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Common Cause Different Perspective: The Generational Divide of the Pro-Choice Movement

Written by Eleanor Hinton Hoytt for RHRealityCheck.org - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

This article is second in a series published in partnership with Choice USA in an effort to highlight the importance of inter-generational dialogue within the reproductive justice movement and to uncover ways to work together across generations in order to sustain and thrive. Read the first by Andrew Jenkins here

Over the past year, I’ve been in many conversations about the future of the pro-choice movement—conversations that have raised questions about the absence of passionate, angry young feminists today who will take our place as heads of pro-choice organizations tomorrow. These conversations and my recent participation in the Stand Up for Women Rally against defunding Title X and Planned Parenthood reminded me of early experiences about finding my place in a budding feminist movement in the South.

From my time a college student in the South at the height of the civil rights movement to the early 1980s, when the National Black Women’s Health Project was started, there were few places for young, angry Black women. I witnessed many young Black women throughout our communities who were faced with unintended pregnancies and grappled with their one option, feeling that they had no choice.  With no job, no money and paralyzing fear – many young women made the decision to have a back alley abortion.  Admitting their “sin,” returning home to disgraced parents, becoming a wife at their own “shotgun” wedding, and putting their dreams on hold to take care of an unwelcomed baby and an unwanted husband were not options. 

It was these events that led me to step from behind the shadows during a time when many felt women were at their best when they were mute. I declared myself a Black feminist and became embroiled in one of the biggest rights movements in our nation’s history. ... Read more