Aborted Women Speak Out

What Germaine Greer calls a "phony debate"


(This article originally appeared on a debate board. It has been edited to include information to explain the context. The explanations are enclosed in square brackets. --Pat Goltz)

[Before I begin,] I would like to point out that Germaine Greer, in "The Whole Woman" (Doubleday 1999, p86, p87), wrote:

"What women 'won' [in 'Roe' v Wade] was the 'right' to undergo invasive procedures in order to terminate unwanted pregnancies, unwanted not just by them but by their parents, their sexual partners, the governments who would not support mothers, the employers who would not employ mothers, the landlords who would not accept tenants with children, the schools that would not accept students with children. Historically the only thing pro-abortion agitation achieved was to make an illiberal establishment look far more feminist than it was.

"The abortionists who went to prison in the run-up to legalization for 'helping girls in trouble' were all male. All saw themselves as champions of women and defenders of women's rights. They were repaid with the love and loyalty of women, who were grateful for the right to expiate their sexual activity in pain and grief. The goal was 'every child a wanted child'; it should also have been 'every abortion a wanted abortion', but the two sides of the phony debate were never to meet. Any feminist who saw abortion as an assault on women and agitated for a concomitant right to bear children without being condemned to poverty, misery and failure was suspected of being a crypto-right-to-lifer ...

"Feminism is pro-woman rather than pro-abortion; we have always argued for freedom of reproductive choice. A choice is only possible if there are genuine alternatives."

[The message to which Philippa was responding was occasioned by the article she has written about her abortion.]

The [first] question I asked in my article was, “Why should I be forced to bear a child I didn't want, or endure a lifetime of grief from adoption?” One of the reasons I terminated my pregnancy was that I was wrongly led to believe that by doing so, I could avoid that grief.

[In response to criticism for allegedly advocating forced adoption:] I wasn’t advocating adoption, let alone forced adoption. I was stating that abortion should not be sold as a no-consequence alternative to those for whom it would have significant consequences.

[Pro-choice people often state that they will express sympathy for a woman who is depressed from her abortion, but quickly add that this sympathy does not extend to efforts they perceive as taking away the right of other women to choose abortion. It is not uncommon for pro-choice women to claim that women who suffer from their abortions were mentally unstable to begin with.]

If you give sympathy, why do you write me off as a mentally unstable extremist, whose experience counts for nothing? Sympathy validates grief, but you have invalidated mine.

I also cannot see how you concluded that I insisted, or even suggested, that anyone’s rights be taken away. My argument was that women had a right to know about the possible consequences. Read Greer’s quote again about how women who challenge the status quo are treated with suspicion. Perhaps the argument isn't as binary as you believe.

In the absense of adequate information, abortion was an obvious solution. Why would that make me someone of “extremes” and “prone to mental illness”?

Greer refers to “pain and grief” in her quote. She does not seek to minimise it by writing it off as mental illness, but instead challenges the social constructs which make abortion seem, as I saw it, an obvious choice.

If you are going to defend pro-choice arguments with anti-woman statements (like your inference that my article is just the babblings of a madwoman), you are buying into the “phony debate” to which Greer refers.

At least Greer recognises that women’s rights cannot be advanced at the expense of women.



Other articles of interest:

To go forward, feminism must redefine its ideology Norah Vincent, The Baltimore Sun, May 30 1999
Culture warfare and habitual hyperbole detract from both progress and purpose.

Pro-Choice Is No-Choice on Campus Norah Vincent, The Village Voice, April 26 - May 2, 2000 American institutions of higher learning have bent over backward to coddle - no, valorize - feminists, blacks, gays, and the disabled. But few of them have given the golden nod to one particularly vulnerable minority: mothers.

From Abortion Info.net. Reprinted with permission

Aborted Women Speak Out