Meet Abby Johnson. Abby Johnson is a pro-life feminist and she has the most thankless job in the world: She’s trying to move the anti-abortion movement away from rabid, regressive Christianity and closer to thoughtful, life-affirming feminism. And she’s failing. Miserably.
Johnson is one of those rare creatures; a pro-lifer that actually cares more about life than control. In other words, where most pro-lifers couldn’t care less about the baby they’re supposedly “Saving” AFTER it’s born, Johnson is fighting to make abortion unnecessary in the first place. As her fellow spitter-in-the-wind, Serrin Foster, the leader of Feminists For Life, says, “There are three key reasons for the feminization of poverty: Lack of education, lack of workplace accommodation and paternal support. Do that, three-fourths of the reasons that women have an abortion are over.”
And she’s not wrong. But that’s why the effort to emphasize the “life” in “pro-life” is doomed to failure. Talk to most any conservative anti-abortion person and ask them if they support comprehensive sex education, free contraceptives, pre-natal care, post-natal care, food, clothes and housing for the women and babies they’re so “worried” about. The overwhelming majority of them will absolutely refuse. For them, pregnancy is simple a means to an end: Punishing women for having sex.
They spend a lot of time crying crocodile tears for the “innocent lives” being lost but have zero interest in preventing unwanted pregnancies or getting women the support they need to care for a baby they can’t afford. It’s about control and punishment. And is always has been. A fact that Johnson and her fellow feminists are finding out the hard way:
While issues such as expanding family leave requirements and access to child care could be an area of consensus for self-identified pro-life and pro-choice feminists — whatever their reasons for supporting them — there seemed to be little enthusiasm at the conference for working with pro-choicers on these causes.
When Johnson asked who “the abortion movement” was united behind, an audience member yelled out, “the devil!” (The answer was Planned Parenthood.)
“The Devil.” Clearly, these are rational people who can think clearly about the best way to prevent abortions. And when Johnson discussed Hillary Clinton, a woman that has spent decades fighting for women’s rights? That didn’t go so well with the crowd of “concerned” women Johnson was speaking to:
While Clinton has the clearly better record on policies supporting mothers — policies that speakers like Foster and Jacobson said help dissuade women from choosing abortion — the only positive references to presidential candidates at the event were allusions to Donald Trump’s promises to pick Supreme Court justices who would roll back Roe v. Wade. Anti-choice leaders as a whole have rallied behind Trump, who besides vowing to “cherish” women and appoint anti-choice judges, has not offered any serious plans for improving the lot of women in the workforce or helping women out of poverty.
As long as the anti-abortion movement overwhelmingly views an unwanted pregnancy as a punishment for women, they will NEVER stop trying to make abortion illegal in the United States. In a perfect world, Johnson would be leading an army of women to Washington to pass laws giving women everything they need to raise a unplanned child in safety and good health, thus ending almost all need for an abortion. Instead, she’s going to waste her time trying to convince women who clearly hate other women that they should really be pro-life instead of pro-control.
Good luck with that.
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