Now available in Polish at Racjonalista. (Thanks to Malgorzata and her trnaslators. I should have been doing this all along.)
A new advertising campaign has begun in Dublin (h/t to Ophelia over at Butterflies and Wheels, for the link). Sponsored by a group known as “Youth Defence,” the poster campaign has put up posters all around Dublin — like this one:
Some people are very upset:
And, while we might agree that people should have the right to get their message out, there’s something troubling about the kind of message that Youth Defence is putting up all round Dublin. It’s not true that women’s lives are necessarily torn apart by abortion. Indeed, for many, no matter with what moral gravity they may approach the issue, it comes as a relief.
Youth Defence would have you believe that it’s always alright to force women to make what they consider to be the “right” decision. Trouble is, it’s not a decision then, is it? For instance, on the Youth Defence blog, the claim is made that there are people missing. Here’s their example:
As many of you know, the X case was brought before the Irish courts in 1992. A 14-year old girl’s pregnancy as a result of rape was being ruthlessly exploited in an attempt to introduce abortion in Ireland. The Supreme Court, by a split decision, ruled that the girl, known only as Miss X to protect her identity, could travel to England for an abortion.
Abortion does not reverse a pregnancy, it does not reverse the crime of rape, it is not a cure for depression or other medical conditions – it kills the child and subjects the mother’s body to another act of violence, thus inflicting even more pain and heartbreak on the two innocent victims in the situation. Rape victims need counselling, love and support, not the cold and cruel ‘quick fix’ “solution” of abortion. But this blog is not about the argument of whether or not abortion helps victims of rape, that is a debate for another day, and deserves a blog post of its own, this post is about the one billion people who are missing from our world.
You know those movies where the main character thinks “What if I’d never been born?” and then wakes up the next day to find that nobody knows who he is and he sees what life would have been like without him? Well, we’re living in that kind of parallel universe every day of our lives… there are people missing!
But that’s simply not true. It’s a lie. There isn’t always a better way. They are playing on the idea, which is a real concern in parts of the world where women’s lives are not valued, that in places there are a lot of women missing, because families, for whom daughters are a burden, in patriarchal societies, are making sure that they don’t have female children.
But this is a whole different issue. The “missing women” trope has nothing at all to do with those women, who, after careful consideration (or even careless consideration — it really makes no difference), consider that having a child at this time is not convenient, for any number of reasons. It’s not up to us to decide for others, and this is precisely what Youth Defence is all about. The writer of the post from which I just quoted is Maryanne, and she says:
I’m just a student with a dream, there’s nothing very unusual about that. But my dream affects every person in the world.
Yes, you know what, it does, because she has a dream of control. She wants to fulfil the Vatican dream of making abortion a criminal act in every country in the world, where women will be handcuffed to their beds in the hospital, as they recover from back street abortions. It’s a dream that does not take into account 14-year-old Miss X, who was raped and made pregnant, and who would be forced, by a draconian religious law, to carry her rapist’s “child” to term — and then what?
Maryanne fatuously says:
Abortion does not reverse a pregnancy, it does not reverse the crime of rape, it is not a cure for depression or other medical conditions – it kills the child and subjects the mother’s body to another act of violence, thus inflicting even more pain and heartbreak on the two innocent victims in the situation.
This is truly fatuous nonsense. Of course an abortion reverses a pregnancy. It takes a pregnant woman and makes her non-pregnant. How much more of a reversal can you have? And it is not an act of violence. It is an act which can be done by gentle, caring people, who are concerned for the health of the person who counts here. Blastocysts, embryos, blastocysts: not one of these is a person. The have no hopes or dreams; they have no plans or purposes; they pursue no ends, and expect nothing. They are potential human beings, potential persons, but they are not persons with lives to lose. The women who seek abortions are persons, in that full sense of the word. They have lives and plans and hopes for the future. Should those lives and plans and hopes be allowed to be completely overturned by a rapist’s violent act? No, of course not. How can you be so silly?
This organisation, Youth Defence, even though it makes no acknowledgement of dependence upon the Roman Catholic Church, if it is not funded by or supported by the Roman Catholic Church, it expresses Roman Catholic opinions, it makes the same kind of inhuman demands that the Roman Catholic Church customarily makes. The Roman Catholic Church is not only on record as opposing abortion, it carries out heavy-handed campaigns to make sure that abortion is criminalised in those jurisdictions where it still has the power to influence public decisions. It makes of women’s lives a misery. It would force women to die, instead of having abortions that could save them. It has excommunicated people associated with the abortion of twins from a 9-year-old girl in Brazil! In Phoenix, Arizona, a nun hospital administrator was excommunicated for approving the abortion of a woman whose heart condition would inevitably lead to the death of both woman and child. (And in this case we can consider it a child, because the woman really wanted to have this child. To her it was an expected and wanted child.) This was known, and yet it carried no weight with the male idiot in charge of the diocese. His decision was upheld by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican. These people are dangerous. They care not a whit for individuals and the hopes, plans, fears and anxieties — and their decisions. Their god, they believe, has created a law-bound world, and that law has been revealed to them. They accept no demur from anyone, no matter how exalted, and they expect their will to be submitted to, regardless of the harm to human persons and their lives. We need to say to these religious thugs: Fuck you! Things simply do not work this way! And to the bishops: Don’t have abortions, if you don’t believe in them. But let others decide for themselves in ways that accord with their lives, their hopes and their own conception of how life might be best for them. And to so-called Youth Defence: Be honest. Own up to your religious prejudices. Acknowledge that you are the glove in which the bishops’ mailed fist is raised against all those who question their — and therefore their god’s — authority. There isn’t always a better answer, and even if you believe there is, you have no right to impose it.