“If the voice of pro-life women is excluded from the [Women’s March on Washington], then it is not really a ‘Women’s March’ at all,” said Brandi Swindell, founder of the pregnancy crisis center partnering with the march. “Rather, it is an anti-Trump march, a pro-choice march, or a Planned Parenthood march. To truly be called a ‘Women’s March,’ all our sister’s voices, thoughts, viewpoints, and stories need to be heard.”
Ahead of the Women’s March on Washington scheduled the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Emma Green at The Atlantic asked, “Is there room in the movement for people who morally object to abortion?” Her article portrayed some of the hundreds of pro-life women planning to attend either in solidarity with fellow feminists or in protest.
Meanwhile, the event organizers came up with their own response: No.
Hours after Green’s article published on Monday, the Women’s March—promising to be “one of the most intersectional marches in US history” with more than 200,000 attendees expected—stated that New Wave Feminists, the pro-life group featured, would be removed from its 450-plus sponsor organizations. (A pro-life pregnancy crisis center in Idaho, Stanton Healthcare, remains listed as a partner. [Update: The group was also removed from the list on Wednesday.])
“We look forward to marching on behalf of women who share the view that women deserve the right to make their own reproductive decisions,” the group said. Access to abortion and birth control were included among 1 of 16 values and principles guiding the grassroots rally.
Though the pro-life New Wave Feminists still plan to attend, many women of faith were disappointed in the decision to remove their official designation. Christians spanning from Life Action founder Lila Rose to LGBT advocate Julie Rodgers spoke out on Twitter on behalf of pro-life feminists.
“Progressives have a chance to build a broader coalition here, and they are blowing it,” tweeted author Rachel Held Evans.
“Painful irony of pro-choice stance of Women’s March is that abortion was likely THE issue to tip scales for evangelical women to vote Trump,” said Hannah Anderson, who writes and podcasts about gender and theology for Christ and Pop Culture. “If Dems could have entertained possibility of a pro-life women’s vote, they’d have won.”
According to a Pew Research Center report released last year, 40 percent of American women oppose abortion in all or most circumstances, and white evangelical Protestants are far more likely than any other religious group to side against it.
Pro-life evangelical women have long spoken up to advocate for women’s positions in the church and society. They mobilized around various pro-women causes in recent years, even when it meant pushing back against Religious Right affiliations. Last fall, top female evangelical authors and teachers like Beth Moore criticized Trump’s rhetoric around women and denounced the prevalence of sexual assault. As The Atlantic reported, many pro-life women were just as outraged at Trump; they refused to support his presidency and doubt his pro-life bona fides.
Their common ground with the pro-choice feminists marching this weekend goes beyond a common enemy. Lately, evangelicals have formed organizations to encourage women in the workplace and leadership roles, as well as advocating for paid leave as a family values issue. Christian organizations abroad have rallied to offer women’s health care, provide education, and fight the exploitation of women through trafficking, violence, and genital mutilation.