Thursday, April 15, 2010

Over to Joyce Arthur

I read Joyce Arthur's response to Kelly McParland's oped in the National Post and I think it should be quoted in its entirety. Such thinking needs to be seen in full in order to see the motivation behind such statements:

Kelly McParland makes the common mistake of trying to critique the pro-choice viewpoint through an anti-choice lens. He argues that to support a woman's right to choose, "you have to believe that a fetus is not human in the moral sense."

This is incorrect. The pro-choice view is woman-focused, and we take no view on the fetus (or should not). The status and moral value of the fetus is moot because it's a matter of subjective personal opinion, and the only opinion that counts is the pregnant woman's.

No one wants to see abortions done for reasons of sex selection. But most pro-choice people do not want to ban the practice because that means removing personal autonomy in favour of society's values. Being pro-choice means supporting women's choices even when we don't agree with them -- the hallmark of a truly free and democratic society.

Abortion is being scapegoated here. It's not abortion that leads to the problem of skewed sex ratios in China, India or even Canada. It's the low status of women, as well as the Indian dowry practice, and the Chinese custom of passing the family line through the son.

Instead of trying to ban sex-selection abortion, governments should focus on education campaigns to spark a cultural shift, introduce economic incentives to have daughters and abolish discriminatory laws and policies that lead families to favour boys over girls.-Joyce Arthur, co-ordinator, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Vancouver.


"The status and moral value of the fetus is moot because it's a matter of subjective personal opinion, and the only opinion that counts is the pregnant woman's."
The unborn child has no significance for Ms Arthur whatsoever. All that matters is the woman, the logical position of relative ethics.

"Being pro-choice means supporting women's choices even when we don't agree with them -- the hallmark of a truly free and democratic society."
How would one oppose anything that you consider wrong then? Surely this thinking means that you must accept that each person decides right and wrong for themselves, and not just in the issue of abortion.

"Abortion is being scapegoated here."
I have never heard of an issue being a scapegoat before, I thought people were scapegoats, but then anything is possible when abortion is sacramentalized.

"introduce economic incentives to have daughters"
? Is Arthur supporting sex-selection abortion of boys to correct the balance? She seems to imply that people can decide which sex of child to have, perhaps she just used bad wording.

In all fairness, I have to say she does make a good point when she talks about the "skewed sex ratios" being due to the cultural preference for boys over girls. However, China did not have a skewed-sex ratio until they introduced the one-child policy and forced women to abort their girl babies. So abortion really did cause the skewed ratio in that country, as well as in India.

The ultimate flaw in Arthur's stance is putting the woman first. Abortion is not just about the woman; the reason why abortion is so hotly contested is precisely because that "lump of tissue" is someone else. And that bothers everyone, both pro-choice and pro-life. It bothers pro-lifers because they see this as the ultimate violation of civil rights; one cannot have any rights without the right to life. And abortion takes that right away, decided by the very person who should be the protector of that life. And it bothers pro-choicers because they keep saying that it is not a human being, that it doesn't matter, but the fact that this issue does not go away, proves the very opposite.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

In the immortal words of Joyce Arthur "Fetuses are not that important."

When the history of the struggle for fetal rights is written, I hope future generations remember her for those exact words.