Miranda Devine, Tony Abbott and Abortion

Miranda Devine has a problem with a lot of things- climate change, lefties, Lebanese-Australians, Muslims- but one particular group she seems to really have a problem with is women.

In her recent article ‘Abbott’s real trouble is the sisterhood’, Miranda set out to debunk the myth that Tony is unpopular with the 18-34 female demographic. She begins with the infallible argument that Tony is in fact related to a lot of women, “Despite the fact he has three daughters, a wife, two sisters and a mother who adore him, the popular perception of the new Opposition Leader is that women can’t stand his blokeish, confrontational style.” This is a flawless logical progression. Tony Abbott is related to women and therefore the belief that he is unpopular with the female demographic is a myth. Spectacular.

In case anyone is curious I am the daughter of two pro-Liberal parents, so if anyone thinks that my opinions about the Liberal party are unattractive to Liberal party members then by gum you’re certainly mistaken and I’d kindly ask you to never speak such foolishness again. After all, as we all know, if you associate with individuals of any particular demographic you are immediately appealing to the rest of that demographic, despite any differences in opinion that you may have.

Miranda then continues to catalogue how Tony has been given “a hard time” about this failure to appeal to young women during various interviews. I must say I am glad that Miranda is here to bat for Tony Abbott as he always has such difficulty doing it for himself. I’m also glad that someone has pointed out that he is the victim of over-zealous, blood-thirsty journalists who callously attempt to interrogate him on his weaknesses. Certainly this is something never witnessed in politics before.

Just to recap so far we have a inoffensive, feminised, domestic image of Tony Abbott in contrast with him being savagely and unjustly harangued by the press for something that essentially isn’t true. To her credit, Miranda actually provides some statistics to reveal that Tony polls comparatively well, if not better, with women than men.

How is it then that such vicious, slanderous rumours have been spread about this poor defenseless man? “Abbott’s so-called woman trouble is with a particular subset of female: the aggressively secular, paleo-feminist, emasculating Australian broad, for whom unabashed red-blooded blokeishness is an affront of biblical proportions.”

Oh god, not the paleo-feminists again!! They are incorrigible! What do they want now?

According to Miranda they want “abortion on demand, no matter what the circumstances”. Gasp! Those monsters! How dare they demand…something that’s…already in place. Yeah… The latter part of this sentence piques my curiosity though and has led me to wonder what circumstances Miranda would consider adequate to qualify or disqualify an individual’s eligibility to get an abortion. Can you get an abortion if your contraception failed? What about if you made a drunken mistake of not even using contraception? What if you threw caution to the wind and didn’t think about the consequences only to then have to deal with the horror of having to make an unbelievably difficult choice? What if you were raped? What if, young and naive, you believed your boyfriend when he said that you can’t get pregnant your first time? What if tests show that your child is severely handicapped? What if you have an abusive partner? What if your work won’t support you through your pregnancy?

And how are these circumstances ascertained? Is it mandatory for each woman seeking an abortion to go through a series of interviews? Maybe we can strap them to a lie detector and then impose our own moral beliefs onto them by either allowing or denying them control over their bodies. Or maybe they could submit a 500 word essay entitled ‘Why I should be able to get an abortion’ and if the ink isn’t running from their tears then they’re immediately disqualified. Because of course abortion isn’t traumatic enough without being thoroughly berated about your choice and whatever circumstances may have led up to that choice.

All of these arguments, however, according to Miranda Devine are simply the “visceral, red-fanged rage” of ball busting feminists who “hold firm to an outdated, 1970s view of feminism that requires unquestioning belief in abortion as a social good.”

Do feminists see abortion as a social ‘Good’ in the true sense of the word? Or do they simply see it as a better alternative to women being forced to endure pregnancy and labor despite the circumstances? Do they see it as being something that grants women control over their bodies and autonomy over their lives where previously they had none? You see, the term ‘good’ is one that exists in relativity to the alternative. Would it be ‘good’ to have 100,000 mothers (100,000 being the number of abortions last year) who are unable to care for their children either financially or emotionally, or alternatively who would give their children up for adoption (and considering in 2005 there were 585 adoptions in Australia, most of them would end up institutionalised or in foster homes)?

You see, the thing is, there aren’t many people who actually like the idea or act of abortion. The vast majority of people will hear the figure ‘100,000’ and think that it’s rather sad. Because you see, any unwanted pregnancy, despite the circumstances, is rather sad. It is unfortunate and certainly not something anybody enjoys. As for the argument that there are women who use it as a form of contraception, I would suggest that they are an absolute minority, considering that abortions not only have associated medical risks and can cause pain, nausea and other side effects, but also cost around $350. I personally don’t know anyone who would consistently use abortion instead of just using birth control.

So what can be done in order to reduce abortions without actually denying the right to have them? If, as Tony has, one sets up a hotline for pregnancy counselling then that is fantastic- well done. If you want to focus on education about safe sex and having a responsible sex life, well done. If you want to educate people about the realities of pregnancy and abortion, well done. These measures, however, should not go hand-in hand with making it more difficult for women to have abortions and I believe that it is the desire to prevent this that motivates the supposed satan’s spawn femi-nazis who support ‘abortion on demand’.

In fact, according the Devine’s own article, Tony does not want to make the abortion process harder either and does not wish to recriminalise abortion. That’s fantastic, but what about decriminalising abortion? Abortion actually remains part of the criminal code in NSW and the ACT which is why Tegan Leach is facing a prison sentence for her abortion. I wonder if Tony would support that. Regardless, according to Devine and her portrayal of Abbott’s views, he is actually in agreement with the very demonic forces that she believes are attempting to castrate the entire male population, as neither party wish to see access to abortions reduced.

So if they’re so agreed what exactly is Miranda’s problem? Well it would appear that the problem is not that they are pro-choice, but that they criticise Tony for his views. Unjusitfiably, according to Miranda, who states that his views are “considered, mild and unthreatening to the legal status of the procedure”.
So why is it that these evil, sexless women have such a problem with Tony’s views on abortion? Could it be that he has previously said that the legalisation of abortion in Australia was a ‘stain on the national character’? Or could it be that in 2006 as health minister he rejected the abortion pill, stating it posed a medical risk to women, despite reassurances from the ACA that it was “the best and safest” non-surgical option (and in fact can be preferable to the surgical option) as long as there was a doctor’s supervision? What about his statement that he was “comfortable with the existing policy” that denied Australian aid for abortion training in poor countries despite the fact that this training could save approximately 70,000 women who die each year from botched abortions?

You see despite Miranda’s best efforts to portray the contrary, Tony does actually have a problem with abortion. Not just the number of abortions per year, but abortion itself and this problem stems from his religion. Now Miranda may mock the ‘paleo-feminists’ for their disapproval of a “male practising Catholic who dares to express his private beliefs” and their view that this is “secular apostasy”, but her talent for hyperbole aside, let’s just imagine if the situation were different.

If a Muslim had been elected to lead the Liberal party and had a reputation for being anti-abortion, would Miranda be writing an article in defense of his right to publically express his religious views in a political arena? Or would she be emphatically arguing as to the secular nature of Australian society and saying that said Muslim was simply trying to oppress women and take away their rights? If hypothetical Muslim suggested that the hijab should become mandatory as it would prevent the lustful gazes of men and reduce sexual activity, would she be flying his flag or calling for his resignation? If he said that, “It is unfair to expect men to bear full responsibility for sexual mores as the boundaries of acceptable practice are blurred. Young women are told they can act and dress any way they please, and it is men, alone, with their supposedly filthy, uncontrollable sexual desires, who must restrain themselves. It turns biology and the history of humanity on its head.” – would she be outraged? I certainly hope not as those are her own words. Given Miranda’s track record in regards to her views on Muslims, however, I think the outrage would spew forth nevertheless.

It would appear, therefore, that Miranda’s problem really lies with women who disagree with her opinions, or who criticise the people that she likes, and she therefore seeks to malign and misrepresent them as much as possible. This is not the first time Miranda has belittled women who disagree with her by essentialising them into a demeaning category. Previously she has suggested that women who dislike Sarah Palin and mocked her overtly sexual appearance were merely suffering the pangs of jealousy because they weren’t as pretty or successful, “There is an echo of bitchy high-school jealousy of the popular queen bee from the snarling, self-mutilating nerd and goths who vainly lusted after the cute boys she snared. The consolation for the losers is that homecoming queens are meant to get married, get pregnant, get fat and lose their looks…Palin, by having it all, has cheated.”

She did not suggest of course that women resented her being trotted out as some kind of political genius despite the fact that she has said some of the stupidest things on record and that when challenged on her views she was often unable to substantiate them.

She has also suggested that the pressure put upon Matthew Johns to name other participants in a gang rape/sex session (however you view it) with a 19 year old girl who subsequently tried to kill herself, and the vilification he was subjected to, were all part of a feminist conspiracy to wage a war against masculinity. She blames feminism for the current behaviour of men and their disregard for women, because according to her, if men had not been made hesitant to hold open doors for women they would have remained as chivalrous and respectful of women as they were in the past. This of course completely ignores the violence towards and degradation of women that necessitated the women’s movement in the first place.

It really makes me wonder what it is about women who actually demand accountability from men that offends Miranda so much. It also makes me wonder if Miranda thinks that every woman who vehemently disagrees with something a man says or does is merely doing so because they are female. What about the men who lambasted Johns? Are they just too whipped to fight back and therefore have no choice but the weakly join the chorus of condemnation? Or is it simply that these people believe that if you see something that is wrong, you should stand up and say so and should not have your opinions reduced down to whether or not you have a Y chromosome. It seems to be that Miranda is so desperate to prove that she is unlike the worst stereotype of feminism imaginable that when she sees women strongly stating their opinion on issues that are central concerns to feminism such as rape and abortion, she completely overcompensates by belittling, essentialising and demonising them as much as possible. For someone who accuses others of setting feminism back 40 years, she’s certainly doing a sufficient job of it on her own.

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