Patriarchy and the Catholic Church do it again!

As I woke up yesterday and flipped on the telly, the news greeted me on the text-tv that Brazil‘s Constitutional and Justice Chamber had decided – by an overwhelming majority – to reject a bill calling for the legalization of abortion in the enormous country. Apart from my general values and views, I also have personal reasons to be interested in the story. My girlfriend is from Brazil and I recently spent a few months in São Paulo visiting with her family and friends. The news item continued to relay the joyous celebration of Catholic groups on the scene when the decision was announced, and rounded off by mentioning that approximately 200 000 women each year seek medical care after attempting illegal abortions.

As I have done no research of my own on the subject I cannot vouch for the statistics, but whether they are completely accurate or not we should all be able to agree that in a country with such a massive population there will be quite a few instances of unwanted pregnancies every year. People, as biological beings, copulate. Sometimes the condom breaks, sometimes no condom is used. As we all know, the latter can be for a variety of reasons: stupidity, carelessness, drunkenness…or more sinister elements like male control over the woman where the man refuses to use protection. Whatever the reason: it happens. It happens because we, as people, screw up. We’re not always responsible. And it also happens because of patriarchy and classism: male dominance and poverty are major reasons women do not have sufficient control over their bodies to stop from getting pregnant in the first place. And now, these same forces are going to continue stopping women from deciding for themselves if they can have a baby. And consequently, the women are going to keep dropping in at emergency rooms across Brazil with their insides and their private parts a mess, as they were desperate enough to attempt that which male dominated society prohibits them.

I apologize if I really offer nothing new to the argument; I am just writing this in an attack of…OUTRAGE. What can you say about the Catholic Church that hasn’t already been said? And what about patriarchy? I know there is a fair amount of ‘pious’ women in the anti-abortion movements as well, but I genuinely believe it would be no contest if the issue was left for the women of the world to decide. Imagine men not having any say over the abortion issue anywhere in the world; imagine the issue was to be decided only by the women of the world, with men having zero input. Abortion would be legalized everywhere in no time, I believe.

It’s now been about 35 years since most of the so-called Western world legalized abortion and I believe it to be one of the major human rights advances we have achieved. I have no qualms about being European and opining on what the law should be in Brazil. To anyone who wants to criticize me for this, I suggest spending a few minutes thinking about those 200 000 women a year, and the fact that to my knowledge all societies where abortion is illegal have a similar story to tell.

For how long is this enormous yet hidden violence to persist?




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