The Right to Abortion

LeoCasey at LeoCasey at
Fri Aug 11 11:28:28 MDT 1995

Carrol writes:

> Leo Casey's Aug. 11 posting on the abortion question begins, "If we want to
>have a serious discussion of a woman's right to choose . . . ." I do not
>a serious or any other discussion of a "woman's right to choose"; I am only
>interested in (a) a woman's right to have an abortion without outside
>pressure of any sort and (b) the political strategy and tactics by which
that right is
>achieved, confirmed, and expanded...

>The rhetoric of "choice" is acceptable, perhaps, as an agitational tactic:
>it appeals to the prevailing ideologies of individualism. But it also
>to that nearly primary bourgeois illusion that "choice" or the exercise of
>"choice" is somehow a good in itself.

There is a tendency on this list, most radically represented by Mr. Scheetz,
 to discuss issues of  male supremacy and feminism without the slightest
reference to -- and, it appears, knowledge of -- a rather substantial body of
Marxist-Feminist, Socialist-Feminst and radical feminist literature. Jim
thinks his "crime" is being a man; in fact, his troubles have their origin in
being a man who doesn't take the time to inform and educate himself on the
subject before he blunders in. Carrol, I am afraid, is doing the same thing.

There was a substantial debate in the 1970s within Marxist-Feminist and
Socialist- Feminist circles on the utter inadequacy of a struggle waged
solely in terms of the right to an abortion. Anyone interested in the terms
of this debate may consult Rosalind Petchesky's masterful text, _Abortion and
Woman's Choice: The State, Sexuality and Reproductive Freedom._ (Northeastern
University Press, 1984.) as well as Linda Gordon's classic history, _Woman's
Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America._ (Penguin,
1977.) The discussion focused  on the need for an overall program for
reproductive freedom, that is, on the freedom for women to make _all_
pertinent decisions concerning their reproduction, including the choice to
bear children when she wanted to as well as the right to have an abortion.
Contributions from women of color and working class women to those debates
highlighted practices such as forced sterilization, and the need for a broad
program of reproductive freedom.

What is the blather about choice being bourgeois? Are we back to the point
where the "workers state" has the right to withdraw such 'bourgeois freedom,"
as the Stalinist state did in the 1930s. Are we on common ground with those
"left wing" critics of the right to choose who talk about control of one's
body as bourgeois individualism?

Maybe some of us prefer the label democrat precisely because we view
emancipation as extending, rather than restricting,  choice and freedom.

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