Thursday, August 23

:: Oh, I forgot that human rights were only for boys

Ok, I can't hold back any longer. I have resisted talking about the Catholic flap over Amnesty International's long overdue decision to recognize that punishing women who have had an abortion, or refusing to treat women with injuries from an unsafe abortion, or refusing to provide an abortion to a woman whose life or health would be threatened by a pregnancy, or forcing a woman whose been raped to carry the resulting pregnancy to term, is a violation of human rights.

Now, I could go on about how long it took for Amnesty to take a friggin' position on FORCED PREGNANCY. For several years now they've had a project on preventing violence against women, but never came out and addressed whether access to safe and legal abortion was a human rights issue. However, after two years of debate among the national chapters, the international organization finally developed an opinion -- and frankly a darn good one.

But instead I'd like to go on about the fixation of the Vatican on their position. Oh. My. God. (And I do mean mine, because clearly mine is different from theirs.) The only next step I see for the Vatican is to say openly and plainly that a fetus is worth more than the woman who carries it, and that women really do deserve to be punished.

As it is, the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Bertone, comes pretty darn close:

"Even the life that is the result of violence should be saved," said the cardinal in an interview today with Vatican Radio.

"Even though they are persons in gestation, they are persons, they are human subjects, with all the dignity of a human being," he added.

Why don't people get this?? It's simple people. You can whine about how yucky abortion is, about how all the pro-choicers talk about is "Our body, our right," as if there were noone else involved. Ok, I get that one chant can oversimplify an issue, but let's try this one on for size:

THE VATICAN, THE GOP, ANTI-CHOICE EVANGELICAL CONSERVATIVES DON'T CARE ABOUT WOMEN. They will sacrifice your life in a snap in order to save a fetus. They will jail you. You can be raped, you can be dying, it doesn't matter. You are worth more to them as a dead martyr than a living member of society. In fact, I'm not even sure about that -- there was a time when women who died in childbirth were not allowed to be buried in the church graveyard. Anyone know if that's still true?


I'm sorry for the outburst, but every morning I read the news coming from the Vatican and I just get ticked off. Those self-righteous, mysogynist $&*#s.


Ciccina said...

Hmmm, feisty feminist female blogger takes on the Catholic church... looks like you've just disqualified yourself from ever working for the Edwards campaign ;-)

In response to what should have been a very quick work assignment, I spent the better part a day reading through all of Amnesty's background materials on their decision. They've done a remarkably thorough job, in my opinion, of integrating this issue into their overall platform and explaining why it is not only justified but very much needed. It very sad, but nonetheless impressive, stuff. I'm sure you've seen it all in one form or another.

Its really disgusting that the Vatican would try to damage Amnesty over this. You don't see them calling for boycotts of weapons manufacturers or telling voters not to support candidates who are pro-death penalty. Their true colors have always been about maintaining their idea of the appropriate social hierarchy, with the church (and its assets) at the pinnacle.

zippy said...

Oh, ciccina, you SO get me! When they were first pondering their new position on abortion, I admit that I was very scornful of Amnesty. But then I saw their background materials, and I was so impressed. They really crafted a position that reflects the values of the organization -- and frankly, should draw in those who might be otherwise uncomfortable taking on the subject.

Ciccina said...

I know just what you mean. I knew they had had a lot of meetings to vet the decision, and yet part of me still hung on to the notion that maybe this was just a move to satisfy a few vocal board members (or something along those lines). The emphasis on rape/incest seemed a bit shallow as well. But now that I've read their stuff and understand what they are talking about is decriminalization and access, I understand and applaud what they are doing. They've done a great job of explaining how it is part of their human rights agenda.

In general, I'm personally turned off by the whole rape-incest exception thing, which most pro-lifers support. The value of human life doesn't change just because one parent did something incredibly heinous. The rape-incest exception points right to the heart of the hypocrisy of the pro-life position; its more about punishing women for their sexual behavior than it is about "protecting the unborn." You would think they would see all abortions as equally unacceptable, but instead you get this "its okay for you to 'kill your baby' because its not your fault you got pregnant."

I guess this is the one point of agreement between me and the pope.

zippy said...

Yeah, I know what you mean. In Brazil, there are only two exceptions: life and rape. The rape exception in my mind is not unconnected to the acceptability of honor killings in other cultures. It's all about ownership -- a child from a woman's trauma is rejected by the man who "owns" her, whether her father or her husband. In honor killings a woman who has had a relationship that her owner hasn't approved of is a living symbol of his shame and must be destroyed.

On the plus side, at least a woman who has an abortion because of a rape gets to survive the experience.

Ciccina said...

I think this was in the Amnesty stuff I was reading, regarding Sudan... a raped woman can be accepted back into her family, but the "half-breed" progeny is shunned. And if I understand correctly, in the refugee camps, a minor can't apply for relocation so long as his parent/s are alive. Though this is probably something the boys can work around, its just another layer of misery (when you would've thunk all the layers had already been used up).

The other thing that drives me nuts about the rape/incest exception as a policy position is how unworkable it is. And its not like we can't look to other countries to see what the snarls are. Do you have to make a rape accusation to qualify for the abortion, or must charges be brought? Or, must there be a trial first and a verdict reached? And what about plea bargains? And will there be an abortion shield provision, so women could bring charges without being accused of doing so just to get an abortion? Or will real rape victims be dissuaded from getting an abortion so it wouldn't hurt the court case? Its all just ridiculous. You only have to think about it for five minutes to see its simply impossible in a just society.

Its just like you say - people with these views are just much more comfortable with the idea of women as victims, especially if it is to uphold their own idea of what moral behavior is.

It brings us right back to the days (whenever they were) when a tribe would sacrifice girls to win the favor of the gods.