One of the oft-chanted maxims of the pro-choice movement is “Keep your hands off my body.” The mantra has never jived with me. While I can certainly understand wanting to keep a stranger’s hands away, I have always wondered why those advocating for abortion never allowed the unborn child to voice the same refrain. However, asking that we, in law and in society, give that unborn child a voice, has somehow managed to earn me the scorn of those who profess “choice.” Apparently I am an old white Republican who wants to suppress the rights of women everywhere.
I can tell you, though, both for myself and for those I’ve worked with: That is not the case.
I had the great pleasure of being invited to a meeting of pro-life agencies and crisis pregnancy centers in my state last week. Energizing does not even begin to describe the atmosphere of the gathering. Recent congressional testimonies may lead some to believe that the pro-life movement is made up of old, white, Republican men who want to oppress women and undo all the economic and political growth women have accomplished in the last century. What I saw instead was a diverse, female-led group of Democrats and Republicans, African-Americans and Caucasians of all ages who were deeply concerned with the long-term wellbeing of both the unborn child and the mother.
What if these passionate men and women don’t volunteer to teach classes extolling abstinence because they want to oppress women? What if they truly believe that teens may not fully comprehend the consequences of becoming sexually active at a young age? What if these advocates of life don’t want to coldly cast their hands on the bodies of pregnant mothers but instead want to show them another way, to wrap them and their unborn child in arms of love?
I was encouraged to see that it is the pro-life advocates who present true choice: choice for the mother and a lifetime of choices for the child.
One of the most shocking things I heard at this summit of pro-life leaders was that over 90 percent of women seen by one of the groups represented decide not to terminate the pregnancy when they learn that they have true choices. Choices for adoption, a job, housing, a chance for a new start; these are the choices that private pro-life organizations offer girls and women in crisis, choices that these young ladies might not hear about if they went to a government-funded entity like Planned Parenthood as soon as the strip turns blue.
No groups label themselves “pro-abortion.” They argue that they are simply protecting a woman’s right to choose. If that is true, we should support those groups that not only preserve and enhance the choices of the mother but also support the promise of life, health, and future choices for her unborn baby.
Editor’s note: I’m going to assume you read all the way to the end like a good, responsible reader, so I’m putting my note here. As you make your way to the comments to weigh in (and please do so!), I just want to remind everyone to please observe the active tolerance policy and comment guidelines. Basically, be civil and debate, rather than attack. Abortion is a hard topic to cover, and Elizabeth did it bravely and well. Let’s not spoil her great work here!