When I first took part in a pro-life march, I was twenty-three – and that, friends, was a long time ago! I have marched as a single young woman, as a young mom with kids in strollers, as a middle-aged woman with teenagers, and as an older woman with sore feet. Now I am tremendously proud of my adult children who march out of their own conviction. Tomorrow is the March for Life in Washington, D.C. and it is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people. I have never been there, only to its little cousin in Ottawa, but my thoughts and prayers will be with them. We all long for the day when all human life is respected.
To those who have grown up with unfettered access to abortion, it is hard to express just how shocking and horrific it was to witness the acceptance of a practice that had been universally condemned. In the early days of the pro-life movement, we assumed that people who were pro-choice did not realize that they were taking an innocent human life. (They referred to the fetus as a blob of cells or product of conception.) Our focus was on education; our intention was to open a window on the development of the unborn child so that its humanity would be respected. We looked to lawmakers to recognize the personhood of the unborn, which science was making increasingly apparent, but that was not politically expedient.
About ten years later, I was admitted to hospital a week or so before giving birth to my first child because of a potential complication. I shared a room with a woman in a similar situation. We chatted here and there, of course, but on one occasion, she absolutely floored me. She asked if I had had amniocentesis to detect any fetal anomalies, and I said no. She replied, saying that in future I should. “If anything’s wrong, you just get an abortion, then you can get pregnant again.” She was as matter-of-fact as if she was telling me I could get a good deal on strollers at Sears. Within hours, she delivered her child and I just could not get my head around it. That encounter illustrated for me just how fast the culture had coarsened.
For years, the pro-life movement struggled to make a connection. We saw abortion as a human rights issue but it had been successfully defined as a women’s rights issue. Not to diminish the importance of the efforts of those who have done the pro-life thing for years: there were some successes. But our message, however legitimate, fell mostly on deaf ears. The good news is that the pro-life movement today is filled with young and vibrant women and men. And it is time to pass the baton.
Today, there is a new pro-life feminism that says women deserve better. Our fertility is part of being a woman and pro-life feminists seek protection for women and their children. Abortion is a tool for shaming women, for refusing to accept and protect them during the vulnerable time of pregnancy and infant care. Few women undergo abortion with joy. They come to that decision because we as a society have failed to meet their needs. Their “choice” is made while facing a lack of resources, the stigma of single motherhood, and the failure of men to accept their responsibilities. This speaks to a generation that has grown up post Roe v. Wade and post Morgentaler.
For the pro-life movement, we may not be where we want to be, but we are where we are. Young people today do not yearn for the good old days before abortion-on-demand. They look forward to a new day in which all life is respected. This new approach to the life issues is matched by a new political approach too. There is a new group in Canada that builds grassroots teams to promote pro-life candidates. Check out Right Now and learn more about this terrific organization that is working to make Canada a safer place for women and children.
Let us all take a moment to offer a prayer for those who have volunteered for the pro-life cause (young and old) and especially for those who will be marching tomorrow.