There's a huge uproar going on in the United States that is beginning to make me crazy. After 30 years of increased acceptance that women and men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights... there has suddenly been mounted a campaign to change that back to the way it was in the 1960s and before.
Think of it this way. This campaign would not be countenanced by anybody if you replaced the word "woman" in most of the discussion with the word "black" or used the "n-word." But examine what is going on. What would happen if somebody actually said they were going to roll back the tide of "blacks' rights" instead of rolling back "women's rights"?
With apologies to, I think it was Heinlein, there are so few people who think, think regularly, and think well and deeply that it ill behooves us to complain about the package their brains come in.
So, now we come, of course to the issue of abortion "rights." What is really going on is that the argument is not about abortion at all, regardless of what the little old Nazi in the white dress in Rome says, or all of his friends and associates in the US say.
Please understand that how I feel about abortion is really not relevant here. I'm going to tell you anyway. Like most things, it is complicated.
In 1986, my late wife Betsy conceived what was to be our first child. We knew, from the ultrasound that it was a boy, and we had already named him. His name was Trevor. Unfortunately, Betsy had a miscarriage and we lost him. She had to have a D&C to remove the fetus, and that was done at Seton Hospital (a Roman Catholic establishment) in Austin, Texas. While she was being wheeled into the operating room, an orderly leaned over and said to her, "Wow you must really know somebody. We just don't do abortions here."
Aside from the fact that I almost killed the son of a bitch, here's the interesting part of the story. According to Roman Catholic doctrine, and according to the theology of most fundamentalist Protestant sects too, the soul enters the body at conception, even when there are only two cells. Yet, when they flushed Trevor's body out of my wife's uterus, it was disposed of as hazardous medical waste, not given to us for a funeral. What does that tell you about what the Christian belief in the magical mumbo-jumbo at conception is? And you can't say they were only following the law, because they don't want to follow the law making abortion legal. They didn't ever campaign against disposing of fetuses as medical waste. So what makes it different after the baby is born?
In all human societies up to the 1960s, there was no reliable method of controlling conception. No birth control. Whether the society was a patrilinear one like Rome, or most of Europe since then, or a matrilineal one like early Ireland, the Cherokee and others, it was important to know the parentage of the baby.
This has been taken in some cultures to mean actual ownership of the womb the baby came out of, and of course, ownership of the woman surrounding that womb. Radical Islam is a good, but not the only, example of this in human culture.
If society gives a woman control over her own reproductive organs, this ownership immediately goes away.
What we have is a group of radical far-right-wing religious believers who are using "abortion kills babies" as a screen for their arrogant desire (yes there are women who have not only fallen for this, but actually aid and abet it) to own women so that they can own their wombs and be sure of the genetic inheritance of the woman's offspring.
If it was so important to Christians and Islamists that "abortion kills babies" why aren't they campaigning to bury fetuses in consecrated ground, as if they were real human beings? The answer is clear...they don't really think they are real human beings. It's just a way to gloss over what they really want.
In exactly the same way, the cry "Separate but Equal" was raised throughout the country, North and South, during the Civil Rights movement, even though everyone knew that it was kind of a code for good schools for whites, bad schools for people of color.
So when you think about the Republican and Tea Party stance (and the Taliban's and Wahabi's stance for that matter) on abortion and restricting women's reproductive health, if you agree with them, at least be honest about what it actually means.
Calling it a War on Women has opened up a whole bunch of smokescreen arguments about how much worse women have it in, oh, sub-Saharan Africa, so it can't possibly be a war. Well, it isn't a War on Women. That's correct. What it is, however, is something far worse. It is an organized attempt to enslave women by controlling their reproductive organs, cloaked in religious fervor.
Again, if you're going to support restricting abortion, restricting birth control, restricting the concept of marriage, and the whole constellation of efforts to own women and their wombs, at least be honest and say that's what you want to do.
Repeat after me: there are no such thing as women's rights. There are only human rights. Either we all have them, or we all do not.
Remember Pastor Martin Niemoeller's poem, "When they came for the Jews, I did not stand up, for I was not a Jew..."