“The Feminist Case Against Abortion”

It turned out, Serrin Foster’s speech was completely different than the article that Stith wrote for First Things. The speech was divided into a few general sections, although it was pretty informal: first, she discussed the views held by first-wave feminists on the subject of abortion (they were universally against it, thought it was bad for women, and thought women were coerced into it; some, like radical suffragist Alice Paul, fought abortion all the way up to the 1970s); second, it looked at the reasons women sought illegal (and later, legal) abortions, before concluding that legalizing abortion did nothing to address the root causes that lead women to seek abortions: abusive boyfriends/husbands, lack of financial and emotional support, etc.; third, Foster described some of the things that Feminists For Life was doing to create a support net for women, and described how in many of these cases, they’re able to get pro-choice groups to work with them for a common pro-woman solution.

Although Feminists For Life is for the repeal of Roe v. Wade, they’re not tied to simply its repeal, nor are they “window-dressing for the pro-life movement,” to borrow one of my friends’ phrase. They’re an abortion reduction group, rather than (simply) an anti-abortion group; as such, little of their work depends on the legality of abortion. Even if Roe were overturned tomorrow, FFL would have lots to do: get universities to build student housing for pregnant college-aged women, expand access to resources for young mothers, create more crisis pregnancy centers to facilitate on-the-ground emergency and ongoing support, ensure that battered women’s or crisis pregnancy centers exist that can serve as lodging for women in abusive relationships, end pregnancy discrimination (that is, where a woman gets fired for being pregnant – usually out of wedlock; this is a real problem with religious schools, who don’t seem to realize that they’re incentivizing abortion).

The advantage of this is that, theoretically, someone could say, “I don’t think the fetus is a person, but I see that abortion is a form of violence against women, so I oppose it,” and support the group. It seems to me that authentic “safe, legal, and rare” pro-choicers should step up to colloborate with Feminists for Life, since most of their work is ensuring that few women feel that they have to make that decision.

On the legislative horizon, FFL has been pushing for the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act. This act would give $10 million in grants annually to create “pregnant and parenting student services offices” on college campuses, so women who are unexpectedly pregnant have an easy on-campus resource that will provide them with the means to have their child, and equip them with the information about adoption to make the right decision (whether that be raising the child or putting him/her up for adoption).

Anyways, they’re a good group, and very much worth checking out!


  1. I’ve read quite a bit of Wendy McElroy’s writing. You may appreciate some of her feminist perspective. It was quite different than mainstream understandings of feminism. Although I cannot in good conscience advocate for many of her stances, they are nevertheless compelling.


  2. BTW…I attended the first of the season forum sponsored by the Center for Applied Christian Ethics at Wheaton College last night. The topic was Can you be Catholic and Evangelical? Evangelical was basically defined by the standard four way process of 1) conversion, 2) activism, 3) biblicalism, and 4) crucicentrism. Francis Beckwith was there as was Timothy George from Beeson. Nothing new was really said for me, but it was still a nice forum.

    What wasn’t said but what was clearly implied and assumed (not needed to be defended) by the participants, the moderator, and even the director of The Center was quite amazing to me. Never was there any credence given to the idea that Catholicism or the Catholic church is a “false” church, a church apart from Christ, or a church void of truth. You might say, well…duh. But you need to understand where I was and who was hosting the forum. No one of any authority in that room last night believed for a second that the Gospel is missing from the Catholic church. There was disagreement for sure on the imputation of righteousness (by the way – not solely a Catholic v. Evangelical issue today – even amongst evangelicals there is disagreement), and there was disagreement on apostolic succession, but no validity was given whatsoever to the notion that the Catholic church is a false church.

    That is huge in my belief. And…very encouraging.


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