Within days of Donald J. Trump's election, the American left, newly animated in opposition, settled on a rallying cry: "Love trumps hate." Inherent in the slogan is the idea that Mr. Trump stands for division and discrimination, while his opponents stand for love and inclusion. Nowhere was this sentiment more visible than at the Women's March on Washington the day after the inauguration.
Though the march was driven by the left, it claimed to speak for women in general, and indeed women of all ages, races and states poured onto the National Mall. Yet lost in the action, then and since, is any sense of what the movement stands for; ultimately, it settled for a sense of what the movement is against: not just a caricature of Mr. Trump as a misogynist hellbent on sending women back to 1950s America, but anything associated with him as well. Perhaps most pointedly, while the Women's March claimed to stand for love, nonviolence and inclusion, its organizers staunchly refused to extend that "inclusion" to pro-life women.
We cannot overlook the significance of this act, because it reveals a fatal chink in the armor of the new feminist resistance movement: its radical position on abortion. This movement will thus be unable to unite American women because it rejects the position that most American women take on abortion - that it should be completely illegal, or legal but with significant restrictions.
According to the latest Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll, an annual survey of views on abortion, just over half of all women want to see further restrictions on abortion. To millions of women, including young people like myself, this is not just a policy stance; it informs many areas of our lives as women. To us, "resistance" has to include opposition to the lie that freedom can be bought with the blood of our preborn children.
We reject the notion that we need free abortion on demand without apology. We are offended by the news media's belligerent efforts to portray the pro-abortion movement as normal, while turning a blind eye to the millions of us who believe that women deserve something better than abortion. We reject a vitriolic minority claiming to speak on our behalf and excluding us from the "women's movement."
Anti-abortion women reject the version of "feminism" that infers that we cannot be equal to men unless we snuff out what is unique about us as women: our ability to protect, nourish and nurture new life inside of our bodies. We resist the conventional wisdom that women will succeed in school, career and life only if they relegate childbearing to an elusive "ideal" moment in time. We reject the pressure to believe that killing our children and living full lives are mutually inclusive. They're not.
As a woman who has been involved in the pro-life movement for my entire adult life, I want to obliterate the stereotype that the people working to end abortion hate women. My movement empowers women in tangible ways. At Human Coalition, where I work, we extend tangible, compassionate help to pregnant women who believe that abortion is the best or only option available to them. This is an underserved group, and we are working to stand in the gap for them.
Groups like ours work with each woman to identify the unique circumstances that have made her feel powerless, and then we respond to those needs. That can mean going with her to apply for Medicaid; helping her to secure safe, affordable housing; finding child care solutions; or helping her improve her résumé and find employment. There is no debate: Women face hurdles in pregnancy. But I refuse to accept that peddling death in the face of crisis can ever truly empower a woman.
And it's not just pro-life women who feel this way. The men I work alongside want to end abortion not because they want to control women, but because they agree that requiring the sacrifice of a woman's children in exchange for her success is unimaginable.
The men I work with are creating a culture in which their own wives, daughters and sisters are empowered and supported. They are making abortion unthinkable by extending compassion and hope in a society where men have too often used abortion to oppress and exploit women.
If a movement wants to speak for me as a woman, then it must be broad enough to take my firm beliefs, and accept them as mainstream. Women who defy the abortion movement know that our power is not in a clenched fist or an act of violence against anyone - especially not against our own preborn children. Rather, our power is in upending the abortion status quo by demanding more for ourselves, for our families, and for our children.
The writer is the public relations manager at Human Coalition
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