a recent set of articles, New York Times
columnist Ross Douthat once again puts his foot in his mouth when he argues
restrictions can be compatible with gender equality. To illustrate
his point, he cites countries in Europe, where second- and third-trimester
abortions are restricted, and is particularly obsessed with Ireland, where
abortion is banned, asking, “If abortion rights and easy
abortion access are essential to female advancement, why have Irish women
advanced without them?”
Mr. Douthat is not only ignoring the reality of a women’s lives in Ireland, he
misconstrues Ireland’s abortion law, overlooking the suffering it inflicts on
women—most of which is too subtle to appear in maternal health statistics.
one, abortion is hugely stigmatized in Ireland. Scores of Irish women who have
travelled for abortion testify to the humiliation and shame they have
experienced—forced to leave their own country only to assert their right to
fundamental health care. This is to say nothing of the health consequences that
delayed care implies, or the financial toll that traveling for health services
in another country takes on women and families.
Mr. Douthat’s suggestion that most women in Ireland have the option of simply
going elsewhere to obtain an abortion is completely indifferent to economic
inequality. Women who are unable to travel—poor, young, in state custody, or
otherwise marginalized—are forced to give birth, creating a two-class system
where women without resources are also without choice.
from assuring us that abortion restrictions are harmless, Ireland actually shows
us that women can scarcely hope for dignity, let alone equality, in places that
deprive them of essential healthcare.