Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Article excerpt

AS everyone knows, or ought to know, abortion is a woman's right. But some men go further, and say that it is a duty. Moreover, they are prepared to put their boot where their mouth is. They can't make a woman pregnant without kicking the foetus out of her.

They do not do this because life is horrible, and they fear to bring into the world a being like themselves. Nor do they wish to evade the responsibilities of parenthood, for they have no concept of it, and usually they have already fathered several children whom they have abandoned without a second thought. No, they are motivated by something approaching an abstract ideal: no woman ought to be pregnant. And this ideal is happily united with the pleasures and immunities of domestic violence.

Thus I am perfectly familiar with the kickstarted miscarriage as a form of contraception. This is a regrettably post facto method of family planning, however, and so last week I was pleased to learn of a man who thought ahead. He did not kick that person who now appears on all official documents as his 'partner' only after she became pregnant; he kicked her for several days every time, in her words, 'I was due my monthlies.' Better safe than sorry: an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

Of course, he was not in all other respects an ideal.... I almost wrote husband; my age is beginning to tell. On the contrary, he had once broken her cheekbone with a hammer, and had half-strangled her and thrown her down the stairs many times (that is what stairs are for). I have also known this used as a method of family planning, but in this case it was done without instrumental purpose, for its own sake, as the fulfilment, as it were, of a Kantian categorical imperative. …

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