There is no such thing as an anti-choice feministBy Marissa Cornelius | 01/23/2017 12:09am
CW / Kylie Cowden
Recently, the campus organization Not On My Campus – a sexual assault advocacy group – was criticized by certain anti-choice organizations and individuals on social media for choosing to support the West Alabama Women’s Center and the Clinic Defense Project. In an email sent out by Not On My Campus, the group offered participation points to members who chose to volunteer at the clinic by escorting in patients, ensuring that these women were both protected and distracted from the anti-choice protesters who frequent the parking lot outside the clinic. This move was criticized by the anti-choice side as support of the same culture of violence that allows for women to be sexually assaulted. With all due respect to the groups espousing this viewpoint, this attitude towards sexual assault and reproductive justice is ridiculous, illogical and ultimately harmful to women and survivors of sexual assault everywhere.
It would be irresponsible for a group fighting for victims of sexual assault to not also support free and unrestrained access to reproductive healthcare, as the two issues go hand-in-hand for a multitude of reasons. One of the most clear arguments is that sexual assault can often lead to unwanted pregnancies. Though anti-choicers cite abortion as part of a “culture of violence,” I can think of nothing more violent, intrusive and cruel than forcing a woman to carry her rapist’s baby because reproductive healthcare is not available to her.
Another, more nuanced reason that sexual assault advocacy and reproductive justice must be supported in conjunction is that laws which restrict reproductive healthcare bear striking similarities to sexual assault itself. Of course, they are both incredibly different issues, and each creates its own unique traumas within women’s lives. However, both operate within the same system of patriarchy, and both are instances of unwelcome, external and frequently male forces exerting control over a woman’s body. Both are examples of violating the sovereignty a woman has over her own physicality, making both extremely detrimental to women’s psychological and physical health. Therefore, to support laws and attitudes that restrict women from receiving birth control and abortions is, in itself, an act of violence.
Anti-choicers attempting to couch their arguments in the rhetoric of supporting women is not solely an issue on UA’s campus. Rather, this social media battle was a microcosm for a much larger issue surrounding feminism and its bastardizations. Many anti-choice groups attended the recent Women’s Marches across the country, holding signs that labeled their beliefs as just another off-shoot of feminism. I would like to make incredibly clear that anti-choice ideology has absolutely no place in feminism. I’ve written entire pieces on why anti-choice attitudes do not, in fact, support women, and I will not reiterate the same arguments here. I will simply argue again that true championing of women, and especially those affected by sexual assault, means advocating for reproductive rights.
Not On My Campus is a group created around providing survivors of sexual assault a voice and giving them a reminder that their trauma is not invisible – there are people that understand the suffering they have gone through and want to support them, not discredit or alienate them. We believe this attitude should be extended to all women in whatever crisis they may be in, whether their unwanted pregnancy stems from sexual assault or not. That is why we choose to support the West Alabama Women’s Center and the women who seek out their services. Though I encourage freedom of speech and understand that all groups on campus have a right to express their views, I would encourage anti-choice groups to examine the ramifications of separating sexual assault advocacy from that of reproductive justice and to instead offer survivors help and support in every step of the healing process.
Marissa Cornelius is a junior majoring in secondary education. Her column runs biweekly.