Joachim Cardinal Meisner, the arcbishop of Cologne, has always been known to be an asshat. Not only did he casually equate abortion to the Shoah in a sermon and revoke an openly gay priest’s license to teach in his diocese, he makes it a point to express the most reactionary filth on a monthly basis. Catholicism – always a pleasure…
This time, Meisner continues his personal crusade against abortion (and women in general, obviously). Since the repetitive mumbling of canonised fairy tales isn’t cutting it anymore when it comes to defending the church’s disproportional influence on german politics, Meisner has picked a more recent topic, germany’s nuclear phase-out programme, to make a point about “unborn life” [sic].
He asserts that whoever may be occasionally wondering about the country’s social and ecological future should be more concerned with abortion than with, uh… well… little incidents like Fukushima or Chernobyl; abortion happens to be the ultimate “daily, secretive worst case accident” of our times, in his view. Make sense?
In his little quest to equate women to nuclear power and abortions to nuclear accidents (does that mean my uterus can actually split atoms? Awesome!), he goes on to say that nuclear power stations are completely safe – as opposed to women, I presume, who are just so darn hard to control these days and certainly cannot be trusted when it comes to decisions regarding their own lives and bodies.
Completely safe…? Tell that to the prefecture Fukushima in Japan. Or to Harrisburg in the US. Or to Prypjat, near Chernobyl, in the Ukraine. Or to Seascale, near Sellafield, in the UK. Or to Biblis in Hesse in germany (…where the atomic pile Biblis A nearly tried to kill me when I was three years old, living 2 miles away). Although I guess nuclear disasters do look rather “meh…” compared to the biblical apocalypse?
Eager to make an impression (and he does alright), Meisner moves on to spread the lie that 8 million fetuses were aborted in the last decades in germany, thus “more than ten class rooms are wiped out everyday.” Actually, the number of abortions performed in germany last year was 110,440, and it has been basically consistent since 1996 (when the infamous §218 concerning abortion in germany’s penal code was altered after the german reunification, regulating the requirements for impunity for abortions in certain circumstances). Hence, as a rough calculation, there were about 1.6 million abortions within the past 15 years. If I was mean, I would say that Meisner obviously isn’t in touch with reality much (duh!), and his math skills are not up to speed either.
Finally, Meisner draws the conclusion that germany’s abortion laws were a de facto approval of abortion and had led society on a parth of “inhumanity and barbarianism.”
So… First of all: Equating a woman’s right to determine what happens with her own body and her own life to a nuclear meltdown (or rather: framing women’s basic human rights for self-determination and bodily integrity as the worse event) is about as misogynistic as it can get. Meisner does not realise this, but the idea of women as mere breeding machines has been contested recently, and the life of an actual human being (that is: actually present in this world and not inherently dependent on living inside another person’s body) – and yes, that includes women, too, no matter what the bible says – trumps that of a fetus, period.
Second, lying about the numbers of abortions performed in germany is not going to raise your status as a respectable voice anytime soon (plus: sin, dude, sin!). It’s supposed to create a shock effect, but can be easily disproved, so that was a rather dim strategy to chose. More importantly: even if it was 8 million, let me spell it out for you, Joachim: It Is None Of Your Fucking Business! There’s a simple guide line: if you’re against abortion, don’t have one. Everything else is out of your hands, and with damn good reason. It is a legitimate medical procedure that is performed for many reasons and in a multitude of personal situations; none of them concern you, and your opinion is not valued.
Third, germany does not have liberal abortion laws. Actually, germany is one of the most conservative countries in Europe when it comes to abortion. Not only is it officially illegal, we are one of the few countries that enforces mandatory counselling. Let me say it again: abortion is not legal in germany, it simply remains exempt from punishment if a woman fulfills certain criteria, is counselled at an officially recognised agency (which is, in turn, advised to counsel “for life”) and respects a 3 day waiting period after her counselling session. Moreover, mifepristone tablets for non-surgical abortions have only been approved in 1999 in germany (France: 1988, England: 1991, and there is an interesting article about abortion at “thefword” from 2007, 40 years after abortion was legalised in the UK; Sweden: 1992) – apparently, abortion was supposed to be as unnecessarily invasive as possible, thus including a punishment factor, for a long time. Moreover, health care providers do not pay for abortions, unless they are medically indicated or a pregnancy is a result of rape. Obviously, that screams abortion approval.
True, the public discourse about abortion and the political measures taken aren’t as preposterous and dangerous as in some US states, where abortion providers are murdered, women are harassed, some states try to make abortions impossible by cutting funds to Planned Parenthood and other organisations, and the GOP has an open agenda to bring down Roe. Still, the situation and outlook in germany and Europe isn’t too comforting either. Although (notwithstanding the afore mentioned requirements to “qualify” for an unpunished abortion) the procedure is accessible generally, there are significant differences when it comes to different regions: counselling agencies and abortion providers are easier to find and to gain access to in Berlin than the fewer ones in the rural surroundings and more conservative climate of Bavaria, for example. Moreover, certain groups within the governing party, CDU (christian democratic union), are actually looking to restrict §218 further in the future.
Finally, putting women on the same moral, cognitive, valuable, physiological and psychological level as a fetus is ridiculously insulting in its sexism. In Meisner’s (et al.’s) view, women’s true role is that of an incubator, devoid of personality and agency. If women refuse to acknowledge their “true role,” (according to Meisner), they’re setting the sails for barbarianism and inhumanity. I wonder whether he will ever realise that these are the exact terms that to spring to mind when one is assessing his convictions.