women’s march drops pro-life group – what’s a pro-life feminist to do?

women’s march drops pro-life group – what’s a pro-life feminist to do? January 16, 2017

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The Pro-Life Feminist group, New Wave Feminists, has been dropped from the list of partners of the Women’s March on Washington. The Cut reports this response from a spokesperson from the March:

The Women’s March’s platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one. We want to assure all of our partners, as well as participants, that we are pro-choice as clearly stated in our Unity Principles. We look forward to marching on behalf of individuals who share the view that women deserve the right to make their own reproductive decisions.

The anti-choice organization in question is not a partner of the Women’s March on Washington. We apologize for this error.

There has been some talk, recently, about whether there could possibly be any common ground between the Women’s March and the March for Life. For many of us who are passionately committed to a consistent life ethic, and to issues of women’s rights, this question may have prompted a bit of a “duh” response. Of course there can be! There should be! And many of us have been planning to attend both marches, in order to make the statement that the rights of the unborn human and the rights of women should not be separated from one another.

The fact that this could even be questioned highlights the respective weaknesses of both movements: that the mainstream prolife movement is insufficiently willing to take seriously the concerns of women’s rights advocates, and that mainstream secular feminisms are unwilling to take seriously the ethical consistency of those of us who believe in social justice for the unborn as well as the born. These two ideals should not be in opposition,

I have already made waves with my criticisms of the mainstream prolife movement, and my positing of an alternative “new pro life” approach. Pro-life feminists occupy a strange place on the margins of the pro-life movement, which is ironic since typically we tend to have a much more universally pro-life scope, given that our opposition is not only to abortion, but also to war, capital punishment, gun vioence, and social injustice. We have been vilified by pro-life leaders for daring to question their assumption that repealing Roe v. Wade will solve the problem of abortion, and for proposing an approach to abortion that focuses on eliminating demand, instead of supply. We have been attacked for arguing that the policies of a potential Trump administration are likely to lead to more abortions.

Now, it seems, we pro-life feminists need to come to terms with the reality of just how marginalized we are by secular feminist movements, as well.

I would like to say this to my pro-choice sisters:

We who are pro-life can not be excluded from feminism simply because we believe that the life of the unborn human is worthy of protection. We agree with you that women are driven to abortion because of social injustices, that these social injustices need to be eradicated, that women do deserve to have access to health care and bodily autonomy, that we need to work hard to oppose rape culture, and that women ought to have access to a variety of choices. We differ only on the question of when the life of developing human must be protected from violence. It should be appreciated that, when we draw a circle around “which lives deserve protection” – we are the ones who are drawing the widest, most generous circle.

We should not be excluded from this march. We have risked personal and professional relationships in our staunch opposition to Donald Trump, our refusal to accept him as representative of anything remotely pro-life. I personally lost a business associate when I spoke out against his boasts of sexual assault, and the latent misogyny in those who dismissed this as “locker room talk.” I’ve been spied on and screen-shotted by right-wingers who seem more interested in controlling women than in saving lives.

We have spoken out against human trafficking, rape culture, the misogyny of the religious Right. We have been vocal in our denunciation of sexism in medical practice, the workplace, entertainment, domestic life, and religion. We have been attacked for supporting movements for racial equality such as Black Lives Matter.

I will even say this: I believe in choice. I just think that we need to give women better choices than abortion.

I also believe that we need to stand together in solidarity if we are going to dismantle the structure of patriarchy. In order to do that, we need to be able to work together, intersectionally. Consider how many women of different ethnic backgrounds and religious traditions are at least personally opposed to abortion, not because of internalized misogyny or because the patriarchy told them so, but because of real, mature, ethical, and scientific education. Without these women – Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Black, Hispanic, atheist even – you risk losing the unity in strength that is necessary, at this troubling time, to oppose the menace of the Trump regime.

If you can’t accept that pro-life feminists are feminists indeed, that our voices also deserve to be heard, and our ethical concerns taken seriously, please consider the possibility that you are acting against the values of feminism by silencing women, refusing to take them seriously. We are women too. We are feminists too.

And now, it seems, we who believe in the rights of women and the rights of the unborn – the dignity of all life – will have to stand together more than ever.


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