Serrin Foster has a succinct message: Real feminism means women do not have to sacrifice their children for their education, their careers, or for other people. For 23 years, she has delivered her ground-breaking speech, “The Feminist Case Against Abortion,” on college campuses all over the country. Foster is president of Feminists for Life of America, which advocates for making better choices than abortion available to women.
No other organization focuses solely on the treatment pregnant women receive—from colleges, government (welfare assistance), employers, and the men who impregnated them. Foster has called abortion an attack on women, pointing out that three quarters of women who have abortions are low-income. Around 60 per cent of abortions are performed on women who are trying to get a college education.
FFL’s website describes what it calls the feminization of poverty, a condition that drives women to abortion because they lack three things: education, workplace accommodation, and paternal support. Under Foster’s leadership, FFL fought the coercive “family cap” welfare reform that was later proven to significantly increase abortion. Such policies penalize women for being mothers and encourage fathers to remain out of the home. Gradually, more states are repealing family welfare cap laws. FFL was also the only pro-life group to advocate for the passage of the Violence Against Women Act.
FFL sees high abortion rates as a symptom of a society that has failed to meet the needs of women. Foster breaks with mainstream feminists, though, in that she defines feminism in terms of women’s relationships to others around them—feminism embraces community, children, and fathers. The country’s skyrocketing number of children born outside marriage, she says, is bad for women. There are tens of billions of dollars in outstanding child support owed to them. Fatherless teens are at the highest risk of becoming parents too soon.
Throughout her advocacy, Foster has demanded resources and support for pregnant college women, married or single. Because of the fruitful dialogue she has fostered on campuses, many universities have now implemented support structures. Pro-life and pro-choice students have found common ground in their desire to see adequate resources available for their pregnant classmates, such as breast-feeding rooms, and childcare options.
It is quite common for pro-choice students to attend FFL events in protest and end up agreeing with 95% of the message they hear. Students are also often surprised to learn that early American feminists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were anti-abortion. Foster has found that young liberals respect FFL’s consistent life policies and are willing to work with them to end the coercive factors that drive women to abortion.
The Human Life Review’s EXPECT initiative will host Serrin Foster on Thursday, June 1, at its annual One Spring Night fundraiser. This timely event will provide a welcome contrast to mainstream feminist gatherings like the pussy-cat-hatted Women’s March last January. For tickets, click here.