This is our truth, tell us yours
A repost of an post by Carter as we remember Savita and consider abortion, and the attempts to limit our rights to have one.
Jeremy Hunt’s suggestion that the time limit for abortion should be cut to 12 weeks is shocking, alarming and yet unsurprising.
Neo Conservatives have always had a special, some would say extraordinary obsession with reproductive rights and women;s right to choose. You might think that makes this a quintessentially feminist issue. I might even have thought that myself if I hadn’t been inspired to think a little more deeply about gender issues by an excellent survey on men and gender by Laurie Penny.
I kept running up against a road block on the question of why ne-cons are so obsessed with abortion and reproduction. So then I started from the other end; what is it about neo-conservatism that makes its practitioners obsessive about abortion?
Now, understanding neo-conservatism might seem like a thankless and fruitless task, but it doesn’t make sense to just dismiss all neo-cons as women hating fruit loops, especially when some of them are women, like Sarah Palin. So what drives neo-conservatism? The revelation, while pondering Laurie Penny’s survey, was that there are parallels between neo-cons and Islamic fundamentalists. If Islamic fundamentalism is the revolt of religion against modernity, neo-conservatism is the revolt of property against democracy.
At the heart of democracy is the idea that we are all autonomous, and that that autonomy is both about our relationships to each other and our rights as individuals. Hence the idea that we all have inalienable human rights; the rights themselves are not universal truths, but reflections of our autonomy.
Those who believe in the power of property as embodied wealth don’t agree with that view. They don’t go as far as Nozick, and his view that you only have the rights you can assert against all others. Instead they think your rights are a reflection of the property you control, so that, at the end of the spectrum, if you have no property, you have no rights, not even over your own body.
Imagine Britain with a 12 week abortion limit. it wouldn’t affect those with enough property or wealth to travel to somewhere else with different abortion rules. It would only affect those who lacked the wealth or property to do anything other than surrender to the tyranny of the state over their bodies.
Suddenly Jeremy Hunt looks less like a patriarchal woman hater than what he is; a man re-asserting the political principle that rights are not universal, but merely reflections of wealth and property.
If you’re a man, you might want to contemplate what it means if we lose this struggle over women’s rights to decide what happens to their bodies. My life, my kinks, my politics, my choices are rooted in that fundamental principle of my autonomy. If the neo-cons can win the abortion debate and succeed in re-framing debate around power over rights, we wil all have lost all our rights to choose.
It really is that simple…