Can you be "pro-life" and a feminist?


Can you be "pro-life" and a feminist?


The "pro-life" group New Wave Feminists, founded by Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, would appear to be on the verge of a hard-won victory.

She lives in Dallas, and in 2021, her state enacted the so-called heartbeat bill, which essentially forbids Texas women from having an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The anti-abortion movement nationwide hailed the measure as a victory.

Less than a year later, the constitutional protection that permits women in all 50 states to access abortions up to foetal viability may be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the soon-to-be-released Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case.

The activist claims that despite this, she does not feel like the winner. She claims that even if the Dobbs ruling sends the abortion argument back to the states, where it is likely that half of them will outlaw or severely restrict the right, she sees it as a minor victory in a battle she is still losing.

"We don't want to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood. We are not attempting to reverse Roe. Since the entire aim of our work is not necessary related to legality, even if Roe is overturned, not a single aspect of it will alter. It's about the realities that women face, she claims. "I see leaders removing possibilities, but they're not always replacing them with other options for women," the speaker said.

As the Supreme Court judgement approaches, the pro-abortion and pro-abortion rights camps have been set against one another, possibly more than ever before. However, New Wave Feminists' stance demonstrates how complicated the reproductive environment will become, with no obvious victors or losers. On the other hand, some may see optimism in the possibility that complexity will create room for collaboration in order to assist all women, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Sparked by a billboard

Since I'm in Toronto and Ms. Herndon-De La Rosa is in Dallas, we meet through Zoom. She turns up with the words "Dad Bod" dropping off her shoulder in a black T-shirt. She is appropriate for a group that calls themselves "Badass." feminists and pro-life.

We begin with the phrase "pro-life feminism," which is mocked by many feminists. (In fact, when I posed the question in a cover story, "Can you have women's rights without abortion rights?" the overwhelming majority replied, "Absolutely not.")

She is not surprised by that. Prior to being banned due to its anti-abortion stance, New Wave Feminists briefly sponsored the 2017 Women's March on Washington. However, while she argues against "the patriarchy," Ms. Herndon-De La Rosa does seem like a feminist—one whose motivations go beyond opposing abortion.

The formation of New Wave Feminists was accidental. Ms. Herndon-De La Rosa recalled passing a billboard advertising a restaurant that used women's breasts as chicken wings in the early 2000s while driving down a Texas highway with her 5-year-old son. She explains, "My feminist wrath simply went off." She and two companions sent a vehement letter to the city council and included the qualifier "New Wave Feminists" to give it more authority. The offensive portion was covered up, giving them their first success.

Ms. Herndon-De La Rosa claims to have been "pro-life" her entire life. At age 16, she discovered she was pregnant and kept the child.

But "the pro-life aspect came after the fact" for New Wave Feminists. And I thought about it," she adds.

After discovering how little space the feminist movement afforded to anti-abortion voices, she eventually adopted it as the organization's principal platform. "I anticipated it wouldn't be well received. I didn't anticipate it to be nearly so unpopular.

Since then, her opinions have changed to support a "consistent life ethic," a movement that opposes all forms of violence, including abortion, unjust war, and the death penalty. This movement gained popularity in the 1980s thanks to the Roman Catholic Church.

The name had never occurred to me before, so I sought it up. As I was reading about it, I was struck by how similar its main concerns were to those of the reproductive justice movement that I had just written about. The groups' positions against violent discrimination against vulnerable populations and police brutality in the particular overlap. The primary distinction between them is that one favours access to abortion while the other does not. This is a significant distinction, especially for people who adhere to either of the extreme ends of either spectrum.

Ms. Herndon-De La Rosa informed me that they collaborate with the Pittsburgh-based Rehumanize International, which has the same address as New Voices for Reproductive Justice, the subject of my previous article. So, I gave Herb Geraghty, Rehumanize International's executive director, a call. Despite the reproductive justice group's pro-abortion stance, he claims he hasn't worked with them but is aware of them and would partner with them in many areas, such as the fight against police brutality.

The “Venn diagram” of abortion attitudes

Rehumanize International and New Wave Feminists refute the myth that all pro-life organisations are made up of Evangelicals or traditional Catholics who attend church regularly. In high school, at the same time as he started to identify as an atheist and a member of the LGBTQ community, Geraghty began to comprehend why he was opposed to abortion. "I kind of resisted becoming pro-life. I wasn't particularly pleased about it. I did not find that amusing," he claims.

College students, pacifists, independents, and atheists are among the ranks of New Wave Feminists, who also have a strong religious base (although Ms. Herndon-De La Rosa claims she lost many Protestants as a result of her public declaration that she is "a very vocal 'Never Trumper'"). She also claims that certain pro-abortion activists collaborate with her in Texas. They turn their backs on her pro-life stance while giving "car seats, cribs, strollers, wipes, formula, and diapers to women in need," she claims.

The "Venn diagram" reflects sentiments against abortion, according to Lanae Erickson, senior vice president for social policy, education, and politics of the Third Way in Washington, which works to find common ground on contentious subjects. People's feelings on these topics are complicated, and politics tends to simplify them. Therefore, we categorise people, and the officials who represent them have considerably less in common and are much more divided than the broader public.

Former Republican turned independent Ms. Herndon-De La Rosa claims she was constrained by the "Republican/Democrat binary" and was unable to discuss issues like the compassionate treatment of immigrants. She accuses politicians of using the female reproductive system as a political weapon, beginning in her native state.

"Texas might have invested in fostering a real-life culture that allowed women to make the decision to live. It simply pushed through a restricting heartbeat bill instead, she claims. When it was passed, one of the first things I said was, "I don't think this is going to save infants. It will, in my opinion, save politicians.

Now, Ms. Herndon-De La Rosa claims that if Roe is overturned, giving state control over abortion decisions, it will further divide the nation between states that offer abortion sanctuary and those that enact "trigger laws" to effectively ban it, with all the anti-abortion movement's resources going to the sanctuary states to fight the practise.

The issue with it is that there will still be expectant mothers in places like Louisiana, Texas, or Mississippi. Women in those states, particularly in rural regions, need housing, transportation, child care, and health care.

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