03 Nov The Denial of Safe and Legal Abortion is Misogyny
Misogyny kills thousands of women every day.
Some die from honor killings. Others die from, or are severely disfigured by, acid attacks. Most have to try to live in the shadow of sexism, slut shaming, and rape culture. Women have to defend themselves, on a daily basis, from men who believe themselves to be entitled to women’s bodies.
Women all over the world are beaten, abused, raped, neglected, and abandoned.
Yes, there are different types of misogyny. Some are definitely worse than others. However, misogyny, to a large degree, may be rooted in a man’s desire to control women, and their belief that they have a right to punish women who resist that control.
It may surprise you, but the issue of reproductive health, particularly the debate on abortion, is the perfect case-study of society’s aggression towards women.
In the article, “Misogyny and Women’s Health,” Dr. David Grimes says that we can categorize levels of misogyny according to the following spectrum:
- Abuse (verbal, psychological, financial, physical)
Disdain for Women
A common argument for the criminalization of abortion is rooted in an attitude of disdain. It’s not uncommon to hear an anti-abortion advocate to say things like, “If she didn’t want to get pregnant, maybe she should have been more careful, or more conservative, or more prudent.”
This argument comes from the assumption that the only women who require safe and legal abortion are those who were reckless, or too “open-minded,” or foolish. Some arguments go even more extreme, implying that only promiscuous women would need contraception.
However, this belief discounts the possibility that some women need safe and legal abortion, not for any other reason than health. Some bodies are not ready for pregnancy. Some pregnancies come as a result of rape. But often, these issues are overlooked because of misogyny.
Abuse of Women
Abuse comes in many forms, and women suffer through most of them, such as when we restrict their birth control options. In the same vein, preventing a woman from having a safe and legal abortion that she needs to save her life is abuse.
Pregnancies sometimes have complications, and these complications risk women’s lives. Sometimes an abortion can save a woman’s life, and when we deny a woman a needed service, we are essentially allowing her to endure unnecessary pain and potentially die.
Forcing a woman to proceed with a pregnancy she isn’t prepared for is financial abuse. Not every woman has a supportive spouse, family, or profession who will help her pay her bills. The cost of a pregnancy, delivery, and postnatal care is not something everyone can afford. If a woman is denied safe and legal abortion, she’s basically forced in a position where she’s financially compromised for an indefinite number of years. It’s essentially enforced poverty.
Rape and Psychological Abuse
Another issue is whether or not women whose pregnancies were the result of rape should be allowed to terminate the pregnancy. The obvious answer should be, “Yes!” Unfortunately, our misogynistic culture is still not sure if a rape victim would want to fulfill all the demands associated with the childcare and childbirth of her rapist’s child.
Just imagine the psychological torment of a woman who is forced to build her life, her finances, her career-decisions, and even her relationships, around the consequence of her rape.
It’s very clear to anyone who pays any attention that the denial of safe and legal abortion is one of the many consequences of internalized misogyny. Our women deserve better.
For more resources on abortion please visit: EnGendeRight’s Policy Briefs and Fact Sheets
New Zealand Family Planning (2016, December). “Misogyny and Women’s Health.” Retrieved on: October 30, 2017.