The Women’s March last weekend, which included over 400,000 people marching on Washington and many more around the globe, has prompted some interesting debates about what it means to be a feminist. When the Women’s March initially accepted the pro-life group New Wave Feminists among its listed online partners, the Atlantic published an article praising the organizers’ inclusiveness of ideology. But shortly thereafter, a Twitter storm ensued, including many abortion activists claiming you can’t be both pro-life and feminist, and the group was disinvited from officially participating in the march.
Since then, news outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post, have put the spotlight on the concept of pro-life feminism. Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of New Wave Feminists, marched anyway and told Verily Magazine, “We assumed there would be dirty looks and perhaps even some confrontations, but instead we were supported by so many women.” Actor and comedian Michael Ian Black tweeted from the march, “I saw a group of marchers wearing T-shirts that read, ‘This is what a pro-life feminist looks like.’ They seemed happy.”
In the middle of all this, Saturday Night Live threw a flame of humor into the fire of women’s rights activism. The show aired a skit featuring actress Kate McKinnon as Susan B. Anthony who was awoken from sleep to visit five Millennial feminists who had completed a tour of her museum. With McKinnon exclaiming, “Abortion is murder!” at the end, the skit pokes fun at today’s feminists’ ignorance of Anthony’s views on the matter, especially given how many took to Twitter last week to exclude pro-life feminists from the Women’s March on Washington.
It’s true that Anthony was aware of abortion in her day; but instead of rallying behind it as a positive thing for women, she stressed that a society where women felt they had to make those choice was one that was failing women. Anthony’s and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s publication The Revolution used the term abortion interchangeably with “child murder” and “infanticide,” and they refused to publish advertisements for abortifacients. And when Anthony, who had no children of her own, was once complimented on what a good mother she would have been, she is reported to have responded: “Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own has it been for me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.”
There’s reason to believe that, despite strong lobbying efforts by pro-abortion groups and companies like Planned Parenthood, a growing number of Millennial feminists are leaning toward Susan B. Anthony’s approach. NPR reported earlier this month that in the United States the abortion rate has fallen to the lowest level since Roe. v. Wade, and a 2013 Washington Post-ABC News Poll found that among respondents aged 18 to 29, 57 percent favored a 20-week abortion ban. A 2016 poll conducted by the Knight of Columbus and Marist College found that 62 percent of Millennials favor a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
A ban after 20 weeks of pregnancy is just one of the major goals of pro-life groups around the nation, who today are marching on Washington. Among them is Serrin Foster of the group Feminists for Life, who told National Review this week, our “feminist foremothers . . . without known exception, spoke out against abortion during the first wave.” Who knew SNL would be the one to remind young feminists of this?