This weekend, America saw two dueling protests on the issue of abortion. The Women’s March — this year called “Power to the Polls” — marched for “open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion.” The March for Life centered on protecting the life of unborn babies in the womb. The women at each protest had very different conceptions of what is truly empowering.
The Women’s March, and the feminist movement behind it, has hailed abortion as central to women’s empowerment, but women — many young women who also identified themselves as feminist — at the March for Life vehemently disagreed. They argued that giving life and birth to a baby is far more empowering than snuffing out a child’s life, even if that act supposedly frees a woman from the encumbrances of motherhood.
“It’s demeaning to women to say that abortion empowers them,” Carmel nisha Pius Franco, a woman from India who moved to New Jersey and advocates against abortion in the U.S. and India, told PJ Media at the March for Life. “The most powerful thing in the universe is giving life.”
Franco argued that women have a unique advantage in giving life to children, and this is far more empowering than abortion could ever be. “I can go to college, graduate, work hard, give life to my children, raise my children — is that empowering or is abortion empowering? It takes a huge capacity to build a family and safeguard the nation.”
On the other hand, “abortion destroys women — it destroys their dignity and their identity.” Franco, a practicing Roman Catholic, pointed to the Virgin Mary, who arguably gave birth to the most influential person in history. “Look at the Blessed Mother, who was more powerful than her in the whole world?”
This echoed a quip from Jamie Johnson, a man from Louisiana who carried a huge cross to symbolize suffering along with aborted babies. “One unplanned pregnancy saved us all,” he told PJ Media, referring to the birth of Jesus Christ.
Other women did not reference the Virgin Mary in their answers, but they did emphasize the unique ability of women to bring life into the world.
“For any mom who’s ever held a baby, that’s one of the most empowering moments a woman can ever experience,” Jennifer Hathaway, a young woman from Indiana, told PJ Media.
Nicola Tressler, a 15 year old from Warrenton, Va., asked PJ Media how it could be “empowering” for women “to murder their own kids rather than giving them life?” Chelsea Valdez, another 15 year old from Warrenton, added, “One of the most empowering things for a woman is to give life.”
Part of “the identity of a woman is to be a mother,” Catherine Viz, a sophomore at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Ind. told PJ Media. She said it was “ironic that the idea of taking away that gift would be empowering to women.”
“Abortion hurts women — they don’t get to experience giving birth to a child,” Claire, a 15-year-old girl from Michigan who would not give her last name, told PJ Media. She said abortion is “the opposite of empowering to women.”
Some of the March for Life protesters flipped the question on its head.
Samantha Crook, a young woman from Indiana, asked, “What about the women in the womb? How are they empowered?”
Celeste Pollack, a 15 year old from Warrenton, told PJ Media, “How many baby girls are murdered? How is it empowering women if we’re killing women? It’s mass genocide.”
Tragically, sex-selective abortion is a serious problem across the world. Many parents in traditional societies, especially India and China, prefer boys to girls, since girls grow up to join other families, and would not support the parents in their old age. According to U.N. statistics, there are as many as 200 million girls missing from the world — because their parents would have preferred a boy.
Finally, McKahl English, a high school student from Bloomington, Ill., argued that abortion damages the women who kill their unborn children. “Even if you abort, that affects you for a long time. You have to take care of yourself. You never meet anybody that regrets having a kid but you meet a lot who regret having an abortion,” English told PJ Media.
Indeed, a recent study showed that women suffer physically and spiritually from abortion. Worse, nearly 75 percent of the women surveyed said their decision to abort was subject to pressure from others — parents, boyfriends, or husbands. More than 58 percent said they aborted their baby to make others happy, and almost 30 percent said they made the decision from fear of losing their partner if they did not.
That doesn’t sound particularly empowering, and all of these women at the March for Life would agree.