“Pro-Life, Pro-Woman” was the theme of this year’s March for Life, an annual celebration of the sanctity of life and commemoration of the nearly 58 million lives lost to abortion since 1973. Unfortunately, our progressive society still finds the idea that “pro-life is pro-woman” a puzzling concept. Odd, since discussions of gender and equality are endless. You’d think we could all agree a vulnerable baby girl (or boy) deserves equal rights and her life in the womb matters.
Pro-Life Christians are witnessing an awakening among the American public on sanctity of life issues. We are aiming to better articulate the dignity and personhood of the unborn as well as support and listen to expectant mothers without judgment. But the message “abortion is a woman’s right” abounds. And for some pro-lifers in the Church, connecting the empowerment of women with the advocacy of the unborn is intimidating.
Tackling this challenge is simpler than you might think. Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United for Life (AUL), delivered one of the most helpful and succinct “pro-life is pro-woman” arguments that, quite frankly, I have ever heard.
Yoest spoke at the inaugural Evangelicals for Life conference, a pro-life summit hosted by the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and Focus on the Family. She began by sharing the news that on January 4, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Women’s Law Center submitted a legal brief to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging HB2, a pro-life law passed by the Texas House and Senate and passed into law back in 2013. “In all of their briefs they claim that abortion is essential to women’s equality and their equal dignity. Ladies, this is us that they’re talking about,” said Yoest.
“Women’s equal dignity, they claim, ‘demands that women have the right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy.’ They go so far in their briefs to claim that ‘[women] would not have been able to achieve the personal or professional successes they achieve were it not for their ability to attain safe and legal abortions.’”
She continued, “This is an offensive and deeply harmful view of women. These abortion advocates are the true misogynists in our society and they are thoroughly discounting true female power and ability. Arguing that a woman’s destiny is shaped negatively by motherhood and that her equal citizenship is dependent on abortion is fundamentally anti-woman.”
Saying abortion is pro-woman is hypocritical. We could discuss at length the numerous harmful physical and emotional effects abortion has on women. But Yoest’s comment that “abortion advocates are the true misogynists in our society” cuts to the center the problem. The tired narrative pitting a woman against her baby mocks the ambitions of every mother (and hopeful mother) out there. What’s worse, this deception masquerades as pro-woman while spitting in the face of the women who have, by the grace of God, dodged abortion’s deathly grips and the girls who did not.
Abortion as an institution is pro-nobody. Well, perhaps pro-nobody except Planned Parenthood and its baby parts trafficking scheme.
My eyes were open to this truth by my dear friend Courtney’s story. In 1986, she was born to a teen mom dangerously pre-term weighing only 3 lbs. 1.5 ounces. By comparison, that’s a large jar of Mott’s applesauce.
“My mom never considered abortion, but I fit within the criteria of the babies abortion targets. The edge of viability in 1986 was much different than it is now,” Courtney said during one of our FaceTime chats. “But my mom recognized the choice of abortion would not have been pro-anybody. I’m so thankful she did because my life is full of joy. People look at me and think, she could do anything and be anything she wants. But the truth is I could have been non-existent too, had I been aborted like so many other baby girls in my situation.” Today, Courtney has a Masters in American Government, completed her law degree, and is currently finishing her Masters in Counseling. Who could have guessed she would go from the size of an applesauce jar to public advocate?
That’s the point. We don’t get to gage the potential of unborn girls who deserve the right to life. We can’t snatch the potential of future women doctors, leaders, teachers, and mothers and say abortion is pro-woman. And by encouraging women not to abort their unborn children, we aren’t telling them to abandon their ambitions. Just ask the millions of moms out there if the birth of their children erased their equal dignity.
Being pro-life means being pro-women’s rights inside and outside the womb. It means being pro-girl, pro-woman, pro-dad, pro-family, pro-compassion, pro-dignity, and pro-personhood. Being pro-abortion results in being pro-nobody.