Gloria Steinem has spent decades fighting for reproductive freedom, but as she recently told the Associated Press, she does not think it’s fair to label her “pro-abortion”—as many antichoice activists have done.
On Tuesday Steinem spoke at Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio’s centennial gala and fundraiser, where was greeted by about 40 demonstrators outside of the event who were protesting the women’s health care organization (said one 19-year-old woman: “[Steinem] is in there helping Planned Parenthood raise money to kill more human beings”). Prior to Tuesday’s gala, both Steinem and Planned Parenthood were blasted by the antiabortion group Ohio Right to Life: Steinem was called a “radical pro-abortion icon” and the health care provider was labeled “dehumanizing.”
But despite the protests, Steinem was nonplussed.
“If they supported me, I’d know I was doing something wrong,” Steinem told the AP, referring to the antichoice group. “It’s obviously ridiculous to say somebody is ‘pro-abortion.’ Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, ‘I think I’ll have an abortion. It’s a pleasurable experience.’ The question is not pro-abortion or antiabortion, the question is who makes the decision: a woman and her physician, or the government.”
In recent years, Ohio—Steinem’s home state—has become a battleground for debate over reproductive rights as conservative legislators attempt to limit women’s abortion access. Planned Parenthood board member Beth Crane, a 65-year-old Democrat, defended the organization and told the AP that her late mother, a Republican, had also served as a board member and supported the women’s health care provider.
“When I was young I don’t think Planned Parenthood had such a negative connotation,” Crane told the AP. “It’s become, ‘It’s a liberal organization.’ ‘They kill babies.’” (Planned Parenthood says that abortions total 3 percent of its overall services).
In addition to dismissing the antichoice demonstrators, Steinem spoke about her role in leading the feminist movement and expressed her disbelief that equality between the sexes was not immediately welcomed with universal support. She also spoke critically of Donald Trump, citing, specifically, the family leave policy proposed by his daughter Ivanka Trump.
“That isn’t the policy that people want; they want a family-supportive policy,” Steinem said. “Actually, that policy—I’m not saying she knows this—is the policy of every authoritarian regime that I know of, because they pay women to have children to have more soldiers and more workers, but they don’t support parenthood, fathers, adoption.”