Earlier this week my history class discussed the modern feminist movement. From my lecture notes:
"In 1970 NOW launched major action: Women’s Strike For Equality. This was across the
and the demands were equal pay for equal work, universal child care and the legalization of abortion. 'We are the 51% minority.' Even this moderate agenda was polarizing. Counter protest: men 'we love women in the kitchen and in the bed.' 'This morning I made love to my wife and she loved it.' US
None of these major goals were achieved. By 1980 women still earned $0.59 to men’s dollar. Today they earn $0.77 to the dollar. Universal child care was a total failure. And abortion rights are sharply limited throughout much of the
Ok, a couple of things:
1) Abortion rights are sharply limited in much of the US compared to where? From my understanding the US has some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world. I'll need to look into this more. I suppose you could argue that some places in the US have severely limited abortion access compared to other places in the US, but all places in the US allow abortion for any reason through the first trimester, and to my knowledge everywhere in the US must allow abortion after that if the woman's health is threatened, with "health" being rather loosely defined.
2) I think it's true that woman's child-bearing capabilities make her unequal to man. It's inevitable. Even if you decided to put a child up for adoption, carrying and bearing that child will be time-, emotion-, money- and energy-consuming. Once the child is born I don't know of any biological reason why women and men can't pour equal resources into raising the child, but up until that point no one can make it an even playing field.
That being said, abortion doesn't make it even either. At the very least, the woman still has to find the money and use the time to have an abortion. At the most it could be emotionally traumatizing, it risks complications, etc. And of course all of this is when you consider the woman alone, and the fetus none at all.
You could argue that even if abortion doesn't make things perfectly equal, it brings them closer to equal than if women had to bear every child they conceived, and especially if they had to raise every child they bore. If abortion makes things more equal, and pro-lifers argue against abortion, does that imply pro-lifers are sexist?
No. Of course not. You don't have to believe women are inferior to believe that children's lives should be protected. If a mother had a two-year-old that was exhausting her and preventing her from pursuing her career and keeping her connected to a man she now despises, I would still say she should not be allowed to kill the two-year-old. So would almost everyone else. This is not because people in general think the mother is worth less than the father, somehow. It's because people think the two-year-old has a right to live, and any problems incidental to the child's existence will have to be dealt with in ways other than killing her. This is obvious to everyone, including feminists, yet people can't fathom how a pro-life woman could consider herself a feminist. All you have to do is believe a fetus and a 2-year-old both have the right to life.
Meanwhile, even if abortion were illegal, things could be equal if men and women always shared equally in child-rearing, and/or if society--whether through private companies or the government--offered quality, affordable daycare and paid maternity-/paternity-leave, etc. Indeed, some argue these solutions do more to work toward true equality--addressing the reasons why having children affects women so much more than men--than liberal abortion rights ever could. And I'm happy to see these kinds of reforms take place both for the sake of equality and for the sake of fetal life. However absent such solutions, I would rather let biology prevent me from having equal opportunities to those of men than I would kill my own progeny for the sake of feminism. Women's rights don't transcend human rights.