New anti-abortion legislation in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah has divided the nation.
The most restrictive bill was signed into law Wednesday by Alabama’s Republican Governor Kay Ivey. It prohibits abortion in “almost every circumstance,” the Washington Post reports. “The legislation makes exceptions only for the health of the mother and for fetuses with ‘fatal anomalies’ that make them unlikely to survive outside the womb.” Pregnancy from both rape and incest are not considered exceptions to Alabama’s ban.
As lawmakers hope these restrictions will force the cases up to the right-leaning Supreme Court, millions have taken to social media to voice their concerns, including a number of vegans and animal rights activists.
The Vegan-Feminist Connection
“[O]f all the ‘feminist shit’ I’ve done in the past three years, going vegan takes the cruelty-free cake,” Elizabeth Enochs wrote for The Establishment last November. “Nothing else has empowered me to set healthy boundaries and call out sexist bullshit like extending my circle of compassion to farmed animals.”
Enochs touches on the criticism vegans often receive, as well:
“I know that a white woman making this kind of statement, perhaps especially in Trump’s America, might be upsetting—and I get that. Historically, the feminism of white women has been far from intersectional. Many white women voted for Trump, and reportedly less than half of white women voters in the U.S. believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh. It’s also true that, although I started switching to veganism while living in a remote pocket of southeast Missouri, I now live in southern California, where affordable vegan food is widely accessible. But I think it’s a valid point that needs to be made, and women of color have been expressing similar sentiments for decades. In fact, vegan feminists like Angela Davis and Audre Lorde inspired me to stop eating meat back in 2016.”
In a recent speech to California college students, feminist and vegan actor Natalie Portman illustrated the strong connection between eggs and dairy and female oppression.
Portman says eating eggs or dairy makes it difficult for someone to call themselves a feminist.
“Only after I became active in women’s issues did I realize that my veganism was related to those very issues,” she told the crowd of 16,000. “Dairy and eggs don’t just come from cows and chickens, they come from female cows and female chickens. We’re exploiting female bodies and abusing the magic of female animals to create eggs and milk,” she said.
“Mothers are separated from children to create milk. Animals are sick and in crowded, prison-like conditions to make dairy and eggs. It doesn’t take a lot to draw the line from how we treat animals to how we treat humans,” Portman told the crowd.
Ninety-nine percent of America’s animal products come from factory farm settings where animals are not afforded natural behaviors, including nurturing their offspring.
Both the dairy and egg industries involve highly unnatural practices. Dairy cows are repeatedly impregnated in order to force lactation, going from one pregnancy to the next. Antibiotics and growth hormones lace their feed in order to spur growth and production. But most calves never see their mothers’ copious amount of milk – that’s collected for sale to humans. The calves are instead fed processed formulas and high-calorie diets to speed their own growth. Male calves, in many cases, head into the veal industry while females are groomed for life as dairy producers.
The egg industry is similarly unnatural; battery hens are forced to lay nearly 1500 percent more eggs than they would in a natural setting. Practices like forced molting, where the animals are deprived of light and food are used to spur laying.
According to the animal rights group PETA, the light in the sheds is “constantly manipulated” to maximize egg production. “For two weeks at a time, the hens are fed only reduced-calorie feed. This process induces an extra laying cycle.”
The meat industry can be particularly cruel to female animals as well. Pregnant pigs are often forced into tiny gestation crates so small the animals — widely considered smarter than dogs — cannot even turn around. They’re then forced to nurse their offspring from behind bars, stripped of the natural nurturing process.
The exploitation of female animals extends far beyond food. “Puppy mills” see female dogs, cats, and other pets forced into repeated pregnancies and near-immediate separation from their offspring.
Animal parks like SeaWorld have been heavily criticized for the forced separation of whales and their calves, as detailed in the 2013 film “Blackfish.”
Eating Animals and Violence Against Women
“There’s also an undeniable link between animal abuse and violence against women,” Enochs wrote.
“A survey of women in domestic violence shelters found that 71 percent had partners who had abused or threatened to abuse companion animals, and recent studies show that slaughterhouse work can lead to domestic violence, social withdrawal, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and PTSD.”
She also points to a 2009 study by criminologist Amy Fitzgerald that found in comparison with other industries, “slaughterhouse employment increased total arrest rates, including arrests for rape and other violent crimes.”
Enochs points to the PTSD Journal: “These employees are hired to kill animals, such as pigs and cows, that are largely gentle creatures. Carrying out this action requires workers to disconnect from what they are doing and from the creature standing before them.”
Vegans Speak Out Against Abortion Bans
Vegans have become some of the most vocal opponents of the abortion laws in the last week.
Wild Heart Farm + Sanctuary in North Carolina posted a vegan take on Rosie the Riveter, with a cow alongside a modern-day Rosie and the tag lines “Females Supporting Females” and “Vegans for Peace.”
Animal rights illustrator Samantha Fung shared an image of a woman’s body with demarcations similar to those used to identify cuts of meat.
Kasia Ring creator of vegan fashion brand Care Wears shared a post that read: “when the penalty for aborting rape is more severe than the penalty for rape, that’s when you know it’s a war on women.”
A number of vegan men are speaking out, too: musician, author, and restaurateur Moby, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, and 5-time Formula One Racing Champion Lewis Hamilton shared the “Men Shouldn’t Be Making Laws About Women’s Bodies” wallpaper post.