Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pro-life feminism

By Franki Butler

A few days ago, one of my colleagues on this blog posted about the concept of pro-life feminism. I believe that one can be pro-life and feminist, but I also believe that such a position is only truly possible in a world where other options exist – that is, supporting a woman’s right to choose life doesn’t mean squat if giving birth is the only option she has. I was also troubled by the assumption that aborting and keeping the child are the only options a woman has, mainly because it ignores the women who simply don’t want to have children. I’m not just talking about the women who find themselves pregnant at an inopportune time. I mean the women who don’t want kids, ever.

One of my biggest issues with the mainstream pro-life movement in this country is its dismissal of the fact that motherhood is an option for women, not a requirement of womanhood. I’m sure that having a baby is a beautiful, life-changing experience, but it is an experience many women don’t want.

Reducing the number of abortions doesn’t just mean making it possible for low-income women to keep their babies. It means educating people about birth control and efforts to increase coverage of birth control in health insurance plans. It means acknowledging that voluntary sterilization is an option, and making that option open to all women, while not trying to foist it upon the poor and disadvantaged. It means educating people about adoption as an option and improving child services nationwide so that mothers who choose to give their children up to the state aren’t resigning the kids to a lifetime of being shuffled around in foster care. It means providing the option of counseling to those women who make the difficult choice to give a child up for adoption. It means recognizing that women aren’t brood mares, and that the choice to have child is just that, a choice.


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