While being primarily supported by pro-choice groups, the Women’s March in Washington D.C. had originally decided to grant a pro-life feminist group partnership status.
But after a story in The Atlantic highlighted the pro-life women attending the march and the group granted a partnership, the Women’s March reversed their decision and essentially told half of American women they were no longer welcome.
While this refusal to acknowledge the existence and relevance of pro-life women is nothing new, the reaction by many pro-choice individuals exposes the truth they frequently deny. This has nothing to do with women’s health and everything to do with abortion.
Pro-life women are not imaginary
I don’t believe reason is a respecter of gender. Any person, man or woman, has both a right and responsibility to speak out in defense of life.
Pro-choice organizations like NOW, NARAL or Planned Parenthood act as if they represent all women. They speak as if there are no other female voices on abortion.
Yet, 4 in 10 women say they want abortion to be illegal in all or most circumstances, according to Pew Research. That’s the same as men. There is no gender gap on abortion.
But even more specifically to the Women’s March, the position demanded organizers is held by less than a quarter of Americans. There is broad support for restrictions, as only 23% say abortion should be legal in all cases.
Not only does this stance refuse to acknowledge the modern women who oppose abortion, it ignores the legacy of many who led the fight for women’s rights in America.
Among those who would not be welcome at the Women’s March due to their pro-life position are these early feminists and champions of women’s suffrage:
- Victoria Woodhull, the first women to run for President of the United States
- Susan B. Anthony, leader of the women’s suffrage movement
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, leading figure of the early women’s rights movement
- Sarah F. Norton, fought to allow women admittance into Cornell University
- Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to earn a medical degree
- Alice Paul, leader of the campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment
Another individual who may not have been invited? 2008 Hillary Clinton, who said abortion should be “safe, legal and rare, and by rare, I mean rare.”
How do you call yourself a Women‘s March when you would deny participation to women like this?
The unfortunate reality is that organizations and causes like the Women’s March have been co-opted to function as yet another pro-choice advocacy group.
Abortion is the only cause
If this were about condemning the statements and actions of Trump, millions of pro-life women would have participated and should have been welcomed to do so.
If this were about fighting for equal treatment of women or improving women’s health care, many women who are pro-choice and pro-life could have worked together to champion worthy goals and push important reforms.
But abortion advocates do not want to partner with any pro-life women’s group. They do not even want them involved in a women’s march.
It’s not about protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump. It has next to nothing to do with women or even women’s health. It’s simply about promoting abortion.
How do we know? They told us.
One of the loudest critics of the initial inclusion of a pro-life feminist group in the Women’s March was writer Jessica Valenti. This was the conclusion to her call to disinvite the pro-life group.
We need to stop the myth that feminism is simply 'anything a woman does.' Feminism is a movement for justice – abortion access is central.
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 16, 2017
On one hand, men need to stay out of the abortion debate because it doesn’t concern them. On the other hand, pro-life women need to stay out of the abortion debate because they have the wrong position.
In other words, the point is simply to exclude whomever does not wholeheartedly accept abortion and promote it as a social good.
Valenti’s honesty is a bit refreshing, however. She has removed the facade that maintains the pro-choice, pro-life divide is one that is about gender differences or women’s health.
From her perspective, in her own words, feminism is not about women; it’s about abortion.
Conservatives have long maintained the left’s “war on women” rhetoric is actually just a cover for dismissing arguments against abortions. Valenti admits as much.
And, with their disinvitation of the pro-life group, the Women’s March is doing the same. They care more about defending abortion than uniting women.
If only their honesty would extend to changing the name of their event to better reflect reality. But “Women’s March, But Only for Women Who Accept an Extreme Permissive View of Abortion” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.