Simcha Fisher over at the National Catholic Register has a thoughtful discussion on the use of graphic images depicting abortion. She writes,
Are you going to the March for Life on Friday, either in DC or in your state? If so, are you planning to display graphic photos or videos of aborted babies?
If you are, I’m begging you to reconsider. Fr. Pavone famously said, “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.” Most pro-lifers understand that Americans are tragically ignorant about what abortion really is — what it really does to real babies. Many of us remember seeing those bloody images for the first time, and can recall being shaken out of a vague, fuzzy support for the pro-life cause into the realization that this is a life-and-death struggle — real life, and real death.
But a public place is not the place to use these images — ever, I’m convinced. These images are like a terrible weapon which should be used with fear and trembling, and only as a last resort.
Her best reason by far for opposing the use of the images concerns the women that will be at the March, especially post-abortive women.
Imagine their courage in being there at all. Then imagine what it does to them to see, once again, the dark thing that keeps them from sleeping at night — the thing that often keeps them in decades-long cycles of self-loathing and despair. We don’t ask victims of rape to look at videos of rape in progress. We don’t ask holocaust victims to look at huge banners showing the piles of emaciated bodies. As pro-lifers, we must remember that every abortion has two victims: the child and the mother. We must never be on the side that hurts mothers. Never.
Fisher here brings a key insight to bear on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade: respecting the life and dignity of the pre-born should not be opposed to respecting the life and dignity of the women who carry the pre-born.
The pro-life movement has not always done a great job of including women in their “pro-life” agenda. The really unfortunate comments of Todd Akin not too long ago are only one example. In this regard, Feminists for Life, which Charlie Camosy linked to yesterday, has provided a valuable depth to the pro-life movement that is beginning to garner more popular support: women deserve better than abortion. Feminists for Life work for comprehensive, holistic solutions to abortion that do not force women to choose between their family or career or education and their unborn child.
We insist on a world in which women have access to all nonviolent options. Think about the consequences of such a world for the workplace, schools, and society. We encourage woman-centered and parenting-friendly policies including distance learning, which allows a new mom to be with her child while continuing her education and saving on child-care costs; affordable family housing near campus; campus and workplace child care; health care plans for students and employees that include maternity coverage; telecommuting and job sharing; a living wage; and child support when one parent is absent. We have to approach this holistically.
Pro-life feminists demand that society support the unique life-giving capacity of women, so that no woman feels driven to abortion. Women deserve better.
Forty years after the Roe v. Wade decision, we still have a lot of work to do to ensure that the rights of the unborn and women are being respected. Working for a workplace culture that allows more women to work from home and care for their family, lobbying for better maternity leave policies, creating a culture in the workplace and college campuses where women feel comfortable to bring their child, supporting comprehensive health care reform legislation as is found in the Affordable Care Act that will keep pregnancy from being included as a preexisting condition and will expand women’s access to comprehensive pre- and post-natal care, and supporting programs that support women and children (CHIP and WIC, e.g.) are part of what it means to be pro-life.
A woman should never have to choose between herself and her unborn child. We who call ourselves pro-life should never have to choose between the unborn and the women who carry them. Forty years after Roe v. Wade, it is time for more of us to stand up and say that we just don’t want to choose.
This is really well said. I think a lot of people who are pro-choice could get behind such a pro-life movement, if the energy was placed on fostering a culture that empowers women with children (rather than on disempowering women even further than our current system already does).
Very nice discussion. I agree and wrote similarly on my blog today. Yet, our posts differ significantly. This post places the burden of the child firmly on the shoulders of the mother. There’s no mention in the penultimate paragraph about the responsibility of fathers. I address this in my blog (http://subversivethomism.com/?p=979):
“This means that if a woman must bear a baby, the man who impregnated her must pay the price for raising that child. There can be no hesitation on this point; and if the man cannot be forced to pay, then society itself must bear the burden of raising that child.”
The position endorsed here must be broadened to address all of the social inequalities that lead women to feel like they must choose between life and life.
Abortion is the product of a whole host of dehumanizing iniquities and injustices visited upon women by a culture that ignores the needs of the human person. We need to address those obstacles, and make it easier for a mother to reconcile her welfare with the decision to keep her child.
Kudos to Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life, for her determination for decades to present pro-life feminist arguments that appear to be gaining more widespread attention. Kudos also to actress Patricia Heaton for her high profile association with FFL, a gutsy thing to do for any Hollywoood actress. And while the abortion issue is a human rights issue, I think it serves the pro-life cause well that more and more right-to-life groups are being headed by women.