a man's home is his castle, a woman's body has never been wholly her own
October 29, 2014 11:23 AM Subscribe
"Trust Women" is a popular motto in the pro-choice movement. It sounds a little sentimental, doesn't it? Part of that old sisterhood-is-powerful feminism it is fashionable to mock today. But "Trust Women" doesn't mean that every woman is wise or good or has magical intuitive powers. It means that no one else can make a better decision, because no one else is living her life, and since she will have to live with that decision—not you, and not the state legislature or the Supreme Court—chances are she is doing her best in a tight spot.How Pro-Choicers Can Take Back the Moral High Ground: an excerpt from essayist and poet Katha Pollitt's latest book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights.
• NYT: Changing the Debate: Katha Pollitt Talks About 'Pro'
I know some readers are raising their eyebrows at my use of the word "patriarchal." But the home base of the anti-abortion movement is in religious denominations where women are formally subordinate — the Catholic church, where women are shut out of the priesthood, which is where the power is, and the Southern Baptist and other evangelical/fundamentalist churches, where wives are commanded to submit to their husbands. If that's not patriarchy, what is?• The Diane Rehm Show: October 8, 2014 interview with Katha Pollitt (audio and full transcript)
Well, I think the pro-choice movement has become very defensive, and so they've adopted a language that I think they may not realize is stigmatizing. For example, when you say, safe, legal and rare, you're saying, oh, there's too much abortion. Well, is there too much abortion? There are lots of people who want an abortion that can't have one. The Hyde Amendment prevents, in most states, poor women from getting coverage for their abortion, so there are a lot of women who have babies because they can't afford -- they don't have 500 dollars.• Double X: Abortion Is Great
But there's also this, sort of, abortion is the most terrible decision a woman ever makes. It's the most difficult decision. Oh, it's just so tragic and awful. Well, that's really saying motherhood is the default position for women. A woman should be ready to have a baby whenever a stray sperm gets in there. And if she's going to have an abortion, she has to feel really bad about it. But we know that, actually, most women who have abortions, it's not a difficult decision. They know right away that's what they want to do, and most women have abortions as soon as they can.
Three in 10 American women [PDF] have abortions by the time they hit menopause. They are not generally victims of rape or incest, or in any pitiable situation from which they need to be rescued. They are making a reasonable and even admirable decision that they can't raise a child at the moment. Is that so hard to say? As Pollitt puts it, "This is not the right time for me" should be reason enough. And saying that aloud would help push back against the lingering notion that it's unnatural for a woman to choose herself over others.
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