Why Pro-Choice Is Also Pro-Women

by Lani Seelinger
Pete Marovich/Getty Images News/Getty Images

There's been a bit of confusion surrounding the Women's March. First the march had a pro-life sponsor, then that was brought to their attention and they fixed that; and now, the pro-lifers are arguing that it's anti-feminist to be pro-choice. What? In case you needed a refresher, here's why taking a stance against the pro-life movement is not anti-woman, not in any tiny little way.

The pro-life feminist argument is essentially that feminism should stand up for all of those who are marginalized in society, including "the pre-born." People — including women — in the womb are still people to be protected, the thinking goes. When it comes down to it, though, this is just a manipulation of the basic pro-life argument that fetuses are people too. There are other arguments as well — for example that abortion does not liberate women, or that it avoids the real issues of how women are oppressed. "There are women who are raped and become pregnant; the problem is that they were raped, not that they are pregnant," writes Mary Clancy for the BBC, teasing out that viewpoint.

But the problem with all of those is that the pro-life movement seeks to limit a woman's freedom, to control women's bodies, and to rob them of their fundamental right to choose how to take care of themselves and their families. The pro-life movement itself is seeking to oppress women, and so the Women's March is right to ban a pro-life group from sponsoring them. One who seeks to oppress women is not feminist.

It's not anti-feminist to be personally against abortion; there are surely countless feminists (and pro-choicers) who have made the personal decision to not get an abortion when it was on the table. Feminism says that you should be able to make your own choices as a woman, whether you choose chicken or pasta, sex or abstinence, abortion or something else. The woman who chooses to carry her baby to term and doesn't try to push her choice onto other women — or worse, into the law — is every bit as much of a feminist as the woman who decides that abortion is the right choice for her. Choice — and the freedom to make it — is the key.

So by the same token, being against the pro-life movement is is not anti-woman. The pro-life movement seems to believe that the pro-choice is all about pushing women into having abortions, when really the basis of the pro-choice movement is all in its name. It doesn't take a stance on whether or not a woman should get an abortion — it just says that they should have the freedom to make their own choices in all arenas of their lives.

Giving an woman full agency is the most pro-woman thing you can possibly do. If anyone in the pro-life movement tries to convince you otherwise, now you know how to combat that.