[Paleopsych] Zenit: On Feminism, Eugenics and "Reproductive Rights"

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On Feminism, Eugenics and "Reproductive Rights"
Zenit News Agency - The World Seen From Rome 

    Code: ZE05071201
    Date: 2005-07-12

    Interview With Journalist Eugenia Roccella

    ROME, JULY 12, 2005 (Zenit.org).- "Reproductive rights" are a means
    to wield demographic control in poor countries and to destroy the
    experience of being a woman, says journalist Eugenia Roccella.
    A 1970s leader of the women's liberation movement, Roccella is the
    author of essays on feminism and women's literature. With Lucetta
    Scaraffia, she has just published the book "Against Christianity: The
    U.N. and European Union as New Ideology," published by Piemme.
    In this interview with ZENIT, Roccella talks about the anti-birth
    ideology of international institutions such as the United Nations and
    European Union.
    Q: You maintain that so-called reproductive rights are a deception to
    foster family planning and genetically selective births. Can you
    explain the evolution of "reproductive rights" and how opposition to
    births has been transformed into eugenics?
    Roccella: What must be clarified in the first place is that so-called
    reproductive rights are in reality rights not to reproduce oneself,
    and they have been made concrete in governments' control over feminine
    fertility by a worldwide policy of dissemination of abortion,
    contraception and, above all, sterilization.
    It is generally believed that the adoption of these rights by
    international organizations has been a victory of the women's
    movement. But from the documents one can see that this is not so.
    Historically, the right to family planning arose from the pressure of
    powerful international anti-birth lobbies -- for example, the
    Rockefeller Foundation -- helped by the West's desire to exercise
    demographic control over the Third World.
    Suffice it to consult the excellent documentation in the book provided
    by Assuntina Morresi, which demonstrates how much associations of a
    eugenic vein have influenced U.N. policies, through NGOs such as, for
    example, the IPPF [International Planned Parenthood Foundation].
    Anti-birth attitudes and eugenics have been closely intertwined from
    the beginning: The idea of building a better world through genetic
    selection was very widespread at the start of the 20th century, and
    enjoyed great credibility even in learned circles. The objective was
    to prevent the reproduction of human beings regarded as second-class,
    namely, genetically imperfect, even through coercion.
    The adoption of eugenic theories by the Nazi regime discredited the
    theories and elicited international condemnation. But associations
    born for this purpose -- among them, precisely, the IPPF -- have
    survived, changing their language and using, in an astute and careless
    way after the '70s, some slogans of the women's movement, such as
    "free choice."
    In reality, international conferences on population, that is, on
    demographic control, have always preceded conferences on women, and
    have prepared their code words. For example, it was at the Cairo
    Conference of 1994 on population and development that the old "family
    planning" was replaced by the new definition of "reproductive rights."
    The following year, the definition was uncritically accepted and
    appropriated by the Women's Conference in Beijing, without changing a
    Feminism has been, paradoxically, an easy mask to implement control
    practices that are often savage and violent on women's bodies,
    especially in Third World countries.
    In the book, among other things, we illustrate some cases by way of
    example, such as the anti-natal policies adopted in China, Iran, India
    and Bangladesh, where poverty and the absence of consolidated
    democratic mechanisms have made women easy victims of experimentation,
    contraceptives dangerous to health, massive sterilizations and forced
    Q: It is a widespread opinion that the feminist movement has
    contributed to the obtaining of women's rights. You maintain, instead,
    that there are ambiguities and mistakes. Could you explain what these
    Roccella: Feminism is a galaxy of different movements and philosophies
    which is absolutely not homogenous.
    International organizations have adopted a rigidly emancipating
    version which tries to equate men and women as much as possible. This
    is translated, for example, in the idea -- never explicitly stated but
    always present -- that maternity is an impediment to women's
    fulfillment, and not a central element of the gender's identity which
    must be valued and protected.
    Thus, in the U.N. and the European Union an institutional feminism has
    been created based altogether on individual rights and parity, which
    has chosen reproductive rights as its own qualifying objective.
    There is, instead, a feminine philosophy of an opposite sign -- the
    so-called philosophy of difference -- which maintains that the myth of
    equality prevents women from thinking of themselves autonomously, and
    that the sexual difference, rooted in the body, is not only a
    biological fact, but something that encompasses the whole experience
    of being woman. With this feminism, the Church has had an open
    dialogue for a long time; suffice it to read Pope Wojtyla's letter on
    the feminine genius, and especially the most recent one addressed to
    bishops and signed by the then Cardinal Ratzinger.
    But at present, at the international level, it is the feminism "of
    rights" which has prevailed, imposing reproductive rights as a flag
    that must be flown always and everywhere. Instead, women's priorities,
    in the various geographic areas, are different: In Africa, there is
    the urgent and dramatic problem of containing birth and postnatal
    mortality. There is also the problem of sexually transmitted diseases
    and malnutrition.
    In the Muslim theocracies the objective for women is legislative
    equality and liberation from the oppressive control over public
    behavior -- for example, the use of the burkha. In Europe, the
    problems are altogether different, and so on. The U.N. resolutions
    stem from the assumption that the offers of abortion and contraception
    are, in any context, elements of emancipation, including empowerment,
    that is, the enhancement of women's power.
    But the concrete cases analyzed in the book show that this is not the
    case. In Iran, for example, programs for the dissemination of control
    of fertility have been very successful, but women continue to be
    regarded as second-class citizens, subject to masculine authority.
    Q: On the great topics regarding the defense of life and of the
    natural family, the Holy See has often confronted the international
    organizations, particularly the United Nations and the European Union.
    You entitled one of the chapters in the book "Europe Against the
    Vatican." Could you explain the essence of the controversy?
    Roccella: The prevailing cultural plan in Europe is a secularist
    extremism that regards religions as potential bearers of
    fundamentalist demands.
    The European Union, however, adopts many precautions, both political
    as well as verbal, in the face of the Muslim world. They are
    precautions that would be comprehensible if they did not create a
    visible imbalance vis-à-vis the Vatican, which instead is attacked
    with perfect serenity every time it is possible.
    The result is that Catholicism appears as the bitterest enemy of woman
    in the international realm, because it is opposed to the ideology of
    reproductive rights and demographic control.
    This cultural operation is resolved in a sort of suicide of identity,
    as has already occurred with the mention of the Christian roots in the
    European Constitution. ... It must not be forgotten that, from the
    beginning, Christianity has had an extraordinary idea of woman, and it
    is no accident if the fight for sexual equality has developed
    essentially in the Christian area.
    Among all the religions, the Christian religion is the only one, for
    example, whose rite of initiation, baptism, is open to both sexes.
    Within the Catholic realm there is a strong feminist philosophy, and
    the two last papacies have given great cultural dignity to this
    But all this is silenced by a plan that favors the anti-religious
    element. The EU, even if it maintained the same policy, could modulate
    in a different way its attitude to the different religious creeds,
    fostering motives for agreement.
    For example, it would be easy to find instances of unity with the Holy
    See on the protection of maternity, on international policies against
    maternal and infant mortality and on feminine schooling, or even on
    the recognition of women's political and economic rights.
    Instead, preference is given to putting all religions in the same bag
    and pointing to the Vatican as the enemy par excellence of feminine

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