Pro-life feminists exist – although the ones I respect are committed to reducing abortion by changing society so that women are much less likely to choose abortion, rather than by calling for forced childbirth for pregnant women. The “reducing demand” approach is, imo, perfectly compatible with feminism.
Unfortunately, most self-identified pro-life feminists are indistinguishable from their non-feminist counterparts. For example,: Nathan Sheets, posting on the “feminists for life” community, discusses the intact D&X abortion procedure (also known as “partial birth” abortion):
No, it’s not. The reason the head is left in there is because this is an abortion, not a medical procedure to save the woman. Death is the goal. The head must stay in otherwise the baby would be born. Health is not the reason these abortions occur–the desire for the baby to be dead is.
Contrary to what Nathan thinks, a woman’s body changes throughout pregnancy to prepare her to give birth. A woman in her ninth month of pregnancy, whose body has fully adjusted for giving birth, can safely deliver an intact baby head – usually. (Even at nine months, childbirth is still dangerous for a significant number of mothers.)
But late-term abortions don’t take place at nine months; virtually all of them take place before the 24th week. At that point, it’s simply not safe for the woman to deliver something as large as an intact fetal head, because her body hasn’t prepared for it. Which is why doctors compress the fetus’ head before delivery.
Even when the fetus is already dead (which is not uncommon with intact d&x abortions), a doctor performing an intact d&x will still compress the fetal head. Not to do so vastly increases the chance of the mother being injured, and would be medically irresponsible.
Unfortunately, I don’t think Nathan’s ignorance – or Nathan’s demonizing of women who have abortions as death-loving harpies – is all that unusual among the pro-forced-childbirth crowd, whether or not they self-identify as “feminist.”
(I originally wrote this as a reply to post on the feminists for life livejournal. But it turns out they don’t let non-members post, so I’m posting it here instead.)