Thursday, October 15, 2015

Prolife Feminism Yesterday and Today

This books, a large collection of essays, has been compiled by Mary Krane Derr, Rachel MacNair, and Linda Naranjo-Huebl. It is the revised and much-expanded earlier version of this same book with the same title. This in-depth book begins with an Introduction to the entire book and gives a the historical overview of feminism and the three Editors' credits to some people who made the book possible. Then the Editors open with an Introduction to Part one, which consistes of essays by past feminists, from Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) to Dorothy Day (1897-1980). Then the Editors continue with Part Two, with an Introduction that helps the reader transition, in historical context, to modern prolife feminism. Part Two begins with essays by Fannie Lou Townsend Hamer (1917-1977) to Linda Naranjo-Huebl. The Editors end Part Two with a Bibliography, many pages of Endnotes with sources used in research, and an Index.

This book is the greatly revised and updated version of an earlier version of this book. It is a big book, and it took awhile to get through it. I found the earlier essays by ealier feminists challenging to follow, as their styles of writing and language tend to be more from earlier times and more arcane. Many of them seem to have been taken from larger writings and my concern is that prochoice people can argue that these writings were taken out of context. In fact, I have read a review or two where current feminists scoff at the idea of "prolife feminism," clearly declaring that these writings have been taken out of context. Clearly, though, these feminists denounced abortion as not serving women and as using them for profit, as well as killing their children. The writers of this book come from diverse religions, walks of life, ethnicities, and some are LGBT. I liked the variety and styles of essays, including question and answer formats for some of them. These writers adopt a "consistently prolife ethic," where they assert that they are prolife not only about the unborn, but about all people at all ages and stages of development. Reading this book dispels the notion that to be prolife, you have to be a Christan or any "religion," support and vote only for Republicans, and be for other "conservative" issues like unregulated gun rights, the death penalty, military involvment, and oppose means-tested government assistance programs (like Food Stamps and Medicaid). One big beef of mine with so many who identify as prolife but who oppose so many government assistance for low-income pregnant women, poor single moms, early childhood education and other services that many vulnerable citizens rely on just to survive. It seems hypocritical to denounce abortion as evil and as murder, while being unwilling to make changes in society that would make carrying untimely and crisis pregnancies more appealing. It seems that all the writers of this book's essays would agree.

I recommend this book for all those who identify as prolife. It can show them that you do not have to fit the conservative and right-wing profile in order to respect all life and protect it from conception on. I recommend this book for all who call themselves prochoice, as a woman-centered book like this may be more acceptable to those who identify as prochoice or feminist (or both) than most prolife literature. Most average prolife literature is more baby-centered and the well-being of the woman seems to be secondary to what comes off as the primary subject of concern: the baby. This is not a Christian book, though some of the authors of the essays in the book identify as both Christian as well as prolife feminists. Books like this can change the tone of the abortion debate so I can recommend it to those on either side of the debate.

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