The scene was an emotionally charged prolife rally, the kickoff of a petition drive to overturn a new proabortion law.
I was the last speaker of the evening. The crowd’s excitement was at its peak. But as I rose to the podium, when the name of my organization was announced, part of that excitement turned to dismay. I am a vice-president of Feminists for Life.
Many people react negatively to the term feminism. To them, it means angry women who hate men and mock the family. But this is as unfair as believing that all prolifers bomb abortion clinics. In fact, if we adopt Gloria Steinem’s definition of a feminist—“Anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men”—most of us are probably feminists, too. This was a radical innovation two thousand years ago, when the first Christians proclaimed the equal value of all people.
I became a feminist over 20 years ago, in response to a culture that treated women as frivolous, gossipy creatures, endearingly silly, whose chief delight was the buying of hats. Today most of us believe women to be as intelligent and capable as men and see women’s careers as appropriate, especially before and after their child-rearing years.
But if prolifers balk at “feminism,” establishment feminists have an even harder time with “prolife.” Yet, historically, feminism has vigorously opposed abortion.
Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other early feminists saw abortion as proof of women’s powerlessness and inequality. Anthony’s newspaper stated, “When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that there is something wrong in society—so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that … she has been greatly wronged.”
A century later, prolife ...1
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