Things get a bit awkward when feminists make the patriarchy look good.
On Monday, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, a Reagan-era rule favored by Republican presidential administrations — and consistently tossed aside by Democratic ones — that bans U.S. funding for foreign non-governmental organizations that advocate or perform abortions.
Were the optics of the moment, with the president’s signing an abortion bill while surrounded by what looked like an unusually low-energy male a cappella group, less than ideal? Sure. Did the resulting feminist hysteria make pro-life women like me — women who don’t buy into the code that “women’s rights” and abortion are synonymous — want to give the patriarchy a high five for this particular decision? You bet.
Modern feminism’s abortion fervor also plagued last weekend’s Women’s March on Washington, which, together with satellite marches around the world, brought an estimated 2–3 million out into the streets. Press coverage has lauded the various marches as a brave, principled, anti-Trump “resistance” movement. A closer look reveals a movement largely sputtering on standard left-wing fumes.
When The Atlantic profiled a pro-life feminist group cosponsoring the march, for instance, feminists were outraged — so much so that they eventually succeeded, after torching the Internet for a few hours, in banishing the heretical group. The platform of the Women’s March, declared its organizers, trying to assuage the faithful, “is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one.” The march’s “unity principles” echoed this stance, suggesting that participants should unify behind “open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion.”
At the Washington March, the speakers often descended into self-parody — Ashley Judd and Madonna took the gold and the silver in the Wackolympics, respectively — but one theme was consistent: Abortion. The outrage over Trump’s dreadful “grab her by the you-know-what” remarks was dwarfed by panicked outrage that Planned Parenthood might lose funding — a policy, by the way, that would also likely have been championed by a President Marco Rubio, a President Scott Walker, or a President Carly Fiorina. In Washington, Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood, gave her now-standard stump speech. In Austin, Texas, Wendy Davis, the woman abortion made famous, took center stage.
As a wedge issue for progressives to use against Trump’s nascent administration, abortion leaves much to be desired. A new Marist/Knights of Columbus survey shows that over 61 percent of Americans disapprove of public funding for the practice, and 83 percent oppose funding it overseas. A whopping 74 percent supported limiting abortion to the first trimester, including a stunning 55 percent of Hillary Clinton voters. (For what it’s worth, such a proposal would immediately set the hair of both Cecile Richards and Wendy Davis aflame.)
Many of last weekend’s marchers weren’t left-wing ideologues or abortion fanatics, but you wouldn’t have known it at a glance. From the top down, the march’s agenda was progressive: Abortion, free health care, identity politics, and eternal vague bickering about who is the most oppressed. It was, in short, an enthusiastic cavalcade of left-wing hobbyhorses. No doubt, any right-leaning Trump-skeptics who decided to march took note.
Unfortunately, for those of us on the right with legitimate concerns about the Trump administration, the feminist-run opposition falls short. It does not concern itself with federalism, limited government, or freedom. When the administration does something good, as it did with the Mexico City Policy, the movement will only foster panic — and with its built-in hostilities, infighting, and rigid leftist dogma, we shouldn’t be surprised if this “resistance” eventually self-destructs.
— Heather Wilhelm is a National Review columnist and a senior contributor to the Federalist.