Pro-choice... except if your "choice" is to be pro-life

Last year, I was invited to be part of a panel at the University of Sydney where we were discussing contraception and abortion.  Towards the end of the Q&A session, a young woman stood up, and posed a hypothetical scenario.  She invited me to imagine a young pregnant woman who was not working, but studying full-time at university, who had just been abandoned by her boyfriend, and then asked me if I thought she should be forced to have a child she could not afford.

I said that a society which has held contraception and abortion up as women’s rights have left women in a terrible position.  Men are no longer required to take responsibility for the women they have sex with, or the babies that might be conceived, because it is ultimately the woman’s “choice” to have the child.

Additionally, employers no longer feel the need to accommodate women who “choose” to have more than one or two children during the course of their career.  Yes, technically workplaces are supposed to provide flexible working arrangements for parents, and technically it is against the law to discriminate against a woman for her family status, but I have seen far too many women edged out of jobs as soon as they fall pregnant for that to be happening in practice.

On top of that, as a society, we have also washed our hands of our responsibility to care for single mothers or parents with large numbers of children, instead criticising them for having kids they could not afford.

I told her that, in my ideal world, the baby’s father would have taken responsibility for her and the child, and that if that were not the case, we as a community could step up and provide sufficient support services so that her decision was not based on economic reasoning. 

In this young woman’s mind, and in the minds of so many women like her, I would be labelled as “anti-choice,” while those advocating for the “right” to abortion would be labelled “pro-choice.”  I don’t know about you, but I think my ideal world provides our hypothetical young mother-to-be with many more choices than the “pro-choice” crowd.

It goes even further than that.  Late last year, “feminist” Catherine Deveny even advocated for the rights of men to have a “financial abortion,” which would allow them to opt-out of fatherhood, financially and personally, if the woman bearing their child “chose” to keep it.  If men were permitted to do this, we would end up with even more women and children living in poverty.

Abortion on demand has given us a situation where women have to be ready to go it alone, because they cannot count on their partners or their community to back them up.

I am so sick and tired of being told that being pro-abortion is the same thing as being pro-choice, it’s not.

I am so sick and tired of being told that being pro-abortion is the same thing as being pro-woman, it’s not.

And I am especially sick and tired of it this week, after seeing the criticism of NSW’s new Minister for Women, Tanya Davies, who described herself as “personally pro-life.”

Look at this headline from the ABC’s article on the topic… are we really in a situation where a professional woman who thinks that abortion is not a good idea makes the news?

 

Just last week, members of the media were criticised for commenting on the fact that Premier Gladys Berejiklian does not have any children.  Feminists leapt to her defence, calling the question “sexist.”  There is no similar defence coming for Minister Davies and indeed, the loudest female voices are suggesting that women deserve better than a pro-life woman as their representative.

The treatment of Ms Davies is disgraceful.  How dare so many women turn on her, as if abortion is the litmus test for your ability to be concerned about women’s rights?  How dare they? 

It’s just like the stories from last week, where pro-life groups were officially excluded from being part of the Women’s March on Washington, because organisers believed that abortion and feminism go hand in hand.  They don’t.

And just for the record, the overwhelming majority of Australians believe that there should be limits on abortion.  A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia on attitudes to abortion in Australia reported that while 61% of people believed that abortion should be lawful in all circumstances in the first trimester, support reduces to 12% in the second trimester and 6% in the third trimester.

4 in 10 Australians oppose unrestricted access to abortion in the first trimester, almost 9 in 10 oppose unrestricted access in the second trimester, and more than 9 in 10 after that. 

Minister Davies’ views are in line with “middle Australia,” the feminists calling for her removal are not.  Those criticising Minster Davies are not only out of line, they are out of touch.  They don’t speak for all women and they definitely don’t speak for me.

Women speak for themselves.  That’s what feminism is about after all, isn’t it?

Monica Doumit, catholicTalk contributor

Tuesday, 31 January 2017 06:35 Written by 
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in CathTalk blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of all members of that of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

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