Breda O’Brien: Feminist oppressors rejoice at denial of rights to unborn
Supreme Court ruling is a tragedy but one the people can overcome
The Repeal the Eighth march in Dublin on Thursday, International Women’s Day. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
‘The exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours. And to those who would ask why the word ‘person’ should include females, the obvious answer is, why should it not?”
Lord Sankey, lord chancellor of Great Britain, said this in 1929 in response to the “persons’ case”, where five women had taken a Canadian supreme court reference case to determine whether women could be considered persons under the terms of the British North American Act.
The Canadian supreme court took five weeks to deliberate and delivered a unanimous verdict. Women could not be considered persons under the law.
The five women did not give up. They appealed to the privy council of Great Britain, which at the time was Canada’s highest court of appeal. The privy council overturned the Canadian supreme court ruling.
Less than a century ago, the personhood of women was in doubt in Canada. Less than a century later, the Irish Supreme Court has found that the unborn do not have any constitutional rights other than the right to life.
This is a tragedy. And the bigger tragedy is that the feminist movement is rejoicing at the verdict. Instead of being a movement of social justice, supporting the radical equality of all human beings, feminism has become an oppressor, rejoicing in the fact that the smaller, weaker human has virtually no rights in our Constitution and avidly awaiting the moment when the very last right can be torn away.
The left-wing educationalist, Paulo Freire, wrote some perceptive words about the reality of oppression.
In the first chapter of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire wrote: “But almost always, during the initial stage of the struggle, the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors, or ‘sub-oppressors’.
“The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped. Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This is their model of humanity.”
How true this is. The current feminist dogma declares that women can never be fully free until they can be unpregnant whenever they wish, just like men.
There is a savage disconnect between the ideological cheerleaders and most of the women who end up having abortions. The leaders almost glory in the idea of having an abortion
In order for this to be realised, feminists have become sub-oppressors of the unborn, dehumanising them by the language that they use, deriding the idea that there can be any equality between the least developed humans and those who carry them in their womb.
And if the unborn is not a child, he or she has become what? An object, a thing, whose rights are contingent on the will of others until the magic of the birth canal or the Caesarean wound confers the right to be considered fully human?
That is not science. That is not justice. It is wilful blindness to the consequences of considering another human being essentially to be property, to be disposed of as seen fit by the stronger party.
One would think that anyone with any knowledge of history would find it hard to repress a shiver. As ever, when one category of human beings decide to dehumanise another, lethal consequences are not far behind.
One in five pregnancies in England and Wales end in abortion. And Irish feminists have no critique to make of that other than it represents women’s choices.
There is a savage disconnect between the ideological cheerleaders and most of the women who end up having abortions. The leaders almost glory in the idea of having an abortion. The majority of women view abortion as the least bad option in a series of terrible choices, a no-choice rather than a free choice.
They often do not see it as a liberation, but as a painful, tragic occurrence. Instead of working for a society which offers women choices that do not take life, ideological feminists scold women instead.
Normalise abortion. Insist on your rights. Regrets are not real, only a construct of an oppressive society. Meanwhile, women know what they feel, but go silent.
The arguments made by the Supreme Court are frightening, too. They said that there is no higher standard to which to appeal, nothing other than “the People” (capitalised in the judgment) which can decide what rights are given and taken away.
By that standard, those US states who endorsed slavery could not be criticised. The people spoke very clearly on slavery at one time. At another, they declared women non-persons. If there is no higher standard than the current consensus, none of us is secure.
The Canadian women had recourse to a higher authority than the Supreme Court. Here, too, there is a higher authority than the Supreme Court, so nominated by the court itself.
The people can reject the idea that rights are determined by the consensus of any historical period. They can affirm the rights of both the unborn and women to be seen as legal persons with legal rights.
And to those who would ask why the word “person” should include the unborn, the obvious answer is: why should it not?