Women Deserve Better

Article excerpt

Women deserve better. Women deserve better."

Serrin Foster repeats that refrain as often as she can-and has for some nine years at Feminists for Life of America, where she has served as executive director and now as president. The message is simple, but potentially revolutionary.

The message is that abortion hurts women. Of course, this comes as no surprise to women who know abortion-either firsthand or through painful observation and education-but they don't often talk about it. That's why some women (and men) in the pro-life movement are now sponsoring a "Women Deserve Better" advertising campaign designed to make women think about what they are doing to themselves, as well as to their unborn child, when they choose to have an abortion.

Tending to both victims of abortion is not entirely without precedent. Groups like Project Rachel have ministered to women for years, with a decidedly and devotedly pro-life (re: anti-abortion) message. The Caring Foundation has run woman-centered television commercials in several states over the last decade. But now, 30 years after Roe v. Wade, this woman-centered message is at the heart of a big new advertising effort made possible by an unprecedented coordination of groups who oppose abortion.

The "Women Deserve Better" campaign, launched earlier this year, is sponsored by a coalition which includes Feminists for Life, Life Resource Network's Women's Task Force, the Second Look Project, Women and Children First, Solidarity With Women/Priests for Life, and the Silent No More Campaign, co-sponsored by NOEL (National Organization of Episcopalians for Life). An associated campaign, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the pro-life office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reads: "Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion." It's all part of a public educational effort "highlighting the failure of abortion to meet the needs of women," according to the "Women Deserve Better" literature. "The campaign is a long-term effort to refocus the nation on the reasons why women feel pressured into abortion and to promote women-centered solutions to these problems."

Sleek, smart brochures and posters and other promotional materials are aimed at catching the eye of the young woman who may not be picking up a pro-life brochure at church. See, for instance, a chic Gen-Xer with a nose ring. Now, nose rings, obviously, aren't every young woman's thing, but if they are, that shouldn't keep the pro-life message from reaching her. The look and feel of the campaign just exude coolness. And requests from college students for Feminists for Life buttons and such ("Refuse to Choose" stickers, for instance) suggest that a "cool" packaged message about abortion is getting through to its target audience. If the idea of a trendy appeal sounds silly, well, consider this: Abortion has been marketed to this generation as a necessary lifestyle choice, another buying decision as it were. If a trendy appeal gets the "Women Deserve Better" life-and-death message to one more college gal-that's the point, isn't it? It's the right message.

The campaign is trendy in another way, too, inasmuch as it takes the feminist position that abortion "empowers" women and turns it on its head. Here, for example, is an ad produced by Feminists for Life, who developed the "Women Deserve Better" slogan (with no focus grouping!); the ad features television star Patricia Heaton, honorary chairwoman of Feminists for Life:

Every 38 seconds in America a woman lays her body down, feeling forced to choose abortion out of a lack of practical resources and emotional support.

Abortion is a reflection that society has failed women.

There is a better way.

Another Feminists for Life ad would answer any concerns that their woman-centered focus is not wholeheartedly just as much about unborn children as it is about women and motherhood. …