The right of the strongest

There’s a typically Italian kerfuffle going on here at the moment about the authorisation of Ru486, the pill that induces abortion. It’s used pretty much everywhere in the developed world, but Italy’s taken its time about saying yes, for obvious reasons. It’s a political issue here (yawn), which is what women tend to become when their bodies,and their right to make decisions about them, are involved. I’d call the issue ideological but that gives too much weight to the knee-jerkiness of most of the reactions here, in the world of opinion-makers, inside and outside the Vatican, if such a space as ‘outside the Vatican’ exists in Italy in anything but the most virtual sense (i.e blogs). Because it isn’t ideological at all; it’s a question of who swings what, and where. It’s party lines and party funding and who gives a flying fuck about individual women and their complicated individual lives?

For some people, for example, doctors and cardinals and their various acolytes and dependents (politicians), the use of the pill ‘banalizes’ abortion. At this point, it might not be a bad idea to cut the crap and introduce the proviso that legal abortion is available as long as it’s accompanied by a public flogging and a rather severe haircut. That way the woman won’t regard it as ‘banal’, and will presumably think twice before having sex. Because naturally, before having sex, she’ll take into account the fact that she might be able to avoid a surgical procedure and replace it with a slightly less invasive sort of medication. Good God, who wouldn’t risk it, knowing that? I’m surprised Papi Silvio doesn’t slip a pill into the bustarella he gives the whores he entertains in his many villas. Banal, schmanal, as long as she doesn’t do a paternity suit. The chance, as they say, would be a fine thing, despite Berlusconi’s latest crack that he may not be a saint, but he fucks like a god. (Yes, this is the Italian premier speaking…)

But my favourite is the comment made by Bagnasco. He’s the cardinal who took over from God’s ferret a couple of years ago in a PR attempt to soften the rigour of the Prada-clad One, who is currently nursing his over-stressed wrist somewhere comfortable. In the photograph above, he’s the one in the red sash sucking up to the boss, in white. They’re quite a picture, surounded by all that sombre but not unsexy black. These colours wouldn’t matter, but they have a hierarchical significance, rather like judo. And that’s what makes me laugh about Bagnasco. His reaction to the decision to allow the use of the pill was to express his bitterness that it endorsed ‘the right of the strongest’. Coming from a democrat this just might have had some weight. It’s certainly true that a pregnant woman is ‘stronger’ than a foetus, if only because she’s a reasoning autonomous being and not a mere cluster of cells. Coming from a man at the highest ranks of a rigidly hierarchical structure that regards all women within its bounds as lesser beings, deprived of decision-making power and doctrinal choice, a structure that will do all it can to reduce women outside its bounds, who don’t even share its faith, to the same level, as unspeaking, unquestioning vessels of God’s word and man’s seed, it’s no longer laughable. It’s obscene.
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