FEMINISTS FOR LIFE CELEBRATES TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF ACTIVISM FOR WOMEN
Since the Washington D.C. office opened in 1994
and Executive Director (now President) Serrin M. Foster was hired to lead Feminists for Life,
FFL has successfully and uniquely worked to address
the root causes that drive women to abortion.
Through our work for low-income women:
• FFL was the only pro-life organization active in a unique coalition of women’s groups to successfully fight child exclusion provisions in welfare reform supported by President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress. (The “family cap” was later implemented in New Jersey and proven to significantly increase abortions.)
• FFL was the only pro-life and feminist group to actively champion the New York state model program to help working poor pregnant women receive prenatal care through the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) under both President Clinton and President George W. Bush. SCHIP was successfully implemented under President Bush through a regulation allowing states to expand prenatal care and labor and delivery services to unborn children whose mothers were uninsured but not eligible for Medicaid. In 2009 President Obama signed the CHIP Reauthorization Act into law, expanding SCHIP coverage for the first time to pregnant women, as FFL originally advocated.
Through our work to reduce poverty among women and children, prevent coerced abortions due to threats to withhold child support, and instead encourage the active support of fathers in the lives of their children:
• FFL was the only pro-life group to successfully advocate the Enhanced Child Support Enforcement Act of 1996, which helped streamline the collection and distribution of child support, establish uniform laws governing interstate child support cases, and expand penalties for child support delinquency.
• FFL educated women and men about the rights and responsibilities of fathers through our “You Have Better Choices” brochure (2008, 2011) as well as articles in The American Feminist® and on our website (www.feministsforlife.org).
• FFL published the first-ever comprehensive pregnancy resource directory in the country in 1994. The self-help directory covered services in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland.
• FFL published a “Raising Kids Cheap” issue of The American Feminist (2001), a “Take Care of Mom” issue (2004-2005), a “You have Better Choices” brochure and other resources to help women, families, educators, employers, and counselors connect women to practical support.
• FFL released “Raising Kids on a Shoestring,” our holistic national guide filled with free and frugal resources, smart and creative solutions, and practical support that pregnant women, expectant fathers, parents, and their children deserve. (2009) “Raising Kids on a Shoestring” featured eighteen articles with links to additional resources and support covering pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum care; adoption information for both prospective adoptive parents and birthmothers; help for parents of children with special needs; housing, feeding, and clothing a family economically; and many other essentials. In 2010 it was made available online, the first time The American Feminist appeared in full color. By 2015 the number of resources and topics had expanded exponentially, so rather than a magazine, “Raising Kids on a Shoestring” became a website, www.kidsonashoestring.com.
• In 2017, FFL debuted a new online resource for women. WomenDeserveBetter.com aims to support women by providing education, resources, and inspiration in the areas that statistically relate to the feminization of poverty. Organized into four sections — LIVE, WORK, LEARN, AND LOVE — the site provides resources for student mothers and working parents as well as birthmothers and parents of special needs children. Feminists for Life is doing this in a way that no other organization is doing — by delivering this information in FFL’s unique, pro-life feminist voice.
• FFL has consistently advocated for the protection of resources like WIC (Women Infants and Children) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) that are vital to the survival of families in poverty.
• FFL released “End the Feminization of Poverty,” in which we took the next step to systematically look at poverty and model resources, as well as solutions, and come closer to achieving the unrealized vision of our first wave feminists, who sought to address the root causes of abortion. This issue addressed how socioeconomic conditions conspire to keep women in the circle of poverty; how a quality education can be the key to success for working mothers; how practical workplace solutions can help women refuse to choose between their careers and their children; how dads — and all paternal support — can make the greatest difference in a child’s life; how child care can provide essential support, both on campus and in the workplace; and how not just economic poverty, but a poverty of spirit, can drive women to abortion.
• On International Women’s Day 2018, FFL released our “Report on Resources and Support for Pregnant and Parenting Students at Highest Risk of Dropping out Attending California State Colleges and Universities,” in advance of a vote that, if passed, would require California state colleges and universities to provide abortions by medications on campus (SB-320). Feminists for Life of America reviewed 33 school websites to determine their support for pregnant and parenting students. FFL evaluated on-campus child and infant care options, pregnant and parenting resources, lactation rooms, women’s health services, on-campus family housing options, and online/hybrid and full degree programs — what pregnant and parenting students say they need.
Through our work to prevent violence against women and pregnant women:
• FFL was the only pro-life group in the National Task Force on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence to work successfully for the Violence Against Women Act, passed in 1994.
• FFL was the only feminist group to support Laci and Connor’s Law, also known as the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. C-SPAN carried live coverage of FFL President Serrin Foster as she testified before Congress in support of this Act. President Bush signed it into law in 2004.
• FFL was a charter member of a coalition against sex trafficking. (1995)
• FFL has encouraged members to take personal action against human trafficking through articles and email list action alerts.
• FFL has supported every version (five, as of January 2019) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, most recently the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act, by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Co-chair of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. The law includes:
age-appropriate prevention education for children;
shelter, therapy, and reintegration for trafficking victims;
facilitation of trafficking-free supply chains in U.S. commerce;
training of U.S. government officials and airline industry employees to better identify and prevent possible cases of trafficking;
and oversight to ensure that U.S. government purchases are not employing traffickers.
• VICTORY: FFL supported a bill introduced by Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO): the bipartisan Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, along with Representatives Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Ed Royce (R-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Ted Poe (R-TX), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Martha Roby (R-AL), and Lynn Jenkins (R-KS). This legislation would lift barriers that have prevented the federal government, states, and victims of sex trafficking from pursuing justice against America’s modern-day slave markets. On April 11, 2018, the bill became law.
Through our work to prevent the coercion of women into unwanted abortions:
• FFL was the only pro-life group that worked with the ACLU to successfully sue the National Honor Society for denying admission to two teenage moms (1999) and to speak out in support of a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit in New York in 2006.
• FFL consulted on the groundbreaking Coercive Abortion Prevention Act introduced by Michigan women legislators in 2006. The five-bill package identified very specific forms of coercion from financial threats to physical violence, which could result in jail time and/or fines.
Through our revolutionary work to meet the needs of college-age women, who are at highest risk of abortion, and redirect the debate towards action for women, through the ongoing development of the FFL College Outreach Program from 1994 to present:
• FFL speakers delivered lectures across the country at top Ivy League, big state, women’s and Catholic colleges – to positive response from both pro-life and pro-choice students and faculty. (1994-present)
• Every year, FFL hosts dedicated pro-woman student activists as interns in the national office, supporting the educational and career plans of young feminists and encouraging future activism. (1994-present)
• FFL worked with both pro-life and pro-choice stakeholders to develop and launch resource kits for student leaders, advisors, counselors, health clinics and libraries. (1996-present)
• FFL has given away thousands of free “Grow Your Group” kits to student leaders. Ever year, FFL’s kits equip student leaders with tools and resources they need to jump-start the movement for change on their campuses.
• FFL hosted the first-ever FFL Pregnancy Resource ForumSM in 1997 and developed creative tools to evaluate and spark discussion about the lack of services for pregnant and parenting students, including FFL’s Pregnancy Resources SurveyTM in 1998 and 2010, resulting in concrete improvements on top campuses across the country.
• FFL has presented workshops across the country, and annually at the largest pro-life student conference in the world, to train and mobilize pro-life student leaders in creating woman-centered solutions on campus. (1997-present)
• FFL created a model for the future, FFLU, to give schools a vision of what could be accomplished. (2005)
• FFL’s Question Abortion® and Women Deserve Better® ad campaigns reached millions of students from 1996 to the present.
• FFL launched its first-ever nationwide Pregnancy Resources Survey, created to discover students’ awareness of resources and support for pregnant and parenting students on college and university campuses, in the fall of 2007.
• FFL released Perception is Reality, a study of FFL’s first nationwide Pregnancy Resources Survey. This report, the first of its kind, highlighted the perceptions that students have about the lack of available resources on their campuses. (2008)
• FFL introduced the first Rally for ResourcesSM (2008), a pregnancy and parenting resource fair designed to raise campus awareness about the needs of pregnant and parenting students. FFL’s Rally for Resources also stirred popular support for the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act (2005, 2007), which became part of the Pregnancy Assistance Fund in 2010.
• FFL created a model website and template, instructions for creating a guide to local pregnancy and parenting resources, and volunteer babysitting service startup materials for student activists. (2010)
• A report by Planned Parenthood’s former research arm, the Guttmacher Institute, revealed that in the 10 years since FFL began our College Outreach Program in 1994, there was a dramatic 30% decrease in abortions among college-educated women.
Through the introduction of legislation promoting pro-woman solutions on campus:
• FFL’s work inspired Michigan legislation, the Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act, which offered an incentive to schools to provide pregnant and parenting students a single location on campus where they can acquire information about resources and support. The bill was overwhelmingly supported by Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate and was signed by the pro-choice Governor in 2004.
• FFL worked to introduce the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act (2005, 2007), which, if passed, would provide $10 million in grants to 200 colleges and universities for annual pregnancy and parenting resource forums and a central office to coordinate and promote ongoing resources and support on and off campus.
• FFL held the first-ever Capitol Hill briefing on the needs of 4.5 million parenting students as well as millions of students who become pregnant and need resources and support for marital and single parenting choices and various adoption options. (2006)
• FFL’s Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act became, in 2010, the core of a new law that provides grants to states through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund. States awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will — for the first time — distribute funds to eligible institutions of higher education, which will match a portion of the funds received, to conduct a needs-assessment on campus and within the local community and set goals for improving access to resources for parenting students. University and college grant recipients will set goals and annually assess their performance in meeting the needs of pregnant and parenting students regarding health care, housing, child care, and flexible scheduling (such as telecommuting programs) and finding sources of practical assistance such as maternity and baby clothing, food (including formula), furniture, and more. A similar fund component will benefit pregnant teens. Pregnant women subjected to domestic violence, sex assault, or stalking, may also be aided by programs receiving Pregnancy Assistance Funds.
• VICTORY: On March 8, 2018, FFL released our Report on Resources and Support for PREGNANT AND PARENTING STUDENTS AT HIGHEST RISK OF DROPPING OUT Attending California State Colleges and Universities, which FFL President Serrin Foster and intern Kellan Monroe co-authored in response to SB-320, a bill that would have facilitated the distribution of RU-486 on state college campuses. FFL researched and reported available (often pricey) resources and support (or lack thereof) for pregnant women, parents, and birthmothers attending the UC colleges and universities. We urged them to redirect their efforts toward on-campus resources and support for pregnant women, especially for women of color, who leave school when they have their babies, often returning to poverty along with school debt. Instead of paying to train school staff to distribute the abortion pill, we also called for further exploration of Gov. Jerry Brown’s concept for an affordable online UC school system. Most important, we also offered our expertise to help administrators. To our delight, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed SB-320! No, sadly he did not suddenly become pro-life. But he reasonably concluded that with abortion clinics five to seven miles away, California taxpayers should not facilitate what Planned Parenthood and for-profit clinics already do.
By influencing the ways politicians approach abortion:
• In 2008, both major U.S. political parties incorporated key elements of FFL’s unique message:
• The Democratic platform was expanded to include a number of woman-centered solutions. Resources and support are, of course, at the heart of FFL’s mission.
• The Republican platform included Feminists for Life’s trademark line, “Women deserve better than abortion.”
By teaching pro-life feminist history:
• The “Herstory: Worth Repeating” series in The American Feminist has been a long running educational tool both in print and on FFL’s website. (since 1997)
• FFL President Serrin Foster’s landmark speech “The Feminist Case Against Abortion” was recognized in 2002 as one of 22 pivotal speeches on Women’s Rights in the anthology series “Great Speeches in History.”
• “March Forth!,” a 40-page feminist history issue of The American Feminist published in 2010, featured articles about Susan B. Anthony and her birthplace, Benazir Bhutto, Anna Julia Cooper, Pearl S. Buck, and more.
• Tucked inside each issue of “March Forth!” was a new “Voices of Our Feminist Foremothers” brochure, featuring pro-life quotes by and about Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, Victoria Woodhull, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, and more.
• FFL published “First Wave Feminists: Remarkable Pro-Life Women and Other Suffragists You Should Know,” documenting our rich pro-life feminist history. Copies of this issue of The American Feminist were sent to professors who teach women’s history at top campuses across the country.
• In 2017, FFL released “Beyond the Schism: Reclaiming Feminism,” which asked how something like the Roe and Doe decisions could have happened in America, a country that through centuries of expanded rights, from nobles in Europe to the common man, to freeing those who were enslaved, and finally suffrage for women and people of color, including (and lastly) indigenous Americans. In Serrin’s speech, “The Feminist Case Against Abortion,” she explains how the two men who founded NARAL sadly convinced the women’s movement to embrace abortion by arguing that it wasn’t the employer or educator’s responsibility to accommodate pregnant women or mothers. Serrin also asks Sue Ellen Browder, author of Subverted, to reveal the details of that very moment that split feminists for abortion from feminists for life — and was Alice Paul there?
By walking our talk:
• FFL set the example for small employers and nonprofits through our telecommuting and televolunteering office, flexible workplace policies and benefits, and employing pregnant women.
By sharing our powerful personal stories:
• Many FFL speakers have shared their stories in “Say NO to the Status QuoTM” (2007) and other issues of The American Feminist, as well as through a series of videos posted on Feminists for Life’s website and YouTube. (2008-2009)
• We reached out to you and asked for your stories about reproductive loss in our powerful issue of The American Feminist, “Voices of Women — And Men — Who Mourn” (2016). We featured stories about the spectrum of reproductive loss and grief, including miscarriage, infertility, stillbirth, early infant loss, adoption, pregnancy from rape, and abortion — and how to find hope and healing.
• FFL released “MANIPULATION: Shattered Dreams, False Choices, Eternal Hopes,” our most powerful issue of The American Feminist yet, in which we revealed and analyzed Planned Parenthood’s training documents and multimedia materials. We also shared the personal testimonials of former Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinic workers from And Then There Were None, Abby Johnson’s outreach program to former abortion clinic workers.
• Through The American Feminist, e-list messages, and special events FFL continues to give outstanding pro-life feminists a platform for voicing their concerns and sharing their personal experiences.
By helping people reflect on the culture:
• In 2014, FFL published “A Crying Shame” which explored the impact of shaming parents of large families, young mothers, poor mothers, survivors of sexual assault, and birthmothers as well as so-called “honor-based violence” internationally (assault, forced marriage, rape, acid attack, or murder such as being set on fire), and shaming women into abortions.
• FFL’s feminist name, our pro-woman message, our demonstrated support for women and our saying “yes” to life-affirming solutions have earned us credentials with the media and the pro-choice and pro-life students we are trying to reach.
• Because of FFL’s message and education about our nation’s rich pro-life feminist history, the pro-life movement has become better at articulating support for women.
• In a historic first, an Ivy League debate society proposed the motion that “Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.” FFL President Serrin M. Foster was invited to make the case in support of the motion before the Yale Political Union. After a long and spirited debate passionately argued by seven political parties — which was live-tweeted — a vote was taken, and we won! It was the first time a pro-life motion won at the Yale Political Union.
• Many now educate others about Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and their suffragist colleagues, who condemned abortion as exploitative and anti-woman.
• Many are now using strategies similar to FFL’s on college campuses, and some are taking direct services to the next level.
• Others are using FFL language and strategies on Capitol Hill, at the United Nations, and even in the entertainment community.
• We are the “red carpet organization” welcoming those who want to help us redirect the polarized abortion debate toward envisioning and advocating better solutions for women.
• Because of our track record and the credibility we have earned, FFL has received overwhelmingly positive press from the mainstream media — liberal and conservative, religious and secular — and pro-life press for the last nineteen years.
• FFL’s message — that Women Deserve Better® — has become the rallying cry of those in the pro-life movement and the catch-phase of pro-choice activists who recognize that endless polarized debates do not help women and children. The Women Deserve Better idea is redirecting the debate towards woman-centered solutions.