How To Be Pro-Life Without Being Violent: Holistic Reproductive Justice

How To Be Pro-Life Without Being Violent: Holistic Reproductive Justice March 26, 2015

Image by doriana_s (2009) via
Image by doriana_s (2009) via

I recently wrote a piece about “Pro-Life Pacifism” as a form of violence. My main argument was that Pro-Life Pacifists cannot claim to be anti-violent while also forcing or coercing people into pregnancy and childbirth. Contributing to someone having to give birth against their will is a form of horrific violence.

Though I stand by that piece, I do want to be clear that I believe there are ways to be pro-life without also supporting violence against pregnant people. It’s a fine line to walk, but I believe it can be done.

Let’s talk about that today.

I want to start by saying that I am not personally “pro-life.” However, I have identified that way in the past, and understand pro-life arguments. I have some empathy for that position, since it is one that I held for many years.

And, though I may scare away some pro-choicers here, I must say that I believe pro-life and pro-choice people can find common ground on which they can work together for justice

Beyond the “Life/Choice” Dichotomy: Holistic Reproductive Justice

The pro-life movement has some serious flaws, that feminists have been pointing out for decades. However, it is not alone in that area.

The pro-choice movement has also failed to provide liberation and self-determination for many people, especially people of color, disabled people, people in poverty, and queer and/or trans people (and even more so for people who fall into two or more of these categories).

Andrea Smith makes a good argument for the failures of the pro-choice movement in her book, Conquest, pointing out how many pro-choice heroes actually do harm to pregnant people, from Bill Clinton’s welfare reform to Margaret Sanger’s eugenics movements.

With this in mind, I call pro-life people who truly wish to be non-violent in their position to find common ground with pro-choice people who wish to address the repeated failures of the pro-choice movement.

That common ground is Holistic Reproductive Justice. 

How can pro-life leaning people participate in Holistic Reproductive Justice without perpetuating the violence that I discussed recently?

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to working on a series of different ways pro-life people and pro-choice people can join together and work for justice, while resisting lazy solutions that lead to violence and while still holding one another “accountable for the positions they take,” as Andrea Smith puts it. (Conquest, pg. 103).

So far I’ve come up with five different ways that this can happen:

1. Look At The Main Reasons Why People Seek Abortion

2. Oppose Abuse and Promote Healthy Relationships

3. Oppose the Dehumanization of Marginalized Groups

4. Defend the Rights of Those Who Wish to Reproduce

5. Support Efforts to Improve Medical Technology and Access

I’ll go over all of these points in more detail, and suggest some practical ways to get involved in your own communities. Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll be discussing my first point. If you can think of other areas to cover, leave your ideas in the comments.


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