Women Speak Up - Dr Joanna Howe

Women Speak Up

In this section, Australian women from all walks of life speak up on the issue of abortion.

The abortion lobby would have us believe that it’s only men that are against abortion. Nothing could be further from the truth. In speaking out against abortion I have found that it’s women – and young women in particular – who have responded most strongly to my message.

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In joining up with the abortion lobby, second wave feminism betrayed women. This brand of feminism told us that women had to eliminate their reproductive capacity and be like men in order to succeed in the contemporary workplace and indeed the world.

First wave feminists like the incredible Enid Lyons, Mary Lee and Elizabeth Nicholls in Australia and Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton in the US, knew that the only beneficiaries of abortion on demand were men. They were staunchly anti-abortion because they knew that it hurt women to kill their children.

The real answer to the challenge of unwanted, unplanned or crisis pregnancy is not to kill a human being but to provide meaningful support to women. Women need material resources: paid maternity leave, universal childcare, flexible working arrangements, secure housing, access to mental health support, exit strategies from domestic violence and so on. Surely the need for this supportive infrastructure is something we can all agree on, irrespective of our position on abortion.

In the words of prochoice law professor Deborah Dinner: “The discourse of reproductive choice continues to legitimate workplace structures modelled on the masculine ideal [with no caregiving responsibilities] as well as social policies that provide inadequate public support for families.”