Apr 8, 2011

Tariana Turia and abortion (updated)

Tariana Turia, in perhaps the most bizarre political episode of the week, tabled an amendment seeking to appoint a raving lunatic to the Abortion Supervisory Committee. Luckily the vote failed, but what is most concerning is this from Turia:

In addressing the House, Mrs Turia said the issue of abortion was central to family well-being. "The protection and preservation of whakapapa and genealogy is fundamental to the broken health of our whanau".

I do not think abortion undermines the notion of whakapapa. Cultural values are fluid and change over time in response to changing circumstances. Maori inhabit a vastly different world and the notion of whakapapa has not remained static. Turia is allowing a very narrow interpretation of whakapapa to inform her views on what is essentially a health issue.

"I think about the precious heartbeat of every child, and I think about the comment that Ngati Whatua leader Naida Glavish once made, that there is no such thing as an unwanted mokopuna."

This is true, but a distraction from the real issue. Abortion is about a woman’s right to chose. It is unwise to allow an emotive assertion to obscure objective judgement.

Turia is undoubtedly a social conservative. It worries me when I see Maori values advancing socially conservative policy. Maori were and are pragmatists. Just because we lost some aspects of our culture and struggle to maintain others does not mean we have to hold onto to what we still have with an iron grip. Values and ideas are meant to change.


  1. The Maori Party has from my experience always taken a highly conservative view on this. A lot of Maori and Pacific people feel very strongly abortion should not be allowed.

  2. Kia ora Rob,

    Really. I guess that sounds about right though. You are right in saying many Pasifika people feel very strongly about abortion, however I am unsure Maori share such depth of feeling, anecdotally speaking.

  3. Claims about what particular ethnic/cultural/racial groups feel about abortion are curious. What do they mean, REALLY? Pasifika people are slightly over-represented in the abortion stats (i.e. percentage of abortions higher than their percentage in the population). Given that, do these claims mean their LEADERS feel strongly? Their churches? Does it mean that women from those groups "that feel strongly about abortion", yet who seek abortion care anyway (since many do), suffer more hardship seeking abortion care than others -- more shame, secrecy -- BECAUSE of these oft stated generalisations about their communities "caring more"? Does repeating those claims make it harder for them? Perhaps we need to do some generalisation-busting on this.

  4. Hey Morgan - would you mind if I added this to the blogswarm at the Hand Mirror? You don't mention the blogswarm specifically, but it's really on point.

    Anonymous - From memory Pacific people are more than slightly over represented - I think Pacific women have 12% of abortions, and PI are 6% of the population (although it wouldn't be quite as stark if you adjusted for % of popultaion in reproductive age possibly). But I totally agree with your point and think it's an important one.

  5. "Abortion is about a woman’s right to chose. It is unwise to allow an emotive assertion to obscure objective judgement."

    Best oxymoron of the century! An emotive assertion of a subjective opinion as fact is really 'objective judgement'. Maybe Aunty Tari really does know best, aye?

    I mean, it seems Tariana recognises the eugenic nature of abortion that one of the US founders of the modern abortion industry - Margaret Sanger - pushed so hard.

    Could it be that Tariana is concerned that - like in New York for African-Americans - the most dangerous place for a Maori baby may end up being in her mother's womb?

    Or will you fall back on that objective judgement to reject science and claim unborn babies aren't real human beings - despite distinct DNA, blood type heartbeat, etc.

    Maori Party snuggling up to National is worrying, but hardly surprising given how awful Labour have been to them. But Tariana's push for an accountable ASC (instead of the secretive gang there now) is one of her best actions.

  6. Wtf. "An emotive assertion of a subjective opinion as fact" IS NOT objective judgement. The notion of objective judgement denotes the absence of personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing an issue. Objective judgement is independent of personal feeling. On the other hand subjective judgement denotes the influence of personal feelings and opinions in considering and representing an issue. Subjective judgement is dependent upon personal feeling. To deal with an issue objectively one must examine the issue from an external perspective without recourse to, for example, cultural conditioning. Objectivity and emotion are incompatible.

    As for your other points, come back when you want to articulate your views in a coherent and logically manner. Your rant makes little sense.

  7. On Margaret Sanger: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Sanger#Eugenics_and_euthanasia

    Yes, Sanger was into eugenics by way of birth control, a not-unpopular theory at the time, while outright condemning forced euthanasia. Her views on that are problematic. But to imply, as antichoicers love to do, that an early proponent of something's shitty-albeit-historically-contextual views can be used to judge the practice and theory of that thing today is ridiculous (and I think that holds true of pretty much every moral/political debate).

    (Which is not to say we should never talk about Sanger or other early feminists' problematic views, because we should. But let's be honest, that's not why antichoicers raise the issue.)

  8. When a life is involved, it is the business of the whanau not just the wahine carrying the child. My father had a heart attack when he found out my younger sister had an abortion. He told her she had no right, that he gave her life, that he should have been consulted and given the change to whangai his mokopuna. I believe it is a woman's choice if the pregancy was a result of a rape or if carrying full term is going to jeopardise her life. Otherwise, it is her and her whanau's decision.

  9. Yes, whanau should be involved. However, the ultimate decision rests with the wahine carrying the child. The whanau can have their say, but it is not their decision to make. It is the woman's choice and hers alone.

  10. You say that "women have the right to choose." May I ask what has happened to the "rights" of the unborn women inside the womb? Approximately half of those aborted would be women yet so called "women's rights" don't apply to these people. As they have no voice inside the womb they cannot "choose" whether they live or die.

  11. I wonder if Mana are any better on this front:

    facebook drama



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