Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Feminist Study of Canadian ProLife Discourse is Flawed

So some feminist finally finally decided write an academic article on pro-life discourse. (Abstract here).

And it's seriously flawed.

Why can't feminists get basic facts right?

I'm not even talking about how they use those facts. I'm talking about getting basic description rights and using proper logic to get at valid conclusions.

Let me give you a sample from the article. The paragraph is in relation to this section on the CLC website.

Pro-life discourse is shaped by the idea that all women want to be mothers. The core belief is that children deserve the right to life, and women naturally want to provide for their children. The CLC (2011; 2002) describes a woman's femininity as being connected to her ability to become pregnant and to be a mother. As such, a woman who has an abortion is rejecting her biological destiny (Campaign Life Coalition, 2011; 2002). This focus on femininity and motherhood intersects with abortion being portrayed as a medically harmful procedure. The CLC (2011; 2002) focuses on the impact of abortion on a woman's future reproductive capacity through naming potential risks such as repeated miscarriages, pre-term deliveries, and fetal abnormalities. This relies on the assumption that all women want to be mothers, if not now, then in the future; as such, abortion is described as a deprivation, and as an act of violence against women that women are inflicting on themselves (Campaign Life Coalition, 2011; 2002). The pro-life position is that abortion is the wrong choice, no matter the circumstance, and all women should embrace their natural roles.

Did Campaign Life Coalition say or imply that all women want to be mothers?


Most women do want to be mothers.

So the medical complications of abortion are very relevant.

And even if a woman doesn't want to be a mother.... who wants to suffer the negative after-effects of abortion?  (And some women do change their minds about motherhood!)

She's projecting on the pro-life discourse assumptions that do not exist in order to make the paragraph fit feminist discourse.

I especially love that phrase "a woman who has an abortion is rejecting her biological destiny."

Campaign Life Coalition is a largely Catholic organization.

There's no "biological destiny" in the minds of Catholics.

The Catholic mindset doesn't exclude the idea of women not having kids.

Yes, motherhood is a very important idea in the Catholic perception of women: all women are, on some level, meant to be mothers. But it does not have to be biological motherhood.

I often feel like academics, particularly feminist academics who examine pro-life discourse or tactics, only give a superficial examination of what pro-lifers really say and think. They often need to project their ideology onto the discourse without applying proper logic. So instead of backing up how pro-lifers assume all women want to be mothers, they just assert it...And it's true!

This would have never passed muster in a well-run humanities class.

Sometimes I get the impression that studies about pro-life discourse aren't serious attempts to analyze what pro-lifers actually say, they're about the edification of the faithful (to use religious terms). It's all about reinforcing what feminists "already know" to confirm their prejudices.

In my opinion, a good study should have brought something new to the fore. Something that people would have never known if they hadn't read it.

There are some other eye-rolling passages in this article (like casting Don Boudria as a Progressive Conservative, and the statement "it is scientifically and medically impossible to determine when conception of human life begins" [yeah, she seriously said that]". But the biggest flaw in this article is the approach. Pro-lifers aren't given a balanced description; words and assumptions are put in their mouths.

Our bodies are our own: Connecting abortion and social policy
Sonya Bourgeois
Canadian Review of Social Policy, No. 70 (2014)