The country is raw, wounded, and deeply divided. Last weekend, a new president was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. The day after, millions of women marched worldwide.
Today, a different type of march will take place in Washington, D.C. – a march which has historically received hundreds of thousands of participants, but has been largely overlooked by mainstream media – the March for Life.
Since last weekend, I have watched women who advocate pro-life causes accused of being backward women, and anti-feminist. I know several women who feel verbally and emotionally beaten into quietness – they don’t want to be attacked, they don’t want their character besmirched, and they don’t want to be ridiculed for a belief that is intrinsic to who they are as women – wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, individuals.
I have been relatively silent myself, primarily because of the level of vitriol I have seen thrown toward those affiliated with the pro-life movement. But, I have never been one to back down from a confrontation, and historically have a bad habit, when backed into a corner for my beliefs, to actually come out swinging. I don’t want to do that, but I do want to shed light on a few key points, as women prepare to “March for Life” today.
First, pro-life shouldn’t just mean “pro-birth.” Instead, it is recognizing the intrinsic value of all individual lives. As a practicing Catholic Christian, my belief is that all life begins at the moment of conception. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. At the moment a new life has been created, a guardian angel is assigned to that creation. No matter the circumstances of conception, that little being has a purpose, a meaning, and a destiny given to them by God. It is also my belief that a life is worthy of dignity, respect, and protection up until the moment of natural death. Again, there is not much wiggle-room for this philosophy.
Secondly, most women like myself, advocating for life and advocating against abortion, recognize there are mitigating circumstances which would lead a woman to consider aborting her baby. These circumstances include, but are not limited to: the cost to raise a child, the cost of childcare alone, little to no support from their communities, circumstances surrounding the pregnancy, and the stigma still attached to single parenthood. Our country is woefully inadequate when it comes to supporting “unplanned,” and even planned, pregnancies. Most of us would agree we need to promote a culture of life, and work to enhance the quality of lives across this nation.
When a life is created, it is my belief that everything must be done to allow that life an opportunity to serve God’s mission for it in its lifetime – whether that lifetime will be short, or plagued by disability, or whether that life will be able-bodied. That tiny life, within its mother’s womb, has a soul, and therefore should be extended the same rights as adults walking around in the streets – to be given a chance at life.
God, in His infinite wisdom and goodness, gave each of us free will. Free will to follow Him, and to abide by His rules. And, He has given us free will to reject His rules, or even to disbelieve in Him.
But, as a believer and follower of Christ, it is my duty and obligation to work to spread God’s word, and to disagree with societal norms at times. It challenges me to welcome those around me into a relationship with Him – one which acknowledges Him as Supreme Creator, and someone whose rules should be followed.
The Catholic lifestyle also requires me to take a stand for the dignity and worth of the least of us (those unborn, those disabled, those disenfranchised, and the elderly who often feel forgotten or as though their life no longer serves a purpose). For me, this isn’t a “pro-choice”/woman issue – at the moment of conception, it ceases being a “woman’s issue,” and becomes a “preservation of life” issue.
If my beliefs stand at odds with current societal values, then that is a struggle I will accept. All I ask is for those who may disagree with me to be respectful in their dialogue, their view of who I am as a woman, and refrain from condemning me as someone unintelligent and anti-feminist. Those accusations are hurtful, when I am supporting the rights of those I view as humans, regardless of legal definitions.
I believe in the concept of the preservation of life, and despite disagreeing with those who insist my views are not indicative of feminism, I will love them.
I will continue to respectfully promote the right to life, with a special emphasis on the dignity of all lives, no matter how small, how frail, how seemingly unplanned the lives may look to others.
As it states in Jeremiah 29:11, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”