ACDP writes off rights of women

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IOL ST_meshoe0 (40374112) (40381370) INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS The Reverend Kenneth Meshoes party, the ACDP, believes that abortion cannot be justified under any circumstances  even in the case in which a woman has been raped and falls pregnant. File photo: Motshwari Mofokeng

The ACDP has come out firmly as anti-abortion, a position which reinforces male dominance, says Eusebius McKaiser.

Johannesburg - I feel sorry for many voters. Who the heck does one vote for? A party with a leader who melts down on Twitter every other day, pretending to be colour-blind but attacking a journalist based on her complexion?

A party with a leader without opinions about possibly one of the the biggest corruption scandals that involves his own homestead?

A party with a leader who was keen to campaign for another party instead? She’s now missing in action and probably being searched for by Khumbul’ekhaya.

Or how about a party with populist pseudo-leaders who have no bureaucratic skill or governance experience, drunk on revolutionary rhetoric?

Well, we’ve got a few months to puzzle through these dilemmas. But I’ve taken one step towards knowing who I’m gonna vote for by eliminating an option. It will not be the African Christian Democratic Party. Because I love and respect women too much.

Let me explain. The chairperson of the national executive committee of the ACDP joined me on Power Talk last week. My good Lord – pardon the pun – the things she said in the name of Christian-based politics shocked me. I’m still traumatised.

First, I was told that abortion should be illegal. “Abortion is the killing of a person”.

Now, let me be generous for the sake of argument. Assume the foetus is a person. The claim is hugely contestable, both biologically and morally. But assume foetuses are, indeed, persons.

It still doesn’t follow as obvious that the right to an abortion on demand shouldn’t exist. A woman ought to be entitled to autonomously decide whether to eject that person from her womb or not.

That is the core of what feminist struggles have been about. Allowing women the freedom to decide what to do with their bodies, and making reproductive decisions without states imposing decisions on them.

This is particularly important in the historical context of states being filled with men who deprioritise the interests of women in how they design and reinforce rules and laws that regulate our lives.

The ACDP position reinforces this male dominance over female bodies.

It gets worse though. Let’s imagine that at least some of you reading this column are thinking, “but I‘m a feminist and Christian, Eusebius, and oppose abortions”. It’s possible. Well, do write to my editor and make the case for that view on our letters pages. Dialogue is what we’re about.

But even you will hopefully be shocked by what the ACDP told me next. I asked whether an exception should be made when someone is raped. Surely someone carrying the child of her rapist should be allowed access to an abortion if she doesn’t want the child?

Nope! It is still murder, my guest tells me. But then adds, on top of this callous disregard for rape victims, the following advice. That if you have semen inside you, you can get it scraped out quickly, anyway, before conception can happen.

What the fudge?! Not only is this biological nonsense right up there with showering as a prophylactic. It also assumes a rape victim is near medical services and can casually walk away from her attacker, whistle her favourite tune and always access medical facilities shortly after an attack. Which planet does the ACDP inhabit?

We agreed to disagree, and talked next about teens who sometimes fall pregnant.

The ACDP believes that teens should ideally not be falling pregnant (and I agree) but if they really must have an abortion, parents must give consent.

Currently, the law doesn’t demand parental consent for a teen to have an abortion.

 

Again, the disconnect with reality is amazing. What if I’m a teenage girl, dad rapes me, and mom is covering for dad to prevent shame on our family or because dad works and she doesn’t? Why must I, a confident teen rape survivor, not have the right to an abortion on demand in cases like these? Most abuse happens at home, so the current law is sensible and evidence-based.

But the ACDP prefers cheap moralism over teen girls’ health and futures.

Now let me be clear. It’s cool that our constitution allows religious freedom. The ACDP has a right to campaign based on Christian morality. And some of you will, as you can, vote for them.

I won’t. I love and respect women too much.

* Eusebius McKaiser is the author of Could I Vote DA? A Voter’s Dilemma.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

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