Schukman's article not an ethical solution

By Emily Gerteis, Katie Mesner-Hage, Jessica Mowles

Over the past week, we’ve spent a lot of time railing against Josh Schukman’s multiple contributions to The Mac Weekly (“Abortion is not an ethical solution,” April 18, “Letters to the Editor,” April 25). Here, we’d like to publicly address the questions Josh poses to his critics. To honor his latest request, we’ll begin with why we do not believe an “unborn child is entitled to life.” Simply, we believe an embryo, fetus, and/or blastocyst does not have rights that supercede those of the woman whose body carries it. More importantly, we do not assume the right to impose any belief – including this one – on anyone else. This is the essence of our identity as pro-choice women.

Secondly, setting aside the absurdity and intellectual dishonesty of comparing an embryo to the plight of oppressed, actual people, we will skip to the medical facts of the issue. For those that believe that life begins at conception, consider this: 50 percent of ova that are fertilized, 50 percent of “lives” that are conceived, do not successfully implant into the uterus and are spontaneously aborted. If, as Josh believes, life begins at conception, then women naturally abort half of their unborn children. In this sense, does Josh deem all women to be inherently unethical, even murderous?

The medical and biological reality of abortion has been lost completely in political discourse, which Josh rejects but viciously perpetuates. We agree that the debate tends to be politically charged and generally inarticulate, but we’re not sure that Josh’s invocation of the “pro-abortion movement” “destroying siblings” and “ending lives” is adding discursive clarity or objectivity.

Moving on to what we believe to be the crux of the debate at hand, we reject the implicit moral dichotomy within the anti-choice argument. The pro-choice movement embraces ethics: it leaves ethical decisions up to the woman and her support networks, so that each individual is allowed to pursue her own ethical course, including carrying a pregnancy to term.

Josh’s personal ethics are his business, and since he won’t ever need an abortion he’ll never go through the personally difficult process of confronting it, as many women do. But he isn’t just writing about his personal ethics; he’s writing about political and social ethics and the legislation of those ethics. This is where we take issue.

You can’t construct an argument inside a heternormative bubble, declaring for example that if men attended classes on the importance of fatherhood, women wouldn’t need abortions, and then deem it applicable in the world in which we live-never mind that the presence of a man does not automatically make a pregnancy wanted nor does it mean the family is financially or emotionally capable of taking care of a child.

Many sticky points remain entirely ignored, as Ola Switala addressed in her article last week (“Na’ve anti-choice moralizing denies rights of born people,” April 25). To name a few: class, race, sexual violence against women, a decrepit healthcare system, and a powerful political engine that slashes funds for family-planning clinics, passes laws enabling pharmacists to deny women emergency contraception and the Pill, and promotes abstinence-only sex education that tells kids condoms don’t work.

Josh would have us believe that women are running around getting abortions as part of their “lifestyle.” Sounds like a breeze, right? He doesn’t mention that 73 percent of women are at least 50 miles from an abortion provider; that 97 percent of non-metropolitan areas don’t have an abortion provider; that abortions are expensive and thanks to the Hyde Amendment poor women on Medicaid receive no coverage; and that the women who make it through these obstacles are treated like irresponsible children and told to go home for 24 hours and think about their decision some more.

Emily’s experience at Pro-Choice Resources privileged her to hear the stories of women seeking financial support to obtain abortions; women who were date raped, were victims of incest, were barely teenagers, had no family support, or who, like all Macalester women, valued completing their education. These women’s realities challenge Josh’s superficial analysis of the depth and complexity of women’s decisions.

We resist this male privileged, intellectually dishonest, discursively violent construction meant to justify the control of female – our – bodies and sexuality.

Contact Emily Gerteis ’08, Katie

Mesner-Hage ’08, and Jessica Mowles ’08 at [email protected],

[email protected], and [email protected], respectively.