Missing the Mark: How Pro-life and Pro-Choice Feminists Can Find Common Ground in a Painful Battle

Kira Davis // Posted at 3:00 pm on December 04, 2017

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa is a contributor the the Dallas News and self-proclaimed feminist. She’s also a passionate pro-life activist who started a feminist organization dedicated to pro-woman and pro-life issues. You may remember that her New Wave Feminists were removed as a sponsor of the anti-Trump Women’s March for being pro-life.

Those who don’t follow the intricacies of the modern feminist movement might be surprised to know that there are actually quite a few pr0-life feminist groups. Obviously, there are far more pro-abortion feminist groups.

De La Rosa doesn’t subscribe to the theory that both groups of feminists should be forever divided by the issue of abortion, and she penned a rather moving op-ed in the Dallas News laying out her case for cooperation in the name of women’s interests.

The headstrong feminist explains that while attending the Women’s Convention in Detroit, she’d already determined not to make trouble as a pro-life feminist. She was there to observe and learn and she’s had plenty of experience in just how “welcome” pro-life women are at official women’s events.

I just assumed people might worry that I was going to try to start some trouble, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. I chose to attend this convention sponsored by the Women’s March because I know there are many overlapping issues between pro-life and pro-choice feminists that we can agree on. Whether it’s paid maternity leave, mistreatment of pregnant women in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainment centers, the rising maternal mortality rate among women of color, or the fight against sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace, these are all things my group, New Wave Feminists, cares strongly about.

During one panel that delved into how to tell the stories of women who choose abortion, a panelist mentioned the idea that advocates should be careful not to endorse the “stigma” of abortion.

“When sharing your stories,” we were told by a panelist, “make sure not to re-enforce abortion stigma.”

But that got De La Rosa thinking…

So when the time came for questions, I raised my hand. A fellow Texan who is a patient counselor at an abortion clinic in Houston called on me. She smiled and complemented my bright purple hair. I thanked her and the rest of the panel for sharing their experiences with us, then I asked if there was room in their campaign for women who might regret their abortions, say if it was done out of coercion, or if that counted as reinforcing stigma.

The reaction was as you might imagine, but there were also a few feminists who seemed to genuinely consider the question. As one reporter said to De La Rosa, “[we]should be able to talk about the not cool stuff, too.”

I told her I think that is where our beloved feminist movement might be missing the mark. We put so much focus on having the right to do certain things that sometimes we forget to ask whether those things are actually good for us.

Just because we can do something, should we do it?

I am a pretty strict legalist when it comes to abortion. I do wish it were illegal and I’m happy to vote for politicians who will work to limit the destruction of abortion. However, the reality is that abortion is legal. If we truly care for women, we should be able to use the unfortunate framework of the law to at least meet those women where they are and offer them a different way to think about the issue. De La Rosa is so very right – what about women who aren’t conservative or don’t consider themselves “pro-life” who regret their abortions for the reasons she mentioned? Do they not have a place in the conversation? Do not both sides have something to offer that woman by way of compassion and kindness?

In the battlefield of ideas both sides of the women’s movement can find common ground to support women and give them the truth about all of the consequences of abortion, not just the ones we find palatable. It is my sincere belief that the pro-life position is the most logical and persuasive. However, I think it is unproductive to pretend there is nothing of value to be gained by joining our pro-choice sisters in helping women see the whole picture of abortion.

If common ground can save one baby’s life, and spare one woman from the lifetime of pain then I’m all for it.