I have two teenage daughters. It isn’t difficult to explain to them why I will not be voting for Donald Trump. He stands in direct contradiction to our beliefs, and I am convinced that his temperament would not make him a suitable leader for our country.
But a few weeks ago when Hilary Clinton became the first woman to be nominated to run for President of the United States, I found myself struggling with how to talk to my girls about this historic moment.
On the one hand, I wanted to shout and clap and cheer with the countless other women across the country and across the world who see Clinton’s nomination as a victory in the struggle for gender equality. I wanted to feel proud as the former first lady of my home state talked about unity, progress, the potential of every American, and love over hate. I wanted to rejoice with my daughters about empowerment and equality and the rights and the dignity of every single human being.
But I couldn’t.
I couldn’t tell my daughters that this was a proud moment for us as women and as Americans because I did not feel proud. I felt cheated. As the first woman to be nominated for President of the United States, Hilary Clinton’s candidacy should represent a victory for human rights. But in fact, it represents the continued and even gleeful trampling on the rights of the unborn.
As a Catholic and a pro-life feminist, I believe in equality for women and in the empowerment of women. I also believe in the dignity of all human life and that we have a sacred obligation to protect and honor life. The pro-choice position is that one life trumps another. No matter how historic it is to see a woman nominated for president, I cannot muster enthusiasm for a candidate who sees any human life as expendable.
Not only does abortion discard precious lives, but it is a sign that our society is failing women. When a woman feels that her only choice is to end the life of her child because she lacks the the financial, emotional, or medical support that she needs, we have failed. When a woman has to decide between her child and her career or her child and her relationships, we have failed. When a woman sees child-bearing as a roadblock to success and fulfillment, we have failed. I am pro-life because I am pro-child but also because I am pro-woman.
That said, I know the abortion debate is a complicated one. And while I am solidly pro-life, I have many friends who are pro-choice. They are kind, decent, thinking people who believe that access to abortion is in the best interest of women and children. This is where I think we can find common ground. Our mutual concern for women and children is where conversations need to begin.
Unfortunately the Clinton campaign doesn’t seem interested in finding common ground. In fact, when NARAL president Ilyse Hogue took the stage at the DNC and proudly proclaimed that she herself had had an abortion, the crowd cheered.
Hogue spoke for nearly five minutes, but there was no talk of support for mothers who are afraid or desperate. There was no talk of the power of women to face a difficult pregnancy. There was no talk of adoption or life or hope.
There was only a proud declaration of the right to end a life and the bitter condemnation of anyone who does support that so-called right.
For all of Hilary Clinton’s talk of unity during her nomination acceptance speech, it seems the DNC has no interest in seeking a unified solution to the problem of abortion. Speaking about pro-life Americans, Ms. Hogue had this to say…
And the people who so loudly oppose abortion rights?… It’s not abortion that bothers them. It’s empowering women to live our own lives.
That kind of decisive rhetoric might have played well at the convention, but it does nothing to help women or to reduce the staggering number of abortions in this country – two things every pro-choice and pro-life person should care about.
It’s true that I oppose abortion and disagree with my pro-choice friends, but I don’t assume the worst about them. I don’t accuse them of hating babies, and none of them of have ever accused me of trying to oppress women. But the Clinton campaign is not so open minded. As far as they are concerned, if we aren’t for abortion, we are against women.
I am registered democrat. I can get behind many of my party’s ideals. But I cannot celebrate a candidate who supports the legal termination of vulnerable human lives and who accuses those of us who strive to protect life as anti-woman.
So, what will I tell my daughters about this election? Hilary Clinton has famously said, “Women’s rights are human rights.” I couldn’t agree more, but I will tell my daughters that rights of women can never be at the expense of other human lives. Women’s rights are human rights only in so far as we respect the dignity of all people.
As women we can do better than climbing our way to the top by trampling on the lives of others. We have to do better if we ever hope to make human rights a reality for everyone.
Laura Hanby Hudgens is a part-time high school teacher and a freelance writer living with her husband and children in the Arkansas Ozarks. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Parent.co and elsewhere. You can learn more about her at Charming Farming, where she occasionally blogs about faith, food, education, and family life.