The moral implications of childfree choice
by Nicole Rubano to Lunàdigas
Liberal feminism has always defined men’s and women’s rights in terms of public-private dichotomy. Nowadays, this has led to sustain that gender equality has been completely achieved in the public sphere thanks to laws, just because individuals are formally free and emancipated in their collective life. Still, there are unsolved private issues which are publicly discussed through collective judgements, political manipulations and biased debates.
Abortion is an example where woman’s free choice is publicly rephrased, being a ground to restrict, to limit and to sanction. A lunàdiga too – who may choose abortion willing to not realise maternity – is victim of this rephrasing, again as if her private freedom threats the public community.
Of course, this “obstinacy against non-maternity” is not just about mothers who cannot have grandchildren from their daughters. But instead, it is the result of a publicly-build definition of female role as life-giver and protector of the family. All this creates also an ethics around women’s behaviour, meaning a moral obligation about what to do for the community. Also, the more a State is rooted in the religious interpretation of the family, the more this moral obligation becomes holy and inviolable. In concrete terms, this implies obstacles to female sterilisation, birth control and abortion, due to the possibility of conscientious objection for the doctor.
This moral seems paradoxical, seen the ability of law to change according to female citizens’ needs – in 1978, in Italy, tubal ligation has become a legal treatment – and the continuous development of biotechnology to make those treatments effective and non-invasive. Nonetheless, bioethical approval is stuck.
In Bologna, at Centro Orlando, participants highlight how contemporary capitalism leads to the motto “I produce, therefore I am”, for those issues too. For a lunàdiga woman, being productive seems a claim even more legitimate and sacrificial: it means donating ovules, as well as offering gestation, or extracting stamina cells from aborted fetuses. All this to compensate the fault of living life without offering something back to collectivity. So, when it comes to consider the marketability of those “gifts”, bioethics is against women, considering the selling of stamina cells as an incentive to make profits through abortion.
Again, women are attacked, objected: if not unproductive parasites, they are avid fetuses exploiters. However, the right focus is not the risk of a market of abortion. The real problem concerns the socio-economic inequality that still affects women, even publicly, and even more in underdeveloped countries. When a woman chooses to make profits through her body – as for prostitution, too – the society should not judge immoral her act, but the public condition where she is living. In fact, if women have the chance to live in better conditions, there won’t be risks of doing abortions just to make profit.
The economic aids that some women need are just the key through which welfare politics can avoid the marketability of bodies and fetuses – considered alive or not, according to bioethical interpretations. Firstly, this would overcome abstract debates among philosophers. Then, this would concretely provide a material and psychological support to women who are experiencing abortion, donations of ovules, or gestations. None of those actions has ever been considered a lottery winning. On the contrary, the eventual economic compensation cannot be compared to the psychological and emotional stress felt by women.
Even when those treatments are chosen just for economic returns, there should be offered aids rather than objections and bias. Indeed, women do not need only public freedom, but also a universal chance to exercise it.
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