British Feminist Journalist Says Abortion a "Lesser Evil" Than Misogny

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 7, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Feminist Journalist Says Abortion a "Lesser Evil" Than Misogny

by Matthew Balan
July 7, 2010 Note: Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 2003, and worked for the Heritage Foundation from 2003 until 2006, and for Human Life International in 2006. This opinion column originally appeared at MRC’s NewsBusters web site.

Antonia Senior of The Times of London revealed her extremist position in favor of abortion in a June 30 column. Senior bluntly admitted that the intentional killing of the unborn was a cause she would be willing to die for, and while acknowledging it was "taking a life," she labeled it was a "lesser evil," for, in her view, "you cannot separate women’s rights from their right to fertility control."

The British journalist, is the personal finance editor for The Times, began her column with outlining the extent to which abortion is a core issue for her. Senior noted that in the Tower of London, there’s an "interactive display that ask visitors to vote on whether they would die for a cause." After eliminating dolphins and even her own country of England as potential choices, she continued that she "could think of one cause I would stake my life on: a woman’s right to be educated, to have a life beyond the home and to be allowed by law and custom to order her own life as she chooses. And that includes complete control over her own fertility."

Senior then revealed her own internal turmoil over the issue of abortion:

Yet something strange is happening to this belief that has, for so long, shaped my core; my moral certainty about abortion is wavering, my absolutist position is under siege.

It’s not a baby, it’s a foetus, you God-squaddies [British derogatory slang for someone who is militant, roughly equivalent to "grunt"], the teenage me would have crowed at the pro-lifers. It’s a woman’s body, her choice, end of, I would have proclaimed in whatever patois we were speaking back then. The report last week by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which found that the human foetus cannot feel pain before 24 weeks, would have been waved triumphantly at anyone who crossed my path, along with an invitation to be taught the meaning of pain. This is not, you see, a rational debate, but one of passion and vitriol and tribalism.

Then came a baby, and everything changed. I think of it as the Anna Karenina conundrum. If you read the book as a teenager, you back her choices with all the passion of youth. Love over convention, go Anna! Then you have children and realise that Anna abandons her son to shack up with a pretty soldier, and then her daughter when she jumps under a train. She becomes a selfish witch. Having a baby paints the world an entirely different hue. Black and white no longer quite cut it.

The abortion issue hinges on the notion of life. The pro-life position is clear: a baby is a life, with rights, from the instant of conception. The pro-choice position insists that we are talking only about a potential life, with no rights. An embryo is not a person.

Later, after delving into the semantics of the debate over abortion, the journalist made a remarkable admission, given her pro-abortion position:

What seems increasingly clear to me is that, in the absence of an objective definition, a foetus is a life by any subjective measure. My daughter was formed at conception, and all the barely understood alchemy that turned the happy accident of that particular sperm meeting that particular egg into my darling, personality-packed toddler took place at that moment….Any other conclusion is a convenient lie that we on the pro-choice side of the debate tell ourselves to make us feel better about the action of taking a life.

Even with this admission, Senior cannot bring herself to part from her support for legalized abortion because of her die-hard feminism, and concluded her column by spouting some of her side’s talking points and included her "lesser evil" line about the murder of defenseless unborn babies:

So we are left with a problem. A growing movement in America, spearheaded by Sarah Palin, is pro-life feminism, This attempts to decouple feminism from abortion rights, arguing that you can believe in a woman’s right to be empowered without believing in her right to abort. Its proponents report a groundswell of support among young women looking to reinvent their mothers’ ideology.

But you cannot separate women’s rights from their right to fertility control. The single biggest factor in women’s liberation was our newly found ability to impose our will on our biology. Abortion would have been legal for millennia had it been men whose prospects and careers were put on sudden hold by an unexpected pregnancy. The mystery pondered on many a girls’ night out is how on earth men, bless them, managed to hang on to political and cultural hegemony for so long. The only answer is that they are not in hock to their biology as much as we are. Look at a map of the world and the right to abortion on request correlates pretty exactly with the expectation of a life unburdened by misogyny.

As ever, when an issue we thought was black and white becomes more nuanced, the answer lies in choosing the lesser evil. The nearly 200,000 aborted babies in the UK each year are the lesser evil, no matter how you define life, or death, for that matter. If you are willing to die for a cause, you must be prepared to kill for it, too.

Ms. Senior, the issue isn’t becoming "more nuanced." By your own admission, our lives began at conception, and any claim to the contrary is a "convenient lie…to make us feel better about the action of taking a life." It’s a crying shame that you can’t pull yourself out of your blind obedience to radical feminist dogma to make the right conclusion on the issue of abortion.


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