Recently, a deafening cry of “no uterus, no opinion” has risen up in protest to recent legislation regarding abortion. It’s in memes, on t-shirts, and shouted by women in red cloaks and white bonnets. I have a uterus and a lot of opinions, but when I am shouted down by pro-choice men, I don’t see many of the “no uterus, no opinion” women coming to my defense.
It seems that being pro-life gives women an ideological hysterectomy. Once I reveal I’m pro-life, my opinion is no longer welcome, uterus or not. I can believe in the inherent equality of women, the need to fight against the wage gap, and the importance of standing up to the insidious glorification of rape culture, but, the moment I reveal I’m pro-life, I am anti-women.
Women are not a monolith. Nonetheless, when the topic of “Women’s Rights” comes up, the common assumption is that to be pro-woman is to be pro-choice. However, according to a 2018 Gallup poll, only 31 percent of women think abortion should be legal in all cases, and the margin between pro-life and pro-choice women is almost even. Ironically, only 22 percent of women with only a high school degree believe that abortion should be legal in all cases, even though this is the group of women most often cited as needing these reproductive services protected.
We need a real dialog about women’s rights in this country, but that will never happen if nearly half of women are silenced because they are pro-life. Pro-life women care about limiting abortions by providing child care assistance, maternity leave, and sex ed. They have fought to destigmatize adoption, especially the adoption of foster kids. There are quite a few who will even acknowledge that heartbeat legislation isn’t going to save many babies, but legislation that expands educational opportunities, economic development, and child welfare probably will. However, these women rarely get to speak up on these topics, because the moment they declare themselves pro-life, they’re asked to put their beliefs on a scale as a pro-choice Anubis weighs them against the feather of legitimate womanhood.
Women are portrayed by other women as either Serena Waterford or June Osborne; there is no in-between. However, when we as women restrict each other to only these two roles, we silence millions of voices. If reproductive rights are a woman’s issue, then all women should have a voice. Our feminist foremothers did not fight for equality because they wanted to supplant one group of people speaking for all women with another group of people speaking for all women. They fought so that we could all use our own voices independently, even if we disagreed.
The bedrock onto which my entire belief structure is based is the fundamental, unwavering belief that all life is precious. From the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, life matters: black lives matter, vets lives matter, gay lives matter, women’s lives matter, immigrant lives matter, poor lives matter, and unborn lives matter. I am pro-life, unapologetically. I am not pro-life because I am trapped by convention or ill-informed or stupid. I am pro-life because I believe it when the Bible says in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” But equally because I believe the Declaration of Independence when it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
I am a woman. I am a homeschool mom, adoptive mom, birth mom, and stay-at-home mom. I love theatre, rom-coms, and singing in my car at the top of my lungs. I’m a morning person and a coffee person, but I hate glitter and anything bedazzled. I use a lot of curse words, and I love Jesus. I like to cook, hate to grocery shop, and Spaghetti-O’s with meatballs are my comfort food. I color my hair, hate wearing makeup, and think elastic waistbands are highly underrated. I have extremely strong feelings about the necessity for the Oxford Comma and colored Christmas lights. I went to the first Women’s March and then I went to the March for Life. There is no other woman like me, so I will never ask any other women to occupy the space I’ve created. But likewise, I’d love it if they would stop telling me that I had to occupy theirs.
Kristina Nohe is a political activist, adoption advocate, and homeschooling mom who is proud to be from Prince William County but does not suffer fools lightly or quietly.