Hypocrisy

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By MARIA RITA KEHL*

A woman can – amaze! - not wanting any children

Has anyone ever wondered why the macho pro-weapons crowd (with the right to shoot “in the head”) make the sign of the cross and declare themselves defenders of life when it comes to women's right to abortion?

Hypocrisy, of course. And sexism – ça va sans dire, even in cases where the moralistic argument comes from the mouth of a woman. After all, an unwanted pregnancy indicates the strong possibility that the girl has enjoyed sex before, or outside, marriage. Not all good ladies can bear to know that. Even so, the reasons for such good ladies – like the judge whose name I have happily forgotten – condemn the woman, or in this case the eleven-year-old child, who intends to prevent the development of the embryo generated from a rape are unclear. Yes, there is also machismo and truculence among women.

Perhaps, too, those who blame themselves for wanting to terminate an unplanned pregnancy offend men by acting as if they owned their bodies – and their destinies. Furthermore, the female decision to refuse pregnancy awakens, in some men, a shadow of doubt about the unconditional love of their holy mothers. If it consoles you, gentlemen, know that the decision to have an abortion is never an easy one, not even an abortion is a Sunday in the park. It is painful, painful and – in many cases – risky.

There are women who suffer a lot for not carrying on with a pregnancy, but they do it because they can't even feed the children they already have. Among them, countless were abandoned by their honorable husbands who disappear to avoid paying alimony. Finally, it is curious that, in a society that does not recognize a series of women's rights, the status of pregnant women is sacred.

It is worth adding the risk factor: as abortion is illegal, the woman has no security regarding the competence of the doctor who offers (usually at a high price) to help her.

When I think about the hypocrisy, another question comes to mind: yes, of course: the embryo that the anti-abortion right crowd defends so much (although they rarely defend little children who starve after being born) is a way of life. But I ask them: would it be, even in the first month of pregnancy, a life human? I'm not talking about genes and chromosomes. I refer to social practices. It is true that many of these practices also dehumanize children and adults who are already born: if not, how can we explain our enormous tolerance of so-called good people towards the misery that increases every day in the country?

Back to the fetus. In practice, we do not consider it as human life, and our practices in the face of an aborted embryo even against the mother's will confirm this. Society does not consider the embryo of a few weeks as human life: there is no precedent for religious rituals, prayers and dignified burial, in consideration of the incipient form of life that was accidentally lost.

I have to be rude, for lack of a good way to name what is done, in the poorest huts and in the most expensive hospitals, with the embryo of a few weeks expelled from the mother's body by a miscarriage: it is thrown in the trash . Or in private. Cruel? Of course, especially for the mother who against her will lost the little life she already loved as a son. But it reveals the general, albeit unconscious, conviction that that cluster of cells does not yet represent a human life.

I do not write this to suggest that we should bury and celebrate seventh-day masses for embryos lost through miscarriages. I write to argue against the hypocritical piety of those who unconditionally condemn abortion. My argument is not that we women own our bodies, because it is not about what we do with our bodies – with all the freedom we are entitled to – but about our destiny.

A woman can - amaze! – not wanting any children. Or she may feel too immature to be a mother at that point in her life, but she plans to have children later on. Or, what so often happens, knowing that poverty does not allow her to feed and take good care of even the children she already had, so she wouldn't know what to do with another one. The macho man who frequently condemns abortion is the same man who abandoned his wife and children and disappears so as not to have to grant the pension provided for by law.

The only possible conclusion after these considerations is that the criminalization of abortion reproduces, albeit unconsciously for many, age-old prejudices against women's sexual freedom. The false defense of “embryo rights” and the accusations against women who resort to abortion is not the last, but one of the most hypocritical refuges of the scoundrels.

*Maria Rita Kehl is a psychoanalyst, journalist and writer. Author, among other books, of Displacements of the feminine: the freudian woman in the passage to modernity (boitempo).

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