Monday, October 15, 2007

Pro-life feminism.

I consider myself a pro-life feminist. I am a feminist, and I oppose abortion. However, my expression of that is not to criminalize abortion, as I am aware that criminalization will simply serve to increase the number of underground abortions, which hurt both fetal life and womens' lives. Rich and well-connected women will have access to safe underground abortion procedures and working class and poor women will have to resort to less safe means. If being pro-life means anything, it means being against unnecessary taking and risking of life, be it fetal or not.

While an organization such as Feminist for Life would ideally be a group I could get behind, it turns out that they are primarily for criminalization of abortion (they are also opposed to birth control, etc.). The Nation's Katha Pollit has a piece on this group. It's disappointing that there is no explicitly pro-life feminist organization that seeks to reduce the number of abortions while also working for womens' equality in other areas.

But then I realized that such organizations do exist, primarily in the form of Planned Parenthood. They are a feminist organization that prevents more abortions each year than we can possibly imagine. They understand the importance of education and access to birth control in preventing abortion. It's interesting that they get so vilified by "pro-life" politicians and media. I think it's an indication that what they're opposed to is not abortion per se, but womens' freedom and control over their own reproduction. If they were interested in reducing abortion out of a genuine concern for life, they would be giving to Planned Parenthood rather than protesting it.

Part of being opposed to abortion is making sure that women don't feel that abortion is their only option when they do become pregnant. This includes ensuring that they have access to affordable pre- and post-natal health care as well as health care for adults and children. This includes the availability of affordable child care so women are able to work to support their families. This means having a legitimately pro-family set of national policies. Unfortunately, and ironically, those politicians who have a tendency to label themselves as "pro-life" and "pro-family" are often the least interested in such policies.

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