Friday, January 27, 2017
The Right To Life And The Women’s March–The Politics Of Exclusion
This last issue- reproductive rights – has always been a rather circumscribed one because these rights have never extended to the unborn fetus. Progressive women have decided long ago that life does not begin at conception but at birth; and therefore there are no additional rights to consider. If the fetus is a non-entity and a non-being, then it has no place at the table. Seats are reserved for those female human beings viable and independent outside the womb.
Within a feminist perspective, once the reproductive rights of the mother have been established and confirmed (i.e. she has deliberated abortion but decided to bring the pregnancy to term) , these rights automatically convey to the infant. Girls need all the help they can get in our patriarchal society, and looking out for their interests must begin early.
Yet what if life begins at conception? It is certainly not unreasonable to consider the fact that an embryo which grows, differentiates, and ultimately prospers in the womb, is in fact a being.
There are many arguments and counter-arguments surrounding the issue. Many pro-choice activists consider the fetus no more than insensate flesh and blood. Until it is born and helped to breathe and cry, it has been never been alive; and in moral and ethical terms has been worth no more than an appendix or a gall bladder. What is the most defining feature of a human being? they ask.
Intelligence, sensibility, reason, and thought. A fetus has none of the above attributes, so is not yet human.
Ah, say those who oppose abortion. What about potentiality? Is there not an ethical and moral issue here? Even if a fetus only realizes its intellectual potential after birth, how can one justify the negation of that possibility. Forget about future Einsteins or Bachs, the fetus might become a being even more important and relevant than genius– a compassionate soul; a spiritual seer; a preacher of values; a worker of secular miracles. Doesn’t even a secular society have stake in the preservation of potential life?
No, say progressive pro-choice advocates who look to Marx for whom potentiality had no meaning. Human beings are born and are from the moment of birth influenced by the socio-cultural and economic forces around them. There is nothing special or God-given about a newborn child; and his development will depend on the nature of the society into which he comes. Any newborn is equal to any other; and subject to either the progressive, socialist societies which will nurture him and encourage his contribution according to his abilities but more importantly according to society’s needs; or subject to anti-historical, retrograde capitalism.
The difference in viewpoints could not be more stark. On the one hand, religious conservatives believe that from the moment of conception, God has conferred life; and any of God’s creations have a moral destiny and a potential rendezvous in Heaven. Progressives believe that fertilization, conception, and birth are matters of human fertility, no more no less. Life indeed begins at birth when the newborn takes his place in the society of men and no sooner.
The point is only that why should those women advocating a pro-life position be excluded from the discussions on women’s rights? Those women who decide against abortion and choose to give birth to a child should have equal social rights to those who do not. Child care, easy adoption procedures, counseling should be as much a part of women’s rights as the right to terminate a pregnancy.
Pro-life women have as much to protest and demand from government as pro-choice women. In fact, American society is far more permissive when it comes to abortion than to child care.
The answer has nothing to do with abortion, reproductive rights, or child care. It has to do with doctrinal purity, political solidarity, and the incorrigibility of principle. The progressive canon has been explicated, promoted, and disseminated widely. There are those who buy in, support, and defend it; and those who do not. But the ranks have long ago closed. Membership in the progressive club requires certain credentials, and pro-choice is one of them.
It is of no consequence that women who choose to bring their babies to term have rights that have been either ignored, abrogated, or dismissed. It matters not that pro-life women have legitimate moral, ethical, and spiritual claims. It matter least that these women have espoused a moral principle as valid as that of their pro-choice sisters if not more.
The Women’s March was organized not as a protest for women’s rights so much as was to promote and demand fulfillment of the progressive agenda. It is no wonder, then, that conservative groups were excluded.
Women, for example, who demand a more family-friendly work environment should be in lockstep with one another- those who choose to have children and hope for more accommodating management should have sisterhood with those who have no children but who want equal pay for equal work.
Not so. There is an opprobrium against pro-life, pro-family women; and their presence at the Women’s March was considered antithetical and unwelcome.
This is all understandable. All social groups need cohesion, solidarity, and philosophical purity. The Women’s March was first and foremost a progressive march and only secondarily a women’s one.
The pro-life march will be no different and will marginalize those who do not espouse their principles and purpose. Marchers want the same solidarity, the same camaraderie, and the same sisterhood.
The point is that marching is always less for political purpose than it is for social coherence.
That having been said, the Women’s march was particularly political and disingenuous. Of course pro-life women should have been welcomed had the march been about women. But it wasn’t.