On this Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, I have come across several articles that have sparked in me a sense of hope for a future that is truly pro-life and pro-woman—and as Catholics, we believe that you can’t have one without the other. Respecting women means respecting all human life, seeing every person as precious and irreplaceable just by virtue of existing—never objectifying anyone or devaluing them, regardless of their looks or their abilities or their gender. It means building a culture that supports women and enables them to say yes to life instead of making them feel that they have no choice but abortion. It means empowering women to do difficult things—whether that means becoming single mothers, making an adoption plan for their child, or having the courage to say no to the pervasive messages of hookup culture and to live chastely—instead of feeling helpless. It means protecting the lives of all women, at every stage of life—from the unborn to the elderly. And, in turn, respecting all human life means treating each and every woman with dignity, including those who have been involved in and hurt by abortion.
I was greatly inspired by seeing pictures of my brothers and sisters come together in prayer for the unborn during the Day for Life at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. So many of our fellow Frassati members give so much of their time and energy toward defending the unborn and respecting all life, and it was heartening to see a strong, peaceful presence in support of the dignity of all human life. Yesterday my parish took a few minutes for prayer after Mass at our shrine for the unborn, praying for an end to abortion. Every year at this time, so many people fight the wave of the culture, which says that abortion is necessary, and stand together in prayer for the unborn. After forty-four years of legalized abortion, we are still fighting and still praying.
This is a weird time of transition for our country, and most people who are pro-life feel like they don’t quite fit in at either end of the political spectrum. There aren’t many voices in the political sphere right now that are truly representing a holistically pro-life perspective. But some pro-life individuals are making their voices heard anyway, in places where pro-life ideas are considered radical:
God bless you, Destiny Herndon De La Rosa, Abby Johnson, Aimee Murphy, Students for Life, and all the strong, smart women who had the courage to face not only the abuse of pro-choicers but the abuse of your fellow Catholics. God bless you for telling the world that abortion hurts women, that pro-life is pro-women. God bless you for turning over your lives to the pro-life cause, when even other pro-lifers refused to help.
And God bless you for being physically there, for putting yourself right next to women who have been told all their lives that pro-lifers are rigid, angry, fanatical misogynists. God bless you for talking to them, showing them that we are human, showing them that there is another way of seeing the world.
You are the ones who are changing hearts; and that is how abortion is defeated. Not by signing bills, not by babbling catchphrases when it’s politically expedient and shrugging them off when it’s not. Not by yanking help away from the needy.
Abortion is defeated when pro-lifers have the courage to go where they are not invited.
—Simcha Fisher, “Catholic pro-lifers at the Women’s March? Get used to it.“
Yeah, the protest was organized and funded by pro-choicers. Yeah, “abortion rights” became one of the planks of their platform, after a stink was raised in some quarters. But tons of pro-life women showed up anyway, because pro-life is a feminist cause ne plus ultra. As the giant banner said — the banner that led the march, because Students For Life decided to run right out in front — “ABORTION BETRAYS WOMEN.”
So there were pro-life feminists there. In some venues, they were attacked and screamed at; in some venues, they were greeted with respect and support, even from women who didn’t agree with them….
Don’t underestimate the power of popular culture to change hearts and minds. It’s already becoming more acceptable to be pro-life. It’s already becoming more evident that there is more to us than “no, no, no.” Today’s young adults are looking around at the cultural wasteland left behind after the sexual revolution, and they’re thinking, “Well, that didn’t work. What else can we try?”
—Simcha Fisher, “Pro-Choice Feminists and Pro-Life Feminists Should March Together.”
The women’s rights movement has opened up just a crack, a tiny crack, to allow pro-life voices to filter in—and this is a huge deal. It means that maybe, just maybe, abortion will no longer be considered the lynchpin of feminism, that maybe a pro-life feminist won’t be seen as an oxymoron, that maybe we will be able to stand in solidarity on the issues we have in common and enter into compassionate discussion on the issues where we differ. Maybe all it means is that a few people who would otherwise think of pro-lifers as a group of judgmental crazies got the chance to see a different perspective—and that’s a start. Is it tricky navigating these waters, when supporting “feminism” might often be interpreted as being pro-choice, and when many are actively trying to exclude any pro-life presence? Absolutely. And it’s important to consider how our actions will be interpreted. If we call ourselves feminists at all, we must be “pro-life feminists”—shifting the very perception of what feminism means. But whatever we do, we can’t view pro-choice individuals as the enemy—they are our brothers and sisters, victims of a terrible lie.
We don’t know what the future will hold. But today, I’m choosing to have hope in a brighter future for women and an end to the scourge of abortion. Let us pray for all the unborn and reflect upon the sorrow of these past forty-four years since Roe v. Wade, for all the children who have been killed and for all the women who have been hurt and lied to. And let us channel our sorrow into compassion and a thirst for change.