Feminist speaker outlines her views

Speaking in front of a group of about 75 students and faculty Wednesday at Weasler Auditorium, Feminists for Life Vice President Sally Winn focused on college students in what she called a new approach to both feminism and the viewpoint of abortion opponents.

Feminism which opposes abortion "is a new point of view," she said. Feminism "is the F-word, and I know that's new (to the pro-life viewpoint)."

"Pro-Life feminism is not an oxymoron," Winn said. "We've just lost control of the lexicon."

"Feminism, as it is truly defined, is about human rights for all," Winn said, later adding nonviolence and nondiscrimination to the core principles of the organization's definition of feminism.

Winn supported her argument for uniting the feminism and abortion opponent movements by asserting that early feminists, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony, were all abortion opponents by today's definition.

"These early suffragists were also pro-life without known exception," Winn said. "They believed that an abortion meant that women had been failed."

Winn said feminism became synonymous with the abortion rights movement in the '60s and '70s when the second-wave feminism and civil rights movements were co-opted by the abortion rights movement. She pointed out that Betty Freidan didn't mention abortion in the first printing of her influential book "The Feminine Mystique" and that NOW, the National Organization of Women, did not make abortion a real priority until 1966.

Abortion rights lobbyists later wooed Freidan and other feminists to support their cause with claims that pregnancy and children held women back from their educational and professional goals and that thousands of women were dying from illegal abortions that would have been performed under safer conditions if abortion was legal and socially accepted.

Winn spent much of her speech addressing the abortion and pregnancy issues of college students. She said one in five abortions is performed on a college student and many colleges and universities lack resources for pregnant or parenting students.

"You guys are a prime market (for abortions)," she said. Pregnancy on campus "is obviously an epidemic, and something needs to be done."

Winn said the three main reasons women have abortions — lack of maternal resources in the school or workplace, unsupportive partners and lack of emotional support and lack of financial resources — were as present on campuses as anywhere else. Winn, who became pregnant with her first child as a junior in college, said pregnant or parenting college students often have no daycare options, no place to live, insufficient funds for childcare and no maternal rights, like maternity leave. As an example, she claimed Yale's student medical services will pay for three abortions but not for prenatal care or delivery.

But, Winn said, this is not always the case. Georgetown University worked with Feminists for Life to develop a supportive climate for pregnant or parenting students, she said, and now has adequate daycare, a full-time employee to assist students in adjusting to college life as a pregnant student and a donated off-campus house available to pregnant or parenting students.

"If we work together, we can systematically eliminate the root causes of abortion," Winn said.

Winn's speech was received well by the audience members.

"I was very happy that she was here," said nursing professor and president of the Marquette chapter of Faculty for Life Richard Fehring. "I thought that she was reasonable and able to defend her positions in a logical way."