If a pamphlet just published by Maureen McTeer represents a trend in feminist thinking, do not be surprised if the radical feminist movement joins with the pro-life movement in rejecting the final report of the Royal Commission on Reproductive Technologies (due later this year).
McTeer was an orignal member of the Royal Commission, established by the federal Conservatives in 1989 to examine all the isues raised by recent advances in reproductive technology. With a budgetof $25 million, the commission held public hearings across Canada. It is to investigate and report to Parliament on such technologies and practices as in vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, embryo experimentation and genetic manipulation. The commission has received testimony from the scientist, doctors and drug companies, from feminist and pro-life groups, and from infertile women who have turned to the medical profession for help in conceiving a child.
Pro-life groups protested the bias of the commission right from the start. McTeer is a high-profile pro-abortionist who, in 1985, accepted an honorary directorship in the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League.
Fired from Commission
McTeer wrote to CARAL at the time “I hope that my presence on your letterhead will serve as a positive signal for other practicing Roman Catholic women and men concerned about both the complexity of this sensitive issue and the right of a woman to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term.”
In December 1991, commission head Dr. Pat Baird fired McTeer and three others, who immediately launched a lawsuit in protest (the suit has since been dropped). The National Action Committee on the Status of Women and other feminist groups withdrew their support from the commission, even though it had been NAC that pushed for such a commission to be formed.
McTeer later discussed her firing as due to a difference in philosophy among the commissioners. Part of the difference “was the insistence this was nothing but management of new technologies,” she said in a speech in Toronto in April 1992. She described the commission’s basic position as “the technology is good. The technology is here to stay, so why don’t you lighten up and respect that?” (Globe and Mail, April 1992)
She went on to say that “We have to agree there are some things that cannot be violated…All human life is intrinsically valuable. And we have to agree the value of human life accrues at the point of conception.”
Does this mean that Maureen McTeer is on the verge of announcing a conversion to the pro-life point of view?
Last December, Harper Collins published her views on reproductive technologies in “The Tangled Womb: the Politics of Human Reproduction,” a 32-page essay in its Point of View series.
In “The Tangled Womb,” McTeer cautions the public not to accept the report of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies as the last word. “It will be crucial that the Commission’s final report be seen as merely the views of one set of stakeholders, rather than an unbiased and complete assessment of the various important issues raised,” she writes.
Not surprisingly, a large part of the essay is concerned with discussing the subject from the point of view of women, since “it is upon their bodies that these technologies are exercised, and it will be their reproductive parts and capacities that will be required for donation, rental and sale.”
She is particularly critical of surrogate motherhood, and its abuse of poor women. “What then will prevent the exploitation of the vulnerable to perform the breeding requirements of the powerful and affluent?…if women, living in the wealthiest country in the world, will sell or lease their reproductive capacities and parts in order to earn money for themselves or their families, what in the wold wills top women mired in poverty in Third World countries from doing the same, for but a fraction of the present going rate?”
On the subjects of prenatal diagnosis and selective abortion, McTEaar sounds like a pro-life writer:
“first, they [the technologies] suggest that some life is not worth living; and second, they imply that we need no longer be held hostage to Nature’s whims or cruel tricks. In this analysis of the human condition, pain and suffering are neither seen, nor accepted, as means to acquire self-discipline, maturity, compassion or wisdom…
Further, she agues, “Practices like prenatal diagnosis, with its eugenic overtones, have already shaped the attitudes of a generation. Most people now believe that there is no need to carry to term a less-than-perfect child. Many others actually believe they should have the ‘right’ to choose their child’s sex. In the case of the handicapped child, some have convinced themselves that the child deserves better, and so no handicapped child should be brought into the world. Economic arguments also play a role here. It costs a great deal to keep a handicapped child, and at a time when most publicily funded health-care systems are under economic siege, many feel it is better to save limited health resources for ‘healthy’ children.”
Toward the end of the essay McTeer asks,”Are there discoveries,practices,technologies whose dark side is too dangerous to contemplate, whose potential for abuse too great, for science and society ever to countenance their use and development?
But McTeer does not go so far as to state categorically that there are any technologies and practices beyond the pale. She entered th debate, she says, “to help set a framework” so Canadaienas “can both harness technology to our own ends an dportect ourselves from its potential for abuse.”
Maureen McTeer was trained as a lawyer: she knows the importance of precise language, and she knows how to use words to present an argument to sway others to her point of view. But the feminist sisterhood is powerful and dissenters who raise to many questions that undermine the orthodoxy do not long survive. Perhaps this is why McTeer stops short of firmly rejecting all reproductive technologies.
Perhaps also she is reluctant to present her own opinion because her own logic tells her that to reject abortion for sex selection purposes, or to condemn surrogate birth arangments, is to subvert the whole argument that a woman have the right to control her body.
She writes, firmly enough, “… procreation is not a ‘right’ in the classical sense. No one can require the exercise of any reporductive ‘right’; for to do so would require, in certain situations, that the body or reproductive parts and and capacities of others be commandeered for another’s benefit, a concept foreign to our principles of bodily integrity and individual autonomy.”
And yet, abortion is often argued in terms of a “reproductive right.”
As a former member of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, Maureen McTeer’s caution about the likely bias of its report and recommendations should be taken seriously. If, as McTeer charges, the report will ignore the moral dimensions of the technologies in favour of the scientific imperative, the pro-life movement may actually find common ground with the radical feminist movement.
It remains to be seen, however, whether Mcteer’s point of view is also that of the radical feminists.
More than a few dedicated pro-lifers would support McTeer when she writes, “… we must accept that no human being, regardless of gender, ability or complexion, must ever be seen as a means to someone else’s end. We all must be treated as ends in ourselves, each unique and special. This assumption of the worth and integrity of all human life must mark our actions and enlighten our discussions and decisions about the use and development of these technologies and practices involving the creation and manipulation of human life in the laboratory.”
University students bombarded by ideaology
“Political Correctness 101” becoming required course on Canadian campuses
When The Interim reported last month that 75% of Canadians would support legislation requiring informed consent for abortion, it reported that this support legislation requiring informed consent for abortion, it reported that this support was lowest among the university educated. Some might infer that the brightest minds see something in the proposal that the common fold can’t quite grasp, but more likely the exact opposite may be true.
Political correctness is a disease of the intellect which is infecting university campuses across North America. Dinesh d’Souza documents this phenomenon is his very interesting book, Illiberal Education.
Contempt for opinions which are not “p. c,” and systematic efforts by those in power to suppress their very expression or discussion on campus, are characteristic of this malady. A very strong tilt to the left is also symptomatic. Students at afflicted campuses quickly find all aspects of university life are affected: student associations, curriculum content, students’ and professors’ writing and research.
The 1992/93 Concordia University Student Association [CUSA] Handbook is a recent example of the rigidity of politically correct thought. Rather than simply informing students of the resources on and off campus which on and off campus which are available to them, the CUSA Handbook is 240 pages of consciousness raising.
And, for Concordia students, political indoctrination doesn’t come cheap. Every student in Fine Arts and Arts & Science programmes is required to pay $1.60 per credit to CUSA. A full-time student typically takes 30 credits per year. But, there is very little
In the CUSA Handbook which concerns students who are not homosexual, feminist, Marxist, non-white, drug using or likely to be in trouble with the police.
Predictably, a dominant theme is AIDS and safe sex. The wonders of the latex condom [and others too revolting to discuss here] are promoted in several essays. One has to question the intellectual honesty of a publication which alleges the promotion of the condom is for health reasons and then quotes former porn star Annie Sprinkle’s quidelines for sex in the 90’s “abstinence can cause incredible anxiety, frustration, depression, disease, violence and a host of other destructive forces. If you like sex, then don’t give it up. It’s too precious a gift.”
Similarly irresponsible advice is provided on drug use. Among several articles on feminist concerns are two essays on abortion. “You Have a Choice,” “Keep Your Bombs Off Our Bodies” not only drone the usual “choice” rhetoric, but both articles carry a warning:
Birthright: a word of warning about these people. They place classified ads in a lot of newspapers offering free pregnancy tests and ‘counseling’ to women who think they are pregnant. They’re frantically anti-abortion, so any ‘counseling’ you’re likely to get won’t discuss any options that don’t involve having a baby.
This warning is very revealing. The CUSA-funded Concordia Pro Choice Collective, like other so-called “choice’ advocates, has not patience for those who might wish to choose something other than abortion. Nowhere in the Handbook is there any referral to pregnant women who might be looking for financial assistance, housing or emotional or psychological support.
The warning against Birthright betrays a paternalistic elitism among the CUSA executive which feels it must protect open minds from being exposed to politically incorrect ideologies. This is reflected in another section of the Handbook entitled “Extremely ignorant.”
Here the protectors of all that’s left list the “extreme-right” groups in Montreal and beyond. Listed among the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nation is Rev. Ken Campbells’ Renaissance Canada, described as “extreme right, religious, anti-choice.
Most groups on this list are branded “neo-nazi” which would scare anybody off. The Northern Foundation, for example, is well to the right of center, but neo-nazis is an unwarranted and unproven appellation.
In a similar vein, an article entitled “Conscious Consumption” encourages students to boycott Domino’s Pizza [“President Tom Monaghan supports anti-choice groups…] and Malboro Cigarettes [Manufacturer Phillip Morris Inc. supports U.S. Se
Sennator Jesse Heins….and his homophobic attitude.”].
Concordia is not alone in allowing this tyranny of political correctness. Student across the continent are learning that their values and ideas and opinions are not welcome on campus. The suppression of ideas which might offer a counter balance to the extreme left ideology could have a very damaging effect on young people, who are preparing to enter the adult world. Far from opening young minds, the university has become a place to have them hermetically sealed.