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America

Trans dogma weakens the battle for abortion

An abortion-rights protester outside the Supreme Court. Sarah Silbiger/Getty

Something has gone wrong with American feminism, says Hadley Freeman in UnHerd. Abortion is, unambiguously, a women’s rights issue. But when it emerged this week that the Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v Wade – the ruling that gives women the right to have an abortion – many liberal commentators couldn’t actually bring themselves to use the word “women”. One right-on congresswoman tweeted that “birthing bodies have the right to freedom”, somehow overlooking the rather crucial point that the “bodies being fought over here don’t want to give birth”. The avowedly pro-choice American Civil Liberties Union couldn’t bear to “say the dreaded W word” in its own response. Why the reticence? Because saying “women” might make trans women feel left out.

Conservative pro-lifers will of course bear ultimate responsibility for overturning Roe. But I find it hard to separate “the disintegration of a woman’s right to bodily autonomy in America from the rise of gender ideology”. By tangling itself up in knots over “birthing bodies” and “cis privilege”, the left has made it much harder to talk about women’s rights – and therefore to protect them. Maybe “focusing on vaginas and misogyny feels super uncool and smelly and Mum-like” to a generation which has grown up taking abortion access as a given. But the Supreme Court news shows just how desperately liberals need to return to feminism’s roots. Because it’s women, not trans women, who will be dying from back-alley abortions if Roe v Wade is overturned. “And, contrary to gender theory’s teachings, you can’t identify out of that.”