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Credit: Ananya Chandra , Ananya Chandra

“Can you be a feminist and oppose abortion?” Wharton sophomore and head of Quakers for Life Eric Hoover asked.

After the exclusion of pro-life groups from the Women’s March on Jan. 21, this is a question a lot of Penn pro-life students have been asking.

Hannah Victor, a graduate student in both the School of Nursing and Penn Law School and a board member of Quakers for Life, said that in the wake of the march there is much discussion over what it means to be a pro-life feminist.

“What kind of women’s march intentionally excludes the point of view of [over 40%] of women?” Victor asked. “I think that you can very much be a pro-life feminist and be proud of it.”

Hoover, who attended the Women’s March as a part of the Columbus, Ohio-based pro-life group Created Equal, experienced this opposition firsthand.

Members of our group were spit at, they told us that we should be killed, they told us that we should die, told us that we should have been aborted,” Hoover said, “I’ve never met anyone as hateful as some of the people at the Women’s March.”

The aggression towards pro-life groups at the march made one Wharton freshman decide not to attend.

“It’s called the Women’s March. It wasn’t a march for reproductive health, so I think the only requirement should be you’re a woman who wants to be treated equally,” she said.

She requested to be anonymous, fearing social exclusion if people found out she was pro-life.

“It’s threatening,” she said. “I see how people are treated online for having this more conservative view and I don’t want to be isolated.”

Rachel Burkey, a representative for Created Equal echoed these sentiments.

“[The Women’s March] was a gathering of the most vile, profane, intolerant group of protestors that I’ve ever encountered,” Burkey said. “It was obvious they were a close-minded group.”

Hoover also felt that being pro-life and pro-women are not necessarily exclusive.

“Our platform is 100 percent pro-women, we’re pro-women’s rights, especially the one group in our society that is discriminated against the most: pre-born women and pre-born men,” Hoover said. “It is a shame that people who support all women, pre-born and born, would be treated in that way.”

On Penn’s campus though, pro-life students sometimes feel that their views are not considered legitimate.

“There is a measure of opposition,” Victor said. “Sometimes I’m viewed as a sort of traitor to my own gender.”

Although Hoover felt that the “tolerance mantra” is a “complete sham,” he said Quakers for Life plans to continue their work this semester to foster greater dialogue on campus.

“I’m thankful to be at a place that protects our freedom of speech,” Hoover said. “We should all be able to have a reasonable conversation with someone.”

Victor, too remains hopeful that Penn is a “space for dialogue” where students with different views on abortion can learn from each other.

“If you’re open you should be open to hearing people’s differences and move on,” the Wharton freshman said. “I like to consider myself a feminist, and being pro-life shouldn’t take that away.”

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