Opinion | Pro-life feminism: Hypocrisy at its finest?

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Caitlin Palmer O'Shaughnessy, Co-Deputy Opinion Editor

Fundamentally, feminism is all about choice. At its very core feminism holds that women should have the right to choose to do whatever they want to do with their lives and with their bodies.

Whatever it is you decide to do with your life, whether it’s raise a family, live alone, get married, travel the world, so long as you have had the choice to live your life that way, then that aligns with feminist values.

So, in the scenario of getting pregnant, the feminist logic would be that a woman can choose whether she wants to keep the baby or have an abortion. With this in mind, I was slightly confused upon seeing the pro-life feminist society amongst the other stalls at Freshers Fair a few weeks ago.

The pro-life stance holds that life begins from conception and that abortion is an act of murder.

Hence, if we understand that feminism is fundamentally to afford women a choice, then feminism and pro-life are irreconcilable. And if, within an ideology, a woman does not have the choice of an abortion, then there is simply no essence of feminism within that ideology.

Yet, whilst I do fundamentally disagree with the use of the word feminism in the group's title, that is not the only issue this group presents.

A frightening reality in which women are stripped of one of their most fundamental rights

Other than stating that they aim to protect all human life from the point of conception, the Bristol SU information page on the pro-life feminist society is relatively scarce. Regardless, one of the most recent posts on the society’s Facebook page makes a shocking assertion.

It is a video in which the view is shared that the ultimate goal is abortion being made illegal. The weight of this statement is huge. Of course, that goal is implied within the group's title, but to hear it said out loud is something else.

Women have fought so unbelievably hard to be heard and to have the right to abortion. Perhaps the existence of the Pro-life society is perceived to be OK because the threat of losing these rights is deemed impossible. But unfortunately, that is not the case, and for many, not an impossibility.

Abortion still remains an incredibly stigmatised topic, and whilst it was made legal up to the point of twelve weeks pregnant in Ireland in 2018, the country still lacks the resources and framework necessary to implement the law.

And, as of just this month it is now illegal in Texas for a woman to have an abortion once a foetal heartbeat is detected, which can often occur before many even know they’re pregnant, effectively banning abortion in the state.

Whilst the existence of a feminist pro-life society may seem unthreatening, what they propose to take away is not only frightening but also not completely unrealistic.

Bristol Uni’s IFemSoc launches petition for SU to take action on Pro-Life Feminist Society

Whilst the group's message is frightening, you must accept their right to hold an opinion you may disagree with. However, I’m pretty sure we have established that abortion is a woman’s issue – it’s a woman’s body so it’s her life affected, right?

That’s why I was shocked to discover that there were men on the committee for the Pro-Life Feminist society. Should a man’s reproductive biology be up for debate then the idea that woman could have a say is unimaginable, so why are men given a place when deciding what a woman can do with her biology?

Ultimately, there is nothing feminist about the Pro-Life Feminist society. They propose a frightening reality in which women are stripped of one of their most fundamental rights.

Featured image: Unsplash | Sincerely Media


What are your thoughts on the recent discussions surrounding pro-life and free speech amongst British universities? Let us know!

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