Abortion is incompatible with feminism

I’d like you to meet my daughter Olivia Hope. She was born yesterday; this picture was taken just a few hours after her birth. Her birth played a role in my earlier declaration that I would become a feminist.

photo (2)

Olivia (‘Bringer of peace’) was born nearly 40 years to the day after Roe v Wade shattered the peace of the unborn. Roe v Wade, and abortion itself, have become a normative part of our culture. People may debate its merit incessantly, but no one debates its existence. But when I hold my infant daughter in my arms, when I pray that God will use her to bring peace and hope to this world, I find it incomprehensible that we’ve snuffed out the lives of 55 million babies just like Olivia.

This may be shocking to some, but I am able to say out loud that I value many of the services that Planned Parenthood provides.  I value their cancer screenings, contraceptive training, STD treatment, as well as menopause treatments, tubal ligations, and vasectomies. In many ways, their mission runs parallel to many Evangelical’s: to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place. I also believe the people of Planned Parenthood want what I want: to serve young, defenseless girls.

And I also understand the perspective of organizations like NOW (National Organization for Women). I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for their work in ending sexual discrimination, unequal pay, and violence against women. In addition, I understand that men have been deciding for centuries what women can or cannot do with their own bodies; and I agree that this should end. Even further,  I understand how an unwanted pregnancy  is often an inconvenience for the unwed father, but can violently redirect the life of the unwed mother. I understand that too many women have seen their lifelong dreams end in the delivery room, while too few men have shouldered the burden and felt the true inconvenience of putting aside their own life to raise another. I believe that NOW, like me, simply wants to tilt the scales of gender justice back towards equality.

And yet, for all our commonality, how I long for my fellow feminists to live up to their name.

How can a feminist fight for the untimely death of even one little girl? How can a nation of feminists fight for the untimely death of tens of millions of little girls?

True feminism can never be founded on a crusade to preserve equal rights for only some women. True feminism rings hollow when it actively forces grown women to fight against unprotected girls. A feminism that fights for the rights of one group of women by trampling the right to life of another group of girls will never be truly feminine.

We rip out the very heart of feminism when its central battle is staged as a mother waging violent war against her own daughter.

Abortion is not feminine, it is not reproductive justice, it is not equality, it is not even human.

Abortion is the end of peace, abortion is the end of hope.

I’m new to whole world of feminism, but this is what I hope my chief contribution to be:

Two daughters (and a son) who will strive to make the world a better place for their daughters. Two daughters (and a son) who will love and want all of their children, regardless of whether their pregnancies were planned or wanted.



About Tim Owens

I'm a husband, father, and Christ follower. I also live in Albany, NY, where I work as a pastor.
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11 Responses to Abortion is incompatible with feminism

  1. violetwisp says:

    Congratulations on the birth of your daughter! I’m sure the topic of abortion is easy to consider for your family and the people round about you. I expect you are in a loving and committed relationship, have friends and family that support you and have the financial means to continue a comfortable life, no matter how many kids you CHOOSE to have. Until you have walked a mile in any woman’s shoes for whom these things are NOT true, you may perhaps consider that the basis for your opinion is rather limited. There are many countries in the world where abortion is illegal, and desperate women from these countries who have the means, buy their way out of their situation. But the majority of these women, who could never afford to do that, resort to dangerous, painful and deadly means to terminate pregnancies. If you wish this to be the only option for these women in your country (because legislation will in no way end abortion) I think it would be wise for you to reassess your delightfully patronising status as ‘feminist for a year’.

    • Tim Owens says:

      wow, you’re absolutely right about my ‘feminist for a year’ comment–completely patronizing. I’m embarrassed that I expressed it that way, and have already changed it to reflect what I mean. I was referring back to a previous post in which I talked about a new year’s resolution to be a feminist. as I explained in that earlier post, my understanding of feminism isn’t limited to one calendar year. thanks for pointing out my poor choice of wording!

      As for your other points, in some ways you are right–I’ve never walked, nor will I ever walk, in the shoes of women who must weigh the choice of an abortion in a country where it’s illegal. Or legal, for that matter. As you point out, this certainly limits my point of view.

      The purpose of this post wasn’t to discuss the legality of abortion or the possible consequences of outlawing it (valuable topics to be sure, but each post is limited). For one, I don’t really think abortion will ever be illegal in this country, and I tend to be pragmatic (for better or worse). But, it’s worth mentioning that it would be worth pursuing if it were possible. There has never been a law passed that eliminated the action it outlawed–murder, stealing, speeding, child-beating, etc. If the criteria for passing a law was that it must completely eradicate the behavior we wouldn’t have any laws.

      But, interesting as that conversation is, the purpose was to discuss the conflict I see between feminism and abortion. I’m operating from the belief (perception, bias, opinion, etc) that a human in the womb is just as human as one out of the womb. I think most people would agree that a mother ending the life of an infant, toddler, or year-old daughter runs counter to the core tenets of feminism. I’m guessing that you and I have a different understanding of when human life begins, and this has an obvious, direct impact on our perspective. My perspective is certainly limited (but probably less limited than you might imagine), but I don’t need to walk in everyone woman’s shoes to understand that women ending the lives of women runs counter to feminism.

      It is my perspective that human life begins at conception. When I think of feminism I think of something along the lines of NOW’s mission, “Since its founding in 1966, NOW’s goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women.” For me, this means taking action to bring about equality for women both in the womb and outside of the womb. This includes working to end the wide variety of societal gender equalities, working to end violence against unborn women, working to reduce unwanted pregnancies, and working to find good solutions for mothers who choose not to raise their own babies.

      Thanks for the conversation,

      • violetwisp says:

        Hi Tim, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate the intentions you have and your desire to see your daughters grow up in a better world. The Oxford Dictionary definition of feminism is: “the belief and aim that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men”. I’m struggling to see how feminism could be seen as incompatible with abortion, as men would never have to carry an unwanted fetus to term within their bodies. A feminist could murder 10 adult females and still be a feminist – a criminal feminist admittedly!

        I don’t pretend to know where human life begins, but I do agree it’s a matter of opinion. I expect that like you, I have a considerable degree of choice and control in my life and abortion is unlikely to ever a be consideration. However, having personally been through two pregnancies (one miscarriage), I would never condescend to judge the actions of other women in incredibly different circumstances and/or with their own beliefs about where life begins.

  2. Alan Demers says:

    Tim Thank you for your article… as the father of a daughter with birth defects who was not expected tosurvive her birth, It was awful to hear doctors recommending to my wifeJulie and I that we should abort our daughter because she”may” not have functioning kidneys!! But fortunately Julie and I had the faith to know God gave us this child as a promise of my own survival of a brain tumor. I am so thankful and am so loving of my God Jesus the Christ. I can’t wait for Julie’s account of her story with Julianna to be published!! I’ll be sure to keep you informed!

    Alan Dmers, Albany, NY

  3. Poetic-Nuisance says:

    Sad to say but abortion – the intentional murder of a child residing within their mothers womb – has always been and will always be the true face of feminism just as the ideology of feminism has always been and will always be an ideology of hatred directed at the male gender.

  4. Poetic-Nuisance says:

    Re: I’m struggling to see how feminism could be seen as incompatible with abortion, as men would never have to carry an unwanted fetus to term within their bodies.

    By forcing a man to bare the consequences of a woman’s choice to carry a child to term for eighteen years or longer – while denying his right to have a part in the decision – is the same thing as forcing a woman to carry an unwanted child to term.

    Unless of course you want to argue that he chose the consequences by choosing to have sex. Then equality demands that a woman be treated the same way so that logically speaking choice ends at conception.

    • violetwisp says:

      I’m afraid I don’t follow your logic in the slightest. Are you a woman who has carried any child to term? Regardless of your position on abortion, it’s clear that post birth responsibilities as parents do not equate in any way with pregnancy and birth, regardless of who chose to do what. Pregnancy and birth are incredibly traumatic (in a good sense for the lucky ones) in ways that men will never be able to actually feel and properly understand. That’s why many women suggest that their input into this area of discussion can never be more than an outsider’s opinion – in spite of the obvious responsibilities they should and usually do bear post-birth.

      • Poetic-Nuisance says:

        A woman’s contribution to a making child is five minutes of sex, nine months of nurturing in her womb and a few hours of labor.

        A man’s contribution to making a child is five minutes of sex, nine months of caring for the mother of his child and a few hours of holding her hand when she is in labor. Which then results in his becoming a financial slave forced to hand over his hard earned money to an unfaithful woman who intentionally shuts her partner out of his children’s lives and denies his rights as a father.

        Its really very simple: Its her body – her choice – not his responsibility or your choice ends at conception.

        Ever since roe v wade women have fought to deny reproductive rights to men and so the time has come to deny those very same rights to women. By holding women to the exact same standard as our society demands of men.

        This is what true equal rights – equality – looks like.

  5. violetwisp says:

    I can only assume are talking from personal and very bitter experience. I’m sorry life has been like this for you or people you know. It does seem incredibly harsh. Fatherhood should be something to be enjoyed and celebrated. However, the experience of one person in one corner of one land is not the basis for a fully informed analysis on any topic. Pregnancy too should be something to be enjoyed and celebrated, but life is not so straightforward for many disadvantaged, abused and abandoned girls and women. Your argument that abortion is wrong because you, or someone you know, has had to financially support a child they could never be a parent too is, I’m afraid, inherently flawed.

  6. Poetic-Nuisance says:

    Tim to the average feminist a child is nothing more than a pawn to be used in exploiting the financial resources of the child’s father. A child that can be discarded at will without any consequences whatsoever.

    • Tim Owens says:

      Poetic-Nuisance–I’m a big fan of dialogue between differing viewpoints, and I strive to make my blog a place where a wide variety of people can have a valuable interaction.

      It seems that you have had a hard time in your life with women. I feel badly for you. However, your comments here (such as the one above) aren’t really contributing to the present dialogue. I took a few of your previous comments down as well.

      I think our viewpoints on women are just too far apart for us to have a healthy conversation through blog comments.

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