I am a reader of the blog Feministing, a blogging community with six editors, two columnists, and countless posters, members, etc. They take an egalitarian, progressive stances over a whole range of issues. They not only focus on issues regarding sexism, but on how sexism relates to ageism, classism, racism, ableism, and other issues regarding inequality and unfair treatment in society. I love this community because, while I find myself dissenting on a few issues (as an ardent Catholic who subscribes to a pro-life philosophy, there are a few), there are many issues I do agree with and feel I can find common ground on. So, when I saw this website for the National Advocates of Pregnant Women, http://www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/, I couldn't help but take a look.
Though I take a strong anti-abortion stance, I like how NAPW (an organization that claims to want to "end the war on abortion") handles it in one of their statements, pointing out that, while women all over the U.S. disagree (sometimes vehemently) over the subject, there are other issues that we, as mothers or future mothers, will face in society. For example, the U.S. is one of very few developed nations that does not offer paid maternity leave (or parental leave, if a father or other guardian wishes to step in) when a child is born. Regardless of whether the job is high-paying or not, this means women often make the sacrifice between needed income and time to bond with their children. This dilemma also leads to infrequency of breastfeeding, a vital component to nourishment and bonding that already is neglected by greater society. In addition, women face job discrimination for pregnancy, lack of access to affordable daycare (a huge problem for single, low-income mothers), lack of access to health care and sick days, and social stigmas regarding pregnancy, especially if she is a single parent.
One problem I find with the greater pro-life movement (and I've probably repeated myself in numerous blog posts) is that it negates a lot of these issues. While organizations like Feminists for Life are at least willing to acknowledge some of these, many others seem afraid of alienating a conservative audience (which sees some possible policies as "creating a nanny State") who otherwise supports them. To compound this, many of these organizations are also Christian (whether Catholic or evangelical) and are afraid of seeming to condone behaviors such as engaging in premarital sex or degrading the family (because it will be "easier" to be a single parent, rather than get married). Because of this, many will only provide Band-Aid type solutions such as diapers, formula, a stroller, and directions to the nearest WIC office.
I'm not saying we should avoid direct service, nor am I advocating people going back on their missions. I am asking them to consider some questions: 1) What about when the baby's born? In addition to herself, a mother now has a little one to feed, clothe, take care of, and provide for, one that requires a bit more expense than a pack of diapers. 2) What about quality of life? Birth isn't enough. What about opportunities for education, job training, housing, health care? What about the choices to birth in a setting that's healthiest for both? 3) Finally, pro-lifers claim their fight is for equality of life. What about the inequality pregnant women face? What about the unfair treatment they face in their jobs, their families, incarceration, etc? By extension, what do their children face, once they are in this world?
A truly pro-life philosophy includes one of equality, one where women and men are treated no differently from the rest, due to their race, class, gender, or status as a parent in society. This does not mean "becoming soft" or "condoning bad behavior". It does mean we come together to build a stronger society, one where EVERYONE'S needs are met. Therefore, I applaud the work of organizations like NAPW, like Feministing, and like Moms Rising (an organization focusing on issues faced by working mothers) for bringing this all to light.
Finally, to all the doulas, nurses, midwives, doctors, lawyers, advocates, activists, and to mothers themselves working for equality, regardless of the diversity of all of our views, I drink to you. Keep up the good work!