According to Reproductive Choice Australia, the 'take home' message from their President Leslie Cannold at the recent Network of Women Students Conference was simple:
'Abortion is a nexus point of gender inequality - workplace participation, domestic labour, gender roles, sexuality and consent etc. So long as gender inequality persists, abortion is an issue and it needs our action.'
This is the ideological lie that so many young women and men have bought: in order to participate equally in social, educational, professional and relational worlds, women must have access to abortion... the implicit message of course being that pregnancy and motherhood are incompatible with, or unworthy of equal rights.
In her book New Woman, feminist author Gloria Conde writes:
'Feminism fooled women into thinking that motherhood was an obstacle for their fulfillment. The consequence was to make her feel inferior if she was a mother or wanted to have children. A woman has to excuse herself before men, before socitey, and before other women, for becoming pregnant, or for needing (or wanting) time to educate and bring up her children.'
The ideological message of abortion rights has so strongly permeated our society, that few dare to question it, and young women take up chanting ranks of protest to defend it without any understanding of what they are actually advocating.
As I spoke at a recent conference in Sydney against a backdrop of a small but noisy group of young women protesting against the right of a group of people to be educated about abortion and euthanasia, I wondered why they were so disinterested in engaging in discussion. They refused invitations to hear the speakers. They were determined to try to disrupt the paying attendees from hearing the speakers. Before they left, they wrote foul language on the pavement for passing children to read. They were so very angry, yet I'm not sure they even fully understand what they are defending.
As I was telling my audience about a 22yr old woman who was coerced into having an abortion because her boyfriend 'wasn't ready to be a father' and her university did not provide enough supportive services for her to continue her studies effectively with a small baby, they were yelling about 'equal rights'. The young woman whose story I shared had also bought the lie. She believed that abortion was the 'right' thing to do in order not to 'trap' her boyfriend into unwanted fatherhood. Besides, they were going to get married in a couple of years and they would have children then, when they both chose to.
So of course, she exercised her 'right' to have an abortion. After all, without it she would not have been equal enough to continue her degree. Without it she would not have been equal enough to get the better jobs her peers might achieve. Without abortion she would not have been equal enough to say to her boyfriend that she wanted to 'choose' parenthood even if he didn't.
Six weeks later her boyfriend had dumped her; he says because she wouldn't just 'get over' the abortion and stop crying about it. Three weeks after that she left university and went home to her parents saying, 'I did everything I should have done, I did the right thing, why is everyone else just getting on with it.. why can't I.. what happened to me?'
Abortion advocates argue that women only suffer after abortion because of the stigma attached to the procedure by 'anti-choicers'. They argue that women should be allowed to make their own decisions, free from the pressures of those who withhold 'choice' from them. They deny and even ridicule the experiences of the thousands of women who every year are pressured by their circumstances and the people who are supposed to care about them, to have abortions they don't really want.
They deny that a woman would actually grieve the loss of a child to abortion, that she may have even a tenuous maternal link to her unborn child and that the breaking of that link can be devastating.
Whilst so many loud and ignorant protesters jump up and down about women's equality, they haven't even taken a moment to consider what they are advocating. They throw around words about choice, and lies about backyard abortion deaths; they deny the evidence of harm from abortion; they ridicule other women who are silently devastated or not so silently standing up to say 'this is not okay'. They are contributing to women's lack of equality.
To abortion advocates women can only be equal if they choose one or the other... to have children OR participate in social and educational worlds. Whilst they rant about lack of access to the surgical and medical means of ridding women of unwanted pregnancies, they do not want to see what is truly going on; that young women are not given a choice to continue their education, or get their promotion if they also choose to parent.
That is not equality. It is far from choice.
Until we address the actual inequalities, inflexible workplaces, lack of quality childcare, not enough support and encouragement for full time parents, young women will continue to believe their only hope of a future lies in denying their reproductive right to bear children.