By Bianca Rojo
Almost a month after the March for Life in Washington, I am still thinking about the theme from this year’s March. Before I get into that, however, here’s a little history lesson about the March for Life in Washington. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the pro-life movement, it’s that we, as pro-lifers, must always remember how we came to where we are today.
Forty-two years ago, on January 22nd, 1973, the US Supreme Court issued its decision in favour of Roe in the infamous court case Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state’s two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting women’s health and protecting the potentiality of human life. Since then, according to the Guttmacher Institute (AGI), more than 53 million legal abortions occurred in the United States.
So, every year, on the anniversary of this U.S. Supreme Court Decision, hundreds of thousands of people march for life in Washington, DC. This year, even in the midst of an impending blizzard, people from across America realize the gravity of the issue and want their politicians to know that the death of another human being due to abortion is an issue that must be addressed. This brings me to the reason why I am writing this blog. This year the theme for the March was: “Pro-life and Pro-woman go hand-in-hand.” This theme struck a chord with me. It’s something that I’ve always thought about.
Almost every time I do activism, whether it’s on or off campus, I am told that because I am pro-life, I am not pro-woman. That is the furthest from the truth you could get. First, as a woman, I believe that all women, no matter what age, ability, or circumstance they are in deserve to be treated equally among their peers, whether or not they are in the womb. More importantly, I believe that every human, no matter what age, ability, or circumstance, belonging to the human family is entitled to human rights.
Furthermore, being pro-life recognizes that there are two lives at stake when abortion is involved: the pre-born child AND the mother. As pro-lifers, we must always remember this because to recognize one, but not the other would not be pro-life; it would just be pro-birth. Caring for the mother and child before and after birth is paramount. That is why I think pastoral support is so vital in the pro-life movement. The women who are considering abortion are considering it because of the difficult circumstance they are going through. Women who have experienced abortion and who are traumatized from their experience should be given all the help and healing they can get. There are single mothers who may need financial support or a shelter to live in during and after pregnancy. Women who are trapped in abusive relationships need the support they can get to get out of these relationships. Women who are considering abortion should be given access to support that will help her carry the child to term.
Alice Paul, a women’s rights activist, once said “abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women,” and I have to agree with her. The moment we, as a society, treat women as property instead of investing the time and energy to empower them, through emotional support and other means, we go down the same path that lead us to the necessity for the March for Life. These women will have no other option to turn to other than to have an abortion. Women deserve something better than abortion. They deserve to be respected. That is why it is important for us to know how to talk about abortion with someone who is considering it. It is why the pastoral arm of the pro-life movement is so vital. This is why every year Youth Protecting Youth fundraises for a bursary to be awarded to a single mother attending post-secondary. Pastoral work is not only life-saving, it is empowering. So, Washington’s March for Life took the words right out of my mouth: “Pro-life and pro-woman go hand-in-hand.”
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- Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 162