(This post is an edited version of something I posted on Facebook-first as a comment on someone else’s post, and then as my own-a year ago, as people were fussing about the Women’s March. I know my position is a controversial one, and I know that people on both sides of the issue feel that I cannot be both pro-life and feminist. Ah, well, I never have fit into boxes.)
You would be hard-pressed to find someone more pro-life than I am. I was an unplanned, unwanted child myself, and I was also unmarried, pregnant, and barely 17 years old once upon a time, so I’m not speaking from a lack of understanding of what many women go through. But I do think it is different from almost every other issue folks disagree on, because I firmly believe that the fetus is a person, and so a woman’s choice to have an abortion is a choice to end a human life. However, I also recognize that this is not an issue that can be solved by outlawing abortion, and doing so only endangers additional lives.
Abortions took place before Roe vs Wade, and they would continue to take place even if it were made illegal again. The only reasonable way to approach this issue is to remove those things which lead a woman to believe that her best (or only) choice is to abort her child. This would include negative attitudes towards ‘illegitimate’ children, the acceptance of rape and rape culture in our society, refusal to provide reasonable medical care (birth control!), negative attitudes towards women who use food stamps or other public assistance, the assumption that people on welfare are drug addicts, the push to work for minimum wage rather than use public assistance while in training for a decent career (not to mention the push for minimum wage to remain below livable), the blaming of single parents for society’s downfall and every little bad thing their kid does, the blaming of poor people for being poor, etc., etc., etc. And the truth is that these are not things most conservative folks are willing to do. I think this is why we saw, during the Obama administration, abortion falling to its lowest rate in decades. There was hope and help for those who were in tough times, and hope and help can make the difference between an abortion and having the baby.
The Farm, which is a commune that is known primarily for its amazing midwifery practices and maternal/infant outcomes, had a policy of allowing women to come live there, give birth, and leave their baby with the community for as long as they felt was necessary (perhaps forever). They instituted this policy so that women would not feel that they had no choice (and I believe that’s how most women who have an abortion feel, and I have certainly known many women who did not feel they had any other option). They saved many lives doing this. But these days it seems people just want to tell the women that they have no choice, and then walk away from the situation, congratulating themselves for being righteous, and firmly believing that the pregnant woman has made her bed and now has to lie in it.
Abortion is no better for women than it is for the babies whose lives are taken, and more than half of those babies are girls. Although many feminists would disagree with my claim to be both feminist and pro-life, I can only think that making life better for women will translate into making life better-and possible-for their children, too. And that is why I will stand-and march!-with my pro-choice sisters, for we have far, far more in common than not, and I want the best for them and their children, and the society that we share.
Since writing the above, of course, the situation has become even more dire. The Trump administration seems to be fighting to create those circumstances most likely to force women into having no options. It grows more critical every day that we who have the means to fight, fight for the disadvantaged among us.