For the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade chose to publish a piece entitled, “Why I’m a pro-life feminist.”

Given the ever increasing erosion of abortion rights and the fact that 2015 brought a banner year of criminalizing pregnant women one would have thought that focusing on facts instead of propaganda would be the ethical thing to do. Claire Swinarski, the writer, is allowed to have her opinion (no matter how ill-informed, patronizing, or steeped in the swill of patriarchy it may be), but Vox certainly doesn’t have to publish it on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And yes Vox also published a piece on post Roe restrictions, but here’s the thing, it’s the lies and half-truths and propaganda wrapped up in the illusion of “helping to keep women safe” that have contributed to this erosion of Roe so it’s a bit ironic to see the two side by side.

With that in mind I want to take a minute or two to explain why being *cough* pro-life means you are anything but a feminist. When I say pro-life I don’t mean what you would do when faced with the decision about your own pregnancy, I mean imposing your view on others. Like the author on Vox thinks is the right thing to do. For feminism.

It’s not the “pro-life” movement, it’s the pro-fetus movement

Pro-life should mean that you care about all life, like those murdered by guns or those who die from heart disease. Hey, if the fetus and kids is your only gig then stillbirths and neonatal demise from smoking during pregnancy (doubles the rate of stillbirths) and toddlers killed by guns (around 82 a year), or an entire generation of kids poisoned by lead in Flint would be right up your alley. Except the “pro-life” movement doesn’t picket the NRA or Philip Morris , work to pass legislation to make guns safer, try to raise cigarette taxes, or leave the picket lines of Planned Parenthood to hand out bottled water in Flint.

If the only thing you care about is a fetus then you are not pro-life, you are pro-fetus. A feminist would know that.

Actually, it’s the anti-abortion movement as well.

The author actually says the “pro-life” movement is trying to “make legal” abortion less available, but also wants to help women so they don’t “seek” abortion.

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Making abortion illegal makes it unsafe which harms women. Feminists don’t like the idea of a woman bleeding to death on her bathroom floor because she took misoprostol to try to end her pregnancy as the nearest abortion was 250 miles away and she couldn’t afford the gas money for two round trips because of mandatory waiting rules. Women will bleed to death instead of calling an ambulance because at the hospital they get arrested for procuring a miscarriage or for murder. Feminists don’t like that too much either.

Want to make the changes to reduce abortion? Get every woman access to sex education (not the abstinence shit some people try to pass off) and free, reversible long-acting contraception. Science tells us this works.

Oh, and ending domestic violence, ending rape, teaching men that women have the same worth, and stamping out poverty would help too.

If you are trying to make abortion illegal all the while not paying for or handing out IUDs and Implanon you are nothing but a hypocrite and that makes you an anti-abortion activist, not a feminist.


Access to child care doesn’t reduce abortion

Really, how little do you think of women to say such drivel?

Ben Carson tried to say the same thing. It’s insulting to women. Feminists don’t insult women.

“I’m 22 weeks but just can’t bear the burden of finding affordable child care so I’m going to have an abortion,” said no woman ever.


Abortion is not the problem, it’s a symptom.

The claim about African American women disproportionately seeking abortion is misrepresented. Women at or below 199% of the federal poverty level have the highest rate of abortions and unplanned births. Unfortunately, African American Women are more likely to be in this demographic. Poverty doesn’t cause abortion it causes unplanned pregnancies which are more likely to end in abortion. Ms. Swinarski’s is exploiting and distorting the facts to serve her antiabortion agenda. Feminists don’t do that.

And sex-selective abortion? I’ve seen women sob at their ninth or tenth or 11th girl because they know they are coming back year after year until they produce a boy (something not in their power to control) or die trying. That’s not feminism.  I’ve had women tell me how they were almost beaten to death by their husband for delivering a girl. That’s not feminism either.

Want to stop sex selective abortion, you need to work for sweeping cultural changes. Only when women are worth as much, or more, than men might the practice change.

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Reproducing doesn’t make you a better person or holy or superior or special or give you a direct line to God. It means you had a uterus and you used it. 

I quote:

“Hillary Clinton’s a mother, and she’s running for president. Adele’s a mother, and she released the biggest No. 1 single in three years in 2015. Madeleine Albright, J.K. Rowling: Mothers — successful, thriving mothers — are everywhere. Having children should not rob you of your identity or your purpose. Pro-life feminists believe it doesn’t have to.”

But Adele is a mother! And J.K. Rowling!

What the actual fuck???

Does this mean that I was less of a person before I had babies? That women who chose not to or can’t have children are less successful? Or if you just don’t have that abortion you too can rule the world?

Popping out a baby doesn’t make you a mother, it means you reproduced. BIG DIFFERENCE. A feminist would know this.

I was awesome before I had children and I am awesome now that I have children. My awesomeness has nothing to do with the comings and goings of my uterus. No woman’s awesomeness has anything to do with her uterus. THAT IS A CENTRAL TENET OF FEMINISM.


If you are woman and you use half-truths and propaganda to convince yourself that you should work to make legal abortion less accessible you are not a feminist you are a tool of the patriarchy.




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  1. Thank you for this!!! Amazing article…well written and well said. I am on my way to the KY capitol for a reproductive rights rally…in case you haven’t heard our governor is one of the pro fetus folks you speak of, and of course he is also pro GUN. Ugh.

  2. Instead of the “pro-fetus” label, it seems to be that it would also be apt, and pointed in the right political direction, to use the label “pro-sperm”.

    Have I wasted to much time watching Monty Python?

  3. A few things.

    I love how in her article she writes about cocaine being illegal and that she uses it to show that we intentionally hinder body autonomy as a society. Except that its a terribly flawed argument, since it IS illegal and people still manage to get a hold of it.

    And yes, childcare and paid leave and lots of programs for moms and children does help out, but that isn’t a replacement for someone who doesn’t want to be a parent, or doesn’t want to right now. What if you don’t want to not have an abortion, just to have your child never be around you because you are trying to better life for the both of you.

    Ive had an abortion. I found out just after I got married. Its not a place I ever thought I would find myself, and I’m sure I am not the only one to have ever been in that position. I made a choice, one that affected the entire trajectory of my life, to put myself and my life first. People who are pro-life are always horrified by that, that a lump of tissue growing inside a body organ wasn’t the most precious gift ever bestowed upon me.

    In the end, the worst thing for a child to have to endure is a lifetime of being unwanted. Whatever your reason is for having an abortion, I support you. Its YOUR body and YOUR decision.

    1. “In the end, the worst thing for a child to have to endure is a lifetime of being unwanted.”

      -So damn true. Somehow who is very dear to me is very much that. His mother never wanted to have a child, but did because … societal pressure, basically; the father was Catholic, well, you get the idea.
      And I do understand full well that psychological issues are largely physiological/hormonal – growing up feeling that your mother resented your very existence, well. It does not help to produce a happy, mentally healthy adult.

  4. Um, what on earth do you have against improving childcare access? I get that you don’t like this chick’s opinion on abortion, but is proving your vehement disagreement on every. single. point. really more important to the feminist cause than working to improve the childcare situation? Even Gutmacher studies show affordability and interference with career or education as the top reasons for abortion. Call me crazy, but those sound like problems that could be addressed through better childcare policies. While the very poor may qualify for head start and the very rich can hire a live-in nanny, most people in the middle do very much have to struggle with not only how to pay for childcare, but also how to access it at night or on weekends, for odd shifts, careers requiring travel, to accommodate a deadline or test, etc. Two-parent households may be able to cover for each other in these situations but many single moms do have to decide between having kids and literally everything else that may be expected of them after 6pm on a weeknight. This is a real issue that plagues many women, and is something a lot of men really don’t have to consider. And your casual dismissal comes off as, well, not very feminist.

      1. Economic concerns is a alrge factor in many decisions to abort according to the Guttmacher institute.
        It seems a little simplistic of you to claim that childcare has nor role in the decision. If you have a couple of children in school and a job, you might have the insurance to pay for your pregnancy, but what then? If you cannot afford child care, how do you care for your infant, and keep your job?

        Your dismissal of childcare as a factor seems callous and insulting to women. If you cannot get affordable childcare , then by defition you cannot afford childcare, if you cannot afford childcare you have to care for the child fulltime, which means you cannot have a job. So if you are at 22 weeks and your situation changes so now you cannot afford childcare, you seem to be saying that it would be insufficient reason to decide to abort!

        Well some women would disagree, and I do not understand why their experience do not matter to you! (I got here from the love joy feminism blog, where Libby Anne has responded to you post)

      2. Tell you what, people who think the author of the Vox piece should be praised for calling for childcare and other assistance to women considering abortion: How about we get all those things firmly in place before even discussing any restrictions on abortion?

    1. Childcare assistance and other forms of social support to parents are crucial and all feminists should support them but they are not a substitute for reproductive autonomy. Furthermore “feminists” like the one Dr. Gunter is criticizing seem to have no problem with the restrictions on abortion (up to and including those criminal bans she claims not to want) passing while nothing is done about childcare access etc.

      So, no, the author of the Vox piece is no feminist.

  5. Well said.
    I have two kids. I planned them, I love them. I will not have a third one. I will not carry any further pregnancy to term. There can be no policy that would change my mind because I do never want to be pregnant again. It is as easy as that. Saying that I would have to remain pregnant, no matter how utterly miserable that would make me is hateful, not feminist.
    I love children, not just mine, too much that I would want to inflict the fate of “being the person who wrecked their mother’s life” on any kid.
    Besides, using somebody as privileged as Adele as a “see, being a mother is easy” is more than cynical. Adele didn’t have her kid when she was still in school or at the start of her career but when she was already a world class superstar.

  6. “No interest in legal punishment for women who have had abortions” my ass! That is demonstrably untrue in the face of several actual instances of women being prosecuted for abortion or pregnancy outcomes under abortion bans and so-called “fetal protection” laws. And even if a particular anti-choicer isn’t personally desirous of such actions against women it is usually other people in charge of legislating, enforcing, and adjudicating criminal bans. And wouldn’t you know it that the kinds of strict authoritarians who would be eager to inflict harsh punishments on women for abortion are precisely the same kinds of people who like to get themselves into – wait for it! – positions of authority.

    Furthermore, under abortion bans there is usually a thriving black market of illegal pills. I find it difficult to believe that, once abortion was banned everywhere, that anti-choicers would sit back and tolerate such a thing. I predict that even the leaders would drop the pretense (as many rank-and-file anti-choicers I encounter have) of not wanting to prosecute women and just fully admit it. And of course it will be poor, non-white, and otherwise marginalized women who are disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system.

  7. The “pro-life” movement makes much more sense if you see what they’re really after: Making non-biblical sex dangerous. I’m not aware of any position they have taken that doesn’t make sense if you figure this is their true motive.

    Furthermore, given extended discussion I have been able to get virtually every pro-lifer to admit a punishment motive. True pro-lifers are only a little more common than unicorns.

  8. Simply – you can’t be a feminist while seeking to deny women equality or basic human rights. Period.

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