Fake, ‘Pro-Life Feminism’ Seeks to Rebrand the Misogynist Anti-Abortion Movement

| Reproaction

By: Jessica Ensley

We’ve covered many times how it is impossible to be ‘pro-life’ and a feminist. But, that doesn’t mean the anti-abortion movement – among the world’s most overtly anti-feminist movements – doesn’t try to pretend they don’t have a problem with gender equality.

In 2020 the March for Life, which descends on Washington D.C. every year for the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, has the theme of “Life Empowers: Pro-Life Is Pro-Woman.” But what exactly does ‘empowered, pro-life’ feminism look like to those wishing to restrict bodily autonomy for women and gender non-conforming people? Beyond being the opposite of an empowered, pro-woman position, it comes with a heaping dose of racism, trans-exclusionary content, and most certainly, sexism.

New Wave Feminists, a ‘pro-life’ group that claims to be “badass,” touts itself as a more inclusive space within the pro-life movement. However, last year they made national headlines when the former vice president of the organization emerged as a white nationalist. [1] While the current leader of the organization denounced her former colleague’s views, she herself has also taken questionable stances. As of this publishing, the organization is openly using the words of Roxane Gay, a Black queer woman, by selling t-shirts of Gay’s book title “Bad Feminist” – without attributing them to her on the product and with minimal attribution elsewhere. Gay has notably stated that a person cannot be a feminist and support restrictions upon reproductive rights, an irony which seems to be lost on them. [2] New Wave Feminists also pitched selling tote bags that said, “Ghandi that shit,” which is both an incorrect transliteration of Mahatma Gandhi’s name and a gross self-aggrandizing characterization of their work.

New Wave Feminist "Ghandi that shit" bag

New Wave Feminist “Ghandi that shit” bag

The organization’s president, desperate for mainstream approval of her unpopular views, Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, has shared the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates, another famous Black author, stating Coates’ “views on personhood … are so in sync” with ‘pro-life feminism,’ when in fact he’s stated he is pro-choice. [3] The official New Wave Feminists page also shared content about Broad City, a sitcom where the two main women characters at one point escort people into abortion clinics and away from ‘pro-life’ people protesting outside. [4] The organization has gained internet points by uplifting and profiting off the work of people who are popular within mainstream social justice movements but who directly oppose them on their number one issue: abortion.

In one of the more egregious performative acts, Destiny made an impromptu visit to Flint, Michigan on Earth Day 2018. Flint is facing a horrific water crisis as the city’s pipes have been contaminated with lead for years. [5] Destiny stopped in town, published a Facebook video claiming we all need to care about Flint regardless of political affiliation, and seemingly left without aiding any of the local residents she claimed to want to assist. [6]

We’ve already covered how ‘pro-life feminists’ have victim-blamed survivors of sexual assault. Denying individual autonomy is not feminist. New Wave Feminists state they “support the #MeToo campaign … for the most part.” They push out trans-exclusionary content in the name of protecting “biological feminism.” And the New Wave Feminists Facebook account falsely claimed prosecution of self-managed abortion “would be impossible” even as women are already being put in jail for self-managed abortion, directly proving this assertion fake.

New Wave Feminists falsely claiming it would be "impossible" to prosecute women for self-managed abortion

New Wave Feminists falsely claiming it would be “impossible” to prosecute women for self-managed abortion

Feminism cannot and will never be about restricting reproductive rights, pushing regressive, conservative views on sexuality, shaming survivors of sexual assault, denying trans and nonbinary people their identity, appropriating the work of Black people and people of color, or not speaking out on women being sent to jail for abortion.

As the 2020 March for Life approaches and organizers continue to tout it’s ‘pro-life, pro-woman’ messaging, that they continue to move their own goal posts make it clear that their anti-abortion stance is unpopular. ‘Pro-life feminism’ is just the same old oppressive misogyny packaged in pop culture jargon and a ‘boss babe’ façade. We won’t stand for it.


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