Is it really true that feminists think pregnancy is an injustice to women from which society must rescue them?

At his blog, Malcolm Pollack quotes my recent explanation of the logic driving the demand that women’s birth control costs be paid for in their entirety by other people and entities. Here are the last three points of my five point argument:

  1. [T]he attainment of sexual equality—equality between the sexes with regard to everything in life, particularly with regard to sex itself—is society’s highest priority.

  2. In order for the sexes to be equal with regard to sex, women should be at no more risk of pregnancy and its inconveniences than men are.

  3. In order for women to be at no more risk of pregnancy than men are, society (whether in the form of Georgetown University, or some health insurance company, or the taxpayers) must provide all women in America with free birth control.

To which Pollack adds:

The logical endpoint of all this, as Aldous Huxley foresaw, is the artificial womb—which will spare women, and even sex itself, from having any special role at all in human reproduction.

A commenter at the site, One Eyed Man, writes:

I have read a lot of commentary about this issue, and I had yet to hear that contraception ought to be included as a basic element of health insurance because of the absurd notion that “women should be at no more risk of pregnancy and its inconveniences than men are”—until [Auster] came along. If he wants to argue against the mandate, then he ought to try to refute the case for it, instead of fabricating a straw man.

Today at Oz Conservative (actually it’s tomorrow, March 9, in Australia) Mark Richardson provides further proof of my point. He quotes a paper, “The moral imperative for ectogenesis [childbirth through artificial wombs],” by Anna Smajdor, a lecturer in ethics at the University of East Anglia (oh, how East Anglia has fallen from the Middle Ages!) in which she writes:

The fact that women have to gestate and give birth in order to have children, whereas men do not, is a prima facie injustice that should be addressed by the development of ectogenesis….

Pregnancy is barbaric.

There has been a conceptual failure in medical and social and ethical terms to address the pathological nature of gestation and childbirth….

The final point to make here is the well-known one that, for expectant mothers, the fact of encompassing another life in their bodies often takes a serious toll on their autonomy. Pregnant women are routinely expected to subsume their appetites and desires into those that would be in keeping with the well-being of the fetus…. Respect for one’s bodily integrity, something that most men may take for granted at least in a medical setting, is by no means assured for women even in societies that pride themselves on concern for ethics and autonomy.

So, Smajdor (and Richardson has quoted others like her) believes that it is unjust that women suffer the inconveniences and the loss of personal autonomy involved in pregnancy while men don’t. The way she proposes to end this injustice is that children be gestated and born in artificial wombs. She calls this a “moral imperative.” Obviously, since pregnancy is a terrible injustice that must be eliminated, it must also be avoided as far as is practicable through universal free access to birth control and contraceptives.

It is understandable that the commenter was disbelieving of such an incredible sounding idea as that feminists regard pregnancy as an injustice that must be remedied by eliminating pregnancy. It is, nevertheless, true, as I think even a one-eyed man should now be able to see.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 08, 2012 07:39 PM | Send

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