Activist explains pro-life views from a feminist perspective

Allison Farrand/Daily
Feminists for Life Vice President Sally Winn addressed a group of students at a Students for Life event at the Chemistry Building Monday. Winn spoke about her feminist idols and how her own pregnancy as a college undergraduate changed her mind about abortion. Buy this photo

By Stephanie Dilworth, Daily Staff Reporter
and Julia Liss, For the Daily
Published November 18, 2013

Although a pro-life feminist might be considered an oxymoron to some, the University’s chapter of Students for Life hosted a lecture in order to discuss how the decision to be opponents of abortion can also empower women.

Sally Winn, vice president of Feminists for Life of America, gave the lecture at the Chemistry Building auditorium. The event was attended predominantly by female students, including members of the University’s chapter of Students for Choice and the Women’s Studies Department.

Feminists for Life is a pro-life feminist group that focuses on helping women understand their options when considering terminating a pregnancy.

Winn began her lecture on inequalities that women have faced throughout history, such as a lack of suffrage, property rights and access to education. Winn then spoke about her experience as a college student at Indiana University who struggled with an unplanned pregnancy, later becoming a student mother.

Winn argued that the real issue was the lack of resources provided by her campus and the lack of resources provided to pregnant women in general.

“Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women,” Winn said. “Women don’t have abortions because they want to; they have abortions because they lack support emotionally and finically and all the things they need to have to have a child.”

Winn said she believes feminism and anti-abortion beliefs are not contradictions.

“I think that you can absolutely be a feminist and pro-life, obviously,” Winn said. “I don’t think that there should be a limits test on being feminist or pro-life. I think that if you are pro-woman, you are pro-woman; you can find avenues to help women that are very feminist while still not totally abandoning your pro-life views.”

She said she enjoyed the questions posed by supporters of abortion rights during the question-and-answer part of her lecture.

“I enjoy it. I used to be pro-choice,” Winn said. “I feel like I can help them come out that polarized position, and we can find common ground.”

LSA sophomore Mary Nachazel, president of Students for Life, said the group chose to ask Winn to speak on campus in order to help students who feel their anti-abortion and feminist views are in conflict.

“Several of us have had conversations with people who consider themselves feminist and therefore they think that they have to be pro-choice and, therefore, abortion empowers women,” Nachazel said. “From our perspective, we don’t see it that way. We see abortion as a result that society has failed women, which is very feminist-for-life themed.”

Public Policy junior Carly Manes, president of Students for Choice, said the event was successful in providing support to those students who have already chosen to be parents. However, she had several criticisms of Winn’s lecture.

“I think that there were a lot of really problematic language issues with the way she that spoke about abortion care, saying that its an inherently destructive and violent procedure and that for every woman it’s traumatizing, which is 100 percent not true,” Manes said.

Manes said Students for Choice recently hosted an event, Abortion Speak Out, where women spoke out about their experiences with abortion.

“It’s a different experience for everyone,” Manes said. “So to make the general assumption that every woman is traumatized by their abortion experience and that there is a lot of pain attached to it is really stigmatizing.”

Manes also said she didn’t approve of the way Winn assumed that every woman who had an abortion did so because they felt it was their only option.

“Well, some of them feel like they have no other option except for motherhood, which, not everyone wants to be a mother.”