Educated Class Women and Abortion
let's get strategic
All the educated-class women of my acquaintance are pro-choice, and they are pretty offended that one of the political parties in the US is pro-life.
That probably explains why educated women vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party.
And I understand why. Educated-class girls are taught to go to college and start a career, right through their maximum child-bearing years. They understand that it is much more difficult to do the education and career thing while also interacting with boys and young men and dating and stuff.
Women expect to be protected, and educated women expect to be protected from unwanted pregnancies. But women are not strategic thinkers; nor, I believe are most men.
So, writes Ann Furedi, “We need to decriminalise abortion once and for all.” The subhead reads: “There should be no limit on a woman's right to choose.” Finally, she argues:
No woman should be prohibited by law from exercising her moral judgement about her pregnancy. No doctor should be prohibited from applying her skills when she feels it is right. If we adopted that framework, no woman would feel the need to lie to get medication. And no woman would conceal her pregnancy and try to miscarry alone in her bathroom.
Come now. You can’t seriously expect us to believe that All Women have perfect moral judgement and no woman would ever lie about an embarrassing situation, and no woman would ever wait until after the last moment to terminate her pregnancy. We are not talking about life in Heaven, but the life of fallible humans in a sublunar world.
Guess what: there are good moral judgements and there are evil moral judgements.
Let us start with Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt from The Concept of the Political:
Let us suppose that in the field of morality the ultimate distinctions are good and evil[.]
The point is that, in the matter of “exercising her moral judgement” a pregnant women may make an evil judgement. Otherwise morality means nothing at all, it just means that a woman has a right to do whatever she wants with her pregnant fetus and morality has nothing to do with the case.
So yeah. But let’s leave men out of it. If a woman terminates a pregnancy there will be some women of her acquaintance that will give her moral approval, and some women that will judge her action has evil. My lived experience is that women absolutely love making moral judgements about other women. They say: “I can’t believe she did that.” Southern women are more gentle. They say: “Bless Her Heart.”
Then there is the question of deciding at what point a woman terminating her pregnancy is not just exercising a moral judgement but committing a criminal act.
Do you understand, dear educated women, that at some point we encounter the act that is central to George Eliot’s Adam Bede where Hetty Sorrel — a teenage girl that Eliot represents as terminally thoughtless and superficial — buries her recently born child and subsequently faces criminal prosecution. Is burying your born-alive baby an act of moral judgement, or a criminal act of killing a human being?
Educated women may elide such an issue in articles about abortion, but The Law cannot. I would say that after dealing with the proper distribution of the estates of deceased persons, the next most important thing The Law deals with is the killing of human beings, and what to do with the person or persons responsible.
But women expect to be protected, and under the current rules of sexual encounter, educated women know that they have to be protected against unwanted pregnancy. As a matter of human rights.
I get that. My only suggestion to my educated-class women friends is that maybe the problem is bigger that pro-choice or pro-life on abortion. Maybe the problemis the current rules about sex. Maybe the problem is a culture that “expects” women to spend their 20s starting a career, and expects them at the same time to “put out,” in the timeless words of Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire.
But I could be wrong.