I am pro-woman and pro-life
Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, January 30, 2018
To the author of the article published last Wednesday entitled “Pro-life and pro-woman?”: I am pro-life and I am pro-woman and I am not a contradiction. I am writing as the president of Notre Dame Right to Life, representing our movement of pro-life, pro-woman, pro-human, humans.
We designed two sets of posters for this year’s March for Life. One said, “because every life is worth fighting for.” The other said, “pro-life and pro-woman.” I held both, because I firmly believe that the two movements fit together beautifully.
Why a “pro-life feminist” is not a contradiction:
You wrote in your article that “contemporary feminism is overwhelmingly pro-choice.” It is important to note that there is a large contingent of modern day feminists that are pro-life (New Wave Feminists, Feminists for Nonviolent Choices, Susan B. Anthony List, etc.). Many people have many different ideas about they believe it means to be a feminist.
The pro-life movement considers itself to be pro-woman because we do not believe that abortion is an integral tenet of feminism. We do not believe abortion liberates women or that abortion is necessary for women’s equality. Abortion hurts women: physically, emotionally and culturally. Sex selective abortions overwhelmingly discriminate against girls. Abortion perpetuates oppression of the most marginalized in society (the unborn) and doing so in the name of women’s freedom from oppression seems illogical. We march for an end to abortion with the aim of better protecting unborn persons and women against the negative effects of abortion.
As a pro-life feminist, I believe we should be striving for a society in which abortion is unthinkable. Where every mom to be has the emotional, financial and temporal resources she needs to be able to raise a child. Where our society has high standards regarding maternal/paternal leave, women’s health care and pregnancy resources, particularly for the incarcerated and other vulnerable women. Where the first words a woman hears upon discovering she is pregnant are not “you’d have to drop out of school” or “you can’t raise a child on your own.” Where pregnancy is treated as a gift to be celebrated, not a medical condition to be cured of.
I understand that some women are put in very difficult situations and may feel that abortion is their only choice. I do not mean to belittle those barriers: They are real. However, as a feminist, I believe we should be fighting to remove these barriers that prevent women from being able to choose life for their children.
I believe that being pro-woman means understanding that women deserve better — better than abortion and better than the situations which lead them to abortion.
A quick note on American politics:
There is no political party that is entirely pro-life, as you mentioned. Unfortunately, that is a never-ending concern for individuals who are holistically pro-life. As someone who cares about women, the unborn, those in poverty, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, refugees and any human person with dignity (which is every human person in case you were wondering) — there are few politicians who represent me.
Your grievances seem to be with the two-party system: not with Notre Dame Right to Life or the broader pro-life movement. So, I will continue to do my duty as an American citizen and try to be the most informed voter I can be and hope that one day I won’t have to make value decisions when I vote, such as who needs more protection from the government this cycle, the unborn or those on death row.
I did not attend the Women’s March because I was not welcome:
We have discussed the possibility of providing opportunities for students on the March for Life to also march in the Women’s March because we share many goals: workers’ rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, environmental justice, ending violence and good healthcare for women. I think it could be incredibly powerful to march as a pro-life feminist at the Women’s March because it would show the world that the pro-life and the pro-women movements are not mutually exclusive as you and many others believe.
However, other goals of the Women’s March are incompatible with the pro-life vision of human dignity and women’s healthcare. We believe that the intentional killing of female life in the womb and the grief which many women experience because of abortion are anti-women and therefore inconsistent with our own goals as a holistically pro-life community.
Last year, pro-life groups came to the Women’s March and they were shunned. Instead of effectively communicating their solidarity with the aspects of empowering women that pro-life feminists agree with, they were told to leave. Although some pro-life groups have attended the Women’s March both years, we decided against officially promoting it as a club due to the overwhelming pro-abortion tenet.
To those who believe the pro-life movement isn’t as holistic as it claims to be:
Please, do some research. Look into what your own University’s pro-life movement does. Check out our website. Talk to a board member. Consider coming to an event. Join us at Hannah and Friends, where we play basketball and dance with individuals who have disabilities. Volunteer with us at Hannah’s House, a home for women in crisis pregnancies. Spend time at Holy Cross Village, where we throw holiday parties for elderly women and men. We often get requests to throw baby showers for women who don’t have the time or finances to do it themselves — maybe you could attend or help us plan one?
If you aren’t busy on Fridays, we babysit the children of parenting students so they can attend class and spend less time worrying about finding and paying for childcare. We’d love to have you work alongside our Pregnancy Resources commission that has desperately been trying to get the word out about the resources Notre Dame has for pregnant and parenting students.
Take some time to understand who we are and what we are trying to do here. If you do that, if you can look at all we do and still tell me that our movement is “unknowingly, and even quasi-unconsciously, engag[ing] in advocacy for an intolerant patriarchal regime” as was said in the “Pro-life and pro-woman?” article, please let me know. I’d honestly love to hear how you think we can change things to better empower women. Because our goal is to recognize and celebrate the dignity of all human life, especially the most vulnerable, and we’d be remiss if we weren’t doing this to the best of our abilities.
president of Notre Dame Right to Life
class of 2018
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.