Mike Kueber's Blog

January 27, 2013

Feminism and abortion

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 10:05 pm
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The NY Times’ conservative columnist, Ross Douthat, wrote a column today positing that abortion rights and feminism are two separate things; that one can oppose abortion rights while at the same time favor feminism.  Not surprisingly, the liberal readers of the Times disagree. 

The following response by “Winning Progressive” earned the Times’ most-liked designation (liked by 390 other readers):

  • To call anti-choice activists “feminists” is to remove all meaning from that word.  Feminism is about providing women with the same choices and opportunities around education, careers, domestic affairs, and reproductive issues that men have always had. The anti-choice movement is about removing, through the hand of intrusive government, women’s ability to make those choices with regards to reproductive issues. The resulting impact is not only to force women to carry a pregnancy to term (even, in the fantasies of many anti-choicers, in the case of rape and incest) but would often be curbing women’s choices with regards to all those other areas of life, as reproductive freedom is critical to women having freedom with regards to education, careers, etc.
  • If your religion or personal values teach you that abortion is immoral, then don’t have one. In a pluralistic, secular society such as ours, however, you shouldn’t be trying to limit the freedom of everyone else to make that decision and choice for themselves. But, if you are going to impose that sort of restrictive, anti-choice agenda on the rest of us, please at least have the decency to not pretend like doing so is part of feminism.

Although Douthat neglected to provide his readers with a definition of feminism, the definition provided by Winning Progressive in the first paragraph comports with most dictionary definitions – i.e., the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.  The problem with that definition is that bearing a child is not analogous to any activity in a man’s life, and so in that sense it seems that Douthat in correct in pointing out that being for or against abortion rights has no connection to any type of equality with men.

I found the second paragraph from Winning Progressive to be similarly problematic in claiming that, because America is a secular society, people shouldn’t attempt to enforce their religious or personal values into our country’s laws.  Number One, America isn’t secular; it is one of the most religious nations in the world.  Number Two, just because the personal values of many people are informed by their religious values doesn’t render those values any less worthy of recognition.  Clearly, America’s generous safety net exists in large part due to the religious value of caring for your fellow man.  Further, religious values affect a person’s view of capital punishment, but there is no movement to somehow nullify those views.

Atheists and agnostics have no right in America to disenfranchise personal values that flow from a person’s religious beliefs.


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