Oppressors of Women Scapegoat Fetuses to Preserve Patriarchy
by Richard Stith
[Originally published in The New Human (Vol. VI, No. 5, June 1977), newsletter of the National Youth Pro-Life Coalition,, under the title “Abortion Proponents Are Often Exploiters of Women.” Lightly edited.]
We’re all familiar with the argument that racism is fomented by those who exploit poor whites, in order to generate a convenient and often dehumanized scapegoat and thus prevent oppressed white workers from realizing who their real enemies are. The upper-class white in effect says to the lower-class white whom he is oppressing, “Hey, don’t blame me for your miserable existence. It’s those ‘n . . . .s’ who want your job and keep wages down by flooding the market with cheap labor. Get them. Lynch them. Kill them.”
Well, similarly, those in our society who oppress women are given a convenient scapegoat in the frequently dehumanized unborn child. The male says to the female he gets pregnant and abandons, “Hey, don’t blame me for your problems. It’s that ‘fetus’ inside you. Get it. Abort it. Kill it.”
Or, again, those who stigmatize unwed mothers instead of reacting with compassion can say, “Don’t blame us for your ostracism from the community. We’ll be glad to take you back, if you cover up what you did by getting an abortion. That ‘fetus’ is your enemy. Get it. Kill it.”
Or, again, the businesses that pay women less because they get pregnant, that don’t provide paid maternity leave and even fire pregnant women, that don’t in any way (that is, by part-time jobs) try to help men and women accommodate their family responsibilities—all these businesses can say with abortion available, “Hey, don’t blame us for your economic problems. It’s that damn ‘fetus.’ We’ll treat you just like always if you’ll get rid of it. Kill it.”
And, finally, abortion lets the government tell the poor and the black (at home and abroad): “Hey don’t blame us or U.S. capitalism for your troubles. It’s your own kids. They are your real enemy. You’ll see how happy you’ll be if you just get rid of them. Kill them. We’ll even pay for it!”
In none of these cases are the oppressed (poor whites, blacks, women) forced to turn to racism or to abortion. But the dehumanization and scapegoating of blacks and of the unborn nevertheless are used as tools of systematic oppression. The mere fact that women in theory have “freedom of choice” in regard to abortion doesn’t stop them from being exploited by abortion, because the parameters of that choice are strictly limited by the interests of sexism, racism, and capitalism, and because the consciousness of this limitation is ideologically suppressed by the use of the “fetus” as a scapegoat.
Blacks in Africa have long regarded abortion “as the white man’s new(est) form of genocide,” stated Dr. Margaret White of Croyden, England at the annual meeting of the National Federation of Catholic Physicians Guilds. The United States Agency for International Development has financed a spokesman who attacks the antiquated laws of the colonial masters and at the same time is calling for more contraception and abortion. “I find this . . . a nastier form of colonialism than ours,” she stated. The U.S. Center For Disease Control and Prevention lists the abortion rate for non-whites as twice that of whites in America. (Ob-Gyn News, 3-15-77).
The [National Youth Pro-life Coalition] NYPLC Board of Directors, in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, has condemned the U.S. government’s plan to sterilize one-fourth of the world’s fertile women, and has called for an end to the plan’s covert funding of the International Planned Parenthood Federation . . . . The NYPLC pointed out that such a massive program must necessarily involve heavy one-sided propaganda, if not coercion. The real motive behind federally-financed abortion and sterilization, keeping down the demands of the poor for social justice, is now out in the open and must be resisted, the NYPLC declared. . . .
Interestingly, the leftist press in the U.S. and abroad has for a number of years agreed with the pro-life movement about the often regressive nature of the government push for abortion and sterilization, even though the left has not generally been against abortion per se. For example, the cartoon below appeared on the cover of a journal called Science for the People in January, 1977. The remark by Che Guevara is a warning that abortion may be used to kill the unborn poor before they have a chance to grow up to be revolutionaries. The artist is Wen-Ti Tsen of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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