Politics & Policy

Women Deserve Better than Abortion: The Ultimate Exploitation of Women

Attendees at the 2017 March for Life in Washington, D.C. (Reuters photo: Aaron P. Bernstein)
Pro-life feminists and Women’s March organizers can work together to reduce abortion.

The largest pro-life feminist organization will not participate in — or protest — this weekend’s Women’s March in Washington, D.C., or others across the country.

Feminists for Life of America has worked alongside other feminists to pass the Violence Against Women Act and the Child Support Enforcement Act, but unlike other feminists, we have also consistently supported the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, a.k.a. Laci and Conner’s Law.

We agree with this unity principle of the Women’s March: “Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free from all forms of violence against our bodies.” But the next section, about “reproductive freedom,” demands “safe, legal, affordable abortion.” The reality is that there is no such thing as a safe abortion. Few unborn human beings escape a violent death, but what is underreported is the mortality of healthy pregnant women killed during or as a result of abortion.

When we know how much a woman grieves from reproductive loss through miscarriage or stillbirth, who would choose abortion? According to the Guttmacher Institute, those who have abortions come primarily from the poorest among us (75 percent), women of color (61 percent), women pursuing post-secondary degrees that would lift them out of poverty (66 percent), and mothers who already have dependents (59 percent). Half of all abortions are performed on a woman who has already had one or more abortions, proving that abortion solves nothing. Abortion isn’t empowering, and it’s not something to celebrate. Abortion is a symptom of, not a solution to, the problems faced overwhelmingly by women who don’t have what they need and deserve. Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better.

We agree with other feminists that we must listen to women and take seriously the issue of harassment and rape, and we urge the Women’s March participants to stop sending mixed messages by using a derogatory term about a woman’s anatomy as their symbol. We have to be consistent as we demand a culture that respects women.

Like the organizers of the Women’s March, we believe in an all-inclusive Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But the organizers don’t really mean to include all human beings — unlike Alice Paul, the suffragist who authored the original ERA, and who opposed abortion. She asked, “How can one protect and help women by killing them as babies?” and declared, “Abortion is the ultimate in the exploitation of women.”

It’s time to a return to a feminism that believes in the strength and dignity of women and embraces the rights of all human beings without exception. The basic tenets of true feminism remain nonviolence, nondiscrimination, and justice for all.

It’s time to a return to a feminism that believes in the strength and dignity of women and embraces the rights of all human beings without exception.

Pro-life publisher Susan B. Anthony urged the first-wave feminists to address the root causes that drive women to abortion. We need to end the feminization of poverty that drives women to abortion. That includes economic poverty, which could be addressed by education, workplace accommodations, and paternal support, but also a poverty of spirit. While we and other feminists have our differences, we can and should unite around many things to lower the rate of abortions among at-risk groups.

In 1997, FFL created the first-ever Pregnancy Resource Forum at Georgetown University, and we have replicated it across the country. We bring together key stakeholders in a uniquely collaborative setting to transform the campus. During the Forum, we hear from a student parent and then the moderator helps to identify resources on and off the campus that would help pregnant and parenting students and birth mothers to complete their education. We then set goals for measurable outcomes. The result is both an increase in understanding of the needs of parenting students and a commitment to improving access.

In addition to our work on campuses, we created WomenDeserveBetter.com, a compilation of practical resources and inspirational stories from those who have faced challenging issues pertaining to work, home life, education, and relationships. It’s not a place for debate, just help for women who seek to work, learn, love, and live better.

Mattie Brinkerhoff put it this way in an 1869 edition of The Revolution, Susan B. Anthony’s newspaper co-edited by the mother of the women’s movement, pro-life feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton: “When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that there is something wrong in society — so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged.”

As we approach the centennial of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women’s suffrage, it is time to unite and right these wrongs and fulfill the unrealized vision of our feminist foremothers. March forth.


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