[Paleopsych] Zenit: On Feminism, Eugenics and "Reproductive Rights"
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Wed Jul 13 22:10:36 UTC 2005
On Feminism, Eugenics and "Reproductive Rights"
Zenit News Agency - The World Seen From Rome
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
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
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
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
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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