Feminist theory has attained a prominent place in society as the voice for women’s issues that have historically been hidden or suppressed. Advocates of feminism have worked to give women voting rights, recognition for their abilities, knowledge and unique skills, as well as equality in the workplace, and education opportunities.
Since the mid-1900s the feminist movement has employed abortion as its focus in extending the liberation of women. However, so much emphasis on the abortion movement left some women devalued for choosing to have children. As the abortion issue is one of the most controversial in our society, the debate of being Pro-abortion or Pro-Life continues. Generally, people who identify as pro-choice believe that everyone has the basic human right to decide when to have children, whereas people who oppose abortion often call themselves pro-life. To be more clear and inclusive with our word choices, we use “pro-reproductive rights” and “anti-abortion” to describe people’s beliefs about abortion access. The pro-reproductive rights and anti-abortion labels leave room for a variety of beliefs while focusing on access to abortion specifically.
“Accessing” abortion means having the ability to afford it, physically get to an abortion provider, and other factors that allow you to exercise your right to abortion care. Feminism is extremely important, whether you’re anti-abortion or pro-abortion rights, you can and should be a part of the feminist movement. Pro-Choice advocates affirm abortion as an important option for all women, though most may never need it.
Not every woman can put her job, career, and studies on hold, and that is completely valid. Some women who feel too young, too old, or unable to care properly for a child at certain times are entitled to their choice and opinion on abortion and reproductive rights. A child may interfere with life plans and this has repercussions for the woman’s entire life. On this view, some women do not have the resources available to care for a child. To have the child would simply add to the “oppressed” state she already finds herself in. Therefore, to force her to bear this responsibility might force her to become dependent on men possibly for the rest of her life.
Dependence on men economically, socially, and sexually, is simply another way women are oppressed due to their gender. To be truly independent, women must have freedom from sexual duties as well as from the obligation of bearing children. This freedom lies in being able to make the choice: the choice to have children or to abort. Therefore, for a woman to have the full freedom to pursue education, a career, control of her own life, and a loving relationship, she must be in charge of her sexuality and her reproduction.
Feminism entered the abortion debate in the 60s to equalize the roles of men and women in society. However, we now understand that equality does not mean sameness. Women have a unique voice; equal but separate from that of men. Regardless of a person’s stance on the abortion issue, feminism should welcome them with open arms. After all, isn’t feminism about people supporting women rather than tearing them down?
About the author:
Yosser Tarchi, born and raised in Tunisia, is a young woman who aspires to be a human rights advocate. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Language, Literature, and Civilization and a master’s degree in International relations. A former member of GirlUp Tunisia, her interest in gender studies expanded which is why she’s currently volunteering for Politics4Her. Her motto? GRL PWR!