you haven't been at an antiabortion rally lately, or stumbled
on the right-wing effort on behalf of the 1980 Republican
Platform and its support for a Constitutional ban against
abortion, then the quotes you've just read may seem bizarre
the groups that use these and other inflammatory arguments
don't trust the major media. (The same Professor Brennan
quoted above, for instance, went on to compare the American
press with that in Nazi Germany, and to condemn it for "concealing
the facts.") That's why they have created their own
media world of right-wing newsletters, pamphlets, and books
distributed through churches and local organizations, or
through computerized mailing lists for which they claim
10 million names, plus television shows that reach into
14 million homes weekly.
But feminists who have been working on the issues of reproductive
freedom especiallyand those few reporters who cover
the ultraright winghave been sending back warnings
of this increasingly vicious campaign ever since the 1973
Supreme Court decisions on abortion. By 1974, for instance,
Marion K. Sanders, distinguished reporter for Harper's magazine,
reported that "the analogy with Hitler's extermination
program . . . has proved potent propaganda. The implication
is that legal abortion is only a first step toward compulsory
abortion for 'undesirables,' raising the specter of genocide
for black people."
"True idealism," as Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf,
"is nothing but the subordination of the interests
and life of the individual to the community. . . . The sacrifice
of personal existence is necessary to secure the preservation
of the species."
this begin to sound familiar? It shouldbecause the
second flaw in the fervent condemnations of pro-choice advocates
as Nazis is that Hitler himself, and the Nazi doctrine he
created, were unequivocally opposed to any individual right
to abortion. In fact, Hitler's National Socialist Movement
preached against and punished contraception, homosexuality,
women whose main purpose was not motherhood, men who did
not prove their manhood by fathering many childrenand
anything else that failed to serve the need of preserving
and expanding the German state.
return to a strong family life, women's primary identity
as mothers, tax penalties for remaining single, loans for
young married couples and subsidies for childbearing, prohibition
of prostitution and homosexuality, contraception, and abortion:
all these were issues that the Roman Catholic Church, the
Catholic Center Party, and the Nazi Party could agree on.
And once Hitler came to power, popularly elected in part
by the patriarchal backlash against feminist successes,
he delivered on his promise to restore male supremacy.
In 1933, feminists were removed from teaching and other
public posts by the same law that removed "non-Aryans"
from such jobs. All women were banned from the Reichstag,
from judgeships, and from other decision-making posts.
Under Hitler, choosing abortion became sabotage; a crime
punishable by hard labor for the woman and a possible death
penalty for the abortionist.
"If the man's world is said to be the State . . . her
world is her husband, her family, her children and her home
. . . Every child that a woman brings into the world is
a battle, a battle waged for the existence of her people....
It is not true ... that respect depends on the overlapping
of the spheres of activity of the sexes; this respect demands
that neither sex should try to do that which belongs to
the sphere of the other."Hitler's speech to the
National Socialist Women's Organization, September, 1934.
"A Child's Declaration of Rights," published
by Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, includes the right:
"To be taught from textbooks that honor the traditional
family as a basic unit of society, women's role as wife
and mother, and man's role as provider and protector . .
"No funds [will be] authorized . . . under federal
law [for] purchase or preparation of any educational materials
or studies relating to the preparation of educational materials,
if such materials would tend to denigrate, diminish, or
deny the role differences between the sexes . . ."
The Family Protection Act, an omnibus federal bill
introduced in 1979 by Senator Paul Laxalt (R.-Nev.), which
would also deny federally funded legal services for abortion
rights, school desegregation, gay rights, and so on.
Feminists seem to be the only group fighting for human rights
for everyone, from the bottom up. Antifeminist forces may
see this more clearly than our liberal allies do.
our supposed supporters often remain unwilling or unable
to take the "profamily" or "emotional"
issues of the ultraright wing seriously. Some even pave
the way for further authoritarianism by agreeing with the
right wing on women in the family. Having accepted this
basic inequity, and the violence that is required to perpetuate
it, they are then surprised when the need for superiority
grows into dominance toward more groups, a militaristic
foreign policy, or some other area that they consider worthy
enough, and dangerous enough to them personally, to oppose.
It all sounds a little too familiar. But at least we now
know that feminism has a historyand that it is the
keystone of any organic or lasting democracy.
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