The Lie of "Pro-Life Feminism"
A split is emerging in Malta's anti-abortion lobby. On the one hand we have those who persist in the old tactic of labelling pro-choice activists murderers and publishing pictures of (often naturally miscarried) fetuses, and on the other hand we have those who are realising the fire and brimstone tacticts may no longer appeal to the middleground and are looking for a change of tactic.
This is where "pro-life feminism" comes in. In looking to move away from the powerful narrative of the anti-choice movement being dominated by older men seeking to control and oppress young women, some sections of the anti-abortion movement are looking to present themselves as "feminist" and with the interests of women at heart.
To push forward this narrative we have seen local anti-choice groups attend this year's march on Women's Day, despite the widely held norm that the occasion celebrates advances and pushes for more liberalisation in women's reproductive rights. We have also seen infographics lovebombing pregnant women and offering "support" to those in need, even though it is well known that the ultimate aim is to stop women from having abortions.
The underlying message remains the same: That motherhood represents the fulfilment of women and unwanted pregnancies are not "normal." And so it perpetuates the stigma against those women facing unwanted pregnancies but with a slight let up: Such women are allowed to seek "support" as long as they keep their baby.
Make no mistake, "pro-life feminism" is anything but feminism. Feminism promotes equality between the sexes and pushes forward women's rights, and crucially it promotes the idea that women should be able to decide on their future and therefore whether to have an abortion or not.
The anti-choice ideology, on the other hand, is rooted in control and treats women as incapacitated human beings unable to decide on their own futures. Modern medicine has made abortion safer in terms of morbidity and mortality than childbirth, and the often used argument that prohibiting abortion saves women from harm is not based on any facts. "Pro-life" and "feminism" cannot be further away from each other in terms of ideology, but like the proverbial snake oil "pro-life feminism" makes for good marketing.