Luanne Austin dedicated her editorial in the Daily News-Record to praise our half-century of work on resources and support for the most vulnerable. Luanne REALLY nails it!
What choices does a woman have?
Last week, when I received an email from Feminists for Life of America announcing the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, I was impressed with their continued care for and support of women with unexpected pregnancies:
“Now is the time to redouble our efforts to lovingly, peacefully reach past the angry voices to those who need help, who may not believe in themselves, who don’t yet know about WomenDeserveBetter.com, our helpsite—or that there are thousands of pregnancy resource centers who won’t take a dime, but give everything they can.”
Years ago, when Planned Parenthood’s former research arm, the Guttmacher Institute, revealed the list of reasons cited by women who had abortions — primarily lack of resources and support — FFL adopted it as their task list.
“Abortion is a reflection that we haven’t met the needs of women, and women deserve better,” says Serrin Foster, president of FFL, based in Alexandria, Va.
It’s unfortunate, in this day and age, that the abortion debate is still so dualistic, so “this or that,” so either/or. As in, “either have the baby and ruin your life or have an abortion and move forward with your life.”
What kind of choice is that? Can’t we do better?
To be pro-woman means to listen to what women want, not tell them what to do. It means to encourage them to believe in themselves, and to offer support and resources.
Being pro-woman means not to force women to compete in the world as men. It means to let us function in the world as women.
Beyond the either/or debate, there is a third way. A holistic, woman-centered way.
Founded in 1972, FFL envisions and works toward a world in which campuses and workplaces support mothers in practical ways and don’t force them to choose between their education or career plans and their children.
For instance, in 1994, FFL published the first-ever comprehensive pregnancy resource directory in the country. The self-help directory covered services in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland.
On International Women’s Day 2018, FFL released their “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.
FFL reviewed 33 school websites to determine their support for pregnant and parenting students. They 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.
FFL has published a “Recommendations for Best Practices at Colleges and Universities Serving Pregnant and Parenting Students,” available on their website.
A Workplace Inventory published by FFL helps expectant and parenting moms to assess the supportiveness of their workplace. It’s as easy as checking “have it,” “need it” or “want it” beside each item.
Depending on the answers, a woman is encouraged to approach her boss or human resources director with concerns and proposed solutions. If the person taking the inventory is a business owner, CEO, or HR director, they’re encouraged to approach their employees and ask for help in establishing a task force to address unmet needs.
FFL’s website, womendeservebetter.com offers tons of resources for moms, dads and their families.
When we say we are pro-choice or pro-life—the “angry voices” referred to in FFL’s email—without providing viable choices, support and resources for pregnant and parenting women, it means that we care little for actual women and children and more about a political issue.
Angry voices often turn into violence. And we have seen where violence leads.
Luanne Austin lives in Mount Sidney. Contact her at RuralPen@aol.com, facebook.com/ruralpen or care of the DN-R.
If you wish to join us in our holistic, pro-woman, pro-life mission, or you want to invite a friend along, consider this your (or your friend’s) official welcome!
Because women — and girls — deserve better,
Serrin M. Foster
Feminists for Life of America
Women Deserve Better
& The American Feminist