Monday, December 03, 2007

The United States, women and the right to choose

I have been meaning to blog for the past three days at least. Somehow, the end of the month seems to be a bad time for blogging. So, all I did was to bookmark several links for further reference. All the three things I was planning to address have something to do with the United States. One, is simply political; the second is social; and the third, a mix of the social, the personal and the political.

To begin with the political. I just came across this article in the Times, stating that the United States has the legal right to kidnap foreign citizens if they are wanted for a crime in the United States. That's right. The legal right to kidnap someone. When I first read the headline on the India Uncut blog, I thought it was a spoof of some kind. Even when I read the whole article on the Times site, I had trouble believing it was actually true. What if another country claimed the same right? What if Afghanistan were to kidnap Mr. Bush Jr. for war crimes? (Hmm...not a bad idea!) Would the US not be screaming bloody murder? Anyway, food for thought, that.

Now, the social. Ms. Clinton, as we all know, is running for President. But, the way her opponents are criticising her role as First Lady, some implying she was too nosy, others insisting that bedtime talk with husband Bill was hardly a qualification, makes me wonder if the US will ever get out of the 17th Century and into the 21st. I don't claim to be the most liberated of women. I do have my restrictions. I come from a country where the sex ratio is a pathetic 927 for 1000 men, where women must struggle to be properly fed and fight to be educated. But, I also come from a country that elected a woman to the highest office of the land a couple of months ago, and to the post of Prime Minister almost four decades ago. Last year's local body elections in Tamil Nadu witnessed an unprecedented number of women filing nomination papers. Three Indian states are ruled by women and a number of women hold or have held prominent positions at the centre. Whatever is the US doing? Why is it still acceptable to slander Ms. Clinton because she was First Lady, and belittle her achievements because she is a woman? I do not contend that Ms. Clinton is the best possible candidate for president, but all this criticism about husband Bill telling her about White House business annoys me to no end. Does anyone ever criticise a man and tell him that all that he knows is thanks to his wife's bedtime discussions with him? This just proves that, economic progress notwithstanding, we are still living in a man's world.

Finally, the long-standing US debate on abortion got my attention, once again thanks to this India Uncut blogpost. Those who campaign passionately for foetal rights are forgetting something very basic. The foetus cannot survive outside of the mother's body. And as Amit Varma points out, a woman's body is her own. She has the right to decide whether she wants the baby or not. Anti-abortion campaigners make it sound as though the woman gets rid of the baby for her convenience with no qualms. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Abortion is an extremely sensitive issue. A woman is confronted with a hard choice when she discovers an unwanted, and unexpected pregnancy. She does not enjoy abortion. Nobody does. But we must remember that she is an individual in her own right. Carrying the baby (or aborting) is her choice. The state has no business interfering. By refusing to legalise abortion, the government (both American and others) puts the woman's life in immeasurable danger. If the option was accessible to all, there would be no reason to go to fake doctors, undergo dangerous procedures for termination of pregnancy and suffer irreversible harm. Human rights (of full-grown individuals) is, in this case more important than foetal rights. At least, that is what I think.

1 comment:

Renie said...

Hi Amrutha, thanks for your registration with IndiBlogger. I love your blog template, and am glad you found a badge that suits it perfectly!