Wendy Davis: You Can’t be a Feminist if You Don’t Support Abortion

Opinion   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 3, 2017   |   6:52PM   |   Washington, DC

Wendy Davis, the Texas abortion activist of pink tennis shoe fame, believes that a true feminist must support abortion.

Davis is a former Texas state Senator who rose to the national spotlight several years ago when she wore pink tennis shoes to filibuster a Texas pro-life law that banned late-term abortions and required abortion facilities to meet basic health and safety standards. After a failed attempt to run for Texas governor, Davis has been active in the pro-abortion movement.

This week, Davis talked with the liberal blog Bustle about what she believes it means to be a feminist. Bustle specifically asked Davis if feminists must be “pro-choice” on abortion.

This is how she responded:

Davis says, “My version of feminism believes that if women cannot control our reproductive destinies, then we cannot control our economic opportunity. It’s so intricately tied together.”  She goes on to explain, “And so if we stand for women’s advancement, we have to stand for the idea and the ideal that women are in possession of their own bodies, the freedom to make decisions about our bodies, and the ability to create opportunities for ourselves as a consequence of being able to do that.”

While she is hesitant to pointedly exclude anyone from feminism, Davis makes it clear where she stands on the tie between a feminist and being pro-choice. “My brand of feminism says you must support reproductive rights in order to fully embrace and stand behind the advancement of women.”

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Abortion always has been an important issue for the feminist movement, but not always the support of it. The early American feminists vocally opposed abortion, calling it “child murder” and the “ultimate exploitation of women.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a leader in the early feminist movement, linked women’s rights to the rights of unborn children. She wrote, “… when we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.”

Things changed several decades ago when the abortion industry began linking itself to the feminist movement, and now abortion support commonly is associated with it. But earlier this year, the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. seemed to signal another shift. The march sparked a huge debate after its organizers welcomed several pro-life feminist groups as partners and later kicked them out when abortion activists complained.

Despite abortion activists’ attempts to shut out pro-life feminists, many of these groups have been gaining popularity and media attention because they are working to take feminism back to its roots. Groups like Feminists for Life, New Wave Feminists, Stanton Healthcare, Rehumanize International (formerly Life Matters Journal) and And Then There Were None advocate for women and their unborn babies, recognizing that both deserve equal rights and protections in society.

Like the early feminists, these groups recognize that killing an unborn child never should be an answer to women’s problems. They recognized the truth that being pro-life is pro-woman.