Can you be a pro-life feminist?

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Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by spacefem » Sun Dec 25, 5:22 2011

It depends on your definition of "pro-life".

If you think abortion should be avoided and that we should do what it takes to reduce unplanned pregnancies that lead to abortion, that's a feminist opinion. The ideas that we should provide comprehensive sex education in public schools, make sure all women have access to birth control, and empower women to play a role in family planning decisions are all good, feminist ideas that most of us share. If you think we should ensure paid maternity leave and prenatal care to ensure that a pregnant woman can still live her life and carry a baby to term, that's a very feminist idea.

Conflicts with the feminist movement come up when people think we should reduce abortion by just making it illegal, especially without completing any of the helpful changes I've just mentioned.

For example if a woman's health is at risk, how many doctors does she need to get to agree that she "deserves" an abortion? What if the judge doesn't agree? Does she need the judge's signature before she can get an abortion? Will this take five years to get, like it does in disability court?

Will we just decide that any good mother should risk her life for her child, even if that child is a non-viable fetus?

Should we investigate women who suffer from a miscarriage, even though nearly 20% of pregnancies end this way, because it's a person and we investigate people's deaths?

There are serious logistical issues with making abortion illegal. If we trust women, want to help women, and care about saving lives, we'll find other ways to prevent abortion. Most of these ways are covered much more efficiently under the umbrella of the "pro-choice" label, which assumes that illegal abortion is out of the question. We are not pro-abortion. If you're avoiding the pro-choice label because you think that we are, then you're doing the pro-choice side an injustice.

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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by lillerina » Wed Dec 28, 0:33 2011

I think that most feminists are pro-life, they're just also pro-choice rather than anti-choice. I'm not sure that people who are anti-choice can be feminist, because their seeking to limit or ban abortion involves seeking to force people to carry pregnancies to term. This takes away a lot of freedom from a lot of people.
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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by Rainbow Dolphins » Wed Dec 28, 17:34 2011

There is no reason you can't find abortion morally rephrehensible and still be a feminist. The question is, do you think this is an issue the state should have govenment over, or that women should have government over? If you believe that abortion is awful, and you would personally never, ever have one, but nonetheless it should be a choice up to the individual woman and you cannot press your own moral beliefs on anyone else through the practice of law, you can still certainly be a feminist. I think if you believe legal abortions should be taken away from women, this does prevent you from being a feminist. But that is not necessarily what "pro-life" means.
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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by Tookie » Thu Dec 29, 13:24 2011

I believe that access to abortion is a fundamental axis of reproductive justice, and I think that attempting to limit access to abortion is a form of gender oppression because it removes a woman's ability to make decisions about her own body, based on a set of moral values with which she may or may not comply. So no, I don't think that you can be a "pro-life"/"anti-choice" feminist.

That said, I think that there is nothing more pro-life than valuing the lives of women. And that includes their right to make decisions about their lives.
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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by kelsa » Fri Dec 30, 19:25 2011

Yes, you can be a "pro life" feminist.

No, you can not be an "anti choice" feminist.

Let's break down the terminology here. If you believe that abortion is morally wrong and something you could never choose for yourself, fine, you're "pro life." If, though it is a decision you would not make for yourself, recognize that other women have the right to make their own personal decisions and do not attempt to restrict abortion access for others due to your own personal beliefs, congratulations, you're a "pro life" feminist. You're seeing your values and choices and applying them to yourself, while recognizing that others have the right to make their own decisions.

If you, in the course of feeling abortion is morally wrong and a choice you would not make, attempt to make that choice for other women, by restricting access to abortion, you are anti choice and incompatible with feminism.

Although, we really need to rework our entire vocabulary around debates about reproductive rights. Pro life and Pro Choice are crappy terms to build a debate on, you know?
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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by monk » Fri Dec 30, 21:47 2011

kelsa wrote: Pro life and Pro Choice are crappy terms to build a debate on, you know?
Which is kinda of why I don't really like the question that this topic poses. Pro life & Pro Choice are terms that the respective spin doctors have claimed to push the opposing agendas on abortion legalization. Many pro life people don't object to abortion if the mothers life is at risk, many pro choice people don't oppose making sure a woman has been given information in detail on the options available with a time period to consider those options before a procedure is done, but when either side brings this up to the other it gets muddled into the morass of vehemence the radicals on both ends have for each other.

To be more accurate the question might be posed "Can you be an anti-abortion feminist?" and the answer is probably not, if you don't believe abortion is right(or believe it is murder) then you will be at odds on this subject with most of those who believe in feminism. Now my question is, Do you have to agree with the majority of feminists on every feminists topic in order to be a feminist?
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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by Ama » Sat Jan 7, 1:40 2012

monk wrote:Now my question is, Do you have to agree with the majority of feminists on every feminists topic in order to be a feminist?
I've been asking myself that question since I started reading this thread... and I'm going to come out and say that I personally don't think so. Abortion is a very big issue for a lot of people, and I think it's one that's big enough that even people who are strongly in favor of women's rights could be stymied by. There are many different flavors of feminists in the world, and it seems tricky to pigeonhole them all into the same set of beliefs (just today I found out that there are people who consider themselves feminists who think that women are oppressed because women are inherently weak and inferior to men, and need to have someone to look out for them...). Although I could see the userbase of this forum as taking that position, it seems a bit disingenuous to ascribe a given set of beliefs to such a wide range of people. It seems a bit like trying to exclude a certain subset of people from the group of Feminists because they don't share the same beliefs.

Hopefully no one is too upset about me reviving a dead thread here.
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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by Axiomatic » Sat Jan 7, 4:04 2012

I don't think feminists really agree with each other all that often anyway.
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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by cwbyrvr » Sat Jan 7, 4:48 2012

^
I don't think people do.
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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by Sonic# » Sat Jan 7, 10:06 2012

While taking a class, many of my readings were in a book entitled Feminisms. It was plural for a good reason: there are many movements that advocate for women's equality in this society. They often, but do not always, agree; the traditional liberal feminism of Virginia Woolf and Elaine Showalter is different from the theoretical feminism of Luce Irigaray or Monique Wittig, which is different from the more racially-conscious feminism of bell hooks, Chicana feminism, Islamic feminism, or queer feminism. They are different in their center of attention (since a single movement can't address everything efficiently) while still being concerned with women's equality in that area.

With that in mind, yes, one can be committed to a form of feminism while being pro-life. It is more difficult if one believes that abortion should be legally prohibited in most or every case, since such prohibitions presume that women cannot determine the morality of a contentious (rather than clear) decision for themselves. So that obviously will put a pro-life feminist at odds with many feminists on that point, who work hard to preserve a woman's choice of an abortion without taking that choice lightly. However, feminisms deal with more than one issue, so it is certainly possible to find agreement on other issues.

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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by minervyx » Mon Dec 23, 6:30 2013

"I'm pro-life but I think abortion is a woman's choice" is just not a valid statement. Pro-life, at least by American political standards, means you want the government to restrict or ban abortion. Nobody LIKES abortion. It's just a matter of whether it should be legal or not.

I'm pro-choice, seeing abortion as a lesser evil.

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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by monk » Sun Nov 2, 0:13 2014

Katie Pop wrote: That underscores, I think, the fundamental misunderstanding of the debate. The pro-choice side thinks the debate is about the mother; the pro-life side thinks it's about the child.
If we're going to be oversimplifying it I would say it's more like this :

The pro-life side thinks it's a child:The pro-choice side thinks it's a bunch of cells growing and multiplying into something that might someday become a child.
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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by Aum » Wed Jul 26, 14:38 2017

Just a disclaimer, I'm pro-choice.

I have met a pro-life feminist who said that she was pro-life because ultimately, when humanity is liberated, there will be no accidental pregnancies. She's thinking more in an ideal world where everyone is educated, has access to contraception, there's no weird religious power games, etc.

But since we don't live in that ideal world, I don't see how you can be anything other than pro-choice. If you're inflicting pregnancy onto women because of not living up to an ideal then you're really just punishing them.

To be fair, for those who see zygotes and fetuses as persons, it does look like murder, regardless. I just don't see how one can reconcile women's rights with forced pregnancy.
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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by DarkOne » Wed Jul 26, 21:51 2017

"...I have met a pro-life feminist who said that she was pro-life because ultimately, when humanity is liberated, there will be no accidental pregnancies. She's thinking more in an ideal world where everyone is educated, has access to contraception, there's no weird religious power games, etc..."

This argument also either makes the assumption that birth control is infallible or *shudder* advocates abstinence...
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Re: Can you be a pro-life feminist?

Post by rowan » Tue Aug 1, 9:04 2017

It also makes the assumption that there aren't medical issues that require abortion, or that make abortion a reasonable thing to do.
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