Erika Bachiochi, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a senior fellow at the Abigail Adams Institute, has written an excellent piece about new US Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett, titled Amy Coney Barrett: A New Feminist Icon.
While acknowledging Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s achievements and legal advocacy in the area of equality and antidiscrimination, Bachiochi reflects on how her views on abortion rights have undermined women’s equality and that Barrett could lead the way to a much more authentic feminism.
“But Ginsburg also viewed abortion rights as central to sexual equality, and her leadership helped give rise to a movement that remains laser focused on abortion to this day. Yet rather than make women more equal to men, constitutionalizing the right to abortion as the court did in Roe has relieved men of the mutual responsibilities that accompany sex, and so has upended the duties of care for dependent children that fathers ought equally to share.
Barrett embodies a new kind of feminism, a feminism that builds upon the praiseworthy antidiscrimination work of Ginsburg but then goes further. It insists not just on the equal rights of men and women, but also on their common responsibilities, particularly in the realm of family life. In this new feminism, sexual equality is found not in imitating men’s capacity to walk away from an unexpected pregnancy through abortion, but rather in asking men to meet women at a high standard of mutual responsibility, reciprocity and care."
Barrett is an enigma to pro-abortion feminists, having risen to the pinnacle of her profession, while raising a large family (the Barretts have seven children, two adopted and one with special needs). Bachiochi considers, “If we’re really intent…on seeing women flourish in their professions and serve in greater numbers of leadership positions too, it would be worthwhile to interrupt the abortion rights sloganeering for a beat and ask just how this mother of many has achieved so much.”
Barrett credits her ability to balance family life with her demanding profession to the team effort with her husband (also an attorney) where the needs of their children always came first.
“Rather than assume caregiving is a woman’s “choice” to embrace or reject on her own, as Roe v Wade does, the Barretts recognize that both mothers and fathers are encumbered by their shared responsibilities to the dependent children in their care. That’s the new feminism building upon, while remaking, the old feminism,” Bachiochi writes.
Bachiochi also writes about how the zealous push for abortion rights has been elevated above policies that support childbearing and family life – such as flexible workplace and study arrangements – at great cost to women and society.
“When we belittle the moral status of the unborn child, treating the nascent human being in a near half-century of Supreme Court case law as “potential life,” or in academic (and popular) arguments as something parasitic upon the pregnant woman, we ought not be surprised when our workplaces and other cultural institutions treat dependent human beings that way too. If pregnancy continues to be likened to any other lifestyle choice, or worse, a disability in a Hobbesian contest with wombless men — pregnant women and caregiving parents will never receive the cultural support they need.
“When greater numbers of us understand the cultural priority of caregiving, a movement will grow strong enough to challenge the dominant market mentality that disfavors family obligation for both women and men. Ginsburg’s brand of feminism will give way to something new, a society in which we will no longer fight over abortion because it will have become irrelevant.”
Read the full article here.