Pro-Choice Feminists and Pro-Life Feminists should march together

Here’s a cheering thought about 2017: It’s gonna be a banner year for comedians.

It’s also shaping up to be a surprisingly good year for pro-lifers. Not because Trump has done anything whatsoever to help save babies or protect women. Maybe he’ll take the trouble to reinstate the largely symbolic Mexico City policy, maybe he won’t; but so far, his pro-life credentials are exactly zero, if you’re generous. [ETA: Shortly after I wrote this, Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy. Credit where it’s due.]

But never mind him, because people who are actually pro-life aren’t waiting for him to remember there’s such a thing as us. Women in seven continents turned out for the Women’s March, to protest his election and to support causes dear to women — causes like education, healthcare, racial justice, protection and respect for the disabled, and, well, everything else. Women are interested in all kinds of things; and even progressive women have more on their mind than abortion abortion abortion. That’s the nice thing about a protest: You show up and say what you want to say (even if you can’t even talk yet).

Yeah, the protest was organized and funded by pro-choicers. Yeah, “abortion rights” became one of the planks of their platform, after a stink was raised in some quarters. But tons of pro-life women showed up anyway, because pro-life is a feminist cause ne plus ultra. As the giant banner said — the banner that led the march, because Students For Life decided to run right out in front — “ABORTION BETRAYS WOMEN.”

So there were pro-life feminists there. In some venues, they were attacked and screamed at; in some venues, they were greeted with respect and support, even from women who didn’t agree with them. These are the reports from the women I know who were actually there.

Even more heartening than this reception is what happened on Saturday Night Life. You can see the entire segment here, but here’s the money part:

Did you catch that?  The man just told his audience that pro-lifers are feminists, and that they absolutely belong in a pro-woman march, because a feminist is simply a reasonable person. He used the phrase “pro-life,” not “anti-choice” or “anti-abortion rights.”

Here’s the transcript of this segment:

It was an amazing show of support for feminism, but some feminist groups were asked not to march because of their pro-life views, which raises the question: “What makes a feminist a feminist?” It’s confusing. 

My mother raised seven kids by herself and she’s the strongest woman I know, so I asked her if she was a feminist, and she said, “Boy, God made Adam and EVE,” I was like, “That’s not what that means.”

A feminist is really just someone who believes in rights for women, and that’s easy to get behind. Until you get behind a feminist wearing a uterus hat and then you’re like, “There are levels to this.”

I just think it’s weird to have a special name for just being a reasonable person, because that’s all it is. Believing in equality just means you’re not a dick, and for me, that enough.

Folks, Donald Trump is a dick. Not because he claims to be anti-abortion, but because he treats women and children, and anyone else who seems vulnerable, like dirt to be trampled under his feet.

Shall I tell you what I want, as a feminist?

I want no girl, teenager, or woman to feel that she has to have a sexual relationship she doesn’t want.
I want no girl, teenager, or woman to feel pressured to act out the porn that’s shaped the desires of a generation.
I want no girl, teenager, or woman to be mocked, pressured, or chided by her friends, her boyfriend, her doctor, or the culture at large for deciding not to have sex with someone.

I want every woman to know that, if she gets pregnant unintentionally, the father of the child will behave like an adult — not just ponying up a few hundred dollars and a ride to the abortion clinic to erase his mistake, but taking on real, shared, self-giving responsibility. I want women to know that the pregnancy is not just her problem.

I want rape victims to be treated with dignity and respect, not suspicion and blame and aggression from schools, from the legal system, and from their neighbors.

I want unplanned pregnancies to stop meaning stigma, shame, and horror.

I want unplanned pregnancies to stop meaning that a woman’s education must end.

I want unplanned pregnancies to stop meaning that a woman is doomed to poverty.

I want unplanned pregnancies to stop meaning the end of a career.

I want women carrying a disabled unborn baby to know that her child has a shot at being treated with dignity by the world, if she’s allowed to be born.

I want women carrying a black unborn baby to know that her child has a shot at being treated with dignity by the world, if she’s allowed to be born.

I want women carrying an unborn girl to know that her child has a shot at being treated with dignity by the world, if she’s allowed to be born.

I want a world where it doesn’t even occur to people to consider abortion, because there are so many, many alternatives. Pro-lifers and pro-choicers can work together to provide these alternatives. And that’s what we have in common.

If pro-choice feminists agree with even part of this, then you’re damn right we are sisters. You’re damn right we belong marching together.

Don’t underestimate the power of popular culture to change hearts and minds. It’s already becoming more acceptable to be pro-life. It’s already becoming more evident that there is more to us than “no, no, no.”  Today’s young adults are looking around at the cultural wasteland left behind after the sexual revolution, and they’re thinking, “Well, that didn’t work. What else can we try?”

Some of them are trying on pro-life feminism. I think it looks pretty good on them — and apparently, so does Saturday Night Live.

So, you folks who are stamping your feet and huffing and puffing over the scandal of pro-lifers turning up at a pro-choice march? You Catholics who are up in arms over pro-life women inflating the numbers of the march, and giving aid and comfort to our ideological enemies? Check it out:

Pro-life feminists who marched got Saturday Night Live to utter the phrase “pro-life,” and to call them reasonable people, to admit that they are feminists, too. Tell me how you were planning to achieve that by sitting at home in your MAGA hat, annotating your list of Catholics We Find Upsetting.

While you were busy taking incriminating screenshots of your neighbor to send to your priest, pro-lifers feminists were bringing their message home. And they’re changing the culture.

Keep marching, sisters.

23 thoughts on “Pro-Choice Feminists and Pro-Life Feminists should march together”

  1. Hi sister Simcha,

    I’m not a pro-lifer, but you’ve just made a new sister outta me!

    Rock on… and I hope we all DO march together!

    Sara

  2. Hi Simcha,

    I just found your blog today and really enjoyed your post on Kristalnacht. After a little more clicking around I found this one and I just had to comment and say how much I really admire you. I have always been pro-choice and before everyone jumps down my throat for saying that, I’d like to explain. I was the oldest of four children, my parents being my alcoholic, abusive father, and my abused mother. My mother married my sorry excuse for a father because she got pregnant with me at age 17. My parents (thankfully) split up when I was 10 and my mother, not having any education beyond high school and having no skills whatsoever, went on welfare, applied for financial aid, and went to school. My father didn’t pay child support. My mother couldn’t afford babysitters so I, the 10-year-old, watched the three younger ones while my mom went to school and studied. She did eventually graduate with a degree in social work but it was a hard road for her and she had virtually no support on it.

    This isn’t a road for everyone. My mother raised us all to be independent, educated women, so we don’t ever have to depend on a man for anything. She instilled in us a fear of getting pregnant, because to be quite honest, I’m fairly certain she believes having babies ruined her life by chaining her to an abusive alcoholic and she wanted better for us. I’m 41 years old now and I’ve never been pregnant and never want to be. That being said, I could never get an abortion, but I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to live someone else’s life and what’s the best course of action for them should that happen. That’s why I’ve always been pro-choice, because I believe in the choice. I would never try to influence someone in their choice but I want the choice to be there, because ultimately that woman needs to live with her decision, whatever it ends up being.

    But, I love your list of ‘wants’. I want those things too! I would love to have a world where having a baby didn’t mean the end of your dreams and plans, but meant instead someone to share those dreams and plans with, where women and girls have just as much value as men and boys, and where men are held accountable for their part in the creation of the child, and not just financially. I’ve never thought that there could be any middle ground between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice but now I think there can be. I think we want the same things, ultimately. We both want a better life and more options for women, but these labels…’Pro-Life’, ‘Pro-Choice’, ‘Democrat’, ‘Republican’…put us at odds with each other so we’re not even looking for common ground.

    Thank you so much for your post.

  3. Hi Simcha,

    Thanks once again for all the phenomenal work that you do here. You are on a roll. I wanted to ask whether you have considered addressing the March for Life’s choice of keynote speaker and noted proponent of “alternative facts,” Kellyanne Conway, who, while she may very well hold sincere pro-life views, will associate the movement further with that apt phrase for lies.

  4. Don’t you think out of Catholic charity, you should judge this man on his actions as President and not on his past sins? How many of us would stand up to the scrutiny of vicious and limitlessly funded, self-interested hordes? If that little list you put up is the worst that could be found on a millionaire who doesn’t even have the advantage of Catholic sacraments, I am genuinely impressed. Catholics are not puritanical prudes. Most of that stuff, like your own profanity-laced drivel, is just juvenile crass talk. I would say the best indicator of a person’s character are not his past sins, but how his children turn out. Without the benefit of Catholic morals and in spite of the heavy burdens of wealth, celebrity and divorce, Trump’s children are hard working, have stable and prolife marriages and seem to really love their father.

  5. Talk about updating a list of ‘Catholics we find upsetting’….Simcha, your continued bashing of Catholics who voted differently than you, built up with strawman arguments and absolutely zero charity is getting really hard for me to wade through. I generally love your posts, but this is getting ridiculous.

  6. Let me get this straight:

    Anyone who voted for Trump, for any reason, is espousing everything about him as a “pro-life value.”

    But marching in a march (i.e., whose explicit purpose is to promote a platform that includes legally unrestricted abortion is not necessarily signing onto that platform.

    Say what?

    1. I agree–this is pretty inconsistent. Trump has to disavow any nut that claims to support him (i.e. the Klan), but pro-lifers incur no ire when they march with women with vulgar hats/shirts/signs, who have made it umpteenly clear that abortion on demand is a prerequisite for being considered a woman?

      Also, I think it’s terribly naive to believe that pro-aborts are going to be won over by us “disavowing” Trump, or made any more rabidly pro-abort by anything pro-lifers do. Abortion is satanic; it’s child sacrifice. It they can manage to hold those opinions with so many opportunities to see the true nature of fetal development, the violence of abortion, etc., they can certainly manage to stay pro-abortion no matter how much pro-lifers engage in high-minded hand wringing about every problem with the Republican party. Honestly, if anybody could be defending Hillary as a candidate, there’s no chance of changing their mind on abortion either. There is tremendous cognitive dissonance going on there. (To clarify, I’m not saying Trump’s an ace himself.)

      Liberals are never swayed by conservatives catering to them. We think (rightfully) that liberals hold fairly stupid opinions (i.e. “we can solve our problems by incentivizing the breakdown of the family. It’s the kind thing to do in order to remove the stigma of broken families.” “Socialism works, it just hasn’t been tried hard enough.” “Capitalism is evil. Except when I go to the grocery store and have thousands of affordable, fresh options for food mid-January.”). They think conservatives ARE evil. There’s no bridge possible. We have to recapture the schools, the media, the arts, and through those, the culture. I don’t see how we can save very many people before we turn off the spigot pumping raw sewage into our classrooms/living rooms/headphones. Turn off the brainwashing so the truth can shine through.

    2. Here is the difference:
      Trump is no longer a private citizen. He ceased being a private citizen when he became a politician. A politician is representitive of the groups who put their money and influence behind him whether they be NARAL, the KKK or Goldman-Sachs. When he gets into office these groups will expect him to act in their interest, therefore the public has a right to judge the politician by his strongest supporters.
      You and I, however, have the freedom accorded to private citizens. We do not hold public office, and so the public need not fear that our associations may adversely influence us and the laws we would be passing if we did hold public ofice. We are free to join in solidarity with those with whom we do not entirely agree, but with whom we do share a common cause, in the interest of making our voices heard by the powers that be. And in the process we may chsnge some hearts and minds, or at least change the public’s adverse perception of us.

  7. Thank you so much for this. I’m exhausted of the many comments made by Catholic women against other Catholic women who marched on Saturday. As you said in a pre-election post, most of my pro-choice friends have said “If Trump is what pro-life means, then hell no.” We stand a much better chance of changing hearts and minds by speaking up for human dignity and saying this new world of Trump and alternate facts is just not ok.

  8. (Yikes — Simcha, I was so caught up in the wave of feminist solidarity that I accidentally put my full, real name up on my post a few minutes ago. I don’t want to be that public on the internet. Can you redact it?)
    – A

  9. Culture is what gave us Donald. See Rod Dreher’s brilliant piece published today. Be sure to watch the YouTube video he links. As Chesterton once responded to the question ,”What’s wrong with the world?”
    Sir, I am.
    Or Solzhenitsyn
    If only that were true! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.
    We’ve all gone mad.

    1. And by the way Simcha, every single thing that you listed as a want, I want too! I’m 100% in lockstep with what you believe even though I disagree with marching in a prochoice march

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *