By Dom Bettinelli
Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton told the hosts of “The View” that it was possible to be both pro-life and feminist.
This caused some consternation among pro-choices, who responded strongly, including Ruby Hamad at the Australian site Daily Life, who wrote “Hillary Clinton is wrong: You cannot be a feminist and pro-life”. Her claim is that being pro-life is “rooted in a worldview founded on an explicit acceptance of rigid gender roles,” a claim unrecognizable to most pro-lifers. She also claimed that being pro-life is “anti-women’s bodily autonomy” because it “forces” motherhood on women. Hamad wrote that feminism is about women’s liberation and being pro-life is about denying freedom to women.
Now Rachel Wong, writing at Mercatornet, begs to differ and finds herself in the unusual position of agreeing with Clinton. She notes that women’s rights begin with human rights and the right to life is the most fundamental of those. She then knocks down four myths perpetuated by Hamad and other pro-choicers about the pro-life movement:
- The pro-life movement aims to control the lives and bodies of women.
- The pro-life movement wants to ban abortion, which would endanger women by driving abortion underground and causing them to risk their lives to get one.
- The pro-life movement is rooted in a worldview founded on an explicit acceptance of rigid gender roles, in which a woman’s primary purpose is motherhood and homemaking.
- The pro-life movement sees pregnant women as always secondary to the embryos and foetuses they carry.
She then knocks each one of them down using rational arguments and logic. I won’t reproduce them all here, but provide a representative sample from the first myth:
Our culture’s obsession with autonomy often means that choice is heralded as one of the greatest goods or even a right, often with little regard for what is being chosen. However, choice is not a good in itself. It is essential to consider what is being chosen.
Even if one agrees that liberation is the characterising feature of feminism – though I believe it is much more than this – abortion involves a woman deciding to do something not just with “her own body” but with another small body, a new human being, her unborn child. This is a biological reality, not a moral opinion. In 50% of cases this “choice” involves ending the life of another female and depriving her of every future choice (more than 50% if one considers the prevalence of sex-selective abortion).
She then mentions the harm down to the mother as well, physically and psychologically and concludes that this is why she, as a feminist, cannot support abortion as a choice.