declared categorically that "The unborn child and the pregnant mother speak with one voice — and that voice is hers." The fact that some of her students didn't see things her way only meant that "I have some work to do on the pedagogical front...."
And yet, beneath the veneer of tribal sisterly celebration, I did manage to detect a strain of underlying tension. It came out on those few occasions when one of the speakers made oblique allusion to that taboo question in the pro-choice camp: How late is too late?...
Similarly, why did Gavigan take such pains to dismiss anecdotes of women having abortions for capricious reasons (e.g., looking good in a bikini on an upcoming vacation) as "preposterous misogynistic fables." If it is really true that "the unborn child and the pregnant mother speak with one voice," then presumably they have the right to assume a voice that is selfish and vain. If the "dominant ideology of the unborn child" is nothing but a misogynistic construct invented by patriarchal moralists, why does it matter if that so-called unborn child weighs one pound — or five? Why strike such defensive postures against a issue that no one in the room would even discuss?
The answer to this last question, I think, is that these women are not as doctrinaire as they pretend to be. Within their own minds, they do wrestle with these important moral questions. But when in public, none of them feel comfortable exploring them. Locked in what they feel to be a tribal culture war against pro-lifers, they allow themselves no nuance. That is why on Friday, by unspoken agreement, they eschewed the opportunity for real intellectual give and take on the one fundamental aspect of the abortion issue that has needed to be addressed since January 28, 1988, and instead focused on self-congratulation, paranoia and sisterly bonding.
When your movement's slogan are "Who decides?" and "Trust women" and you dismiss prolifers as misogynists who want to control women it becomes horribly difficult to oppose any abortion, regardless of the gestation or reason.
Talking about late term abortions puts these kinds of pro-choicers between a rock and a hard place. They must either affirm they think abortion should be legal through all nine months of pregnancy or admit that they don't trust certain women to decide what to do with their pregnancies (which in turns creates a huge hole in their argument).