Neoliberalism, Patriarchy and Women’s Rights in US & Argentinian Abortion Politics

Monday, March 28, 2022 - 1:00pm
Ann Ferguson

Why are women and those with reproductive bodies about to lose constitutional rights to control their reproduction in the US, while at the same time women in Argentina have just won legal protections that guarantee them free and safe abortions provided by the state? I shall argue that the particular nature of US history, based on white settler supremacy and patriarchal Christian religious traditions, has responded to the crisis of care created by neoliberal capitalism to create a virulent set of political alliances leading in a reactionary direction.

Philosopher Ann Ferguson argues this crisis for US democracy is not a simple one caused by the presidency of Donald Trump. Rather it has deep roots in the second-class citizenship of both women and people of color since the white settler genocide of native Americans and the chattel slavery of Africans. Political, social and economic inequalities of gender, race/ethnicity and class that began earlier were imperfectly resolved after the Civil War and continue to this day in patterns of racial segregation and institutional racism that mark certain races and ethnicities as illegitimate reproducers and condemn their bodies and children to violent attack. Meanwhile the erosion of social democracy and workers’ rights have directly impacted for the worse on poor, working and middle class families, particularly on women’s burden of caring work, both paid and unpaid. The global Covid pandemic has made the burden heavier on most families, particularly for women. Feminists and antiracists need to form cross-class coalitions to strengthen social justice movements, and to do that, rebuilding grassroots social movements that develop the intersectional demand for reproductive justice is key. Although the political context in Argentina is very different, our coalitions for reproductive justice can learn some strategies and concepts from the feminist movement there that could help feminists and leftists strengthen our coalitions here.

Ann Ferguson is Professor emerita of Philosophy and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is author and co-editor of five books and many publications in feminist philosophy and theory, the affective economy, and feminist love studies. She is also a life-long socialist-feminist activist.