Dear Mehdi Hasan,
I literally don’t know where to begin with the torrent of how wrong you were in your piece about being anti-choice and left-wing. I say anti-choice, because I noticed you said you didn’t like the labels pro-choice and pro-life, and anti-choice reflects better what you really are.
I guess we’ll start with the piece. Now, I really think the first thing you should do is read this from Vagina Dentata who explains eloquently why you’re completely and utterly wrong about how it’s possible to be a lefty and anti-choice. Make sure you read the whole thing, but this is the crux of the matter:
So no, you cannot be left-wing and pro-life. You cannot be left wing and “progressive” if you think half of the world’s population can hang-on or sacrifice or just stop being so bourgeois for demanding that they are treated as equals. To fight for equality is at the very least, to acknowledge the biological difference that keeps women oppressed and fight to overcome that. Women’s sexual and reproductive rights are part of our struggle for survival and will not be trivialised or ignored by men who claim to fight for equality.
A few more points on your piece. I’m very disappointed in you, seeing you repeating the anti-choice porky pie that France and Germany have a 12-week limit, so the UK should too. What these countries actually have is a law which allows abortion on demand up to 12 weeks, i.e. you go up to a doctor, say “I’d like an abortion”, then you have your abortion. After the 12 weeks, the legal situation resembles that of the UK: you have to jump through hoops, provide reasons, see more than one doctor.
The rest of your argument, I’m afraid to say, is a hot mess of appeals to authority. You’ve just listed the few people who agree with you who aren’t thoroughly objectionable, many of whom died centuries ago. I’m also rather baffled by the fact that you’re not ashamed to agree with Jeremy Hunt, a man who has what I like to call the Copro-Midas Touch. Literally everything that man touches turns to shit. Are you genuinely comfortable with agreeing with a man who hides in trees to avoid being seen by journalists?
You’re also repeating the tiresome “it’s a baby” myth. Again, I’m going to refer you to one of my sisters, because pretty much everyone’s already said what I want to say, but please read this heartbreaking post from Fearlessknits about life at 25 weeks gestation.
I’m also rather concerned about you believing bodily autonomy to be “selfish and individualistic”. Mehdi, I hate to say it, but you’re really edging into fascist rhetoric here, constructing reproduction as some sort of common good. There’s good arguments in favour of the anti-choice position itself being inherently fascist, and I find your appeal to collectivism as an excuse to invade women’s bodies rather a good example of this.
Now let’s talk about your reaction to the whole thing, Mehdi. Now, I’ve noticed you’ve been whinging rather a lot about being called sexist for your views. The short answer is, that’s because you are being very sexist, Mehdi. Appallingly so. Once again, I’m going to refer you to a sister for this, as Reni Eddo-Lodge has explained beautifully why you’re a sexist.
Here’s why Hasan’s piece is anti-woman. He attempts to reframe the debate on his terms, snatching it out of the hands of people who can get pregnant, insisting on the premise of ‘ethics’ rather than women’s rights, and consequentially betraying his male privilege and over inflated sense of entitlement.
When he ponders which member of our society needs a voice more than the mute baby in the womb, he takes women out of the equation, completely; women’s thoughts, our hopes, our dreams, our aims and our goals—which may or may not include children.
You see, Mehdi, you’re silencing women. You’re telling us our rights don’t matter, our views don’t matter. Don’t think we haven’t noticed that the vast majority of supportive tweets you retweeted were from men. Don’t think we haven’t noticed you playing the time-honoured dog-whistle “reverse sexism” card. Your views are sexist, no matter how much you love your wife and daughters.
I will give you a bit of praise, for coming up with one of the most risible defences of sexist views I have ever seen. I’ll admit I laughed long and hard, because I’ve never seen anything quite so silly. You said:
This is indeed a “women’s issue”, yes, but is it ONLY a women’s issue? No wider ethical implications? (Oh, and no male foetuses??)
Mehdi, what about that meatsock incubator that’s holding the male foetus? That meatsock incubator is almost always a woman (sometimes it is a man, and these men can get a say about abortion too, as they’re affected by it). Ultimately, people with uteruses don’t like to be thought of as meatsock incubators, but your view constructs us as such.
Of course, you might dismiss my views as I’m a woman, and therefore, in your book, a selfish and individualistic babykiller. So just in case, here’s a really good piece by a man, Jonnie Marbles. Make sure you digest every word of this.
Anyway, I’ve spent rather a long time engaging with your arguments, and this is because what you’re saying is fucking dangerous and terrifying, an attempt to shift the Overton window further into our uteruses. However, a part of me thinks you were given the platform to espouse those worrying views, poorly argued, because the New Statesman are trolling for links. It works so well for the Daily Mail, and I can thoroughly understand why the NS might want a slice of the linkbait pie. That’s why I never linked your article, Mehdi. I don’t want to encourage anyone to continue publishing articles like yours.
Hope you’ve learned something from this, and will keep your opinions out of our wombs in future.