Saturday, October 27, 2012

Feminist sexism and “therapeutic abortion”

Is the “war on women” really a war on men?

Yesterday on The Impractical Catholic I posted a reminder to myself that the sickness from which rape springs is still alive in our culture — marginalized, ostracized, yet still back-handedly justified in some instances by some people, and subtly encouraged by the pornography industry.  While I don’t think this justifies treating every stumbling, bumbling male faux pas as subconscious approval of rape, I do believe men need to be more openly, vocally condemnatory of rape, and less tolerant of any expression that seems to suggest rape is in any sense desirable or deserved.

However, by bringing the issue of aborting the children of forced sex into the foreground, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock have kicked over a rock in the American cultural landscape to reveal a reverse sexism among feminists … mostly among the pro-aborts but to a lesser extent even among those who are avidly, fervently pro-life.  You can find that reverse sexism wherever you find a variation of the words, “This just goes to show that men don’t understand.”

Lest you think I’m over-reacting to a generalization, let me point out that the “war on women” meme involves heavy reliance on the word misogynist to describe anyone who opposes any item on the feminist agenda, especially abortion and contraception.  A misogynist is by definition a man; “female misogynist” is as much an oxymoron as is “Jewish anti-Semite”.  Women opponents, to gender feminists, are merely blind tools and useful idiots; they haven’t had the “click experience” Kimberly Manning describes in her conversion story: “the exact moment of coming into full consciousness of one’s oppression”.  They don’t count; they’ll come around sooner or later.  But men oppose the agenda only to put women “back in their place”: subordinate, subservient and subdued.

Consider:  One argument I run across repeatedly is that the Catholic Church opposes abortion because “the bishops are men who don’t understand how horrible it is/would be for a woman to carry a child after rape or incest”.  This argument is wrong on several levels, and not simply because it relies on the “stupid, insensitive man” trope.

  1. As long as I’ve been aware of the abortion controversy, whenever support for/opposition to abortion has been broken down by sex, more men have been for abortion, more women against.  If gender feminism were correct, you’d expect the pro-life movement to be dominated by men; the Florynce Kennedy quip, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament,” speaks loudly to this presumption.  But the numbers over the last forty years consistently show that shutting men up won’t shut the pro-life movement down; remove all men from the count, and you actually weaken the pro-abort presence.
  2. The only people who really know how horrible it is to bear the child of a rapist are those women who actually have born their rapists’ babies to term.  Yet pro-aborts are unconscionably shy of bringing their voices into the debate, and we have some evidence why:  In the only major study of pregnant rape victims done between 1973 and 2004, Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found that between 75 and 85 percent of the victims did not choose abortion.[1]  In a later study of 192 women who had conceived during forced sex, the Elliot Institute found that 80% of the women who carried to term (69%) were happy with the decision, with none of them regretting the birth; of those who aborted, 80% said it was the wrong decision, and 43% reported pressure from families and health workers.[2]  Not all the news is life-positive; a national probability sample done in 1996 found that only 38.1% carried to term, with 50% ending in abortion and 11.8% in miscarriages.[3]  Nevertheless, the evidence appears to show that women who have been raped don’t automatically want or demand an abortion.
  3. As long as I’ve been part of the movement, abortion as a therapeutic intervention has been a bitter joke, with little to nothing in the way of medical evidence to back it up.  In fact, so far as the evidence goes, abortion appears to reinforce the trauma of the rape with its own trauma, doing even greater damage than if the woman had carried to term.  If anything, legal abortion enables the abusers of women and teens — the true, clinically-diagnosable misogynists.  As for incest victims, very rarely is the underage victim even consulted, with the perpetrator arranging the operation and the clinic acting as accessory after the fact, helping to perpetuate the victim’s exploitation.
For example, the parents of three teenaged Baltimore girls pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree rape and child sexual abuse.  The father had repeatedly raped the three girls over a period of at least nine years, and the rapes were covered up by at least ten abortions.  At least five of the abortions were performed by the same abortionist at the same clinic.[4]

Talk about insensitivity, try visiting a pro-abort blog where the topic du jour is PAS (post-abortion syndrome).  Sixty-five percent of women suffer trauma symptoms after an abortion;[5] yet the closest many feminists can get to bracing sisterly solidarity is some variation of “It’s for your own good, so suck it up, you whiny little baby.”

The fact is, gender feminists are for the most part speaking not from any personal experience of bearing children after rape but from a shared conviction that motherhood itself is slavery.  For others, abortion in response to forced sex is an attempt to get social justice “on the cheap”, that is, without taking any real action or responsibility for minimizing either rape or incest.  Not only does it fail to bring social justice for the victims, it does a massive injustice by killing children for the sins of their fathers.

 No, the claim that “the bishops don’t understand because they’re men” is not only an abusive ad hominem fallacy, it shows us that, at their core, gender feminists are as sexist as anyone else can be.  They’ve simply turned their assumptions about men into political dogma.

[1] Mahkorn, S. (1979). “Pregnancy and Sexual Assault”. The Psychological Aspects of Abortion (eds. Mall & Watts). Washington, D.C.: University Publications of America, pp. 55-69.
[2] Reardon, D. C.; Makimaa, J.; & Sobie, A. (eds.) (2000). Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault. Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, pp. 19-22. Cited in Reardon, D. C. (2004, August 8). Rape, Incest and Abortion: Searching Beyond the Myths. Retrieved October 27, 2012 from
[3] Holmes, M. M., et al. (1996). Rape-related pregnancy estimates and descriptive characteristics from a national sample of women.  American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 175(2), pp. 320-324.
[4] Jean Marbella, “Satisfactory explanations of sex crime proved elusive,” Baltimore Sun, Oct. 31, 1990; M. Dion Thompson, “GBMC, doctor suspected nothing amiss,” Baltimore Sun, Oct. 31. 1990; “Family Horror Comes to Light in Story of Girls Raped by Father,” Baltimore Sun, November 4, 1990; Raymond L. Sanchez, “Mother Sentenced in Rape Case,” Baltimore Sun, Dec. 6, 1990. Cited in Reardon, D. C. (2004, August 8). Rape, Incest and Abortion: Searching Beyond the Myths. Retrieved October 27, 2012 from
[5] Rue, V. M. et al. (2004). Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women. Medical Science Monitor 10(10): SR5-16. Cited in The Elliot Institute. (2012, August). Forced Abortion in America: A Special Report, p. 26. Retrieved October 27, 2012 from