The IWF has no official position on abortion, and we welcome both pro-life and pro-choice women on our board and staff and among the readers of InkWell. What we do take a strong posision on–we’re adamantly opposed–is the insistence of some radical feminists that you can’t be a good feminist unless you’re an absolutist on abortion rights. And also the rad-fems’ insistence that you can’t be pro-choice if you’re not voting for John Kerry in November.

Reader B.N. points out that the rad-fems’ requirement that women who call themselves “feminists” subscribe to every last jot and tittle of the left-liberal Democratic social platform extends to other areas as well–and that this accounts for 24-year-old Mary Katherine Ham’s disgust (voiced in a hilarious essay posted on the IWF home page) with a young former Democratic staffer she met in a bar who assumed that because she was a female, she would just love affirmative action (See: Mailbag: Dems Want Big Government to Take Care of Frail Female Flowers, Sept. 13). B.N. e-mails:

“Monday, Sept. 13, I was privileged to hear Sen. Joe Biden speak to the Office on Violence Against Women’s Symposium Honoring the 10th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. The senator detailed the history of his fight ten years ago to provide federal protection for women, children, and (gasp!) even men from the horror of having the right to life and liberty threatened by those whom we trust with our lives and love.

“Sen. Biden told of the struggle that he faced in the Senate and with the groups he had believed would be his allies, including the National Organization for Women and the domestic violence community. He said that some of the members of these groups originally opposed his efforts to create federal protections against spousal and child abuse, rape, stalking, and violence and discrimination in the workplace because they were afraid that any such legislation would ‘trump abortion rights.’

“Now, I will admit that I’m a small-government, individual liberty Republican woman, that I come close to being a single-issue voter, and am single-minded in my obsession with the right to life of all members of the human species, but I was surprised enough to exclaim aloud. After a day of listening to, and crying with, first-person stories of child abuse, rape, stalking that led to murder, and plain old wife-beating, choking, and murder — and trying to stifle my small-government preferences, so as not to mar the common ground for the protection of the most helpless in our society that I hold with the other Symposium attendees — I wasn’t prepared to hear the senator’s blatant admission, although it was something I would have bet was true in a more cynical setting….

“I am…a child of the early ’70’s, and remember the feminist movement before 1973. I remember when we women were demanding equality as citizens of this country and when equality meant ‘opportunity,’ not ‘abortion.’ We fought for natural childbirth, breast feeding, educational opportunities based on our own efforts and equal pay for equal work, without sexual harassment and abuse at the workplace…When I hear one of the co-sponsors of the 1994 VAWA state flatly that some members of my species (the only species that has this sort of conversation, as far as I know) are willing to compromise the safety and lives of all the other members of the species for the ‘right’ to intentionally and electively kill other members of our species before they are born, I can’t help but be convinced that the women’s movement I knew in the ’70’s has been hijacked by abortion proponents.”

Thanks for the thoughts, B.N. While I myself am not sure that federal laws are the best way to deal with domestic violence–there were laws on the books banning that in every state long before the federal Violence Against Women Act came into being–I do have strong feelings about women’s right not to be beaten or deliberately injured in their own homes. And I think it’s insane that a group such as NOW is so wedded to its absolutist-left ideology that it would put the issue of domestic violence on the back burner. But that’s radical feminism for you. And it’s why we who don’t think feminism should be monolithic call ourselves the “Independent” Women’s Forum.