Can You be Pro-Life and Feminist?

The following contains opinion from the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Her Campus LUC or its members.​


For the first inaugural Women’s March on Washington, a group called New Wave Feminists applied to be an official partner of the event, and were added to the list. The group describes itself as “Badass. Pro-Life. Feminist.”


As soon as some prominent feminists heard of their partnership with the Women’s March, they were quick to troll.


“Intersectional feminism does not include a pro-life agenda,” Roxane Gay stated in a tweet. “That's not how it works! The right to choose is a fundamental part of feminism.”


“Nope, you cannot be anti-choice and feminist,” Amanda Marcotte also stated on Twitter. “Forcing birth on unwilling women is a misogynist act.”


This backlash caused the Women’s March to remove New Wave Feminists as a partner. They released a press release following this move that stated:


“The Women’s March platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one. We want to assure all of our partners, as well as participants, that we are pro-choice as clearly stated in our Unity Principles. We look forward to marching on behalf of individuals who share the view that women deserve the right to make their own reproductive decisions. The anti-choice organization in question is not a partner of the Women’s March on Washington. We regret the error.”


Although this was the defining stance of a march that is supposed to be for all women, it sparked a conversation of what actually defines a feminist and who gets to decide that definition.



I am inspired by women. I want to write about women. But seeing the women’s march effectively fracture itself and exclude an entire subset of feminists blew my mind.


Women should have a choice. Abortion must remain legal. Many feminists can agree on that, including New Wave Feminists.


However, amidst all debate and rage against old white male politicians, we forget that abortion is a terrible thing. It is something that is necessary in some situations, but it is ultimately a terrible thing.


Fighting for the right to have an abortion is not fighting for women’s rights. One organization, Feminists for Life, has a slogan that says “Women deserve better than abortion.”


Many of those who are pro-life have that stance for feminist reasons. It can be argued that abortion is bad for women. It is damaging to the female body as well as the psyche.


Why, then, can’t feminists fight for something a little different? Why not, instead, fight for better birth control, better access to free birth control, better sex education and better support for unplanned pregnancies and single mothers? Are women who fight for these, but not abortion, any less feminist? I believe the answer is no.


“No woman ever wants to have an abortion. Both sides unanimously agree on that,” the New Wave Feminists website states. “So let's work towards a culture that supports a woman so well that she never has to have one. Let's work towards a culture that tells her ‘You Can,’ ‘You Are Strong Enough,’ and ‘If You Need Some Help - We Are Here,’ because that is what the sisterhood is all about.”


This topic of discussion is one of the most polarizing in our country. However, if women want to successfully fight for women’s rights, then they cannot limit feminism to being synonymous with pro-choice.


Torri Stang, third- year student at Loyola University Chicago, believes many women choose to terminate their pregnancies because men, the fathers, husbands and partners, are the ones suggesting the procedure.  


“To me, [feminism] is standing up for women,” Stang said. “Why should I have to limit myself by listening to what a man would tell me and get an abortion?”



Women’s rights extends far beyond the issue of choice. Although women may disagree on some aspects of feminism, now is not the time to exclude women with one view from a national movement. A movement like this is one that is supposed to be inclusive.


I agree with Hillary Clinton when she said on The View, “Of course you can be a feminist and pro-life.”