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On Feminism, Eugenics and 'Reproductive Rights'

7/13/2005 - 6:00 AM PST

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Interview With Journalist Eugenia Roccella

ROME, JULY 13, 2005 (Zenit) - "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 us, 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 comma.

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 abortions.

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 are?

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 ...

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