Women don’t get to count as human

Sarah Ditum asks why abortion rights are brushed aside while LGBT rights are front and center in discussions about the Tory-DUP coalition.

[S]enior politicians were making it clear that the DUP’s regressive social agenda would be staying in Stormont. Same sex marriages remain unrecognised in Northern Ireland, and the 1967 Abortion Act (which permits abortion under certain conditions in England, Scotland and Wales) still doesn’t apply there. The DUP has blocked legislative efforts at liberalisation on both counts.

Over the weekend Ruth Davidson, the Conservative’s leader in Scotland, demanded – and got – assurances from Theresa May that LGBT rights would not be up for debate. Soon after, Jeremy Corbyn gave an interview in which he declared: “LGBT rights are human rights. They must not be sold out by Theresa May and the Conservatives as they try to cling to power with the DUP.”

But abortion rights? Nope.

So how come our political defenders of socially liberal values aren’t talking about it now? If LGBT rights are human rights, do women count as human?

Here’s the cynical answer. It’s also the answer that I think happens to be true. Women don’t get to count as human. LGBT rights are human rights because they affect men too. Women’s rights – well they only affect women, and don’t merit any special protections. It’s a particularly bitter disappointment that women like Theresa May, Arlene Foster and Ruth Davidson can enjoy the fruits of equality through their own positions without defending the reproductive choice that is the cornerstone of liberation for women.

Women just don’t matter as much.

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