All men are born free and equal in dignity and rights, proclaims the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Except that “all men” are not born, especially when they are girls who have had the misfortune to have been conceived in countries where boys are better off. This phenomenon of selective abortions (or “genericide”), which concerns Asia, but also Europe, the Balkans in particular, legitimately arouses widespread indignation. Is it not illogical that it is unbearable from a feminist point of view to abort a female fetus because it is female, but perfectly legitimate to abort a female fetus for any other reason? Apart from the “parental project”, an uncertain and fluctuating notion, what allows us to discriminate between fetuses?
In 2019, there were 232,870 legal abortions in our country, the highest figure since 1983. This intimate choice is therefore a major demographic reality, and therefore remains, despite its current social acceptance, a political question and a ethical debate. No, abortion, because it takes away a human life that only asks to continue, cannot be considered an ordinary medical act. The systematic suppression since 1975 of the notion of “distress” and of the last clauses of conscience or reflection seems to us a betrayal of the Veil law, which intended to respond to the tragedy of clandestine abortions.
Better support women
The public debate would benefit from questioning the best way of granting women’s right to dispose of their bodies while taking into account this living human being. And we intend to open this debate while being careful not to condemn without appeal the difficult decision of women who did not feel ready to continue their pregnancy and to assume, too often alone, the consequences. It does not seem utopian to us to think that our society could progress while simultaneously respecting the freedom of women and the life of the foetus.
We would like society to provide better support to women, to help them live their pregnancies more peacefully, especially when recourse to abortion is justified by the fear of being abandoned or judged (the current contempt for “unmarried mothers” n not much to envy to that of the 19th century), or by material precariousness. It is not the women concerned that we blame, but an abortive society where abortion, sometimes presented as an ultimate means of contraception, makes it possible to eliminate the untimely child rather than the difficulties.
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Our anger is directed against a dehumanizing discourse on sexuality, which far from presenting its potential beauty, transforms it into anxiety-inducing leisure, shaped on the one hand by the pornographic industry and on the other by the contraceptive industry, bludgeoning the youngest with contradictory injunctions (“enjoy yourself, but be careful”). Our anger is even more against these men who do not assume their responsibilities, sometimes forcing their companions to abort (“you abort or I break”). Against these employers who blackmail employment (“you abort or I fire you”). Behind the individual freedom to abort hide very often terrible social and family pressures, which are also real violence against women.
Solidarity initiatives and reception solutions
This is why it seems politically urgent to us, not primarily to facilitate or extend access to abortion, but to limit its causes. From the benches of the assembly and throughout society, we would like to see more favorable measures for motherhood (and fatherhood), solidarity initiatives and reception solutions for single mothers or disoriented young girls, to promote social and intergenerational ties, the disintegration of which often leaves young women helpless in the face of their pregnancy.
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We can obviously discuss the legal status due to embryos, then to fetuses, but it seems difficult to deny them their identity as living beings, members of the human family. Because if the particularity of women is to engender in them, the fact remains that the fetus is indeed an individual in the making, a being in itself, in its own right. And this, depending on who he is. Dependent, on others, on the air, on the water, on the biosphere, both our amniotic fluid and our placenta, who of us is not? No man is an island, adults no more than fetuses, and the pregnant woman is in fact not alone in her body.
This is why, for us who intend to contribute to the ecological conversion of our society, mass abortion is a collective failure, which should question us all. We believe that the fight for life should not be fragmented. Properly understood, it calls for an integral approach, from the safeguarding of biodiversity to the inviolability of the human body.
The culture of waste
In the encyclical Laudato If, who defends an “integral ecology”, Pope Francis denounces the “culture of waste”, which “affects excluded people as well as things” (§22). Whether it is wasted food, the ravaged ecosystem, the battered woman, the exploited worker, the molested foreigner, or the annihilated fetus, it is the same contempt for the living that is expresses to different degrees. To all these attacks on life, in the multitude of its forms, it seems to us that we must try to respond by converting our mentalities: giving up our desire to control and take hold of the world and others in order to live in good understanding with all that lives.
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From then on, we realize that human life before birth and human life after cannot be thought of without each other. The child in the womb is already subject to all the pollution of the industrial era, which threatens the very habitability of our Earth: if we really want to be “pro-life”, fighting for the right to be born is not enough, it must still fight for the right to be born into a living world.