As part of the momentum of the feminist movement, the Los Angeles County Commission on the Status of Women was established in 1975. It advises the Board of Supervisors on issues of particular importance to women and is otherwise actively engaged in breaking down discrimination against women.

For the past three years, the commission has given annual Women Helping Women awards to those in the various communities of Los Angeles who have made a difference in the lives of other women. This year the Commission on Women, voting on June 1, declared Rebecca Younger one of the winners. However, a second vote was taken on June 29, and the award was taken away from Younger.

Commission President J. Lindsay Woodard sort of explained what had happened: "I can only say that the commission did not have all the facts when she was nominated."

Soon, however, a staff member of the commission clarified what had gone wrong: "The commission was not apprised of {Younger's} affiliation with the prolife community."

The damning charge was true. The 38-year-old Younger, whose husband runs a family company that rebuilds diesel fuel-injected engines, started a shelter for homeless pregnant women two years ago in Long Beach. It's called New Beginnings, and the women who stay there receive medical care, clothes, furniture, parenting classes and career counseling. The mothers also have to agree to attend classes at Long Beach City College, two blocks away from New Beginnings.

"Our program," Younger told Valerie Takahama of the Long Beach Press-Telegram, "is really geared toward helping them take care of themselves in the future. It's not just a flophouse."

At first, Younger was startled at being rejected for one of the Women Helping Women awards. "I am all for women's rights," she says. "We are not second-class citizens. We can certainly accomplish and achieve anything that we set our minds to. Anything."

But what about this prolife attitude? Well, she says, the idea for the shelter came from meeting women who felt they had no choice other than to have an abortion. "But they didn't want to do that, they wanted help." Some had been beaten up by husbands or sometime lovers. Others were homeless or had very little education.

Younger could not understand why the Commission on the Status of Women held New Beginnings against her. "What we offer women is the choice to have their babies. How can they be against that?"

The more she thought about it, the angrier the former nominee became. "I'm always fighting for something or someone. If it's not fighting the welfare system to get someone on welfare, it's a boyfriend who's battering his girlfriend. I don't think this {award thing} is some place I should have to fight." But she did, and in a way that surprised some people into thinking twice about the conventional wisdom that liberals, including liberal feminists, are invariably open-minded and generous of spirit while prolifers are characteristically crabbed and bigoted.

"It made me angry," Younger told Leslie Bond of National Right to Life News, "that prejudice still exists in our country. It would be no different if {the commission had taken away the nomination} because I am a Christian or because I am Hispanic. It's just not right."

On Aug. 10, the commission voted once more. Younger appeared to have won, 6 to 4. But there were three abstentions, and commission president Woodward ruled that the abstentions were to be counted as negative votes.

At this point, the legal counsel for Los Angeles County overruled the magical transformation of abstentions into negative votes, and Younger was finally assured of embattled recognition. Recently, she was one of 17 winners to receive a scroll attesting to the fact that she is indeed an outstanding woman helping women.

A past recipient of the award, renowned feminist lawyer Gloria Allred, remains displeased. Younger should not be considered, Allred says, "any kind of role model or held up to the community as a person whose work should be emulated."

But Susan Carpenter-McMillan, a member of the commission, notes that no previous nominee for the award has done more to help poor women than Younger. And she adds that Younger's victory is a sign that "prolife women will no longer be told to sit at the back of the bus. We are part of the women's movement -- like it or not.