Last month Libby Anne’s blog exploded when she posted a long article on how she lost faith in the pro-life movement and became pro-choice all because back when she still believed every zygote was a baby she became convinced that pro-choice policies were the best way to actually minimize the deaths of babies:
The spring of my sophomore year of college I was president of my university’s Students for Life chapter. The fall of my junior year of college I cut my ties with the pro-life movement. Five years later I have lost the last shred of faith I had in that movement. This is my story.
I was raised in the sort of evangelical family where abortion is the number one political issue. I grew up believing that abortion was murder, and when I stopped identifying as pro-life I initially still believed that. Why, then, did I stop identifying as pro-life? Quite simply, I learned that increasing contraceptive use, not banning abortion, was the key to decreasing the number of abortions. Given that the pro-life movement focuses on banning abortion and is generally opposed advocating greater contraceptive use, I knew that I no longer fit. I also knew that my biggest allies in decreasing the number of abortions were those who supported increased birth control use – in other words, pro-choice progressives. And so I stopped calling myself pro-life.
My views on fetal personhood and women’s bodily autonomy have shifted since that day, but when I first started blogging a year and a half ago I was nevertheless very insistent that the pro-life movement should be taken at its word when it came to rhetoric about saving “unborn babies” from being “murdered.” I insisted that the pro-life movement wasn’t anti-woman or anti-sex, and that those who opposed abortion genuinely believed that a zygote/embryo/fetus was a person with rights in need of protection just like any other person. I believed that the pro-life movement’s actions were counterproductive, but that they were merely misinformed. I wrote a post with practical suggestions for opponents of abortion. I believed that the pro-life movement was genuine in its goals, but simply ignorant about how its goals might best be obtained.
I have come to the conclusion that I was wrong.
As a child, teen, and college student, I sincerely believed that personhood, life, rights, and the soul all began at fertilization. I was honestly opposed to abortion because I believed it was murder. It had nothing to do with being anti-woman or anti-sex. I thought that the pro-life movement writ large – the major pro-life organizations, leaders, and politicians – were similarly genuine. I thought that they, like myself, simply wanted to “save the lives of unborn babies.”
I have come to the conclusion that I was a dupe.
What I want to share here is how I came to this realization. And if you, reader, are one of those who opposes abortion because you believe it is murder and you want to save the lives of unborn babies, well, I hope to persuade you that the pro-life movement is not actually your ally in this, that you have been misled, and that you would be more effective in decreasing the number of abortions that occur if you were to side with pro-choice progressives. If this is you, please hear me out before shaking your head.
Both before and after writing that post, Libby Anne has churned out a number of insightful posts on legalized abortion. She really digs in and answers a wide range of moral and political issues in sophisticated ways. Here are links to many of her posts on the topic this fall:
- A Response to Objections on My Pro-Life Movement Post
- Let’s Talk About Natural Family Planning
- When It Really Is about Controlling Women
- If You Don’t Want a Baby, Just Don’t Have Sex?
- What If Abortion Were Illegal
- A Paradigm Shift: My “Aha” Moment on Abortion
- “When you do the thing that makes babies…”
- Answering and Asking Hard Questions about Abortion
- On Married Women and Separating Sex from Procreation
- More on Laws and Abortion: A Response to Bad Catholic
- Savita Halappanavar: When “Pro-Life” Means Death
- “Pro-Lifers” Play Fast and Loose with the “Life of the Mother” Exception
- The Battle Over Contraception in the Pro-Life Movement