Feminists Disagree on Many Things but Abortion Can’t Be One of Them

by | October 4, 2012
filed under Can-Con, Feminism, Politics

by Jarrah Hodge

Calgary Herald columnist Naomi Lakritz says Rona Ambrose is a feminist.


In her latest piece, which ran this past Tuesday, Lakritz argues Ambrose’s feminist credentials were established when she “spoke for herself” in voting for the anti-choice M-312.

“I must have been absent the day the sisterhood held a meeting and decided all women must think alike, or risk being condemned as traitors to their gender. Looks like federal Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose didn’t get the memo, either,” begins Lakritz’ column.

Feminists didn’t speak out against our country’s Status of Women Minister because she didn’t comply with some kind of groupthink. Feminists disagree on a lot of things, big and small. We have disagreements on pornography, sex work, body hair, the SFU Men’s Centre, SlutWalk, whether Pinterest is killing the movement, whether Lady Gaga is a role model, even whether knitting is reclaiming feminist heritage or setting us back.

Where feminists know we can’t afford to disagree is the fundamental feminist issue of the right to choose to have an abortion.

Lakritz is wrong: being a privileged woman making up your own mind to take a certain action on something does not in and of itself make you feminist. Otherwise Sarah Palin’s a feminist. I guess Bev Oda was being a feminist too, when she made up her own mind to order the $16 orange juice. Phyllis Schafly endorsing Todd (“legitimate rape”) Akin “spoke for herself”, which under Lakritz’ definition makes her a feminist. If only I’d known it was so easy to be a feminist, I wouldn’t have spent most of my spare time for the past three years working on this blog.

In reality, your feminist cred is measured by your belief in and active support of gender equality, not just your self-determination. If you, in your self-determination, take action that jeopardizes the equality and constitutional rights of the women you’re supposed to represent, that’s not feminist.

I made this video a few months ago on why you have to be pro-choice to call yourself a feminist and it applies in this situation:

Even though the Conservatives don’t have a wealth of good candidates for the position, Rona Ambrose deserves to lose her job as Minister responsible for the Status of Women, because she voted in a way that would have set back the status of women. As the Change.org petition that now has over 13,000 signatures states:

Canadian women deserve a representative who understands that women are people with ambitions, dreams, obligations, friends and careers. Canadian women deserve a representative who believes that women are more than their biological abilities and that those abilities should never be regulated by the government. Canadian women deserve a representative who understands that the ONLY person capable of defining a woman’s future is that very woman. Canadian women deserve a representative that will fight to move us into the future. Canadian women deserve a representative who refuses to revisit the battles long past.

We have the right to hold the Status of Women Minister accountable for the content of her actions – the mere fact of her having actions isn’t enough.


P.S. Lakritz would also do well to check the facts on Bertha Wilson’s ruling in the Morgentaler case. What she actually wrote was: “The precise point in the development of the foetus at which the state’s interest becomes ‘compelling’ I leave to the informed judgment of the legislature which is in a position to receive guidance on the subject from all the relevant disciplines. It seems to me, however, that it might fall somewhere in the second trimester.”  Justice Bertha Wilson, R. v. Morgentaler, January 28, 1988, Supreme Court of Canada (page 113).

Legally this was almost an aside. It’s worth mentioning Wilson also wrote:

“Liberty in a free and democratic society does not require the state to approve the personal decisions made by its citizens; it does, however, require the state to respect them. A woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy falls within this class of protected decisions. It is one that will have profound psychological, economic, and social consequences for her. It is a decision that deeply reflects the way the woman thinks about herself and her relationship to others and to society at large. It is not just a medical decision; it is a profound social and ethical one as well.”

So it would be awesome if the anti-choicers would stop acting like Bertha Wilson was a champion of fetal rights. #kthxbye

(photo via Wikimedia Commons)

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