The coming of abortion-on-demand with the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision, Roe v Wade, was something fought for and welcomed by the militant feminists of the time as something that would liberate women from their historic condition of being subject to the will and power of men.  “A woman’s right to choose” was the basic principle which would liberate all women.

In the 36 years since women were ‘liberated’ by Roe v Wade, have they really been liberated?  Richard Stith, who teaches at Valparaiso University of Law in Indiana, thinks otherwise.  Writing in the current issue of First Things, Her Choice, Her Problem, How Abortion Empowers Men, he suggests that far from liberating women, abortion-on-demand had made them even more subject to the sexual aggressiveness of men.  Here is an excerpt from his article:

Legalized abortion was supposed to grant enormous freedom to women, but it has had the perverse result of freeing men and trapping women.

[Quoting feminist Catherine MacKinnon’s essay Privacy vs. Equality, “Sexual intercourse … cannot simply be presumed …indeed, men control sexuality and Roe does not contradict this.  Abortion facilitates women’s heterosexual availability.  In other words, under conditions of gender inequality (abortion)  does not liberate women; it frees male sexual aggression.  The availability of abortion removes the one remaining legitimized reason that women have had for refusing sex besides the headache.  In the end, Roe’s right to privacy looks like an injury got up as a gift, for virtually every ounce of control that women won from legalized abortion has gone directly into the hands of men.”

Throughout human history, children have been the consequence of natural sexual relations between men and women.  Both sexes knew they were equally responsible for their children and society had somehow to facilitate their upbringing.  Even the advent of birth control did not fundamentally change this dynamic, for all forms of contraception are fallible.

Elective abortion changes everything.  Abortion absolutely prevents the birth of a child.  A woman’s choice for or against abortion breaks the causal link between conception and birth.  It matters little what or who caused conception or whether the male insisted on having unprotected intercourse.  It is she alone who finally decides whether the child comes into the world.  She is the responsible one.  For the first time in history, the father and the doctor and the health-insurance actuary can point a finger at her as the person who allowed an inconvenient human being to come into the world.

The deepest tragedy may be that there is no way out.  By granting the pregnant woman an unrestrained choice over who will be born, we make her alone to blame for how she exercises her power.  Nothing can alter the solidarity-shattering impact of the abortion option.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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