Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a Canadian doctor who was arrested four times for performing abortions, but whose arrests eventually led to the 1988 Canadian Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the country. He died this week at the age of 90. Good obit in the NY Times.
I saw someone with a Romney/Ryan sticker parked outside of the Planned Parenthood clinic today. I couldn’t even.
Tea Party enthusiasts: Because it’s always different when it’s *you* who needs a vital safety net.
demonize poor people for wanting to terminate pregnancy they can’t afford
demonize poor mothers for applying for government assistance to raise the child they didn’t want because they couldn’t afford it by referring to them as “welfare queens”
I like this meme.
William Easterly is Professor of Economics at New York University. He is Co-Director of the Development Research Institute and editor of the Aid Watch blog. He is author of The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. Yes, this is long, but it’s an abridged version of an interview I conducted in NYC on 3 May 2011.
(Author: Jessica Mack)
You talk about the concept of paternalism in global development. I’m curious what the concept of feminism means to you, and what relevance it has for understanding global development.
I think it has tremendous relevance in two dimensions: paternalism and equal rights. Both of these are extremely important in understanding what’s going on in development right now. Both what’s wrong with it, and what needs to be made right. Most of the time, I talk about the paternalism of rich people toward poor people. I don’t think there’s much explicit racism in aid and development, but there is still a condescending or superior attitude toward poor people, that we can fix their problems. I think there is a gender dimension as well, though I haven’t really talked about it much in my work. I think I could talk about it a lot more.
It’s not an accident that the word paternalistic is the notion of father taking care of and supporting. A lot of discourse in aid is often about helping women and children. Aid agencies offer this appealing image of innocent women and children that are helpless and need our help. But who is the “we” that is implied by that? Our help. Who is at the other end? If you go through a bunch of aid brochures online, I bet that in the vast majority of them you will not see any adult males. You will only see women and children. Even just in the sheer visual imagery we use in aid, it’s really about rich, white males indulging their own paternalistic fantasies for rescuing non-white women and children.
Last week, a 20-year-old woman in New York City was arrested on charges of “self-induced abortion” and faces first-degree misdemeanor charges. Initial news reports indicate that she intentionally caused the miscarriage/abortion of her 24-week fetus. The woman disposed of the fetus in what was probably the only way she could think of: wrapped in plastic bags and placed in the trash receptacle of her apartment building.
The prosecution of this woman echoes similar cases in Idaho, Massachusetts and South Carolina. In spite of ever-increasing restrictions, abortion is legal through the second-trimester throughout the United States, although it is inaccessible to many women. Yet if women safely end their pregnancies without medical supervision, they face criminal penalties.