Kenan Malik in Pandaemonium:
Mehdi Hasan, political director of the Huffington Post UK, has an essay in the current issue of the New Statesman, of which he was until recently the political editor, arguing that the progressive stance on abortion is to oppose it. The article inevitably created a storm on Twitter and elsewhere on the web, a storm at which Hasan took umbrage. ‘Time to add abortion to the list of issues – Islam, Iran’s nuclear programme etc – that can’t be discussed on Twitter’, he tweeted. Headded that he was ‘v disappointed that lefties have confirmed every rightwing prejudice today: we close down debate, we enforce orthodoxies etc’. I will return later to the response to Hasan’s argument, but first a few words on his pro-life argument:
Abortion is one of those rare political issues on which left and right seem to have swapped ideologies: right-wingers talk of equality, human rights and “defending the innocent”, while left-wingers fetishise “choice”, selfishness and unbridled individualism.
To pose the issues in this fashion is, as Mehdi Hasan must know, to distort the debate almost to meaninglessness. Yes, pro-abortionists talk about ‘choice’, but in slating ‘selfishness and unbridled individualism’ Hasan is willfully confusing the promotion of consumer choice and free market policies with the (collective) struggles that women have had to wage to win the right to make basic decisions about their own bodies. And yes, the right often talks of ‘equality’ and ‘human rights’ but it is striking that such equality and rights seemingly apply in this case only to the fetus and not to the woman.