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Abortion activists face off at UC Berkeley

By David Scharfenberg Daily Planet staff
Saturday April 20, 2002

A speech by a “pro-life feminist” on the UC Berkeley campus Friday afternoon sparked a stand-off between activists from both sides of the abortion debate. 

Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life, a Washington D.C. advocacy group, spoke on the steps of Sproul Plaza while students and local activists waved signs and exchanged shouts. 

Foster focused much of her speech on the pro-life politics of early feminists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and painted her group as the inheritor to their legacy. 

“The early American feminists worked to outlaw abortion in this country,” she said. “I stand here proudly to continue the tradition.” 

Foster argued that the United States should outlaw abortion and focus on providing women with the legal and social services they need to raise children. 

Kody Hilton, volunteer coordinator for the California Abortion & Reproductive Rights Action League in San Francisco, said the pro-choice movement supports the provision of all the services advocated by Foster, but that legalized abortion should remain in place as well. 

Christina Hioureas, co-president of the UC Berkeley chapter of the National Organization for Women, said feminism is about choices and Foster is seeking to eliminate a choice. 

“She’s not a feminist,” Hioureas said. 

But Nora Ludden, an Oakland resident and member of Feminists for Life, said the group is taking the strongest approach to women’s rights. 

“Pro-choice is begging for scraps instead of calling for real change,” she said, arguing, like Foster, that the focus should be on developing a wide spectrum of support services for women that would make abortion unnecessary. 

Foster will speak at a pro-life conference on the UC Berkeley campus today that will train high school and college activists to form advocacy groups, raise money and argue pro-life positions