Feminism and abortion

I like to read WordPress’s Freshly Pressed articles.  I don’t always read them, but every now and then, one will catch my eye.  The one that caught my eye today was called Frankie v. Debra, Roe v. Wade: Can you still be a feminist if you’re anti-abortion?

I read the article, but not all 200 comments.  The article began by comparing two of Patricia Heaton‘s sitcom roles and then discussed some of the actress’s personal opinions, including her membership in a group called Feminists for Life, a group that apparently is very pro-life.

I really wanted to comment on the article, which went up about a week ago, but sadly, comments were closed, so I decided to turn my comment into a post.  I believe that you can be a feminist if you’re against abortion.  I don’t believe that the two ideas must be mutually exclusive.  I mean, really, why should being a feminist automatically mean that you’re in favor of abortion?

According to Dictionary.com, feminism is defined as “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.”  Evidently the author has taken this definition to mean that if one is a feminist, one must also be pro-choice because men have the choice of what to do with their bodies.  In order for a woman to possess equal rights with a man, she must therefore have the choice of what to do with her body.  But I think women can choose not to have abortions, to carry their children to term and put them up for adoption, and have that choice be just as valid as having an abortion.  One way or another, that child will no longer be part of its mother’s life.

English: Graph showing public support for Roe ...

English: Graph showing public support for Roe v. Wade over the years (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the record, I am against abortion.  However, I do believe that there are certain circumstances when it is warranted (in cases of rape and incest and in cases where the mother’s and/or the baby’s lives are in danger) and I do believe that abortion should be legal.  Why?  Simple.  The legality of abortion never stopped it from happening, just as the legality of drinking never stopped it from happening.  Speakeasies were all over the place during Prohibition, if you knew where to find them, just as doctors who were willing to perform abortions were all over before Roe v. Wade.  But if abortion is legalized, then it can be controlled and regulated.  People are going to do it whether it’s legal or not, whether you agree with their choices or not, so wouldn’t you rather have them doing it in a safe and sterile environment?  Why risk endangering the mother’s life in addition to her child’s?

Maybe I’m just talking in circles here.  It’s getting late and I’m tired; I started this post four hours ago when I was much more awake.  I think I’ve stated my case.  Now it’s your turn.  What do you think: Can you be a feminist if you’re anti-abortion?  Why or why not?

(c) 2012.  All rights reserved.


4 thoughts on “Feminism and abortion

  1. *tara says:

    Kay, I wish all people who were anti-abortion were as sensible, logical, and realistic as you. I am pro-choice but agree with much of what you’re saying. Abortion will happen, regardless of the law– safety and regulation are needed.

    It’s sad our country is so divided on these issues. Not surprising, but sad.

    To get back to your question, I would agree that a feminist can also be against abortion; I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. But you’re right that being feminist and pro-choice do tend to go hand in hand. For me the two beliefs are definitely intertwined, but you make a good case and I suppose it comes down to the individual.


    • Kay Lynn says:

      Aw, thank you! I do try to be sensible. And I completely agree with you about how sad it is that our country is so divided on this and other issues. It’s one of the things that has me so disillusioned with politics right now. I’m so angry and frustrated with all the name-calling and mud-slinging that it’s tempting to just stay home come November, but I still feel that my vote will count for something. Besides, if I stay home on Election Day, then what right do I have to complain about the state of things? If I don’t perform my civic duty and vote, how can I complain about my elected officials failing to do their civic duties?

      To get back to the original topic, though, I think it will always come down to individual choice. I don’t see why you can’t be a feminist and be against abortion, though. For me, I know that abortion is something I could never do unless my life were in danger and even then, I’m sure I would still have serious reservations about it. I see it as murder, but that’s me. I know not everyone sees it that way, but it’s not my responsibility to force my beliefs on other people, particularly where health care is concerned. How I feel about a particular issue should not affect the health of millions of women.


    • Kay Lynn says:

      I agree. And it irritates me that people sometimes seem unable to discuss things such as differing opinions calmly and rationally like the civilized people they’re supposed to be. After all, we’re all entitled to our own opinions. Why not just agree to disagree instead? It is possible to concede a well-made point by your opponent without changing your opinion on an issue.


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