Revolution #165, May 24, 2009
On Abortion, Obama and Notre Dame:
No “Common Ground” With Fascists and Women-Haters! Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!
When it comes to abortion, there is ONLY ONE moral question: Will women be fully emancipated human beings in control of their lives and reproduction OR will we be forced to submit to patriarchal male authority and to breed against our will?
A woman who cannot decide for herself, without any shame, judgment or restrictions, when and whether she chooses to have a child, has no more freedom than a slave.
The movement to forcibly deny women the right to abortion and to birth control is a movement to enslave women. With its aims, its methods, and its morality, there can be no compromise.
Anyone who is confused about this need look no further than the gathering spectacle of theocrats, rabid woman-haters, hardcore Catholics and other assorted Christian fascists descending on Notre Dame this weekend. They are outraged that Barack Obama will be delivering the commencement address and receiving an honorary degree because Obama does not share their view that abortion should be criminalized.
For over a month these anti-abortion fanatics have been gathering. They flew a plane with gruesome photos of what they claimed were aborted fetuses above the school. They put up billboards shaming Notre Dame. Over 70 Catholic bishops have sent statements of condemnation. Alan Keyes, former Republican presidential candidate, got arrested protesting on Notre Dame campus. And anti-abortion activists will be busing out from Chicago to join protests on Sunday together with students who will be boycotting their own graduation.
It’s never been about
“a culture of life”
“Defending life” has never been the motivation of this movement. These are the folks who barricaded and bombed abortion clinics, stalked and killed doctors, and harassed, lied to, and shamed millions of women entering clinics across the country. They have passed hundreds of laws restricting women’s access to abortion and they have major backing from some of the highest levels of government. They never tire of reminding women and men that the Bible commands women to “submit yourself unto your own husbands as unto the Lord.” [Ephesians 5:22] And not a single “pro-life” organization supports the use of birth control.
As for the Catholic church, this truly is a relic from an era rightfully called the Dark Ages! Earlier this year, the Catholic church ex-communicated a 9-year-old girl in Brazil for the “sin” of getting an abortion when her doctors deemed her too small to safely carry her twin fetuses to term. The church also ex-communicated all her family members and medical professionals who helped her get the abortion. Oh, wait. There was one family member they didn’t ex-communicate: her stepfather, even though he is the one who raped and impregnated her in the first place. The argument of the church was quite plain, while rape is bad, abortion is much worse.
The deadly illusion of
What “common ground” can there be between Christian fascists—who have never given a damn about the sentimentalized “value” of fetal life, but have only ever been motivated by an arcane biblical mandate to forcibly subjugate women and reduce them to breeders—and those who insist that women are human beings capable and worthy of participating in every realm of society?!?!?!
In reality, when there are two completely antagonistic views, “common ground” can only exist if one side capitulates to the other. This is exactly the dynamic at play under in the “new era” of Obama around abortion and women’s basic rights. What is shaping up at Notre Dame this weekend, and in the Obama presidency overall, amounts to a two-sided attack on women. Women’s right to abortion is being openly assailed on the one side and compromised away on the other.
It seems that whether the matter is protecting torturers against prosecution or compromising away the fundamental rights of women, Barack Obama has made finding “common ground” with Nazi-like fascists his hallmark.
Obama’s “moderation” a
stealth attack on women
Despite the claim of the anti-abortion fanatics, Obama’s leading edge has never been to insist on full reproductive freedom for women.
Instead, Obama has repeatedly expressed his desire to move society beyond what he deems an unnecessary and polarizing debate. While maintaining the view that abortion should be legal, he has repeatedly conceded the moral high ground and political initiative to those who oppose abortion, stating himself that, “abortions are never a good thing.” He has increasingly accepted the terms that sever the question of abortion from the question of women’s freedom. For instance, recently, he made the point of distinguishing himself from those “who suggest that this [abortion] is simply an issue about women’s freedom and that there’s no other considerations.” And he has called abortion “a political wedge issue, the subject of a back-and-forth debate that has served only to divide us.”
But the question of abortion is not a “wedge issue,” it is a question of the subjugation or the freedom of half of humanity.
Yet, Obama’s top domestic policy director, Melody Barnes, is convening discussions between anti-abortion leaders and mainstream bourgeois feminists to find areas of “common ground” on abortion. So far, and unsurprisingly, the areas of “common ground” emanating from this group accepts the underlying assumption that abortion is morally undesirable. One of the areas of “common ground” so far emerging is to reduce the number of abortions.
The goal should not be to reduce abortions, but to liberate women
Let’s be very clear: To talk today of reducing the number of abortions is to talk about strengthening the chains on women. The goal should NOT be to reduce the number of abortions. The goal should be to break down the barriers that still exist in every sphere of society to women’s full and equal participation as emancipated human beings. In this society, right now, that means there will be—and therefore should be—more abortions.
This is because there are many, many women who want abortions who are unable to get them due to the tremendous legal, social and economic obstacles that have been put in their way. These obstacles include parental notification laws, mandatory waiting periods, anti-abortion fake clinics that disorient and delay women, the fact that 84% of counties in the U.S. have no abortion providers at all, and countless other cruel and humiliating restrictions.
Further, today there are altogether too many women who have babies because they are led to believe that this is the only way they will ever be loved or be seen as doing anything “positive.” This is a reflection of the class-divided, patriarchal society we live in; a society where women face discrimination and disrespect in the public spheres while being disproportionately burdened with child-rearing and housework, and where a whole cult has been built up around motherhood as if bearing a child is the most tremendous accomplishment any woman can achieve.
Bullshit. Women are human beings. We are capable of participating and contributing to all realms of society fully and equally with men. And when women—half of humanity—are held down and reduced to breeders, all of society is held back.
Changing all this and fully liberating women as part of emancipating humanity as a whole will ultimately require revolution. In a revolutionary society women will be unleashed to break down all the barriers to their full participation in every sphere of society. Women will find their worth in the same way men will, by the relations of mutual respect and equality they forge with others and by how they are able to contribute to society as a whole. And many, many women who wouldn’t even consider doing so today, will delay or defer altogether having a child of their own and society will be better for it. In a truly just world, society as a whole will collectively be responsible for the rearing of the next generation, not individual women in ways that curtail their own social existence.
We must resist
But even short of all this, and key to both building towards that revolution and key in resisting the onslaught against women’s lives today, is taking an uncompromising stand for women’s fundamental rights. Right now, there is a need for political resistance to every attack on women’s rights. There is a need for people to cast away illusions that Obama will do anything but compromise away the rights of women as he proceeds to carry out plunder against the people of the world. There is a need for voices of clarity and conscience who make clear that: Women are not incubators! Fetuses are not babies! Abortion is not murder!
Sunsara Taylor writes for Revolution newspaper (revcom.us) and will be on-site at Notre Dame this weekend covering developments. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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