- A truly wonderful, thoughtful and sad Feministe post considers whether or not the abortion debate is futile. If you read just one post today…
- Larry Lessig, looking back on his loss on the “Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Case” before the Supreme Court, writes an extended – and surprisingly interesting – mea culpa.
- I don’t often agree with pro-lifers, but in this case they’re right. The NEA has no business sponsering a pro-choice march, not if they still expect their pro-life members to pay dues. Via – actually, I can’t remember who this was via. Probably either After Abortion or Eve Tushnet.
- Decent In These Times article on young feminists of color. The criticisms of institution feminism for being too white aren’t anything new, but they’re still worth reading.
- Old Oligarch’s Painted Stoa, a conservative intellectual Catholic blog, is the sort of blog that’s interesting to me because it’s like reading an almost totally alien culture. He seems like a nice, intelligent, very thoughtful guy; and yet there’s no point in my even attempting to argue with him, because he and I probably don’t have a single shared premise in our ethical worlds. Anyhow, of particular interest to feminists might be his account of protesting an “abortuary” on Easter (one pro-choice person there noticed the large crowd of protestors and said “heh! Christmas and Easter,” which the Old Oligarch found offensive, but I think is pretty giggleworthy); and also his very long discussion of why women are banned from the priesthood. In his account of the protest, by the way, there’s a brief cameo appearance of Human Life International, a pro-life group founded by noted anti-semite Paul Marx. Via Eve Tushnet.
- Via Rad Geek, a New Yorker profile of Boodocks cartoonist (or, I should say, co-cartoonist; it turns out that the strip is actually drawn by Jennifer Seng nowadays, without credit on the strip itself. Feh!) Aaron McGruder. McGruder comes across as kinda a jerk, but that doesn’t change the fact that after 9/11, he was by far the gutsiest and best political cartoonist in the papers. He’s quite right to say that he deserved the Pulitzer that year.
- Sara at Diotima has two interesting posts on feminism, choice and respecting the choices women make, here and here. I especially liked the second post, because it quotes extensively from Heidi Hartmann’s classic essay on feminism and Marxism.
As for the issue itself, I’ve never seen a contradiction; it seems to me that by recognizing that the choices women (and men) get to make are constrained by the choices society makes reasonably available to them; and by agitating for women and men to be presented with a wider menu of options to choose from, feminists are, in the end, arguing for more choice.
- Sara at Diotima also points to two good Women’s Enews articles on “cutting,” self-injury among young women (here and here). Some researchers seem to beleive that cutting is increasing; however, I wonder if they’re not mistaking the way that the internet has made cutting more visible for increased frequency. Certainly, there were female classmates who were cutting themselves when I went to high school in the 80s.
A more interesting question, for me, is: why is cutting apparently an overwhelmingly female act? (Historically, in some Native American cultures, I’m told but don’t know if it’s true, young men used to cut themselves to show off what macho warriers they are – not unlike G. Gordon Liddy holding his hand in the flame – but that’s not the same thing). A researcher talks about increased loneliness, isolation from more computer-activities, and “feeling invisible” (was there ever a time when teens didn’t feel invisible?), but nothing about that happens to girls alone, so why are girls the ones cutting themselves?
Sara also points out that we have to look at external factors, rather than treating cutting only as an individual problem, and I quite agree.
One last question: if there is an increase in negative self-mutilation among girls, is it at all connected to the increase in what I’ll call positive self-mutilation among teens – tatoos and piercings?
- A surprisingly interesting profile of Margaret Marshall, chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, focusing on the Goodridge decision. (The author of the piece seems a bit biased against the Goodridge decision, alas).
- I’m not sure how many readers have followed the case of Ono Ekeh, an employee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who was fired because – although he self-identifies as pro-life – he didn’t toe the pro-line line on his blog and on the “Catholics for Kerry” web forum. In this op-ed piece, he defends his views, and in the process becomes a pro-lifer I have a lot of respect for:
Catholics are called on to promote a culture of life. Reducing the number of abortions is not the sole determinant of the pro-life platform, even though it is a vital component. Life does begin at conception but does not end at birth. Our goal is to fight for the dignity of life in all its manifestations, from conception to death. With a goal as complex as this, does it not stand to reason that there could be more than one way of reasonably promoting a culture of life?
The conservative approach to reducing the number of abortions is a “supply-side” approach. The idea here is to criminalize abortion providers, thus resulting in a reduction in the number of abortions. Unfortunately, eliminating abortion providers is much like trying to solve the drug problem by solely going after drug suppliers, but ignoring demand. It is a fact of market dynamics that as long as demand exists, there will be supply.
Pro-life moderates and liberals embrace the “demand-side” approach. This approach seeks to reduce the number of abortions by addressing the social issues that compel too many women to contemplate what would normally be unthinkable. If social conditions were changed so that women were empowered, and if we effectively addressed issues such as health care, child care, family leave, wage inequity, domestic violence and other women’s issues, we could reasonably expect a significant reduction in the number of abortions in the United States. For instance, 21 percent of abortions in the United States are a result of inadequate finances. This category of women, though not exhaustive, represents a very fixable opportunity. Consider the following simplified example. If a woman for whom inadequate finances were the primary reason to consider an abortion is confident that there would be assistance to compensate for her lack of finances, the lack of finances then weighs less in her deliberations.
This demand-side approach will take time and does not immediately make abortions rare, but our goal is to change a culture, not just a law. This approach is a steady tide that lifts all boats of human dignity. It seems that this is a reasonable means of attaining the goal of a culture of life even if different from the process laid out by traditional pro-lifers.
So maybe there are some pro-lifers out there we can work with.