Zohra Moosa (women’s rights adviser at ActionAid UK) in CiF:
There was a great turn-out last night at the pro-choice meeting that Jess McCabe and Sunny Hundal organised.
The discussion was wide-ranging, with some excellent speaking from Diane Abbott MP, Abortion Rights and Education for Choice. One of the topics I raised and I’d like to explore further is the ethical – and political – case for women’s access to abortion.
Oh, boy. Here we go…
There was a strong current in the room advocating taking a scientific, public health approach to abortion rights. They recommended making informed, fact-based interventions to the debates on abstinence education, for example.
Sounds impeccable logic. What’s wrong with that?
And some people highlighted how effective this can be, especially where anti-abortion lobbyists are making spurious “pseudo-scientific” claims and considering how the mainstream majority already believes in women’s right to choose.
Well, up to a point. I think you’d find the ‘mainstream majority’ quite accepting of a ‘woman’s right to choose’ once, or maybe twice in a lifetime.
More than that, though, and they start to ask questions. Not unreasonably…
However, some people also made a lot of the fact that anti-abortion lobbyists are operating from a position of ideology, rather than science. While this may be true, I don’t agree that ideology, per se, is a bad thing.
Really? And why is th…
Feminism is an ideology.
I rather think you’ve chosen the wrong ideology to disprove the notion that they’re a bad thing, Zohra…
Moreover science can be marshalled in defence of all kinds of ideologies – including ones I don’t agree with.
Science is a tool, and it is not apolitical. Scientists can be political actors, with agendas.
Indeed. She raises the topic of AGW as an example, and I agree with her, though I suspect she’s not thinking of the same scientists as I am!
Meanwhile, I do not want to lose the ethical, political, and also ideological at times, case for abortion rights and reproductive justice. Women have the right to own and control what happens to their bodies.
Yes, they undoubtedly do. But they need to remember that before it reaches abortion consideration, not just at that point..
For example, regardless of whether “life” is viable at 20 weeks or not (it’s not), women should still be able to legally, safely, affordably access abortion. We should also be able to access abortions after 24 weeks.
How long after 24 weeks? 36 weeks? 48 weeks? 394 weeks?
Certainly I understand the benefits of pragmatism and advocating “evidence-based policymaking”, as well as why we should equip ourselves and others, including our politicians, with the facts on abortion as we move into this next phase of pro-choice campaigning.
Myth-busting and real stories from women who’ve actually had abortions are essential to resist anti-women movements and illustrate how appropriate a pro-choice position is for a fair and humane society.
Really? From all women who’ve had abortions, or just those you hand-pick, those in favour of your agenda?
It’s pretty hard to shut…
But let’s also remember that our work is political: our rights to our bodies is a contested ideological terrain. Let’s not be so keen to leave this arena lest we suddenly find ourselves out of the conversation altogether.
It’s not a conversation you want to have, though, is it? It’s a lecture.