An Interesting Definition of Privacy
The day began with a side event sponsored by the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). The topic was “Women’s Burden of Unsafe Abortion: Implications for Nigeria’s Development” and I really did not know what to expect. Abortion is illegal in Nigeria unless the health of the mother is at stake.
The discussion began with the claim that no woman should have to risk her life or the well-being of her family because of a lack of reproductive rights. The event proceeded in an expected manner. Claims such as each woman should be able to “manage her fertility” were heard. There were laments about a woman’s lack of self-determination in the area of reproduction and complaints about the lack of privacy rights for women.
I found this very interesting. The group’s legal practitioner, originally from Lagos, began by stating that it is accepted by law that abortion relates to privacy and that women have “a right to reproduction by God.” She stated that “every expansion of government limits privacy” and “every expansion of privacy limits the government.” Since the definition of privacy changes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, she used the United State’s Supreme Court definition because it was proposed by “civilized men.” “The people of America have a right to be left alone,” she stated. And so, she claimed, women have a national and international right to abortion.
Not only is this a false claim, but it really contrasted with what the next speaker advocated. I will mention that between both speakers there was a 15 minute graphic documentary which deserves its own blogpost. But the recommendations that the next speaker suggested for her government really stood out to me.
She asks her government to:
1. subsidize contraception
2. Aid coupes in choosing the contraceptive measure that is best suited for them and teach them to use it effectively.
3. Improve sexual and reproductive health with abortion
4.Provide the supplies necessary
5. Train nurses for contraceptive services. This last one she extended to age appropriate “family life education” in schools.
Why is this interesting? One does not have to look very carefully at these recommendations to realize that all of them represent an expansion of the role of the government. Government subsidized contraception! The government taking the role of the parents by providing “family life education in schools!” These measures are not expansions of privacy that limit the government, but entanglements of government with the privacy of individuals and families.
It was interesting that the same group that excused abortion as a means to restrict the government’s sphere of influence in private life also advocates for the expansion of the role of the government.