19 January 2012

Some Canadian Women Are Unhappy With The Way Brown Canadian Women Are Using Their Right to Choose.

Those of us who are old enough will remember the days when Judy Rebick was the leader of the Status of Women council, and how every time she ever stood in front of a microphone the words "And I speak for all Canadian women..." would come out of her mouth.  The quote would be printed in newspapers, and within days there would be dozens of letters to the Editor, either agreeing with her or saying, in essence, "I am a woman and she does not speak for me!"

Women being spoken for is, I believe, the issue at the heart of feminism, although I often find it skewed.  Their view of history and society and the structure of power is one of male domination of women.  I do not wholly agree or disagree with this view.  My own view is not so much male over female as much as it is the few dominating the many.  But yes, men in many cases did have rights over women, even the power to speak for them.  Women regaining their voice and speaking for themselves was one of the major achievements of feminism. Except it doesn't quite work out that way.

This was one of the things I was thinking about when I read this article.  I will reproduce it here, and save my comments for the end. 

Why are Canadians aborting female fetuses?
by Katharine Watts
If you think the practice of aborting unwanted girls only happens in Asia, think again.
Due to immigration to Canada from Asian countries where there is a preference for sons, thousands of unwanted girls are aborted each year in Canada, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Luckily, a new editorial in the Canadian Medical Journal suggests a viable way to put a stop to sex selection in Canada.

"The solution is to postpone the disclosure of medically irrelevant information to women until after about 30 weeks of pregnancy," wrote Doctor Rajendra Kale, CMJ's Interim Editor-in-Chief.

Parents are typically told their baby's gender as soon as the information is available—at about 20 weeks of pregnancy—which leaves time for an unquestioned abortion.

By making it mandatory to withhold the gender of a fetus until after 30 weeks of pregnancy, we would prevent gender from being a catalyst for abortion, because after 22 weeks, doctors only perform abortions in life-threatening situations.

While embracing culture and encouraging diversity is part of what it means to be Canadian—so too are equality and women's rights. This extreme form of sexism should not be tolerated. That being said, neither should racial discrimination—and that means the law would apply to all women, not just those of Asian descent.

"The execution of a "disclose sex only after 30 weeks" policy would require the understanding and willingness of women of all ethnicities to make a temporary compromise," wrote Kale. "Postponing the transmission of such information is a small price to pay to save thousands of girls in Canada."

I couldn't agree more. After all, who better to save the future generation of women than the current one? As women, we have a responsibility to stand up for our rights—and that means not abusing the ones we currently have (like the right to an abortion).

While it is a woman's right in Canada to continue only wanted pregnancies, exercising rights and abusing them are two very different things. Making an inherently sexist decision based on the fact that it's your right as a woman is definitely an abuse of that freedom.

Compared to China and India, where millions of female fetuses are aborted, and many girls who are born are told they are unwanted, the problem may seem small—but that doesn't make it less important.

Do you think a law delaying the disclosure of a fetuses' gender would help prevent female feticide? Would you be okay with waiting 30 weeks (instead of 20) to learn your baby's sex?
First, note the language.  On the one hand, they speak of the "fetus", the term used by pro choice advocates as opposed to "baby".  But whereas pro-choice advocates almost always refuse to note that the "fetus" was anything other than a bunch of cells, here the fetus has a sex.  The fetus is something.  It will become something.  They will be the future generation.  The pro choice women are stuck within their own wording and logic, and are finding it insufficient to the task at hand.  It isn't fully human, but it is fully female?  It's not an abortion, but feticide. When did pro-choice advocates begin to care about feticide?

Second, note that this is a Canadian woman speaking about limiting the ability to choose of women of colour, even though, judging by the name of the doctor quote for the majority of the article, the original suggestion comes from a woman of colour.  Let me take you back a few years, to what used to be called "The White Man's Burden"  The White Man's Burden was to carry all the other races, because they just didn't know as well as us.  It was our job to teach them and lead them into the future, even as we took their resources, turned them into second class citizens in their own lands, etc etc.  Here is the Woman's Burden:  stop women of other races who are insufficiently enlightened from making "sexist" choices.  They are imposing their beliefs upon another for no other reason than they deem themselves superior: they know better: exactly the same resaon why men justified dominating women politically, or the "white man" justified dominating, well, everyone else. They knew better.  The claim that making this policy extend to women of all races makes the policy not racist is bosh:  the article and proposal clearly state that the reason this proposal is being made is on account of the choices being made by women of Asian origin.

Yet, in all the long debate about abortion, I do not recall pro-choice advocates accepting any restrictions whatsoever on their power to choose.  They would accept absolutely nothing less than total freedom to accept or reject motherhood.  Anyone who argued against them was told, in no uncertain terms, that, no matter how involved they may be with the woman or her pregnancy, they had no part whatsoever in her choice.  It was her choice, and hers alone.  So why do they now seek to involve themselves in another woman's right to choose, the very choice they laboured so very long and so very hard to procure for all women?  Because their reasons aren't good enough?  Because the reasons aren't up to their standards?

Third, the author's statement that it a woman's right to continue only wanted pregnancies, what makes her believe that a woman will want this pregnancy?  The problem that girls will be told that they are unwanted that occurs in other countries will occur here as well, whether there is a mandatory deception or not during the pregnancy.  This point is null and void: the author is, at best, deceiving herself.

So, women do not have an absolute right to choose, however, instead of meeting the standards of men, they must meet the standards of other women.  It comes down to power,.  Who has it, and who doesn't. and who can speak, and who doesn't, and who gets to speak for whom, whether they like it or not.  The feminists used to have a slogan which they stated often, and painted on banners for all to see:  "Women Speaking For Women".  While not untrue, it would be more accurate, and more honest, to have said "Some women speaking for the rest."  In the end, we still have the few dominating the many, or, as The Who put it, "Meet the new Boss.  Same as the old Boss."  For many women, there is still someone out there who claims to speak for them, and when someone speaks for you, you are spoken for.

And yet, after panning this rank stupidity and hypocrisy, such is the state of Canadian law and abortion, I would welcome even this minimal protection for the unborn, for at its heart, and against pro choice will, this would recognize that a "fetus" is not just a collection of cells, but a human being, and further recognizes that there may be a legitimate reason to protect them from "choice."


Puff the Magic Dragon said...

I don't understand what they would wish to do. In Canada the abortion law was struck down, not in order to give give their right to choose, but because the law as it existed could not and was not administered equally across the land. It was deemed unconstitutional not because it took a women's right to choose away but because it took away the persons right to due process and equal treatment under the law, because it was unfairly administered depending on where you lived: rural versus urban, etc etc

If they now want legal protection for gendered fetuses- ooh well, then equality under the law as worded in the canadian charter of rights would mean that gendered male fetuses would also have to gain equal protection under the law, or such a law could and would be struck down as unconstitutional.

Ah the joys of watching an ism crumble under the weight of its own argument.

Bear-i-tone said...

For that case they are covered: THey would hide the sex of the child from the mother, whether boy or girl, until too late for an abortion except in the case of emergency. The law would be equal...except that it isn't. There are more boys conceived than girls, so left to blind luck, more boys would be aborted than girls, simply by the percentages.

Patience said...

The interesting thing is that many North American women given the choice would choose only girls. Boys are seen as less desired. In international adoption (where you do have choice) 80% of couples (fueled mostlty by the woman) choose a girl as their preference. Girls are seen as "easier and more compliant" (so much for woman's lib and as the mom with 2 of each I can put that myth to rest! LOL)