Why pro-life feminism is more important now than ever
This year, thousands will gather in Washington, D.C., for the 45th annual March for Life, a protest against the practice and legality of abortion that coincides with the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.
Feminists for Life of America, a pro-life feminist organization founded in 1972 by Pat Goltz and Cathy Callaghan, attends the march every year. I joined F.F.L. in 1994 as executive director. After hearing a board member recall that due to a lack of housing, child care and maternity coverage she considered an abortion while in college, I realized that I had never seen a visibly pregnant student during any of my many visits to campuses as a guest lecturer. Thanks to our feminist beliefs, F.F.L. was in a unique position to provide resources to support women like our board member.
We began by listening to women and working with stakeholders on both sides of a contentious debate. We then developed a strategic plan and program components with this goal: that women would not be forced to choose between sacrificing their education and career plans and sacrificing their children. We began our College Outreach Program in 1994 and since then have hosted events at schools like Georgetown, Northwestern and Pepperdine.
Feminists for Life recognizes that abortion is a symptom of, not a solution to, the continuing struggles women face in the workplace, on campus, at home and in the world at large.
In the first 10 years after our College Outreach Program began in 1994, there was a dramatic 30 percent decrease in abortions among college-educated women. Working with—not against—university administrators has been key to spreading effective solutions and inspiring other groups, including pro-choice activists, to join us.
Working with people who we disagree with on the issue of abortion (and who disagree with us) is not unique to our efforts on campus. We have been the only pro-life group to work in coalition with other women’s organizations to fight cuts to welfare; the first to advocate for the extension of coverage for working-poor pregnant women in the Child Health Insurance Program; and the only pro-life group to successfully advocate for the Enhanced Child Support Enforcement Act, which helped streamline the collection and distribution of child support, especially across state lines.
This past summer, Feminists for Life launched Women Deserve Better, an online resource that provides women with information on areas like how to build a career, how to succeed as a working parent and knowing your rights at work. We feature articles such as “How to Tell Him He’s Going to Be a Dad” and “An Adoption Journey of Openness and Authenticity.”
We will walk in the footsteps of our pro-life feminist foremothers, like Susan B. Anthony.
Feminists for Life recognizes that abortion is a symptom of, not a solution to, the continuing struggles women face in the workplace, on campus, at home and in the world at large. Our mission is to systematically eliminate the coercive factors that drive women to abortion—in particular, a lack of resources and support. We have also worked to educate men about the rights, responsibilities and joys of fatherhood.
The work done at Feminists for Life of America is crucial. For the 45th annual March for Life, F.F.L. members will travel from as far away as Australia to walk in solidarity with our allies in the pro-life movement. Roughly 1,000 marchers carried placards declaring “Peace Begins in the Womb” and “Women Deserve Better Than Abortion.” We will walk in the footsteps of our pro-life feminist foremothers, like Susan B. Anthony.
It is up to us to realize their unfulfilled vision. We hope to continue spreading the feminism of Anthony and to continue to raise a generation of leaders who will change the United States and the world through women-centered solutions. Women deserve better.