On Saturday, January 21st, feminists from all over came to march in Washington, D.C (plus 600 other places around the world) to protest the new Trump administration, particularly Trump’s veiled threats toward women, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ folks.
But one group of ostensible feminists weren’t marching after being ousted by the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington. These self-proclaimed pro-life feminists call themselves The New Wave Feminists.
At first, the organization, led by Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, were one of the hundreds of sponsors listed on the March’s site. This was only until backlash occurred, where many high-profile feminists, including Roxane Gay and Jessica Valenti, opposed the idea that one can be both pro-life and feminist.
Intersectional feminism does not include a pro-life agenda. That's not how it works! The right to choose is a fundamental part of feminism. — roxane gay (@rgay) January 16, 2017
The organizers of the Women’s March were quick to remove New Wave Feminists from their list of sponsors and released this statement:
Still, according to this piece from Slate, Herndon-De La Rosa still had plans to attend the March.
According to Herndon-De La Rosa’s site, newwavefeminists.com, the group believes feminism has been “corrupted,” saying, “It's time for the return of common sense feminism which refuses to exploit women in the name of liberation and create victims while settling for equality. Instead, we will live up to our full potential and demand others rise up to that level as we embrace how strong and bad ass women truly are.”
But here’s the rub: Dictating what a woman can and can’t do with her body is decidedly anti-feminist. By being pro-life, one is trying to control (typically on religious grounds) a woman’s right to choose whether or not to bring a child into the world. One can decide to have a baby instead of an abortion, but still realize it’s not their place to dictate what goes on in the wombs of others. But that makes them pro-choice. Pro-choice is not pro-abortion. On the contrary, it’s about recognizing women have the right to decide what happens to their bodies and their lives. The choice to have an abortion or remain pregnant is incredibly personal, not one-size-fits-all.
The Guttenmacher Institute reports that 59% of women who seek abortions are already mothers. So, unlike the above quote from Bureeda Bruner suggests, these women are not “walking away from responsibility.” They already have a ton — and deciding when is the right time to bring another child into the world is part of that responsibility. Why would you want to have a child that will suffer throughout its life because you can’t support it financially and/or emotionally? That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth.
The New Wave Feminists talk about how, ultimately, they hope women will not need abortions in America. But instead of trying to change the circumstances of women in the U.S and why they might choose abortion — such as being one of the only countries that doesn’t offer paid maternity leave — they instead choose to attack abortion directly, like conservative religious groups have historically done. Yet, even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, it will not stop women from seeking abortions, as the circumstances in their lives remain the same. And instead of those abortions being performed in sterile environments by qualified doctors, they will be potentially harmful and even deadly, like they were in the past. Banning abortion, while keeping other systems that hold women back in tact, can’t possibly be a feminist stance.
Instead, why not focus on the high costs of childcare which tends to be inaccessible to working, single mothers? Or finally catching up to the rest of the world and offering paid family leave? These causes would be far more helpful than simply rebuking women who chose abortion.
Top Image via Flickr/William Murphy
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Rafaella is a graduate of The New School, where she majored in journalism and minored in gender studies. She's passionate about feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, combatting online harassment, and ending herpes stigma. Visit her website: ellagunz.com