Why I Left the Pro-Life Movement

I protested abortion for years. But when I saw how the movement’s beliefs harm women, I realized I had to get out.

Sarah Olson Michel
GEN
Published in
8 min readMay 20, 2019

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Credit: Saul Loeb/Getty Images

TThis week, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a measure that aims to ban almost all abortions and punish those who perform or obtain them. Though she recognizes the bill may ultimately be blocked by the Supreme Court, the governor made clear that its purpose is to undermine Roe v. Wade.

The bill, called the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, is a startling acknowledgment of the anti-abortion “pro-life” movement’s determination to show that a fetus is a human life deserving of protection, but a woman is not. These so-called “heartbeat bills” — which ban abortions after the six-week mark of pregnancy, when a heartbeat is first detected — are an indication of policymakers’ lack of understanding about reproductive health and women’s bodies. We already know that states with the most strict abortion laws have the worst infant mortality rates, and despite their work to ban abortions, Alabama isn’t working to make infancy or motherhood any safer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of pregnancy-related fatalities is three times higher for women of color than white women.

“We have the means to identify and close gaps in the care [these women] receive,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Center for Disease Control, told The New York Times. “We can and should do more.”

There are two significant problems within the anti-abortion movement, which is why I strongly disagree with calling them “pro-life.” The first is that the movement is not doing much to provide resources or support for mothers and infants after birth — as if they only care about the fetus before it is born. The second major issue is that much of the community is host to a negative and toxic attitude toward women.

The source of the problem starts with the movement’s roots in the Christian Right, a politically powerful group of right-wing Christians that still hold sway politically in the United States. I have already explored how Christianity can be damaging for women — these problems are extremely evident in the anti-abortion community. I know this through firsthand…

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Sarah Olson Michel
GEN
Writer for

Feminist twentysomething whose reading time is continuously interrupted by life.