There is a political ploy that is being used with great success in election after election. It is the ploy of saying that those politicians who don’t promote complete abortion license and universal free contraception are fighting a war on women.
We read article after article where the journalist or pundit assumes that all right-thinking people value “reproductive rights” as they value the right to breathe and eat. By reproductive rights they mean access to free contraception and abortion, not actually the right to reproduce. I suspect those who champion reproductive rights tend to look askance at people who reproduce more than once or twice.
This approach is being used, of course, on Hispanic women, a powerful and growing demographic.
The approach assumes that Hispanic culture places the same value on sexual liberation that American culture does. American culture nowadays teaches that a liberated woman, who is unshackled by husband and children, and can fulfill herself sexually without the danger of pregnancy and is happier and more fulfilled than the woman who finds herself in the boring bonds of marriage and motherhood.
As a physician, I am also very aware of the tremendous impact of sky high rates of sexually transmitted diseases, which lead to sterility and cervical cancer. Abortion isn’t dangerous just the day of the procedure, but is also linked to long-lasting depression, premature birth and even breast cancer.
The feminists think they won the battle of the sexes, but of course, it was the men that won.
[sharequote align="center"]The feminists think they won the battle of the sexes, but of course, it was the men that won. [/sharequote]
Are Hispanics fertile ground for this ideology?
For my 40th birthday recently, my husband took me to Mexico City for the weekend. This was a lovely gift from him, since I had not visited Mexico since I left there as a 12-year-old. It was doubly generous because he is a nervous kind of fellow and security concerns made the trip seem a little risky. But he knew it would be a great pleasure for me, and it was. We enjoyed the food, the amiable people, the pyramids and the colonial architecture.
But the most memorable part of our trip was our visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I’ve been an American Catholic now for many years, and I had forgotten something that is stunningly beautiful about Mexican Catholicism. The devotion of the people to Our Lady has to be seen to be believed. She is their adored mother and they love her tenderly.
The boulevard leading to the shrine has a wide walkway in the center, and the walkway is thronged with families walking to visit Our Lady, carrying flowers. They go dressed in their best, and there is an atmosphere of anticipation and pleasure. Some pilgrims approach the shrine on their knees, the better to express how far they would go to show her their devotion.It was intensely moving.What does this have to do with the war on women and Latinos?
Well, it made me think of how different the ideal Latino woman is to the current cultural ideal American woman. The woman worshipped in that shrine is tender, selfless, giving, and joyfully bound in the bonds of love. She is maternal to the point of being the mother of millions, unflagging in her attention to each one. Her maternity adds to her beauty, it does not detract.
Like every ideal, its impact is felt throughout the culture. It may help Latino men see how beautiful the mutual giving of sexuality in marriage where children are blessings, if sometimes unexpected. It helps the whole culture understand that a woman’s worth is not counted simply in her sexuality, but in her motherhood and generosity, and her price is a fulfilling, lifelong devotion to her and their children.
I’m sad to say that a few years, just one generation, spent in American culture, does terrible damage to that view of womanhood.
[sharequote align="center"]American culture does terrible damage to the view of womanhood. [/sharequote]
The signs are in the terrible statistics of Latinos living in the United States. We account for 25 percent of all U.S. abortions, although we are only 16 percent of the population. Forty-five percent of all Hispanic births occur outside of marriage, compared with only 24 percent of white births.
After women, children are the victims, with higher rates of incarceration, drug abuse and illegitimacy. The breakdown of the family leads to government dependency, which the taxpayer-subsidized social work industry welcomes enthusiastically, but which harms the Latino culture.
The war on American women is very real, but it started a long time ago, in the faculty lounge and in the bra burnings of the 1960’s.
It’s a war on the idea that women are as much positively genius when they choose to work in the home, as wives and mothers, as they are in the workforce, where they contribute so much. Women deserve the lifelong support and avowed affection of the fathers of their children. Reproductive freedom, as it is narrowly defined these days, gives women only one freedom: that of being available to men who do not properly value them.
Latinos should be careful of taking that very narrow notion as true.
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