Sunday, December 19, 2010

Control and Misogyny

[This is the third post in a series on the pro-life movement and misogyny. Previous posts can be found here:

It cannot be denied that the pro-life perspective endorses a more limited range of options for women. Does taking away options infer hostility or, at best, indifference towards those whose choices we wish to restrict?

Let us now examine another assumption underlying accusations of pro-life misogyny: if you truly care about people, you will approve of or accept any choices they make.

When worded in such a way, this idea seems immediately untenable. It is in fact because of my care for my loved ones that I will reject some of their choices. For example, if someone I loved wanted to use heroin, I would rail against and restrict that choice as much as possible. I believe such a choice would harm my loved one and harm those around her, and I care too much to passively sit by and watch.

There are those within the pro-life movement that argue against abortion because they believe abortion hurts women. This certainly can be true. Some women have endured great emotional and psychological suffering due to obtaining abortions. Some women have been physically injured. Some have died. Many pro-lifers believe permissive abortion law eliminates motivation to provide sufficient support for women who wish to carry their unplanned pregnancies. It is a tragedy and a failure every time a woman obtains an abortion specifically because she feels she doesn't have a choice.

It should be noted that there are post-abortive women who have not suffered mentally or physically--who have in fact felt relieved and grateful for their abortions. There are many women who do choose abortion freely.

Regardless, there are those within the pro-life movement that believe the inhumanity of abortion can overall only harm women. Certainly these pro-lifers care a great deal about fetal life, but they also care a great deal about the women involved. So yes, some people wish to restrict choices out of concern for the choosers.

However, a choice may be bad overall while not necessarily hurting the chooser. Suppose you have a dear friend who is pregnant. She still enjoys having drinks with friends on the weekend. You are aware of the dangers of drinking while pregnant. If you try to stop your friend, does it mean you don't love her?

We all try to live our lives according to certain principles. Well-meaning people won't always hold the same principles. Well outside the abortion debate, most of us have to deal with situations in which people we love want to choose courses we believe are harmful to them or are simply wrong. We don't have to feel antagonistic towards people in order to try to prevent them from making poor decisions. We don't have to feel animosity towards women in order to try to prevent them from choosing abortion.

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