The Suzy B Blog

Jun 9, 2010
Chinese Abortion Practices: A Lesson for the West

young old hands

World Magazine's recent expose titled “The Thirty Years War,” discusses, in gruesome detail, the appalling results of China’s one-child-only policy. In 1979, China’s powerful communist government established a policy to reign in its burgeoning population, allowing only one child to be born per family. If a woman is caught with an “unauthorized pregnancy,” she is often coerced or forced to undergo an abortion. Mass sterilizations are commonplace, and “undesirable” newborns are frequently abandoned and left to die. Among these “undesirables” are the deformed, the disabled, and the female. Most families desire healthy sons, and this attitude has led to a huge disparity in the populations of men and women. In 2005, it was reported that China had over 32 million more men than women under the age of 20.
Isn’t it ironic that abortion, often debated as a “woman’s right to choose” here in America, is deliberately used to take away women’s choice in China and numerous other countries? Women are being systematically singled out and exterminated in the womb, while many self-proclaimed “feminists” in the United States Congress (I.E. Barbara Boxer, among others) continue to defend the procedure used to do it. While many Americans find the issue of gender-selective abortions to be irrelevant, it most certainly is not. In fact, Columbia University released a study in 2008 reflecting a strong “son-bias” in American births as recently as the year 2000. Some states such as Oklahoma have enacted laws to combat gender-selective abortions, much to the chagrin of pro-choice women’s rights groups. One might wonder why these groups, which supposedly seek to promote gender equality, would get so up in arms about a bill that would protect against gender discrimination in the womb.
In addition to females, children with disabilities and deformities also become targets for termination and abandonment. Sadly, these practices are not restricted to China. A 2006 study by the National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register in the United Kingdom reported that 92% of women that receive a prenatal diagnosis for Down ’s syndrome choose to abort their child. The statistics for American births are just as disturbing, where an estimated 90% of babies diagnosed prenatally with Down’s are aborted. New statistics continue to emerge which suggest that children with even moderate deformities, such as a cleft palate or deformed feet, are being aborted at increasing rates.
These statistics send a strong message about the way that abortion has shaped societal attitudes. Rather than creating equality for women, abortion has merely enabled people to discriminate against women in vivo and act upon the widespread “son-bias.” Abortion also allows discrimination against the disabled and deformed, harkening back to the eugenics movement and the euthanasia efforts of early Nazi Germany. Abortion itself sends the message that there is nothing inherently sacred about human life. By removing the sanctity of life, it is then left up to debate what a human life is worth, and what lives are worth more than others. Is a grown woman’s life worth more than a developing child? Is a man more valuable than a woman? Are the disabled as valuable as everyone else? These questions, when left open to debate, lead to dire social consequences, as seen in China and other countries today. Without the basic right to live, all other rights simply fall by the wayside. It is essential for a civilized society to respect all human life equally, from conception to natural death.

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Jun 9, 2010
Victory for Pro-life Women in Politics

What an amazing night for pro-life women across the country! Without a doubt, last night victories were the greatest affirmation of the Susan B. Anthony List mission since our organization's founding and truly telling of the resurgence of authentic, pro-life feminism--feminism true to our formother's belief that the rights of one group can never be advanced on the broken backs of others.

Check out SBA List President Marjorie's op-ed on Fox News this morning.

Primaries in 11 states are over. In recent weeks several articles have attacked particular voices and groups unabashedly supporting the “pro-life feminism” of candidates such as California GOP Senate primary winner Carly Fiorina.

Even Ms. Magazine's blog gets in on the action with an entry titled,  “Sarah Palin is Not a Feminist.” The articles I've seen are packed with lots of ad feminum shots at Governor Palin and the organization I oversee as president, the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, and then there's some harrumphing over the perceived lack of gratitude shown to the feminist foremothers of the 1960s, and lists, lots of lists.

What's on these lists? Well, there are lists of the things you apparently have to do or say or believe in order to be an honest-to-goodness feminist.

You have to support the authors’ particular wish-list of government programs or budget items for one thing. And, according to one commentator, Jessica Valenti, you simply must spend some quality time engaging in “a structural analysis of patriarchal norms, power dynamics or systemic inequities.”

But when they really get down to brass tacks, each of the articles insists upon one thing: feminism, whatever else it might include, must include a virtually unqualified support for abortion rights.

The success of pro-life women, like Fiorina, in last night’s primaries makes it clear that this is a risky gambit in the year 2010. Those who hazard it are speaking into an American culture in which the majority of the public, including the majority of women, now self-identify as “pro-life.”

Poor women and women of color (in whose name older feminists often presume to speak) are more reluctant to turn to abortion than their wealthier sisters. In our time, opposition to abortion figures so prominently in our society that it nearly brought down the entire health care bill.

Still, abortion rights-feminists are entitled to give their argument a try. But so are pro-life feminists.

Once the idea of feminism escaped the universities and books and reigning newspapers which gave it life, it became the public property of millions of American women. These women are free to decide, over time and through their lived experiences, where their interests really lie. In other words, the business of defining feminism is not a monopoly; it is a competition of ideas.

Pro-life feminists like Carly Fiorina think that women don’t view the right to abort their child as the linchpin of their freedom or their happiness. Rather, they wish to bear the children they conceive, while maintaining the realistic possibility of getting an education and working to help support their families.

Tuesday’s wins in California and Nevada reveal that this message resonates with a majority of women.

It’s surprising, really, that abortion-rights feminists are so unequivocal in their insistence that “pro-life feminism” is an oxymoron. After all, the pro-life feminist argument relies upon feminism’s better angels. It is a communitarian argument for one thing.

The pro-life feminist looks out for the interests of other people affected by her decisions. She refuses to take terrible advantage of another vulnerable group - the unborn - in order to advance her own case. She makes the “both/and” argument: both the woman and the unborn child deserve respect.

Secondly, the pro-life feminist relies upon empirical and scientific datum. She makes a rational argument about when life begins or about the psychological or physical harm some women suffer after abortion; she is not shouting down or pressuring her opponents, or belittling them personally.

Finally, she insists that what women alone are capable of doing – bearing and mothering children–– merits more respect than it presently receives. Abortion rights have unburdened men from the fathering role. His freedom from sexual responsibility is premised on the woman's choice to abort or not.

It is no coincidence, suggests the pro-life feminist, that 37 years after women were granted the “right to abortion,” the number of women and children living without the presence or the support of the father is at an all-time high. She thinks it’s no accident that elite jobs are regularly populated by women who, often with regret, felt pressured, with no support available to them, to avoid parenting in order to advance in their career.

Pro-life feminists should not demonstrate a lack of gratitude for the feminists who went before us with their just demands for equal opportunity, and their analysis of the ways in which public and private institutions and customs devalued women.

But neither should abortion rights feminists be deaf to pro-life feminists’ logic, nor to their observations about women’s lived experience of freedom over these last several decades.

Abortion rights feminists should stop the name-calling and recognize their pro-life sisters’ efforts to move feminism in a more inclusive, responsive, and rational direction.

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Jun 8, 2010
Live Tweeting of Election Night Results

On Twitter? The Susan B. Anthony List will be live-tweeting tonight's election results. Follow us at SBAList

Go Carly, Sue, and Cecile!!

Carly FiorinaSue LowdenCecile Bledsoe

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