One life to live
Noted for her anti-feminist columns in the opinion pages -- think me, but opposite -- Kay today scored acres of newsprint for a reprint of her speech to the anti-choice "Live for Life" club at King's College, University of Western Ontario, in December, 2008.
(She recently spoke to R.E.A.L. women, misrepresenting feminism to this group of hard-core ultra-conservative ''pro-family'' -- and that's a nice way of putting it -- lobbyists.)
Kay takes the position that the fetophiles in the ''Live for Life'' club and all their pro-forced pregnancy pals in other such groups are fighting a losing battle with their rhetoric comparing abortion to ''genocide'' and the ''Holocaust.''
You cannot build an argument on an analogy alone. In any debate, emotional arousal must be subordinated to rational persuasion.
You have, or should have, the political right to turn people off through shocking images (for that is largely the effect of this campaign). But you don't have the ethical right to exploit for mere rhetorical advantage a human tragedy with no logical, moral or historical relevance to abortion.
The GAP campaign is intellectually flawed because it extrapolates one detail from the Holocaust -- numbers killed -- and on that basis alone proclaims a moral equivalence.
But the point of the Holocaust is not the number of lives extinguished. Genocides aren't about numbers. They are about ideology-based hatred -- unchecked hatred for an identifiable minority group that serves to unite the persecuting majority group, and paves the way for its horrible consequences.
Unborn children are not a minority identity group, nor are abortions performed by political fiat for the purpose of furthering solidarity amongst some dominant group. Every abortion is an individual choice made by an individual woman. None of these women "hates" the potential child she aborts; they hate their situation. Most women who have abortions in fact go on to have children that they love. Nazis did not kill some Jews, and cultivate friendships with others; they hated and considered subhuman all Jews.
Moreover, you are not only describing the action of abortion as evil in this comparison, you are implying that women who abort, like Nazis, are evil people. There is neither truth nor dignity in accusing women of such moral turpitude.
Choose any factual perspective, you won't find a single moral parallel between the situations. And that is why it is not in your interest to pursue the campaign. Or in our mutual interest, because it stands in the way of an alliance between us.
I wonder if those who think the GAP campaign is defensible have really assessed the damaging image it creates in intelligent observers' minds. It brands you as people who feel passionately, but who do not think clearly. High emotion and the absence of reason are the marks of extremists and conspiracy theorists.
So far so good.
But Kay then winds up with this vague -- and rather ominous -- strategic advice (Boldface mine):
Focusing the debate on women's health, you would then occupy the moral high ground feminists claim as their particular precinct. What campus union could in conscience refuse an information session on women's health?
The pro-choice movement has stereotyped you. Don't let the media and student unions pigeonhole the pro-life movement as Christian evangelists and stay-at-home moms with 10 children (not that there's anything wrong with that). There are many secular career women who sympathize with or actively support your cause. The motto of an American group called Feminists for Life is: "Women deserve better than abortion." I like that positive message, and so will many other Canadians.
Canada is never going to outlaw abortion, but an abortion law with benign, sensible constraints that line up with those of all civilized countries except ours, should be the goal of our mutual endeavours.
''Benign sensible constraints?'' ''Informed consent?''
Such as? Waiting periods? Mandatory pre-abortion psych counselling? Lectures on the risks of abortion (but not on the risks of pregnancy and childbirth?) State rape by ultra-sound so that women are forced to see their embryos?
All of these ideas have been pushed before.
All of them restrict women's rights, reproductive, privacy, physical and emotional.
No woman gets up in the morning and decides, ''Hey! I think I'll drop by the abortion clinic today!'' Terminating a pregnancy is difficult enough. None of us needs the government -- and people who think we're committing genocide -- to tell us how to live for our lives.