Barnaby Joyce has taken credit for stalling the abortion decriminalisation bill in the NSW upper house. He recently led a rally opposing decriminalisation, spruiking the same “moral high ground” talking points that we’ve seen appear both here and in the US. Only straight white males appear to be able to make choices.
Back during the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite debate, Joyce abstained from voting, claiming that in doing so he was respecting the wishes of Australians. As he did not agree with the changes proposed – simply, letting consenting adults get married – he refused to vote yes and instead walked out of Parliament.
Last week, he claimed that he didn’t need religion to advocate for his position (although many do) but that he only needed a brain. He claimed it was philosophically wrong to have an abortion. In unrelated news, if you want a philosophical take on abortion by a woman with an actual brain, not a red-faced balloon of hot air, I recommend this video. (Originally this said “man with an actual brain”, as at time of writing, Abigal Thorn of Philosophy Tube had not yet transitioned. Point still remains, however).
But this isn’t about philosophy or having a brain. At least, not regarding abortion itself. As I have written before, in the wake of Alabama’s strict laws on the issue, the anti-abortion stance is almost entirely rooted in the oppression of women. It has nothing to do with the sanctity of life, but everything to do with disallowing women the right to choose what they can do with their own bodies.
A New York Times survey helped prove this link (while this was carried out in the US, the point of the survey is universal). It found that those opposed to abortion were largely Republican voters and had questionable views regarding gender equality in the US – this included, notably, Republican women to a large extent. From my own experience, albeit anecdotal, of course, I can see similarities here in Australia.
Many I know who vote for Labor or the Greens generally support women’s rights to an abortion and gender equality as a whole. Coalition voters, on the conservative end, that I know are quite against abortions, including women. A survey would need to be carried out here to confirm that it’s the case, but following the US trend, many Coalition voters (intentionally or by virtue of voting for them) probably also have the same questionable views on the status of gender equality.
This is not to say that those who are opposed to abortion are not able to hold that opinion. If you are opposed to abortion, then by all means do not get one. But when you try to enforce those views onto others, just like the Vote No campaign did in 2017 for SSM, that’s when it becomes an issue. That’s when you overstep the line between having an opinion and taking part in the oppression of women’s rights, the denial of bodily autonomy and freedom.
There is a reason the focus these days is on the fetus rather than the woman. Those who, explicitly or not, are opposed to women making their own choices are no longer able to justify such positions – as a society it is no longer acceptable. So they find new ways to justify oppression and control, and successfully convince their followers (particularly religious people) that they are instead fighting for a different cause. Whether that argument is correct or not is irrelevant, because it is a diversion.
I will need to look into it more myself, but I read something a while ago that, in the US, abortion only became a serious issue during the Reagan years to use social issues to grab votes. They realised that if they took strict stances on certain issues and framed them a certain way, they could pick up the very strong religious vote in the country. This appears to have permeated Australian politics as well, with many ‘issues’ like SSM and abortion taking up far too much air time in an attempt to divide opinions and pick up easy votes.
In short, people like Joyce have no place dictating what choices a woman can and can’t make about her own body, nor should they have a place dictating what does and does not constitute marriage, or whatever other garbage they wish to spout in an effort to control specific demographics. Doubly so, it’s ironic that these family focussed and religious types are flocking to Joyce given the fact he had an affair and left his family behind to start a new one with (coincidence?) someone he had power over in the workplace.
I sent a (female) friend of mine a picture of Barnaby and asked for her gut reaction when I told her he led an anti-abortion rally, opposed SSM, and then had an affair. Pardon the language, but I believe her response sums it up quite well:
“Fuck off you cunt.”
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