Admittedly, Lesley Soper doesn’t exactly come top of the list when you think “former Labour MPs”, but she was one of our elected representatives, and she was, probably more importantly, the Labour Party Women’s Vice President from 1995 to 2006.
She’s also a concern-troll style antichoicer.
Via ALRANZ, who are keeping tabs on the Southland Times letters page:
I was saddened to read the Southern District Health Board decision to begin an abortion service at Kew Hospital, especially at a time when boards are being forced to trim millions from budgets and when the Government Budget did not even cover health inflation.
During my tenure as an elected board member we received a non-clinical staff recommendation to institute this service.
We rejected it on the grounds of financial affordability, and because, along with several other competing new service proposals, it was not seen as a priority in public health or population terms.
Abortion services for people who are going to have abortions anyway but face a day’s travel and the associated costs of accommodation, childcare, time off work, and increased medical complications if they have to delay the procedure: “just not a priority”.
At a time when the board is threatening local maternity services like Tuatapere with closure, and following on from the cuts to aged care, I would have thought the announcement of this new service was particularly inappropriate.
There are several other much-requested clinical services that would seem a priority to offer or expand first.
Your unwanted pregnancy: totally less important than old people or Women Who Are Better Than You.
If there is additional money to spare I would also have thought it was better directed to positive action such as the prevention of unwanted pregnancies (for example, free provision of contraceptive choices) and support programmes for those who choose to keep their babies.
So if there is spare money, can we at least spend it on things Lesley Soper doesn’t find icky? Like contraception, which may create its own series of health issues for you, or which might increase your risk of domestic violence, or which might not work so you still have to have that abortion you were going to have anyway.
The board should be consulting with the Southland community on this decision, and on what the community sees as health priorities.
I urge it to do so.
And by “consult with the community” Lesley of course means “listen to the people who agree with me.” Just like her apparent buddy, Dr McLean.
It’s a bit fucking concerning to me that a person who for 11 years had – one assumes – a pretty substantial influence over the Labour Party’s policy around women’s issues (and although abortion doesn’t just affect women it is always stuck in the “women’s issues” box) is quite clearly anti-choice. Or at least willing to play the anti-choice violin if it allows her to get in some digs about a decision being undertaken by a DHB under a government led by the sitting MP’s party.
How many antichoice tropes can Lesley hit in one letter? Well, there’s “these silly women’s issues can wait until Serious Issues are dealt with” – entirely too reminiscent of Jim Hopkins’ utterly pathetic “ask the womenfolk, Bill, they’ll sacrifice their silly pay equality for the kiddies” (and how did I NOT blog that shit?).
Then there’s “ew, abortion is icky, spend the money on fluffy bunnies instead” logic. One recurring argument in feminist discussion of abortion is about whether we should ever talk about “wanting a world where there is no abortion”. Because to some – including me – we can never have that world. There’s always going to be “valid” reasons for abortions – saving the life of the pregnant person, for example – and there’s also the fact that the only “valid” reason I think a person needs is that they don’t want to be pregnant.
Nevertheless, we’re not talking utopias here. We’re talking about
positive action such as the prevention of unwanted pregnancies (for example, free provision of contraceptive choices) and support programmes for those who choose to keep their babies
Contraception fails. People should get support when they’ve had babies whether they ~chose life~ or not. And the unwillingly pregnant people of Southland will still being having abortions.
Third up, how about the creepy eugenics implications of this?
We rejected it … because … it was not seen as a priority in … population terms.
Yes, I’ve cut out some of the irrelevant chaff, but the original’s right up there if you want to question it. Fact is, this is one clear part of what Soper says. Part of the reason to deny Southland people easy access to the abortions they’re going to have anyway was because there wasn’t a pressing issue “in population terms”.
If anyone can find an interpretation of that which doesn’t boil down to “abortion would be totally cool if we were being overrun with undesirables ruining the gorgeous vistas” I am all ears.
But what I really want to take from this is the following, which seems to nicely fit in with what I suspected above. This actually has very little to do with Lesley Soper’s personal views on abortion, which (beyond obviously thinking it’s icky) she neatly avoids in her letter.
This is shallow, amoral, political point-scoring. She’s spotted a potential groundswell of opposition to Southern DHB’s plan, Eric Roy has presumably been silent on the topic, so here comes Lesley “I Love Southland SO MUCH” Soper, reminding us all how she’s Played Her Part in Stopping The Abortion Menace before, covering both the “unnecessary spending” and “but I’m still kinda liberal, so spend it over here instead” cards, and finally declaring that They Must Consult With The Community.
Lesley Soper: a former Women’s Vice-President of the Labour Party. Throwing women under the bus to try to chip away at Eric Roy’s thumping majority. Is it merely sad, or abhorrent? I’m going with both.
In the Gateaux has a great post up on Chris Trotter’s 2008 piece on the antichoice forces behind the political right in NZ.
Thanks Chris. As a member of your so called group of young, confident women I really enjoy you speaking on my behalf. I like how you assume how we might view the past struggles of women in the pro-choice movement. I also appreciate your advice on the need to reflect. Because, as a young confident woman, I haven’t thought about the issue at all!
Of course you hadn’t, Sophia. We silly wee things may be young and confident, but obviously we can’t get anywhere without a strong, sensible man
splainer leading us.
[This post was originally prepared for The Standard, where it was given a very interesting thumbnail image and a fascinating intro paragraph, and promptly attacked by writers of that site for being anti-male and anti-Labour and why didn’t I just be nice to them since they were so kind to set me up as trollbait for pageviews.]
Chris Trotter’s worst nightmare came true on the weekend of 12-13 March, as 70-odd bloody liberal lefties* came together (phwoar) to figure out how we were going to just ruin Labour’s chances of winning the 2011 election.
In short, they vowed to (whisper it) talk about abortion. Loudly. Publicly. This year.
Put this one on for size: you want to buy a car, so naturally you go to a car dealership. But sorry, says the car dealer, the law says first of all you need to go see this auto mechanic so he can sign off your car ownership.
And once you’ve got your appointment the auto dealer looks at you and says well, technically the law says you aren’t really allowed a car. Nope, not even if your last one got stolen and driven off a cliff. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll just put on the form that you’ll go crazy without a car.
Fine, whatever, you say. Being labelled crazy is worth it to get that car. … You can get a car now, right?
Nope. You’ve got to see another auto mechanic. And maybe they’re actually an hour’s drive away and only take appointments on every second Wednesday, but you need a fucking car, so you do what it takes, you lie to your boss, you put the goldfish in cryofreeze, you get to that appointment. And another auto mechanic says no, sorry, you don’t actually qualify for a car, even though you live in an area with no public transport and are employed as a courier. But hey, they’re charitable, they see a lot of people who really, really need cars, so they’ll just tick the “crazy” box again.
[If you’re lucky. You might not be, and then there’s a fun process of shopping around different auto mechanics hoping one will tell you you’re crazy. Only in months containing a J during full moon, though.]
Finally, you can get your car! Except that you have to wait for an appointment at the car dealer. And they’re not even in your town and while they could theoretically give you a nice, efficient car they actually only stock the ones with shitty suspension and brakes that bruise your tailbone and give you constant whiplash.
And it seems so fucking stupid, because you’re a driver, you can choose to buy a car if you need one, often you can’t actually live without one or your job and finances and emotional and physical health require one, and yet the law makes you jump through hoops to get one – and labels you as infantile and crazy into the bargain.
But quit yer bitching, lads. I mean, you can still get a car, even if sometimes you have to fly to Australia for one, so let’s not ruffle any feathers trying to change the law and get you treated like people deserving of dignity.
You wouldn’t fucking put up with it. We are not fucking putting up with it. We deserve better and we expect more. And when Labour refuses to take a public stand on this and continue to waffle and the feminists their allies don’t just tick their ballots like drones, Chris Trotter, who I feel almost certain has never had to worry about being pregnant, can just go cry into his fucking moustache about it.
The NZ prochoice movement, gents. Come onboard – because whether you do or not, we mean business.
*Left-ness largely assumed but put it this way, no one objected when the conversation veered off into government obligations to put extra funding into healthcare.
In her inimitable style, The Queen of Thorns has a go at Chris Trotter, Labour, readers of this site, and even poor old Garth George explaining why New Zealand’s abortion laws are shite. As usual she makes her point in a style that resembles a head on car crash and usually excites considerable comment.
Shorter lprent: fuck this QoT is a manhating bitch but she does bump our pageviews.
Someone remind me how I was totally wrong about the Left once again fucking themselves over by treating women like shit?
Full text of original post to be reproduced here tomorrow for those who, I think we can all agree entirely understandably, don’t want to get dogpiled by the insecurely yapping chihuahuas at The Standard.
And just a short coda on the entire point: abortion rights is going to be a fucking issue this election. People are going to learn how fucked up our laws are and they are going to be reminded that our major parties’ leadership does not fucking care about forcing women into having babies or fucking over their lives in order to avoid having principles.
I said you could be with us or you could be against us. Thanks for making your position utterly clear.
Bob McCoskrie needs to give fellow basement-dweller Ken Orr some lessons in media release structure. But his latest one is such a perfect example of antichoice bullshit it’s hard to pass up (even if it gets downright offensive at the end).
Right to Life supports legislation that recognises the humanity and personhood of the unborn child as a member of the human family that is endowed with an inalienable right to life and is deserving of respect and protection.
Firstly, dude, employ some fucking commas. Is the unborn babby the thing which is endowed (phwoar) or the “human family”, whatever the fuck that means?
Second, foetus =/= person.* And even if it were, no person has the right to occupy another’s body and live off their organs.** No actual “right to life” codified in any law I know of actually permits enslaving other people via biological hookup.
Right to Life believes that the majority of New Zealanders support protecting the right to life of unborn children.
I believe in fairies.
The killing of unborn children the weakest and most defenceless members of the human family in the womb, is a violation of the human rights of unborn children.
That would be those rights we’ve established no human, born or
undead unborn, have, right? But let’s never let the facts get in the way of trying to play people’s emotions with a string of irrelevant adjectives – after all, if you have to remind people that ickle babby feeetusses are Vulnerable and Weak and Helpless, you may have just acknowledged you’re on the losing side of this battle.
It is also a violation of the human rights of women who deserve respect and protection for their child in the womb.
Let’s take this to its logical conclusion, folks: women deserve respect so much that we have to take away their ability to choose to undergo a medical procedure. And
Right to Life Ken Orr and his boner respect women so much they think stubby-limbed fish-beings pweshus babbies take precedence over those women’s lives and desires and bodies.
The” right to choose” is a cruel lie,there is no human right that permits us to choose to kill another human being.
Except … that pregnancy can and does kill women. Pregnancy is in fact nine times more likely to kill a woman in New Zealand than an abortion. But because Ken respects
incubators women so much he thinks they should die in order that stubby fish-beings might live.
So … Ken thinks “unborn children” do have a right to life which necessitates killing living, breathing, thinking human people. I mean, ambulatory uteri.
You might think that’s a bit extreme, surely the antichoice movement understands that sometimes pregnancy can be really dangerous to women’s health, even fatal. Surely they’re reasonable enough to allow that some abortions are necessary to save women’s lives.
Oops, no. Mind you, that was a Catholic case, they’re a totes minor voice in the antichoice movement.
ALRANZ, the spokesman for a culture of death, with a national membership of less than 200, does not represent the views of women and ordinary New Zealanders, its proposal to decriminalise abortion is a threat to the wellbeing of women.
- ALRANZ is a person (specifically, a man)*** with a really cool single name, like Cher or Prince
- Ken Orr can’t convince anyone to come down to his basement to proofread his press releases
- “Women” and “ordinary New Zealanders” are distinct, separate groups in Right to Life’s world.
ALRANZ knows that before we can decriminalise abortion we must first deny the humanity of unborn children.
Wait for it …
The decriminalising of abortion would be a denial of the humanity and personhood of the unborn child.
Wait for it ….
The denial of the humanity of Negroes gave us slavery.
That’s just the appetizer …
The denial of the humanity of Jews gave us the Holocaust.
BOOM! Godwinned it!
Yep, the all-time classic Abortion Is Just Like The Holocaust argument. Which for a start ignores some pretty complex political and social considerations around the situation in 1930s Germany/Western Europe (hint: Hitler was not the only person who wasn’t too keen on Semitic folk) but also just reveals the basic weakness of the antichoice side: they have to resort to absurd emotive “arguments” designed to make people flinch and say “oh no that’s terrible!” instead of actually relying on fact, or logic, or, well, anything.
It’s also kind of hilariously ironic that Judaism is pretty down with the abortion rights, given that whole “first breath” test for personhood. Hilarious that is if Right to Bonerlife weren’t exploiting genocide to shock people into not thinking.
See, when you have to actually rely on the horrors of the Holocaust to win people over, because the actual reality of abortion isn’t good enough … you and your boner are pretty screwed, right?
Let’s not forget the slippery slope argument for good measure:
If today we allow the denial of the human rights of unborn children by the decriminalisation of abortion, which vulnerable section of our community will be next?
I’m thinking hipsters, or maybe people who still subscribe to the Sunday Star-Times. Oh, wait, except they’re all born, autonomous beings who aren’t using a woman’s breath, blood and organs to survive. Damn.
*Any antichoicers who want to prove this is all about controlling women by commenting about how “women bring it on themselves when they have sex” should feel absolutely welcome to do so.
**And doesn’t that just tell you plenty about Right to Bodysnatch’s worldview?
I’m especially enamoured of the title Silliness, which basically encapsulates the juvenile-flounce-post feel of the whole [2,872-word] thing.
But just a few points which are so, so Feminism 101 and yet seem to have escaped Mr Fry.
1. It’s not satire if plenty of people actually feel that way.
And plenty of people think women don’t have “real” sexual drives and only use sex to trap Innocent Menfolk into relationships/marriage/babies.
2. No one cares that some of your best friends are women.
I’m no anti-feminist. I love women. Some of my best friends are women. My wife, indeed.
– Sir Humphrey Appleby
3. No oppressed group gets to shit on another one for giggles.
I mean seriously.
4. Everything you, or anyone, says or does is reflective of societal attitudes.
Apparently, Stephen Fry just wanted to make gay men* feel better about the oppression they face by making fun of how tough hetero men’s lives are.
Which automatically led his brain to [hetero] women’s frigidity and hetero men’s lack of access to anonymous pussy.
I think feminists can just stop blogging at this point, all our points have just been definitely made for us.
*And I note that it’s always gay men, because apparently Stephen Fry doesn’t feel any empathy for lesbians. I’m sure we’re all very surprised.
Nothing like being called “evil” to warm my heart on a freezing Wellington night.
But there’s something that keeps cropping up that I need to address.
It’s this notion:
Even women who believe in abortion would know down deep what they’re doing and try to block out that side of it.
Women are in denial, people (or the more common alternative, women don’t realise it’s a Baby(TM)).
Women just don’t know – or pretend not to know – that what’s growing inside them (and using their bodily resources and permanently altering their body and potentially damaging their health or even killing them) is a precious rosy-cheeked infant just waiting to compose symphonies and cure cancer.
Women, you see, are a bit thick.*
Maybe women do actually know It’s A Baby.
Maybe that’s why they want a fucking abortion.
Maybe that Baby is the result of rape. Maybe that Future Beethoven will forever connect her to an abuser and give him another weapon to use – heck, another victim. Maybe that Precious Life is going to kill her. Maybe that Gift From God is going to take resources and energy to raise which she can’t give – oh, and fuck off especially on this one, fundies, unless you have honestly never bitched about women getting welfare to raise the children you want to force them to have.
Maybe she really, really wants this child, has planned for this child, has prayed for this child, and there are complications which mean its life will be nasty brutish and short. Or she gets diagnosed with cancer and if she doesn’t get chemo they’ll both die. Or she has a family history of illness that she doesn’t want to pass on. Maybe this is the most fucking heartwrenching horrible decision she has ever made, and yes! Yes, spucwits, maybe she WILL regret it, and feel terrible, and hate herself, and feel like she thoroughly deserves the harsh judgment you so like to pretend you’re not passing out. And yeah, she probably doesn’t want to think about The Horror She Is Committing.
But she still knows it’s a fucking Baby(TM). She still knows it would, with time and frankly luck on the health front, be born and become an autonomous human being. She knows that by having an abortion she will stop that Innocent Potential from ever being fulfilled.
The only thing that is certain, when people start saying “women hide the truth from themselves” and “women need to understand It’s A Life Growing Inside Her [against her will]”? Is that those people think women are stupid and thus denying them choice is a-okay.
When women seek an abortion, they know they have a Baby(TM) growing inside them. They’d like it to stop. That’s why they want an abortion.
PS. Chris Trotter seems oddly defensive about me commenting on his post, with that whole “OH I AM SO HONOURED YOUR MAJESTY” shtick (oh man, don’t I qualify as a “Comrade”?). Dude, you quoted me. That’s how these Internets work.
And he still doesn’t understand this “numbers without context are meaningless” concept. Did y’all know that in the past two years my salary has doubled? Quick Chris! Draw conclusions about the economy and state of NZ workers’ rights without bothering to find out if it’s because I finished uni and changed jobs, that’d get in the way of soulful rhetorical questions!
Also (dammit woman, get some impulse control) apparently Chris’ post could not possibly contribute to stigmatizing abortion. This is because Chris is a pansy effeminate bitch, and in saying that I cannot possibly have contributed to societal discourse which devalues the non-masculine because society already does that.
PPS. I also love the way some people have reacted entirely predictably to my shits-and-giggles comment. It’s hard to pick what’s really funny about “abortion images” though; is it the obviously fake stories attached (the doctor put it in the microwave and drank it through a straw!!!)? Is it the way that a smudge of jelly really fails to make the antichoicers’ “it’s a BABY!!!! With feet and an appendix!” arguments? Is it the fact that, in the age of Saw movies, even real-looking gore doesn’t really pack a punch – thus revealing the images’ creators for the out-of-touch privileged old wankers they are?
*And isn’t it fucking amazing how yet again, the reactionary forces of privilege use the same bloody arguments in every single issue? See also, “fat people don’t realise they’re fat.” Because they live in basements, apparently, with no access to mass media.
It’s because you might change your mind, you see – you’re irrational.
It’s because it’s not natural – you should be nurturing.
It’s because you don’t really want to – you’re too emotional.
It’s because you haven’t thought about it enough – you don’t understand your own thoughts.
It’s because you took too long thinking about it – you’re too indecisive.
It’s because you brought this on yourself – you should have been better behaved.
It’s because you might be being pressured by others – you need to be protected.
It’s because you might make a decision on a whim – you’re not really rational.
But it is definitely, definitely not because you’re a woman.
Oh, Garth George. Words cannot express how much I thoroughly renounce you and all your works. This time? You’ve outdone yourself.
We have brought it on ourselves. We have bowed to the blandishments of liberalism, immorality, materialism and hedonism and have set aside most of the moral and legalw strictures which for centuries formed the mortar which held societies together and kept them from self-destruction.
For nearly 50 years, we have presided over the gradual unravelling of the fabric of our nation through the breakdown of the traditional family unit upon which community cohesion has always depended.
You heard it here first, folks: domestic violence never occurred before filthy feminism and its horrific notion that women are people too. Men rape women because they feel threatened, poor things. We should just chillax and accept our natural place in the kitchen and bedroom, pampering those fragile male egos and popping out sproggen.
It’s the standard pompous windbag act from there on in, with no surprises for anyone who’s so much as glanced over one of George’s wankfests before.
But I cannot resist quoting the pièce de résistance at the end:
You can call me a sexist until you run out of breath, but I believe that God left creating woman until last because he wanted to make sure he got it right. The result was the creation of the most perfect and wonderful creature in the world.
GARTH GEORGE LOVES WOMEN! GARTH LOVES THEM MORE THAN YOU DO, STUPID FEMINISTS WITH YOUR STUPID “EQUALITY”! YOU’RE ONLY UPSET AND STRESSED AND ANGRY AT PATRIARCHAL INSTITUTIONS BECAUSE YOU’RE UPPITY BITCHES WHO WON’T STAY IN THE ROLES GOD GAVE YOU!
It is so hard, being an old privileged white man, and it’s your fault, because you sassy females have just turned the placid, happy, Shangri-fucking-La of Western society upside down. And that’s why children get beaten to death. All because you slappers dare to think, to write, to blog, to march, to lobby, to marry and have children at the time of your own choosing or not at all.
I hope you’re ashamed of yourselves, and will appear suitably repentant at our next Premarital Snogging and Foetus Barbeque.
And now, some Yes Minister.