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pro-life feminists

There's been some scuttle this week in my forum over the fact that the women's march was a lot of pro-choice groups and pro-lifers felt left out. As a pro-choice person I see no problem with this but I will admit there was a time, mostly before I'd had two pregnancies of my own, when I too wondered if you could be pro-life and a feminist.

What changed me? Well, I moved to a city where anti-abortion protesters uses stolen images of bombed babies to plaster on trucks and drive around town, that definitely made me want to be on the opposite side. I also realized that regardless of how I felt about abortion there was one important question: do I want it to be illegal. Plenty of pro-choice people want abortion to be more rare. Some of the biggest pro-choice organizations out there are also increasing access to birth control, which is not a pro-abortion thing to do. Abortion rates decreased during the Obama administration. So when it comes to picking a side, there is pro-choice and anti-choice. Saying "I want abortion to be legal I just want everyone to feel bad about it" doesn't mean anything.

So let's say you want it to be illegal, but you're still a feminist... I guess I just have some questions.

Do you truly believe that a zygote is a human? What about an embryo? If you don't, then you believe abortion should be legal for almost the whole first trimester... genuine pro-lifers are not on your side here you realize.

Do you think we should make exceptions for rape victims? Does the victim have to get her attacker convicted, do we have to wait until the sentence is given out so she's got "proof"? That usually takes longer than a pregnancy, and a lot of victims don't want to come forward because we do such a nice job of raking their names through the mud, will you just trust women in this situation?

Given the fact that miscarriages are so common, especially in early weeks, how will you test whether a woman had an abortion or a miscarriage? Or is it okay with you when a woman is sent to jail for a miscarriage? Does that seem "feminist" to you?

Do you think families should be allowed to terminate a pregnancy if a fetal abnormality is detected, or should a court should force a family to carry a child to term only to have it face a hard, short life? I personally think that's really cruel, are you going to force that on people?

Do you know that families learn about these situations at their 20-week anatomy scans? So all-out bans on abortion after 20 weeks limits their choices at the worst possible time?

Should abortion be legal at any time if the health of the mother is at risk? Will you set up a court to hear these cases or just trust women and their doctors? When a woman finds out late in pregnancy that she's in danger, time is very short. Will you let a few die so we don't err on the side of too many abortions?

Did you know that there aren't doctors who provide late-term abortions for no reasons, so your concerns about women skipping down to the abortion clinic in month 8 because they're bored are totally unfounded?

Where, pro-life person, are you wanting to draw this line? How do you think this will play out in a way that doesn't traumatize, hurt, or kill women?

I guess if you can answer those questions you can be a pro-life feminist.


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( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 4th, 2017 06:53 pm (UTC)
The real question to be asked is, "Do you support a safe, legal abortion option, or an unsafe, illegal abortion option? There are your two choices."

All of the rest of the abortion debate is pointless, IMO.

And anyone who supports unsafe illegal abortion and doesn't care that women will die cannot call themselves pro-life.
Feb. 4th, 2017 09:09 pm (UTC)

Yes. It's 'pro-birth'. A friend of mine wouldn't come to a demo because in part it said it was anti-abortion and she is pro-life although also refugees. I guess unborn lives are more important.

Feb. 4th, 2017 09:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, pro-birth. Definitely.
Feb. 4th, 2017 09:19 pm (UTC)
I completely agree with you, but that argument doesn't seem to resonate when changing people's minds because there are so many other issues in the "they'll do it anyway just not safely" argument. It's why the right says we should relax all gun background check laws... but I'm not with them there.
Feb. 4th, 2017 09:44 pm (UTC)
I used this argument on someone once and actually convinced them to rethink their position. Which isn't to say that it would change anyone else's mind or that the focus should even be on changing minds. It's more about acknowledging the fact that you can argue all day over the finer points of abortion, when life begins, etc. Fact still remains that abortions happen regardless of legality. If the goal is for there to be fewer abortions, banning it will do nothing. You have to think of other ways (birth control, sex ed, etc.)

You could make similar arguments about gun control. What will prevent people from killing people with guns? Not banning guns. Even background checks, which I support, won't ultimately stop a person from finding a way. There has to be something more to deter people from killing people.
Feb. 4th, 2017 10:26 pm (UTC)
True, actually! Right wing gun advocates say that training and safety is what we need, not bans. Maybe drawing that comparison would help them relate to abortion.
Feb. 4th, 2017 07:02 pm (UTC)
I feel the same way, but mine is a completely practical one. Without contraception and abortion, we actually don't have feminism at all. Period.

The way it used to work is that women got pregnant whenever they had sex. This motivates both their male partners and their parents to exert control over them. Men don't want to bring up bastards. Parents don't want their daughters to starve to death without a man to support their daughter and grandchild. So they conspire; they marry off their female children to older men. Being children, they are incapable of refusing, and they're guaranteed to be a virgin (or at least, not already pregnant). This is why child marriage is so common in the third world. This is why parents attempt to curb their daughters' sexuality by cutting off their clitorises and sewing their vaginas shut.

In a world with contraception and abortion, these pressures are greatly lessened. Teenagers can make poor choices of boyfriends. They can have sex. There are still consequences of sex, but they are greatly reduced.

I know it's more complex than just that, but by god, there's a reason that native feminist movements post-date access to contraception in every culture. Women can't *be* independent if they start having babies as teens and keep having them. They don't have the time, and they don't have the position, because they're dependant on their husbands to not starve to death. I read this book, Escape, by a woman who escaped from the FDLS. It took her *years* to escape, because she kept getting pregnant (and didn't have access to contraception, nor the ability to refuse sex.) It wasn't until her last pregnancy almost killed her and they removed her uterus to save her life that she was able to plan her escape. Even then, the child was severely disabled and it made it so much more difficult. Children are wonderful, but they're also a trap, because women are willing to sacrifice their own well being for them.

Anyway, if you want the government, men, or parents to have the right to control whether a woman has a baby or not, you're not a feminist. Every evil of the world against women comes other people trying to control when and who with a woman has a baby; rape, child marriage, FGM, even a lot of spousal abuse (i.e. mate guarding behaviors), all of it is about taking a woman's decision about reproduction away from her.

I have no compunction kicking out pro-life feminists. Every inch they're allowed to advance is another inch of freedom taken from women and given to someone else.

Edited at 2017-02-04 07:05 pm (UTC)
Feb. 4th, 2017 08:21 pm (UTC)
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Feb. 4th, 2017 09:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, all of this.

My boyfriend put it succinctly: one of the foundations of feminism is bodily autonomy. If you don't support bodily autonomy, you don't support feminism.
Feb. 4th, 2017 07:04 pm (UTC)
I love this post. Amazing. The exemption for rape and incest really baffles me. How could you be against killing an unborn life if it's a product of rape. So if my parents conceived me in rape, that means my life isn't worth anything? It just goes to show that for the most part, the pro life movement is about controlling women.

I recently learned that protestants didn't even care about abortion until the women's movement and birth control became readily available. It seems like more and more, the pro life movement is becoming a way to punish women for having sex. That's why they give the exemption for rape and incest.

The fact that the man who is now our president said on national television during a debate that a woman could have an abortion at 37 weeks gestation is just mind-boggling.
Feb. 4th, 2017 07:23 pm (UTC)
There are two things about the USA that I just don't understand:

- no universal health care
- anti-abortion movement

I can understand discussions about which level of health care should be paid for by the community, but that there is a ridiculous large difference in life-expectancy between poor and rich in a first-world-country just doesn't compute.

And if you don't like the idea of abortions - don't have one. No one has an abortion for fun and giggles, and as long as the fetus needs the mothers body as a life-support-system it is the mothers decision.

Ugh, sorry, but these two things make me angry and glad I was born in Germany.
Feb. 4th, 2017 07:36 pm (UTC)
This post is amazing.
Feb. 4th, 2017 09:15 pm (UTC)

Thanks for this. I met a counsellor in training recently who said that before she'd started her training she works for our big pro-life charity here. I just froze internally (wasn't the place to say anything!) but ugh

Feb. 4th, 2017 10:39 pm (UTC)
Great post. I read this article on anti-abortion Democrats last week and just could not wrap my head around the mental gymnastics for basically the same reasons that you outlined in your post.
Feb. 5th, 2017 02:21 am (UTC)
I just don't know who controls the definition of feminist
Feb. 5th, 2017 02:22 am (UTC)
Well said.
Feb. 5th, 2017 03:11 am (UTC)
One more question:

Does a woman have to carry a dead fetus to term? Do you realize that ending this pregnancy means allowing a late term abortion? Do you understand that you are making a woman already mourning the dead child she carries continue the pregnancy for several weeks? "Have you no decency?" FanSee
Feb. 5th, 2017 07:00 am (UTC)

What frustrated me about the marches was that I knew friends who are very liberal and are feminists but are personally pro-life, they intellectually  understand the need for safe and legal abortions but the thought of it turns their stomachs and their churches teach them that they just can't say anything about it.

Trump is creating many refugees from the Christian right, people willing to step away from the traditions of their community and families and willing to oppose this new regime, even to take to the streets.

Instead of being welcomed on this first part of their journey they were rejected.

We need their support
They need to feel accepted as they start their journey

Feb. 5th, 2017 05:56 pm (UTC)
This! I have worked on maternal and newborn health in the international context and the evidence is that meeting unmet needs for contraception is the best way to reduce abortion. And making it illegal doesn't stop it; it just makes it unsafe. What gives anyone the right to decide that women should face the real risk of sterility or even death just because they want the right to decide the number and spacing of their children?

Edited at 2017-02-05 05:56 pm (UTC)
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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