This past Saturday, tens of thousands of women took part in the Women’s March on Washington as well as sister marches across the entire nation. Women took a stand to show the new government on their first day in office that “our presence in numbers too great to ignore” and that “women’s rights are human rights.”
The Women’s March on Washington created a bit of a stir when it decided to include the pro-life group New Wave Feminists among the list of official sponsors for the event. Many feel that a major part of the women’s rights movement is women having safe access to abortion and control over her fertility, which pro-life groups oppose. More controversy was created when the march dropped New Wave Feminists as a sponsor. Many pointed out women’s rights are more than just reproductive rights and believe that pro-life advocates can still call themselves feminists for supporting other areas of women’s rights. Thus, some criticized the event for ultimately excluding pro-life groups from sponsoring the event.
While the march didn’t bar pro-life groups and individuals from participating in the march, many pro-life advocates felt the backlash of including pro-life groups in the event and their eventual rejection from the list of sponsors made them feel unwelcome.
Should have pro-life groups been included in the Women’s March? My personal answer is a huge “OH HELL NO!”
No, seriously, what a terrible idea!
The most obvious and simplest reasoning for this answer would be completely conflicting opinions on abortion. That might not be a good enough reason for some so consider what the pro-life movement has actually done and the individuals involved.
Anti-abortion protesters target abortion providers and harass the women seeking abortions. They also target family planning centers that don’t offer abortion, but have information on abortion as an option. So women who are seeking birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing, treatments, pregnancy counseling, adoption and parental assistance referrals, and other care that may or may not be related to abortion services are also berated daily by pro-life protesters simply for receiving health care at places that are demonized by pro-life groups. Protesters “warn” women about abortion by screaming in their faces and reciting God-fearing gospel regardless of whether these women are seeking abortion services or reproductive health care or even when they’re only pedestrians on the sidewalk. The women that exit abortion providers are told they are awful human beings and child murderers for making what should be a personal decision of not continuing their pregnancy. The women that go to family planning clinics that offer abortion information are told that their trusted healthcare provider is horrible for having such information to give. Pro-choice activists like me get called pro-death, anti-life, godless, and immoral. They call it “sidewalk counseling”. I call it “sidewalk bullying”.
Pro-life ministries have set up crisis pregnancy centers in an effort to counsel women against abortion. CPC’s have been known to use deceptive methods to get women through the doors such as wiping their websites clean of religious references, manipulating Google’s search engine so that their CPC pops up in the search when women type “pregnancy symptoms”, falsely advertising abortion services, and use of similar advertising and language of nearby abortion providers and family planning centers. More often than not they set up shop next to or nearby abortion clinics and family planning centers with the idea that women will go into the wrong place by accident. Inside these places, they give women false information about abortion and birth control. The worst places have lied to women about how far along they were or their pregnancy results so they don’t seek abortion. This is not an accident or a few isolated incidents, but deliberate tactics that’s taught in seminars on how to run a crisis pregnancy center.
More extreme members of the movement, specifically those belonging to domestic Christian terrorist groups, have resorted to fear and violence against abortion providers and pro-choice people. Threats, assault, vandalism, arson, bombs, acid attacks, shootings, attempted murder, and murder have all been committed by pro-life people in the name of the pro-life movement. Yes, pro-life advocates committing murder in the name of “saving lives” and some pro-life advocates celebrating such heinous acts.
Does a movement whose tactics involve stalking, harassing, bullying, threatening, deceiving, and even harming women on a daily basis to help meet their goals sound “pro-woman” to you? It shouldn’t. That’s because it isn’t.
Does it make sense to welcome groups that are part of such a movement as major sponsors for a march and have those sponsors marching alongside the women they belittle and abuse every day? It shouldn’t. That’s because it doesn’t.
Would including groups that team up with law makers to continually whittle away at one aspect of women’s rights have gone against the march’s stance on standing up for and protecting women’s rights? It should. That’s because it would have.
So did the Women’s March on Washington make the right choice in not including pro-life groups as sponsors for the event? Absolutely. As activist Jessica Valenti put it, “Inclusivity is not about bolstering those who harm us.”