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Pro-Life and Pro-Women

Photo by Lucia Gomes

Photo by Lucia Gomes

Megan Munce, Assistant Online Editor

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The women’s movement, which first tackled the right to work and vote, now encompasses a myriad of issues such as reproductive rights, equal pay, and domestic violence. But no issue has drawn more lines than the topic of abortion.

Mainstream feminist philosophy today holds that in order to be a feminist, one must be pro-choice. Pro-life advocates don’t believe in the right to have an abortion, leading to many claiming that “pro-lifers” want to restrict women’s rights by not allowing them to have an abortion if they wish to.

This disconnect between pro-choice feminists and pro-life feminists took a spotlight during the Women’s March directly following the election, as many pro-life feminists felt alienated and pushed away from the Women’s March and the feminist movement in general.

In fact, after news broke that New Wave Feminists, a pro-life group, was an official partner of the Women’s March, backlash was so strong that the march disconnected itself from the group, and instead released a statement saying, “we look forward to marching on behalf of individuals who share the view that women deserve the right to make their own reproductive decisions.”

As Lucia Gomes, senior, says, “As a feminist and woman myself, I want women to have better options. I do not think abortion should be a choice because it hurts both the mother and the child. Moreover, I was offended upon hearing that the Women’s March was excluding pro-life women. The Women’s March was meant to celebrate all women, so I was frustrated knowing that I, as a pro-life woman, was not welcomed.”

Historically, being a feminist and standing against abortion have never contradicted itself. There are several historical examples of devout feminists who were also pro-life. Alice Paul, co-founder of the National Women’s Party that campaigned for the 21st Amendment and the Equal Rights Amendment, once deemed abortion as “the ultimate exploitation of women.”

Likewise, Elizabeth Cady Stanton once said, “When we consider that women are treated as property it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.”

Both of these women are indubitably just as committed to the cause of women’s rights and equality as feminists are today, however the suffragists of the early 20th century also believed that furthering women’s rights meant banning abortions, not allowing them.

When arguing for diversity, it’s important to not also be simultaneously shutting out another point of view simply because it seems to conflict with yours on a surface-deep level. In fact, being a feminist and being pro-life are both derive from the same main idea: the belief in absolute human equality and inherent dignity. In Pres’s own Social Justice class, we learn about inherent human dignity as a main tenet of Catholic Social Teaching, as Catholics believe that we are all made in the image and likeness of God.

Just as feminists believe that men and women are created entirely equal and deserve equal pay, rights, and treatment, pro-life advocates argue that developing fetuses deserves equal respect and should not be able to be aborted at will. Although in different ways, both of these groups are able to agree that all life has value and meaning, whether or not they believe that life begins at conception or at birth.

Moreover, either side, whether they support the right to abortions or not, can agree that an abortion is no casual matter. No woman should have to have an abortion unless absolutely necessary, and being pro-choice doesn’t mean believing in the right to rampant abortions across the nation. Advocating for women’s rights means advocating for better education and health services for women that reduce the need for abortion, furthering the similarities between those who support women and those who oppose abortions.

Pro-life feminists and pro-choice feminists should embrace their similarities, and their differences, and unite to fight the problems plaguing women around the world. After all, with a pro-life president promising to appoint a new pro-life Supreme Court justice, now is not the time to be drawing a hard line and putting feminists and pro-lifers on either side of it. Just because you’re pro-life doesn’t mean that you can’t also be pro-women.

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “Pro-Life and Pro-Women”

  1. Claire Hansen on February 13th, 2017 9:17 am

    I am a pro-life progressive and I’m glad you wrote this article. Like Lucia, I was also upset when I heard that the Women’s March did not want pro-life groups to stand with them. I felt they missed an opportunity to broaden the message they wanted to send — all women standing together, even when they disagree. I also appreciated what Fr. James Martin said about the Catholic stance on life (that all life issues are connected). What he expressed has always been the Catholic position on life.
    Here it the link: https://publicorthodoxy.org/2017/02/02/pro-life-social-justice/

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