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The Case for Choice: Why aren’t LGBTQ women demonstrating?

From new Gaelick writer, Ariel

I’m very surprised, sometimes, at how little the LGBT and pro-choice movements overlap. There’s some of the usual suspects at every demo, to be sure. But where’s the massive outpouring of solidarity between LGBT women and the pro-choice cause? After many years of being active on both fields, it still baffles me.

 

Image from flickriver.com/photos/judygr

 

The common wisdom seems to be that, since lesbians don’t get pregnant, the pro-choice movement has nothing to do with them. Common wisdom tends to work on a set of assumptions which are, for the most part, easily disproven. I mean, I guess if you’re a cis lesbian that only ever sleeps with cis lesbians, reproductive rights don’t apply to you.

Change your world

Unless you’ve ever used a condom. Or a dental dam, lube, or sex toys. Because, you know, all that? You’ve got the feminist movement’s ongoing battles for reproductive rights to thank for those. Moreover, I imagine many of these hypothetical cis-on-cis lesbians have sisters, mothers, or friends who are straight/queer/trans/bisexual who can, indeed, get pregnant.

In Ireland we often admire many of the social gains in other nations. Same-sex marriage in Sweden, gender recognition in the UK, the great work on anti-racism within the US. Do you know what all of those countries have in common? Legal abortion. The right for women to choose how they shall deal with their own bodies.

 

Image from someecards.com

Make up your mind

The right to choose extends from anything from condoms, contraceptive implants, the coil and the morning after pill. It was the condom trains of the 80s, where brave activists brought condoms from Northern Ireland and dared the Gardai to arrest them, that we have to thank for the over-the-counter sale of condoms in this country, of which many queer women benefit.

The only reasons left to be against abortion are religious, for there is no scientific evidence which points out when ‘life’ begins. Ask a biologist and they will tell you life began on earth millions of years ago, and has continued on since. The situation is rather analog to, pardon the pun, a chicken-and-egg question.

 

 

Ignore it and it’s not there

Supposed pro-’life’ campaigners, who advocate carrying pregnancies to term in every situation, want to restrict access to abortion, hoping that the average of 12 Irish women who leave the island for an abortion every day will simply stop doing so.

The more that abortion is restricted, the more desperate women will seek unsafe, backstreet abortions, putting themselves at great risk of permanent injury or death. These pro-life campaigners, by the way, care little for the rights of the child after they have been born, demonising single parents (especially if they are queer, which for them means ‘pervert who is going to molest the poor child’); or for life in general, as it is very rare to see them holding banners against war or military violence. The greatest preachers of their movement are, literally, preachers.

Not very Christian

I am not saying that all Christians are like this, nor do I feel that Christianity is incompatible with being pro-choice or being LGBTQ. But the particular brand of christianity brandished by Ireland’s pro-life movement is extremely homophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic.

 

Due to the utter domination that the Catholic Church, with its known abuses and excesses, holds on the Irish education system, and the privileged place it has in communities, backed up by the constitution, many are still wary of committing to the pro-choice cause.

Be heard

To them I say, look at what many priests have done in Ireland, supposedly in the name of a loving God, look at what these politicians have done for women. Or rather, look at what the politicians haven’t done. Are we just going to let them continue to run Irish society in this manner? Are we going to let them keep making so many LGBTQ people have to leave for the UK of farther afield, just to procure a procedure which is guaranteed as a fundamental medical right in so many other nations?

This Saturday, a number of people will descend on the Spire, in Dublin’s busy O’Connell street, to protest the lack of legislation for abortion in the Republic of Ireland. At 2pm, they’ll gather and chant, and they’ll march for a woman’s right to have a full say on what goes on in her body. It’s time to stop sending Irish straight, lesbian, bisexual and queer women, as well as genderqueers and trans men, to another country. Everyone in Ireland has the right to full control over their bodies. Will you join us?

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40 Comments

  • Some of us are demonstrating, taking part in actions and helping to organise.
    But it would be awesome to see LGBT groups with banners taking part at the march this Saturday. Details of which can be found here: http://www.irishchoicenetwork.com/march-for-choice-29th-sept-2012.html

    There are other events happening this evening screen for choice at filmbase,
    kicks off at 7:30pm and the ULA are having a public meeting calling for abortion rights in Wynns hotel. Writers for choice is happening in Nancy Spains this evening down in Cork.

    Sharrow said:
  • Preach, Ariel! Though I do know a lot of Queer women who will definitely be marching on Saturday, and at any pro- choice rally that happens in this country, there is a definite drop off in numbers between, say marching for this and marching for marriage. Equality is for everyone, whether you intend on using your uterus or not, so there’s really no excuse, I think

    dolanchap said:
  • Go, Ariel! I will be there.

    Izzy Kamikaze said:
  • Have you considered the possibility that some of the lgbt community dont march because they dont agree with abortion? Your attempt to tie marriage equality with abortion equality is maddening. What about the unborns right s? Or is that conveniently forgotten? from the second an egg and sperm meet it it’s a completely different genetic body to either the mother or father. It is in your body It Is NOT your body to do with as you please.
    You can protest all you want and that is your right but don’t diminish my right to assert my beliefs by boycotting such marches as saying I simply don’t care. I care very much I just dont agree with your position.
    Having said that I admire you for standing up for what you believe and wish you well in your other marches , just can’t support you on this one.

    Nora said:
  • Abortion is a feminist issue. I don’t think Ariel was saying that all LGBTQ women necessarily believe in abortion, but rather just saying that if you consider yourself a feminist then you should march. She wasn’t trying to convince you to believe in abortion at all, but rather shake the apathy out of some LGBTQ women who might not march because they don’t find it relevant to their lives.

    Girthy said:
  • I can see what you are saying and thank you for it. However I couldn’t march for feminism if a by product of that was the promotion of abortion. it is not a religious standpoint either as she asserts but my own. Having had kids and sadly lost one I cannot believe that they have no rights whilst in my body. If landlords could evict tenants just because it was their house there would be uproar! The rights of the tenants would be protested for. I have to believe in the protection of the unborn as a feminist issue considering half of them will be women. Thank you again for your comment girthy… If we tear each other apart it wouldnt help the feminist cause much! :)

    Nora said:
  • I agree with you about the fighting, however we disagree entirely on abortion. The fact is it isn’t as back and white as you make it out to be. The fact is every day women all over the world are raped and abused and impregnated by people against their will. I feel that it is a woman’s right to decide what goes on in her body, plain and simple. In cases where a woman becomes pregnant as the result of abuse, or where she discovers that the child or her will be put in danger by the birth, or when she is just unable to have the baby, then it is her decision.
    I know you won’t agree, but it is important that you acknowledge that while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, we are not entitled to stand in the way of other peoples rights. The rights of the mother must come first, they have to come first.

    Girthy said:
  • That also isn’t to say you have to march for something you don’t believe in, obviously. I hope that didn’t come out wrong!

    Girthy said:
  • Actually Girthy its me who may have overstated my position. I am not opposed to Abortion in every case. I just don’t trust the establishment to bring it in for those cases you outlined and stop the laisez faire use of abortion. I had a friend who lived in England during her early twenties and had 3 abortions before her 26th birthday. She was with the same loving partner but just didn’t feel like having kids yet.
    The people and situations you outline are in a different ball park and the violation of a woman should not be compounded by taking away her right to choose her own future. My fear is that it will become the contraceptive of choice(I know its not a contraceptive but you might get my meaning..)Is the option of counselling, adoption not equally a valid course…are we doing enough to provide these kinds of solutions.
    “I know you won’t agree, but it is important that you acknowledge that while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, we are not entitled to stand in the way of other peoples rights”
    I actually do agree but with rights lets ensure responsibility and give them other choices to choose from. if the context of abortion law could be clearly outlined for the future i could bring myself to support it but not if it was enacted as it is in England.
    Nora

    Nora said:
  • That is fair enough I guess. I vote we make internet comment history and just decide to respectfully disagree with each other, while acknowledging that we are both coming from a legitimate standpoint.

    Girthy said:
  • Ha ha! are we really allowed to do that?? don’t we have to call each other some really filthy names and threaten each other first?? Have enjoyed our discussion..have learned a little and will be looking more carefully at this issue in future… can be a little blinkered at times. Nora!

    Nora said:
  • The only reasons left to be against abortion are religious, for there is no scientific evidence which points out when ‘life’ begins. Ask a biologist and they will tell you life began on earth millions of years ago, and has continued on since. The situation is rather analog to, pardon the pun, a chicken-and-egg question.

    I am a biologist and I have spoken to my colleagues on this matter and we all agree that novel life begins at conception. Also I am an atheist and I am pro-life. So could you please retarct the above statement. It is common for murders to dehumanise and make it appear that their victims are not worthy of life and that mentality is present in your article.

    Sorcha Windsor said:
  • For me, the link is in having the freedom to control my own body. It should be my choice who I am sexual with and my choice what happens in my uterus. Abortion is complicated. Pro-choice is not blindly pro-abortion, it is merely recognizing that no woman’s uterus should be ruled by the government. If I don’t have the right to determine what happens to my own body, do any other rights have any meaning at all?

    Without safe and legal abortion, there will always be women who resort to desperate and dangerous measures to terminate a pregnancy. I’ve met some; they are real human beings who have suffered because they lived in a time and place that did not respect their most fundamental right to choose what happened to their bodies. Their reasons vary, and they should not have to plead their case or debate their decision. They are entitled to privacy and dignity and the control of their own bodies because they are adult humans. Full stop.

    I wish I could be there for the march, but I’m well outside of Dublin and won’t be able to travel. I’ll be there in spirit!

    okitty said:
  • I would like to respectfully share regarding the following statement: “there is no scientific evidence which points out when life begins.”

    There is plenty of evidence which can easily be googled describing the beginning of human life (“The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”
    [Langman, Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3.

    But scientific evidence aside, it is quite simple to know how, where and when life begins. There is no person that has walked this earth that did not begin as an embryo. If the embryo is left undisturbed, he or she will grow and develop as a person, with DNA unique to every other person created before or after them. Your life began IN the womb, not after you emerged out of it. And religion aside, every person should recognize this and respect the people whose lives are just beginning in their mother’s womb.

    WeAllBeganInTheWomb said:
  • The thing is, everyone can agree or disagree about the morality behind abortion, but unless you feel confidant enough to stand up and say ‘I am fully sure that I know what is best for every woman in the world, in every circumstance, from now until the end of time’, then really, I don’t think you can oppose letting women wanting the legal right to make that call for themselves.

    Girthy said:
  • Sorry that last comment was me, laptop sharing fail!

    dolanchap said:
  • Okity may I just assert that your choice on who you are sexual with carries the responsibility of bearing the biological consequneces of such an action. Your statment above is selfish and it is a very unethical position to hold. You pretty much that it is ok for you kill human life for your sexual pleasure.
    Girthy may I say that we can also use that excuse for murder child abuse and slavery. It is clearly predicated on the belief that human fetus’ are not alive and hence dehumainsed.

    Sorcha Windsor said:
  • Sorry, I think that comment is directed at me, since I accidentally posted as Girthy, so I’m going to respond:

    First of all, wlet me just say that I definitely would NOT get any sexual pleasure out of getting pregnant. I can’t think of anything less sexually appealing to me than being impregnated, because being impregnated means there’s have to be a dick in me, and that is my least favourite thing of all time.

    Secondly, I would never use the line ‘ unless you feel confidant enough to stand up and say ‘I am fully sure that I know what is best for every woman in the world, in every circumstance, from now until the end of time’, then really, I don’t think you can oppose letting women wanting the legal right to make that call for themselves’ to support child murder, slavery or abuse. I would use that line in conversation about abortion, and the right of a woman to be in control of her own body. Please do not try to paint me as a supported of actual evil, when I am merely a supporter of personal autonomy.

    You are of course allowed to not want to have an abortion. You are definitely allowed to speak for yourself in that regard, and I respect that. However, there are so many ways of getting pregnant, and so many ways that pregnancy can go wrong, that I don’t think you are being fair if you insist that your beliefs trump all of that experience. That’s all I’m saying here. Maybe you don’t know everything, definitely I don’t, but I respect other women enough to assume that they deserve the right to choose. Legalizing abortion does not force people to abort, it merely allows them to have some control over their bodies. That’s all important, I think.

    dolanchap said:
  • To para 1 Pregnancy is a consequence of sex. If you don’t know that maybe you have nothing to contribute
    To para 2 you may wish to believe that the human fetus is not an alive human but it doesnt make it true. Killing humans so you can have irresponsible sex. So I stand by my point
    To para 3 I agree that abortion is needed at a legitimate choice for rape, threat to mothers life, euthanasia of a malformed fetus but this is very much different than saying that I have the right to have sex with out having considering or accepting the biological consequences.

    Sorcha Windsor said:
  • To response 1: I know it is, but also, my response based on the fact that you assumed any sex I was having in order to get pregnant was consensual, and that is rather a big leap to make. I do not sleep with men, a thing I have in common with many of the people Ariel was aiming this article at- that does not mean for sure that I will never get accidentally pregnant. As you say in your final point, rape happens. Though I would argue that there is no such thing as a ‘good abortion’ or a ‘bad abortion’, we need to legislate for those worst case scenarios, not for our own moral codes.

    To response 2: I actually have no idea if a zygote is a human being or not, and I am not going to get into that side of the debate. Please stop putting words in my mouth, my irresponsible sex life has nothing to do with murdering children, and everything to do with sneaking vodka into night clubs. Very different things.

    To response 3: If you agree that abortion is a legitimate choice, then I have to wonder what your problem with the idea of Queer people marching for that choice is?

    At no point have I ever said ‘I have the right to have sex with out having considering or accepting the biological consequences’. Please do not put your words into my mouth, they don’t fit there and, again, any consensual sex I have will never lead me to accidental pregnancy.

    dolanchap said:
  • we need to legislate for those worst case scenarios, not for our own moral codes
    Ok lets apply that law universally
    If you deny that a fetus is not human then you don’t really get biology
    My pro-life is exactly that pro-life ie don’t kill unnecessarily like because you don’t want to be a parent rather abortion as needed for healthcare reasons

    Sorcha Windsor said:
  • I don’t deny that the foetus is not a human, and I clearly stated that I don’t understand a lot of biology. My pro choice argument stems not from a belief that life begins at birth, but from a belief that women deserve to be in control of their bodies, I really cannot be any clearer about that.

    I feel like you are not actually reading any of the things I am saying. Legislating for abortion would cover those medical procedures you and I have both talked about, and I have enough respect for women in general to trust them with the responsibility of making that choice in situations where the consequences of having a baby are not medically dangerous. I’m pro women being trusted with that choice.

    dolanchap said:
  • Well I am pro-life not some female fundamentalist. It is naive to believe that women will always take pesonal responsibility. If you have a problem with social responsibility then you have a problem with the basis of every free civilisation that has or will exist

    Sorcha Windsor said:
  • ‘If you have a problem with social responsibility then you have a problem with the basis of every free civilisation that has or will exist’

    That is almost exactly what I meant in my very first comment, when I said that unless you are sure you can speak for all women, all the time forever, then you shouldn’t act like you do. You have to allow your society to take responsibility for itself, not force your own personal opinions onto it, and into it’s legislation.

    I don’t think it’s naive to assume women will take responsibility for their bodies. I think it’s something we are craving to do. If you are not willing to allow women in society to take that responsibility, then you are essentially saying women do not have the right to personal autonomy. You are a woman, and you are denying yourself that right, too.

    Dolanchap said:
  • I don’t think it’s naive to assume women will take responsibility for their bodies

    No I said take responsibility for their actions when you say body you imply a selfish decision to kill for convenance

    I do know that killing for convenance is not something a free soceity can allow

    Sorcha Windsor said:
  • Again, you are putting huge, dangerous words in my mouth, and I really wish you would stop it.

    You are once again making the assumption that the theoretical woman we are talking about had any choice in the actions which led to her pregnancy. That’s dangerous.

    The position you are taking also appears to be very mysoginistic, you seem to automatically assume that all women are terrible and would go around killing babies if only we would change the law. That’s also dangerous, and also very offensive. We don’t have to agree on abortion, but we do have to agree on a basic level of respect that all women deserve to have, and legislating on the basis that they will make the ‘wrong’ choice every time is so, so offensive.

    Dolanchap said:
  • Ironic you clearly are the one putting words in my mouth
    To not assume all women are moral bastions is not equal to misogyny
    second I clearly said above that abortion is a legitimate choice for rape
    I appreciate if you acted a little less childishly or

    Sorcha Windsor said:
  • To assume that women should not be allowed to make an informed decision on their reproductive system because ‘they are not all moral bastions’ is actually very misogynistic. It’s judging all women on the theoretical decisions of a few, which is offensive to all.

    I don’t feel like I am being childish when I ask you to stop insinuating I am a murderer, to be honest. I have only ever argued that I am pro choice because I believe all women have the right to autonomy. If you feel that that argument and my expression of it have been childish, then I regret that expression, but it doesn’t make my core point any less valid.

    Dolanchap said:
  • To assume that women can kill human life for convence

    Apply your argument to murder all of murderers can justify their decision

    I think all women should have autonomy. Consent and as par acceptance of the consequnces ie pregnancy is the ultimate practice act of autonomy

    Sorcha Windsor said:
  • The thing you are leaving out of your argument is that it is NOT autonomy if they are not given a choice. It’s subjugation. If you believe that ‘Consent and as par acceptance of the consequnces ie pregnancy is the ultimate practice act of autonomy’, then you must give women a chance to accept that autonomy, by giving them [what is in your opinion] an alternative to it.

    Again, I don’t want to get into the ‘abortion- is it murder?’ argument, because that is not a thing I feel qualified to comment on. What I do feel qualified to talk about is my right to have ownership of my own body and morality, and legalising a woman’s right to choose in this situation is legalising her right to both of those things.

    Dolanchap said:
  • yes the alternative of not having sex if being pregnant is so bad you would kill to get out of it ie personal responsibility

    well I am qualified to tell you that abortion is murder; a biological fact
    if you wish to practice autonomy do it at intercourse or not at all

    Sorcha Windsor said:
  • Again, you are putting words and actions into my mouth that I have not said. I am, as I have said at least twice, never going to have consensual sex that leads to pregnancy. I would appreciate it if you would therefore stop accusing me of wanting to murder something as a result of having sex, that is blatantly untrue.

    What do you mean by practise autonomy at intercourse? Are you suggesting that all women who have sex with men should only do so if they want to have a baby? I don’t mean to put words in your mouth, but that’s how that statement reads to me, and I honestly would like you to clarify that point.

    Not all biologists would agree with you on that, I in fact know several who would disagree entirely, but as I said, I am not getting into that side of the debate. You have a qualification, I do not, and thus if we could avoid arguing on such an unlevel playing field, I would appreciate that, too.

    Dolanchap said:
  • Yes very simple idea if getting pregnant is so bad that you will have to kill a human to get out of it the ethical thing would be to not have sexual intercourse its called the real world perosnal responsibility

    Any biologist who doesnt agree with me is deluding him/herself the same a biologist who believes in the bible

    Sorcha Windsor said:
  • Hello.

    It’s ironic that all these comments have nothing to do with the abortion issues at hand in Ireland:

    That is: the legal right of women to have an abortion where the life of the mother is at risk.

    To be clear, that does not permit abortion in the case of: rape; incest; other forms of abuse; instances where, if the pregnancy is brought to term, life will not be viable; birth control; anything else.

    click here said:
  • Yes but that is entirely the pro-choice movement who clearly believe unrestricted access to abortion is a human right. There aggressive dogmatic approach makes people become very skeptical of their intentions

    Sorcha Windsor said:
  • So you support abortion in cases of rape, and abstinance the rest of the time? You don’t feel like there might be some middle ground between the two, no?

    Dolanchap said:
  • As another biologist, anyone saying that the scientific view on abortion is clear cut really hasn’t done a full review of the evidence. A single paper cited in 1975 (1975!!!!) is not ‘proof’.
    As a feminist (and trans* ally) I’d say that science shouldn’t be our only basis from making legislation, people are more than a collection of facts and life is more complicated then any laboratory setting. That’s why need balance between science and what is practical and right when making law.

    Clickhere has said it all though. Pro-choice or not, there are issues here that need to be addressed by our government and the most pressing of which is as she says “the legal right of women to have an abortion where the life of the mother is at risk”. Which STILL has not been acted on.

    Ps. Please please don’t turn this into a scientific debate and try prove to me I am wrong. It’s off topic. Put your references down and back away from pubmed.

    Eebs said:
  • Pssst, Sorcha, did you notice this is a queer website? Your comments about sex leading to pregnancy are a bit off the mark.

    You bet I’m selfish when it comes to my body. It’s mine. It’s me. I get to decide who and what goes in it. My decision. Not the entire electorate. Not you. Not your belief system, which, brace yourself, other people are entitled not share.

    Let me spell this out because you seem to have completely missed my point.

    I am entitled to decide what happens to my body. Two examples of things I get to decide about are 1. Who I am sexual with and 2. Whether or not I reproduce. Two things. In case you did not read the article, it is about queers supporting reproductive choice. Queers, those of us for whom sex and pregnancy may or may not be connected.

    As for your hysterical references to murder, please. There is so much killing in the world. I’d love it to all stop. All the wars. All the people dying of hunger and preventable diseases. All the people whose lives are cut short by exposure to environmental hazards. Heck, I am so opposed to killing that I avoid meat and leather… and have since 1986. So, really, I’m curious, are you as concerned about the rampant, worldwide slaughter that hits people after they are born, or just about what happens in other people’s wombs? ‘Cause I have a theory about people who shout about murder to bully women into continuing pregnancies. If the pro-life movement put half of it’s energy into helping prevent the needless deaths of people AFTER they are born, just imagine how dramatically different the world would be. If you really wanted to be efficient and save lives, you’d be shouting about clean drinking water, which is a life or death issue in much of the world.

    okitty said:
  • Queer pro-choice feminist here! I’m not actually out campaigning in Ireland right now, but purely because I live abroad at the minute and seem to miss all the rallies when I come home. But I know a lot of queer women who are campaigning at home.

    LadySanctuary said:
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