According to the definition of “feminism” below, I am a feminist. When it comes to women and equality, I want ALL the things: equal pay, equality in the workplace, freedom from sexual harassment, freedom to do and think what is fair and right because I am a human being. I don’t want to be treated differently than men—I want to be treated the same.
Yes, I am a woman, and a proud one. Thanks in part to the age I was born into, I’ve gotten an education, raised a family, enjoyed the choice to stay at home with my little ones and the choice to return to work. I am so thankful I have these choices, but I am not unaware that women still aren’t treated equally with men overall, especially in the areas of equal pay in the workforce and in sexual abuse and assault. Thanks in part to the free and easy access to pornography in our world today, women are still seen by many men simply as objects. And that is something I will speak out against, always, for myself and for my daughter.
So, when I heard about the March for Women in Washington that will take place next week, I was intrigued. As I mentioned above, the treatment of women especially when it comes to sexual assault (the statistics are staggering), exacerbated by the light sentencing that men get for these crimes (famously exemplified by the Brock Turner case last year) have me really concerned about how people REALLY feel about women’s rights. Do we have the right NOT to be treated as sex objects? Talk and rhetoric over the past year have convinced me that maybe our legal rights in that regard aren’t being upheld.
With that in mind, I was all “go Women’s March!”–because I support women (and have I mentioned I AM one? Just checking). I even considered checking out a local one, because even if you can’t be in DC, you can still march locally. When I saw the march trending on Facebook two days ago, I clicked over to see what people were saying.
And it was then that I realized, with a sad, sinking feeling, that the Women’s March and I were going to have to part ways.
You see, the furor that had the March trending was over the fact that the Women’s March on Washington had included a pro-life feminist group, “New Wave Feminists” as one of their partners. I’m pro-life, so I thought this was GREAT news—until the March quickly dropped the New Wave Feminists like a HOT POTATO when pro-choice marchers began making a stink.
Horrified that the @womensmarch has partnered w/an anti-choice org. Plse reconsider – inclusivity is not about bolstering those who harm us.
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 16, 2017
So, I dug deeper, and it turns out that one of the “unity principles” that are official Women’s March policy demands that one be pro-abortion. It says,
“We believe in Reproductive Freedom. We do not accept any federal, state or local rollbacks, cuts or restrictions on our ability to access quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, or medically accurate sexuality education. This means open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education. We understand that we can only have reproductive justice when reproductive health care is accessible to all people regardless of income, location or education.”
Intersectional feminism does not include a pro-life agenda. That's not how it works! The right to choose is a fundamental part of feminism.
— roxane gay (@rgay) January 16, 2017
Yeah, this is where I jump out of line. Somewhere along the lines, someone decided that feminism HAS to include supporting abortion. But I can’t do that.
My reasoning is simple: before I am a woman, I am a follower of Jesus Christ. And because I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I cannot support a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. As a “Pro-Lifer” I could argue against abortion by saying that life begins at conception, that every life is created in the image of God and therefore sacred, that the removal of that life from a woman’s womb is ending it, that ending it is killing it, and that killing it is murder.
All of this I believe.
But the real reason the Women’s March’s stance on abortion excludes me from joining in is because my Christianity, my identity in Christ, takes precedence over my womanhood. In the Bible, I am told that as a follower of Christ, I am to deny myself—that I need to set my desires and goals behind the principles of my faith (Luke 9:23). I am told that I must “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant” than myself (Philippians 2:3). And finally, I am commanded to do unto others as I wish them to do unto me (Luke 6:31). I cannot support the ending of an unborn child’s life, because I would not support someone ending mine.
The pro-abortion doctrine says “I am not ready to have a child. This is not the right time to become a parent. If I have this child, I will have to put my life and dreams on hold.” The Christian doctrine says, “I need to think of myself last. I need to put others first.”
“Others” includes your children and mine, whether they are in or out of the womb.
Christ’s commands preclude me from approving an action that says, “I will end the life of this child because my goals, desires, or difficult life situation are more important.” I simply cannot follow Him and also get with a principle that puts self first.
I cannot claim to follow Christ and then align myself with a group of women who claim they MUST have the right to end the lives of pre-born children. I just can’t. And I am not alone. Christianity Today reports that according to a Pew Research Center report released last year, “40 percent of American women oppose abortion in all or most circumstances.”
And as they’ve made clear by ousting the New Wave Feminists, the Women’s March organizers do not want a women among them who disagree on this ONE thing.
Even outspoken politically liberal Christ-followers are calling out the Women’s March organizers for excluding pro-life women. Author Rachel Held Evans made her voice heard loud and clear, tweeting: “Progressives have a chance to build a broader coalition here, and they are blowing it.”
I know that there are many women in desperate situations choosing abortion. I do not stand in judgment of them, I simply think they are making the wrong choice. I support organizations who help women in crisis pregnancies choose life for their children, whether they choose to parent the child or place it for adoption. I support those in my community who are foster parents, helping families in crisis by caring for their children when they cannot. And I wholeheartedly believe that the choice for life is ALWAYS the right one, and that if it were outlawed today, hundreds of thousands of Christ followers like myself would rise to stand in the gap with these parents who are having children on a timeline they did not mean to choose. I so believe that if given the chance, we could figure this out, together.
But make no mistake: I also believe that as a Christian it is my calling to support women who HAVE had an abortion with love, emotional support, and counseling for the effects of what must truly have been a painful choice. I do not stand in judgment for one second, I simply grieve that their choice means a life lost.
So when the March goes on next week, I’ll be praying that women are seen and heard, given rights and dignity that they deserve because they too, are made in the image of God, just as men are. I will pray that their unity principles that I wholeheartedly agree with like, Gender Justice and Racial Justice, have a loud, strong voice. I pray especially that our country gives ear to this one:
“Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of violence against our bodies.”
But I cannot pray that abortion rights will be advanced.
I am a Christian, pro-life feminist, whether anyone else says I can be or not.
But I’m a Christian first.