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Identifying as Christian and pro-choice

| Thursday, February 2, 2017

As a college freshman, my religious beliefs motivated me to attend the March for Life sponsored by Saint Mary’s College. As a junior, I attended the Women’s March in D.C. to fight for social, political and economic equality of women and men. From experience, the two marches cannot rival each other, yet there has been social media, news coverage and campus climate arguing otherwise.

In early December, my co-marcher asked Saint Mary’s faculty if they could offer funds for students to go to the Women’s March as they do for the March for Life. Our all women’s college turned her down, claiming the Women’s March was too political. The college’s opposition seemed unfair because our United States Constitution outlines the separation of church and state, and I have only known the anti-abortion cohort as led by the church. I understand abortion is against Catholic doctrine, but denying funds for the Women’s March for political reasons seems hypocritical, as the March for Life also carries a strong political agenda.

The Women’s March mission states, “We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society.” The Saint Mary’s purpose statement reads, “In preparing women for roles of leadership and action, Saint Mary’s pays particular attention to the rights and responsibilities of women in the worlds of work, church, community and family.” We, the female students, cannot fulfill the purpose of the College in a nation where women still fall far behind the leadership curve.

As pro-choice ideals claimed a fraction of the Women’s March’s theme, I expected to encounter anti-religious groups. Instead, I encountered many religious groups protesting with us. My favorite poster read, “Social Justice is a Christian Tradition, Not a Liberal Agenda.”

The Women’s March attracted people from everywhere, with every experience. At the Women’s March, I learned more about abortion than I did at the March for Life. I learned more about diversity amongst women than I did at the March for Life. As a Christian, I like to think that if I had an unexpected pregnancy, I would choose to carry, but I’ve never had to make that decision. I’ve never lived in poverty nor been raped. I’ve never lived in a country where healthcare is scarce and death is a common sacrifice of birth. As a privileged woman, I don’t know if I could make that call for myself and certainly not for others barred with unspeakable burdens.

I do know that the Center for Disease Control reported a gradual decrease in abortions since 1984 which correlates with an increase in organizations who provide affordable reproductive healthcare for women. It is my understanding that most of these organizations also provide abortion procedures, thus are bombarded with pro-life protesters. I respect the rights of democracy, but if we look at the opposing sides from an anti-abortion viewpoint, the pro-choice side is clearly doing a better job.

I left the Women’s March educated on social and global problems that I didn’t know existed. I also left the Women’s March as a pro-choice Christian citizen.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • Newyorkmom

    This article is so poorly written and there are so many nonsensical comments. The Constitution speaks to state sponsored religion and has nothing to do with a private university and how they allocate their funds. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  • yellow1234

    I don’t think you understand the principle of “separation of church and state”. Your college not donating funds for you to attend a march that specifically defies church doctrine is not it.

  • Anton

    Having never needed to struggle to reconcile religious identity with political stances, I applaud the writer as an example I would definitely want to be able to match up in both courage and elegance in case I might be put in such a position.
    And the fact that the rather disrespectful detractions single out peripheral technicalities rather than engage with the core question of Saint Mary’s commitment to women’s empowerment really shows that they don’t have much of substance to offer in opposition (and “so poorly written and there are so many nonsensical comments” doesn’t qualify as substance either).

    • conway0516

      The fallacies in this writing take away from the author’s credibility and description of her sudden conversion from pro-life to pro-choice.

      None of the prior comments are debating that she is wrong for doing that. She is within her rights to do so, while somewhat flippant. However, claiming St. Mary’s is infringing on perceived rights afforded by the Constitution is abolsutely erroneous. Separation of church and state is a gray area within the Constitution to begin with and isn’t as outlined as the writer describes. Even if it were explicit, it definitely does not apply to a private university choosing not to fund a field trip to D.C. It’s more than just a “peripheral technicality” but more of a major point in her writing.

      And all of this ignores the sheer fact that the women’s march was organized and supported by pro-choice groups that excluded some pro-life women’s groups from marching. So on what ground should St. Mary’s have supported this? I applaud St. Mary’s for seeing this as more than just a march for the “fight for social, political, and economic equality for men and women.”

      Let’s turn the tables – how would it look for a group of St. Mary’s women marching under a banner reflecting the school’s Catholic identity within a group of pro-choice advocates dressed as female anatomy? I think that photo op would spark more op-eds wondering why SMC, a Catholic institution, funded/sponsored the march as opposed to this one asking why they didn’t.

  • Linda Hunter

    Thank you Megan it’s not women set out in life to have as many Abortions as they can have. It’s more like birthcontrol failed then that’s just the two morning after pills. At @ 3 or 4 months the fetus / baby is wanted. That’s also the time when fetal abnormalities also show up and the host carrier/ mother and her doctor have difficult decisions to make that don’t involve you or I. Women too are not infallible things go wrong with our bodies too more so when we are pregnant than not. Please allow us to make the best choices under the circumstances for ourselves and our families. Thank You God Bless