Clinton Thinks You Can Be A Pro-Life Feminist

by Karen Yuan

Hillary Clinton is known for her pro-choice stance on women's reproductive rights. Already, she's earned endorsements from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America for her years of defending women's right to choose. Yet in Clinton's appearance on ABC's The View on Tuesday, she spoke positively about the pro-life movement — and I believe that is completely to her credit.

When View co-host Candace Cameron Bure asked, "Do you believe you can be pro-life and a feminist?" Clinton replied, "Yes, I do, absolutely.“ Instead of condemning them, the former secretary of state said that she respected the beliefs of women who were pro-life. Though the idea of pro-life beliefs and feminism coexisting peacefully is heavily contested, I believe Clinton's response reflects an appreciation for feminism to include a diverse group of women and views — even ones whose positions conflict with her own.

Bure followed up by asking, "They're not mutually exclusive?" Clinton replied:

I respect the opinions and beliefs of every woman. The reason why being pro-choice is the right way to go is because it is a choice and, hopefully, a choice that is rooted in the thoughtfulness and the care that women bring to this decision. So of course you can be feminist and be pro-life.

Clinton seems to be saying that feminism is a big tent — one that, at its heart, should include as many people as possible who believe in equal economic, social, and political opportunities for women. Now, many pro-choicers would argue that being pro-life is inherently anti-feminist because it involves telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. At the same time, should a person's views on abortion automatically keep them from being feminists? Some would say yes, but I appreciate that Clinton trying to reconcile two, rather than draw hard lines and excise people from feminism.

Darren Hauck/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Clinton's comment comes after the backlash over her comment on Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press that "the unborn person doesn't have constitutional rights." Abortion rights supporters criticized Clinton labeling of the unborn as a "person," and abortion opponents claimed that using the term was hypocritical of her. The disappointment from both sides over her remark speaks to how deeply polarizing a topic abortion rights remain in the United States.

But Clinton's response on The View reflects a certain respect for contradictory views — a respect that is (understandably) often lost in impassioned discussions over abortion. Her views are pro-choice, and yet with one statement, she showed plenty of empathy toward women with different values. That's a model all women should strive after.