Jun 8, 2017
Every generation, feminists gather to recapitulate the state of women’s progress. At a Human Life Review sponsored event in New York last week, Feminists for Life’s president Serrin Foster made “The Feminist Case against Abortion,” examining the plight of modern women, proposing solutions, and proving that revolutions aren’t always brand new. This revolution – pro-life feminism – is well past the throes of teen rebellion. A century since pro-life feminist foremothers Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton secured the female vote, it now sports the wiser woman’s gray-streaked hair and calm expression of “honey, I’ve seen it all.”
The report card is in: 100 years later, abortion remains an inadequate, violent response to inequality in the workplace and educational sphere. But the mission and message of pro-life feminists remains unchanged, too: women deserve better. Feminists for Life has achieved immense success in their commitment to actualizing this belief. A decade after the organization began implementing their pregnancy resources on campuses, universities witnessed a 30 percent drop in abortions, in no small part due to Foster’s realistic approach: “The most important thing young, pro-life women can be doing on campuses today is reaching out to pro-choice girls with love and kindness. They need to be creating choices and resources for pregnant and parenting students.”
She’s right: women need love and resources now more than ever. Far from the wide scale liberation the pro-choice movement promised, abortion has exacerbated the oppressive structures the first feminists sought to destroy. Workplace discrimination, inadequate support for pregnant and parenting students, and the cultural stigma that isolates pregnancy as “her problem” continue to determine the top two reasons women procure abortions: inability to afford a baby and interference with work or school. In her speech, Foster also pointed out the trouble with calling abortion an “empowered” choice when 75 percent of the women who make it are living in poverty.
It is the most conspicuously privileged woman who says, “I would never get an abortion” but advocates its preservation nonetheless, relegating an option she deems undesirable to the poor and marginalized. Nobody wants an abortion; Frederica Mathewes-Green best describes the desperation that forces a woman to “[want] an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.” Fully cognizant of this, pro-life feminists don’t attempt to bedazzle the violent reality of abortion and refuse to accept that, well, this is just the way things are for some women.