The feminist against abortion: How feminism values the lives of the born and unborn

March 9, 2016 by Elizabeth Jacobsen

Because I am a feminist, I am pro-life. I advocate for basic, equal rights for all humans regardless of age, location or ability to defend themselves. The pro-life movement has been a central branch of feminism since its beginnings in the United States, its message championed by Alice Paul and Dr. Mildred Jefferson, among others.

We must begin with the understanding that human life begins at conception – a fact accepted by developmental biologists.  At conception, human beings receive their unique genetic makeups. Epigenetics begins to regulate those genes, and, even before implantation, the zygote’s environment begins shaping the baby’s health and personality. If we acknowledge the scientific truth, the question we are debating becomes: When does a particular human earn their intrinsic human rights? (Trick question – human rights are not earned.)

The other half of the equation is the mother. To take into account only the child or only the mother is neither pro-life nor pro-woman. Abortion degrades women in many ways. It devalues women before birth. It contributes to the social issues that degrade women, such as workplace inequality, abuse and lack of resources. It commodifies women, manipulating them to make money for big corporations.

In a 2008 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund found son-biased sex ratios among some demographics in the United States: an effect of sex-selective abortions..  If anything is antifeminist, it’s this. Not only does sex-selective abortion destroy developing girls, violating their human rights, but it also encourages their continued cultural devaluation, hurting all women, born and unborn.

Abortion is used as a quick fix, and it hides the true social issues degrading women. Abortion frees men of responsibility for their actions. It hides the victims of sexual abuse, trapping them in horrible situations. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, Planned Parenthood (PP) has been caught hiding child sexual abuse in seven states. Rather than reporting these incidents, Alliance Defending Freedom has stated that PP allowed victims to return as repeat customers. A company supposed to be centered on women’s healthcare should be more concerned with the well-being of the women it claims to serve.

In addition, abortion encourages workforce discrimination. With abortion available, women are pressured to choose between a family and a career, and women may be denied promotions or even be fired for choosing to go through with a pregnancy. Our society is forcing women to choose between employment and their own children, a situation especially distressing for lower-income women and single mothers who may not have the financial resources of wealthier women. If companies had equal maternity/paternity leave options or were flexible enough to allow women to work from home or alter their hours based on their family situations, some of this social strife could be remedied.

The fact is, many women who receive abortions feel pressured into the decision, either directly by parents or boyfriends, or by society. The top three reported reasons for having an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, are: (1) the baby would interfere with work, school or other obligations; (2) the mother feels she cannot afford a child and (3) the mother fears being a single parent or is experiencing pressure from her partner. These are signs of a society that is failing to support women in need. In addition, women are taught from a young age that pregnancy will ruin their lives. They are told that young mothers cannot complete school or find employment. Further, women who have had abortions are at risk of suffering from regret and depression, and often have nowhere to turn. Rather than contributing to this cycle of pain and devaluation, we should build women up by supporting them in pregnancy, connecting them to the abundant resources that exist for expectant and low-income mothers and providing them with adoption and counseling resources.

Many argue that if abortion becomes illegal, more women will opt for dangerous, “back-alley” abortions, suffering complications and death. However, in countries that have banned abortion, this is simply not the case. Chile banned abortion in 1989, and since then, the number of maternal deaths has decreased by 69.2 percent, according to a 2012 study by Elard Koch et al. published in PLOS ONE. Today, Chile has a lower maternal mortality rate than the United States does. Chile also reports decreasing hospitalizations due to suspected illegal abortions, while hospitalization for miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy remains steady. Other countries that have banned abortion also have lower maternal mortality rates than the United States, including Malta and the Republic of Ireland. Meanwhile, in the United States, it is largely ignored that mothers can continue to suffer from health problems and death as a result of legal abortion.

PP, the “Walmart” of abortion providers, claims to be a champion for women, but its clever marketing hides the truth that it sees women as a commodity. PP influences sex education programs in schools, where it promotes sexual promiscuity, claiming that its birth control will protect students from pregnancy. In fact, the Consumer’s Union ranked PP’s condoms as the lowest-quality of those they tested. Further, the World Health Organization labeled the estrogen-progestogen oral contraceptive, more commonly known as “the pill,” as a Group 1 carcinogen – the same ranking as cigarettes and asbestos. Nationwide, PP performs almost 900 abortions a day, making over $147 million a year, according to statistics obtained from the PP’s 2013-4 Annual Report.

As a feminist, I resent being a target of this money-grabbing machine. Rather than tearing each other down and adding to our problems by supporting legalized abortion, we should be building up a society that values all women, mother or child, born or unborn.

Elizabeth Jacobsen ’16 is a biology and English double major from St. Paul, Minn. She lives in West College.

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

anoneph March 11, 2016 at 2:49 am

1) PP is a non profit organization. There is no “money grabbing” there. Look up: definition of non profits. Look up their tax statements. PP isn’t making ANY profit. Yes, baseless is baseless…

2) ” PP influences sex education programs in schools, where it promotes sexual promiscuity, claiming that its birth control will protect students from pregnancy. ”
No. PP claims that contraception (IN GENERAL) protects participants from 99.8% of STDs and pregnancies. Nothing about THEIR condoms, but condoms in general.
Also, don’t appreciate your slut-shaming “feminism.” You’re forcing abstinence down women’s throats, but not men’s. Why? Because only women have to keep their legs closed, since women enjoying their bodies would lead to pregnancy since contraception is oh-so-not-effective.

3) “In fact, the Consumer’s Union ranked PP’s condoms as the lowest-quality of those they tested.”
That’s what happens when you DE-fund PP. Non profit + no money = lowered quality things. To fix that, maybe we should FUND PP more so they can afford to make good condoms? Everything has a cost.

4) “Chile banned abortion in 1989, and since then, the number of maternal deaths has decreased by 69.2 percent, according to a 2012 study by Elard Koch et al. ”
2 comments: i. LOL it’s a Koch study. If you randomly sample enough data sets you’ll eventually get a random error that supports your conclusion.
ii. It’s a statistical bleep, because a cross country study by the MUCH more reputable WHO says otherwise. Source:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/12abortion.html

ALSO you quoted Guttmacher’s for decision, but you entirely omitted their contrarian results to what you’re claiming (Guttmacher’s and WHO worked together). Talking about pick and choose…

5) “many women who receive abortions feel pressured into the decision, either directly by parents or boyfriends, or by society. ”
Thank you for patronizingly tell me what I can and cannot do or where my decisions come from. I can say that as a woman I feel pressured by society not to be able to have sex or have control over my body. Thanks, ms. slut-shaming “feminist” who patronizingly knows what’s best for me. How paternalistic.

6) “Rather than contributing to this cycle of pain and devaluation, we should build women up by supporting them in pregnancy, connecting them to the abundant resources that exist for expectant and low-income mothers and providing them with adoption and counseling resources.”
If you ACTUALLY care that much about women, you can actually STILL do all of this AND allow abortion. It’ll make abortion less “tempting,” shall we say, and perhaps will allow SOME women to deliver babies. But it’s just hypocritical to BAN away women’s choice without actually providing the support network FIRST. An analogy:
PEOPLE SHOULD FEEL OKAY JUMPING OFF OF CLIFFS BECAUSE THERE SHOULD BE A NET CATCHING CLOSE TO THE BOTTOM. IT’S NOT THERE NOW BUT IT SHOULD BE. YOU SHOULD JUMP NOW. ACTUALLY I’LL TAKE AWAY YOUR CHOICE NOT TO JUMP.
no. thank you. but no.
So my challenge to you: if you truly care about women, build up that support network INSTEAD of divisively and patronizingly tell women what to do.

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Dr. Necessitor March 11, 2016 at 10:40 pm

To deny that both the pro-choice and pro-life factions have compelling arguments to support their positions is intellectually and morally dishonest. I can understand why you favor a women’s right to choose while simultaneously understanding why Ms. Jacobson abhors the destruction of potential life. In fact, the arguments of both sides are so compelling that this may be the one societal debate we never settle. I also don’t have the answer so I’ll just leave it at that.

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anoneph March 17, 2016 at 5:51 pm

The issue is that somehow Elizabeth puts up lies — calling a non-profit with publicized tax statements a money grabbing machine is simply spewing lies — and through rhetoric pretends that they are the truth. A good article quotes truthful facts — regardless of your opinions. I see the need for society to provide childcare and support for women with children, but I find the propaganda that it is somehow mutually exclusive from contraception, women having sex, or abortion is intellectually dishonest. A false dichotomy is something that liberal arts students are taught and hammered by our coursework to recognize, and it’s embarrassing that someone who goes to my school is too intellectually lazy to do that.

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