February 09, 2005

Storm on the horizon

Two excellent pieces on the contemporary abortion-rights movement over at Salon.

But, Kissling said, 'I think it's pretty sad if the reality of pro-choice thought is that a discussion of morality leads to an antiabortion position.' Kissling has always trod the delicate line between her pro-choice compatriots and her Catholic belief. The Roman Catholic hierarchy remains the mortal enemy of reproductive freedom -- be it abortion or birth control. 'I've thought about the morality of this ad nauseam for 35 years and come to the conclusion that making the choice [to have an abortion] can be a profoundly morally correct decision,' said Kissling. 'It can be morally incorrect too, but so can having a baby.'

Questions of legal rights ultimately (or at least should ... ) reduce to moral questions. The anti-choice movement has been slowly but steadily gaining ground for the past twenty years because of the failure of pro-choice advocates to maintain their core position: there is nothing immoral about abortion, and reproductive autonomy in general. It is complicated and fraught with emotion, as most things involving people are, but it is not immoral. What is immoral is the anti-choice position, which demeans women, pregnancy, children, and the conditions in which people actually live in favour of pursuing a fiction of motherhood as the raison d'etre of women.

However, the reader should note that the rejection of this fiction is not the rejection of motherhood: indeed, it is only once one recognizes the autonomy of a woman's choice whether to be a mother or not that one can truly appreciate motherhood. In a way, the fiction that women are 'meant' to be mothers undermines the very notion that it is meant to glorify, reducing it to a necessity like eating or breathing rather than making the hard choice to undertake a difficult and noble project. The only true parent is someone who has chosen to be a parent.

Both of the Salon articles are inspired from this essay.

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