Thursday, July 01, 2010

Killing for feminism

Yesterday's UK Times had an editorial by Antonia Senior entitled, "Yes, Abortion is Killing" in which Senior admits that the unborn are alive yet argues that the approximately 200,000 abortions a year in Great Britain are the "lesser evil" when compared to not allowing women to control their fertility. The article is filled with a dose of honesty that abortion proponents in the US rarely come close to. I guess when you aren't fearful of your country restricting abortion in the near future, it becomes easier to say things like this:
What seems increasingly clear to me is that, in the absence of an objective definition, a foetus is a life by any subjective measure. My daughter was formed at conception, and all the barely understood alchemy that turned the happy accident of that particular sperm meeting that particular egg into my darling, personality-packed toddler took place at that moment. She is so unmistakably herself, her own person — forged in my womb, not by my mothering.

Any other conclusion is a convenient lie that we on the pro-choice side of the debate tell ourselves to make us feel better about the action of taking a life. That little seahorse shape floating in a willing womb is a growing miracle of life. In a resentful womb it is not a life, but a foetus — and thus killable.
Despite recognizing that the unborn are living human beings, Antonia believes killing them is the lesser evil because she believes abortion plays a central role in the liberation of women.
But you cannot separate women’s rights from their right to fertility control. The single biggest factor in women’s liberation was our newly found ability to impose our will on our biology. Abortion would have been legal for millennia had it been men whose prospects and careers were put on sudden hold by an unexpected pregnancy. The mystery pondered on many a girls’ night out is how on earth men, bless them, managed to hang on to political and cultural hegemony for so long. The only answer is that they are not in hock to their biology as much as we are. Look at a map of the world and the right to abortion on request correlates pretty exactly with the expectation of a life unburdened by misogyny.

As ever, when an issue we thought was black and white becomes more nuanced, the answer lies in choosing the lesser evil. The nearly 200,000 aborted babies in the UK each year are the lesser evil, no matter how you define life, or death, for that matter. If you are willing to die for a cause, you must be prepared to kill for it, too.
Besides the sexist idea that women aren't able to succeed in their careers without being able to kill their unborn children, the obvious problem with this line of thinking is:

If abortion is simply a lesser evil then why isn't infanticide a lesser evil as well? What if a woman who has a 3-year-old decides she wants to start a business but thinks her daughter will prevent her from being successful? Should she be able to kill for her dream? If not, why not?

Senior's position can provide no reasonable explanation for why killing any child (born or unborn) which is presumed to be in the way should be illegal. If it's justified to kill living unborn human beings because they could get in the way, then women should be just as justified in killing their born children when they get in the way.

Maybe American pro-choice feminists are smart enough to realize this and that's why they so often cling to the belief that the unborn aren't living human beings.

HT: Albert Mohler


  1. What a brave, strong and accurate explanation of the situation.

    You don't seem to have grasped that her point is about the control of womens' fertility.

    Being able to prevent the birth of a dependent relies on a range of choices such as abstinence, contraception and abortion. Once a person is born - breathing on its own - the actual 'fertility' point has been passed. The choice has been made. To extrapolate to 3 year olds is like comparing apples with bananas.

  2. Rupert,
    But if the unborn are living human beings just like infants (as Senior argues) then why shouldn't it be legal to kill infants as well if they get in the way of a woman's ambitions?

    Why is killing them not the "lesser evil" also? Your argument seems to rest on the assumption that Senior denies.

    You're claiming their apples and bananas but that's what Senior calls a "convenient lie." You seem to placing this great emphasis on a short journey down the birth canal but Senior recognizes that the unborn are alive long before that.

    So you can argue your position if you assume the unborn aren't living human beings but that's not Senior position.

    She says killing the unborn is the lesser evil but hasn't provided any reason why killing newborns wouldn't be a lesser evil as well, especially since dealing with newborn children and toddlers is much more time consuming than dealing with an unborn child.

  3. JJ, you would be aware that an accident that kills 3 or 4 people where you live makes front page headlines. An accident that kills 54 people in upper tongoravia is lucky to make page 7 or 9.

    Most people adore their pets yet eat meat. They love a juicy steak or whatever, yet fawn over their dog or cat and take it to the vet for treatment.

    Same human mindset applies between unborn fetuses and born children. Like it or not, that's the reality.