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"The Only True Feminist is a Pro-Life Feminist": Pro-life Activism and the Discourse of Women's Rights

By Leah Gallant


In this paper, I argue that pro-life advocates have begun to employ discourses of women’s rights, empirical research, and public health in the argument that abortion harms women in order to reach the ‘mushy middle,’ those unconvinced by anti-abortion arguments premised exclusively on fetal personhood and Christian teachings. Instead of pitting the life of a fetus against women’s rights to bodily autonomy, abortion is framed as detrimental to both the woman and the fetus. This liberal framing of the issue, however, has not been evenly adopted by pro-life constituents, as evidenced by the continued primacy of the fetal personhood argument to members of Penn for Life, a pro-life student group at the University of Pennsylvania. I also argue that this rhetorical shift given rise to forms of activism, particularly crisis pregnancy centers, that afford pro-life women significant leadership over the direction of the movement

Year: 2015
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