By Kelly Thomas SFS’15
At first glance, the terms “pro-life” and “feminist” don’t appear to go well together. When people discover my pro-life views, the reactions range from agreement, to polite smiles and averted glances, to downright anger. Many of my female peers don’t understand how I could “sell out” my fellow women in such a way. Roe v. Wade is considered by many to be a hallmark of women’s rights…so how could I feel differently and still consider myself a feminist?
To understand the seemingly paradoxical viewpoint of the Pro-Life feminist, I have to explain something very clearly. I am pro-life because I believe that life starts at conception. Therefore, a child in the womb, whether its heart has only just begun to beat, or if it’s already wiggling its fingers and toes, is still a life to me, a life with intrinsic value. Any attack on that child I view to be an attack on a very live, albeit tiny, and innocent human life. Many people view abortion as a woman making a medical decision concerning her body. They say that it is her decision alone because only she is affected. I disagree. I see a defenseless child’s life caught in the jargon of female empowerment and women’s rights. For me, Roe v. Wade is not a decision that liberated women to have control over their bodies, it is a piece of our history that has taken the gift of motherhood and turned it into a threat, an inconvenience, and it has turned a child into a collection of cells that has no voice, all the while breaking millions of women.
I’ve explained why I’m pro-life, but where does feminist fit into the picture? I clearly don’t think that this “medical decision” should be an option for woman, so how can I say that I am not only pro-life, concerned for the child, but pro-women also? I hope you’ll stick with me as I talk it out…
I see abortion as a huge degradation for women. In 1973, the Supreme Court decided that it was a viable option for a woman to make the choice to take the life of her child. Pregnancy was no longer seen as a gift, it was seen as a threat to a woman’s education, her career, her way of life. Suddenly, having a child was the injustice, not the lack of familial support, or the lack of resources on college campuses for student moms, or structural poverty that made raising another child too difficult, or the policies in the workplace that make having a child nearly impossible if one’s career is to progress –policies that rarely affect a father. The child becomes the perceived problem, thus the apparent solution is to take away the child. And what is the result of this “solution”? It is millions of women who were forced to choose between their education, their career, their families, and their unborn children. It is women being told to accept less than they deserve because it’s easier to simply make the child disappear than to force schools and employers to support a pregnant woman. It is 25,000,000 baby girls, killed in the womb. There is no dignity in this purported cure. No liberation or empowering of women. It is simply another tool. A tool that tells a women that an inherent part of her genetic make-up, her ability to bear children, is nothing more than a threat to her success in a “man’s world”, and if she wants to make her way in this world, then she’d better learn to control it, even if it means sacrificing her own child.
I can say that I am a pro-life feminist, because over the past nine years that I have been involved in this movement, I have spoken with too many women whose lives have been irreparably changed by the decision to abort. One woman said to me: “When you suffer a miscarriage, everyone grieves for your loss, but when there’s an abortion, the same life is lost, but added to it is the knowledge that your word was what stole it away.” Another said tearfully: “They told me it was just a medical procedure, but I wish every day that someone had told me that the guilt never goes away” I saw an abortion destroy a couple’s relationship as they became consumed with grief for their lost child. A dear friend of mine learned that her aunt had an abortion before she was born. Now, every time her grandmother introduces her as the “eldest grandchild” she says that all she can think of is that other baby, the one that wasn’t deemed valuable enough to live. A woman who is a survivor of a saline-infused abortion stated very simply: “I’m a woman, but where were my rights? My life was seen as a choice for others to make, and they chose death for me.” she went on to say: “I dare any lawmaker to look my four-year-old daughter in the eye and tell her that her mother was not worth saving”. These women are a testament to the damage of abortion. There is no happy ending, and it isn’t a cure. It ends a life, and forever alters the lives of others. What kind of a nation looks at these brokenhearted women, who felt abandoned and helpless, and now face the loss of millions of children, and sees a vision of empowerment and liberation? It’s certainly a far cry from the world imagined for us by the early feminists. Mattie Brinkerhoff, one of the first suffragettes, wrote: “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.”
I couldn’t agree more.