25 Years of Pro-Life Feminism
It was 25 years ago that we began our journey, and all of the challenges that come with being a pro-life feminist. As a group we tottered for too long trying to figure out if we belonged in the ‘right’ or in the ‘left’. Just admitting that we belonged in the radical center was a breath of fresh air.
In 1985, I first found out I could legitimately be both a pro-lifer and a feminist while protesting at the Seneca Army Depot. I felt a disconnect when I saw some of the women wearing pro-choice t-shirts. Gosh. Weren't we there to say loudly and clearly that the choice to kill in war was wrong? How could the choice to kill in abortion be okay? I voiced my frustrations to a sister demonstrator, who told me about Feminists for Life of America. Could she mean there were a whole bunch of people out there feeling the same way I did?
Shortly after, a small group of like-minded individuals including myself found each other, and our own local chapter of FFLA was formed. Like Veterans for Peace or Truckers Against World Hunger, we were an affinity group, united by a common bond, working for change. Joined in our commonality as peace-loving women, we believed in nonviolent solutions to the issues of violence to the human family. War, abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, poverty, and racial violence were primary concerns. From the very beginning, we were a member group of the Consistent Life Ethic Network, a clear statement of our opposition to lethal issues that take life.
We went through name changes over the years, evolving into Feminists Choosing Life in 2007, and then in 2014 into Feminists for Nonviolent Choices. Our name change signaled that nonviolence was our strategy. This was activism at the heart of classic nonviolence, the heart of Gandhian philosophy: Transparency in all we do; to speak the truth no matter the cost; to eschew pragmatism; to live the way we believe, not just speak it.
Do we always do this? No but we really try. We know we have to really try. Over the years, nonviolence as a strategy has become increasingly challenging. We struggle to live it out in our daily lives. Should we do what's popular? How many friends can you really have when this ideology is so "controversial"? From the beginning we have needed one another in the often-lonely struggle, especially because we don't fit into political categories, and are often viewed with suspicion and distrust by those who agree with us on some issues but bristle at our position on others.
Where will FFNVC be in 25 years? We can’t worry about successes or failures.. We just have to stay the course. We change the world by changing ourselves and learning to live with making waves by our very existence. Will you join us?