The National Catholic Review
Recovering the pro-life roots of the women’s movement

Not all feminists support abortion. Properly defined, feminism is a philosophy that embraces basic rights for all human beings without exception—without regard to race, religion, sex, size, age, location, disability or parentage. Feminism rejects the use of force to dominate, control or destroy anyone.

The organization Feminists for Life continues a 200-year-old tradition begun by Mary Wollstonecraft in England in 1792. Decrying the sexual exploitation of women in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Wollstonecraft also condemned those who would “either destroy the embryo in the womb or cast it off when born,” saying: “Nature in everything deserves respect, and those who violate her laws seldom violate them with impunity.”

Mary Wollstonecraft died from complications following the birth of her second baby girl, who was named Mary in her honor. Like her mother, the younger Mary would become a great writer, producing one of the greatest novels ever to address the dangers of violating nature—Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley.

Fifty years after Mary Wollstonecraft’s book was published, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton traveled to England to fight for the abolition of slavery. Barred from speaking at the 1842 World Anti-Slavery Convention simply because they were women, Mott and Stanton determined to hold a convention advancing the rights of women.

At that time, American women could not vote or hold property. They could not control their own money, sit on a jury or even testify on their own behalf. Women’s rights to assemble, speak freely, attend college and maintain child custody after divorce or spousal death were severely limited. Marital rape went unacknowledged. The early American feminists—facing conditions similar to those in developing countries today—were strongly opposed to abortion; despite their own struggles, they believed in the worth of all human lives.

Abortion was common in the 1800s. Sarah Norton, who with Susan B. Anthony successfully argued for women’s admission to Cornell University, wrote in 1870:

Child murderers practice their profession without let or hindrance, and open infant butcheries unquestioned.... Perhaps there will come a day when...an unmarried mother will not be despised because of her motherhood...and when the right of the unborn to be born will not be denied or interfered with.

In 1868 Eleanor Kirk, a novelist turned activist, linked the need for women’s rights with the need to protect the unborn. When a woman told her that suffrage was unnecessary because she and her husband were “one,” Kirk asked what would become of her babies if her husband ceased to provide for them:

What will become of the babies—did you ask—and you? Can you not see that the idea is to educate women that they may be self-reliant, self-sustaining, self-respected? The wheel is a big one, and needs a strong push, and a push all together, giving to it an impulse that will keep it constantly revolving, and the first revolution must be Female Suffrage.

Without known exception, the early feminists condemned abortion in no uncertain terms. In the radical feminist newspaper The Revolution, the founder, Susan B. Anthony, and the co-editor, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, refused to publish advertisements for “Foeticides and Infanticides.” Stanton, who in 1848 organized the first women’s convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., classified abortion as a form of “infanticide” and, referring to the “murder of children, either before or after birth,” said, “We believe the cause of all these abuses lies in the degradation of women.”

Early feminists argued that women who had abortions were responsible for their actions but that they resorted to abortion primarily because, within families and throughout society, they lacked autonomy, financial resources and emotional support. A passage in Susan B. Anthony’s newspaper states:

Guilty? Yes, no matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; but oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!

Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president (in 1872), concurred. In her own newspaper, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, Woodhull wrote: “The rights of children, then, as individuals, begin while they yet remain the foetus.” Woodhull and her sister, Tennessee Claflin, declared, “Pregnancy is not a disease, but a beautiful office of nature.”

Clearly, we have a wealth of evidence contradicting the lie that feminists must support abortion. Some who begrudgingly admit the early American feminists were anti-abortion have suggested that their stance arose from Victorian attitudes about sex. That is not true either. Elizabeth Cady Stanton shocked Victorian society by parading around in public visibly pregnant. She raised a flag to celebrate the birth of her son. Stanton celebrated womanhood. She was in-your-face about her ability to have children.

But like today’s pro-life feminists, our feminist foremothers also recognized that women need not bear children to share in the celebration of womanhood. Susan B. Anthony was once complimented by a man who said that she “ought to have been a wife and mother.” Anthony replied:

Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own has it been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.

In her later years, Anthony passed on the responsibility for women’s rights to a new generation, just as we must prepare to do. At the turn of the century, one young woman, Alice Paul, assumed leadership. Paul fought tirelessly for passage of the 19th Amendment, which in 1920 finally guaranteed to American women the right to vote.

The Betrayal of Modern Women

Much later in life, Alice Paul was asked by a friend what she thought of linking abortion to women’s rights. The author of the original Equal Rights Amendment called abortion “the ultimate exploitation of women.” Yet what earlier feminists called a “disgusting and degrading crime” was, in the 1970s, lauded as the most fundamental right, without which all other rights are meaningless. So how did the second wave feminist movement come to embrace abortion?

Two of the male founders of the National Association to Repeal Abortion Laws were among the first to portray abortion as a “right” rather than an act of violence. Larry Lader promoted abortion as population control. His NARAL cofounder, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, saw a botched abortion in Chicago and reasoned that “legal” would mean “safer.” Nathanson later became pro-life. But in the early 1970s, the men traveled the country advocating the repeal of what they believed to be antiquated abortion laws. After failing to convince legislators that anti-abortion laws were “archaic,” Lader saw an opportunity. According to Nathanson, Lader approached leaders of the women’s movement. He reasoned that if a woman wanted to be educated like a man, hired like a man and promoted like a man, women should not expect their employers to accommodate pregnancy.

Forty-two years after the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, many within the pro-life movement focus on the undeniable humanity of each unborn child, clearly visible through the millions of sonograms obtained by proud parents each year. But it is also a good time to evaluate the impact that Roe v. Wade attorney Sarah Weddington’s pro-abortion arguments have had on women.

In 1973, Weddington exposed the discrimination and other injustices faced by pregnant women who are poor or in the workplace or school. But she did not demand that these injustices be remedied. Instead, she demanded for women the “right” to submit to these injustices by destroying their pregnancies. Weddington repeatedly said that women need “relief” from pregnancy, instead of arguing that women need relief from these injustices.

What if Weddington had used her legal acumen to challenge the system and address women’s needs? Women are not suddenly stupid when they become pregnant. They can still read, write and think. But by accepting pregnancy discrimination in school and in the workplace, by accepting the widespread lack of support for pregnant women and parents—especially among the poor—Weddington and the Supreme Court betrayed women and undermined the support women need and deserve.

The Failing Report Card

Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the United States. According to the Guttmacher Institute, their former research arm:

• Three out of four women who have abortions say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for a dependent.

• 69 percent are economically disadvantaged.

• 61 percent are already mothers.

• Women of color are disproportionately at risk of abortion.

• Half of all abortions are performed on women who have already had an abortion.

• 44 percent of all abortions are performed on college-age women.

All too often, the root causes underlying these statistics are shame and fear generated about pregnancy by the attitudes of parents, friends and the fathers of children. Fatherhood has been diminished. Children are disconnected from their fathers, who have rights as well as responsibilities. And millions of women have paid the price. Women, many impoverished because of the billions owed to mothers for child support, are struggling in school and the workplace without societal support. After all, when “it’s her body, it’s her choice,” it’s her problem.

For all these reasons and more, more than a million times a year in the United States, a woman lays her body down or swallows a bitter pill called “choice”—driven to abortion because of a lack of resources and support.

Abortion solves nothing. Almost four decades after Roe, we mourn the loss of 57 million American children that we will never meet. We will never know what they might have contributed to this world. But we must also remember the hundreds of women and teens who have lost their lives to legal but lethal abortion because they did not want to inconvenience us with their pregnancies.

We mourn with the parents of Holly Patterson, who died from sepsis after she took RU-486, and with the parents of Dawn Ravenell, the 13-year-old girl who never came home after she had an abortion without her parent’s knowledge. We mourn with the husband of Karnamaya Mongar, a poor immigrant who died as a result of her abortion at the hands of the convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell. Where is the outrage from women’s advocates?

Hard Cases, Exceptional Choices

Talking about abortion brings out raw emotions. Nothing is more divisive than talk about pregnancy and rape, and nothing challenges pro-life beliefs more than this heated issue. Just as we have challenged thinking about special-needs babies and their parents, we must help women who have conceived during rape and welcome children conceived in violence.

We must help people have the courage to look into the face of a child conceived during rape and say, “You didn’t deserve the death penalty.” The circumstances of one’s conception do not determine a person’s worth. These children should not be regarded as “exceptions.” But their mothers should be recognized as “exceptional.” And as advocates of life, peace and justice, we will never trade one form of violence for another.

Today we stand in solidarity with women coerced into abortion because they felt they had no choice. We stand with women who were vulnerable because they were young, or poor, or in schools or workplaces that would not accommodate their needs as mothers.

We stand in solidarity with women who have been betrayed by those they count on the most, with women who have underestimated their own strength, with women who have experienced abortion and are silent no more, with young men and women who mourn their missing siblings. We mourn with men who weren’t given a choice or who contributed to an abortion that they now regret.

In all its forms, abortion has masked—rather than solved—the problems women face. Abortion is a failed experiment on women. Why celebrate failure?

Addressing Root Causes

For decades, abortion advocates have asked, “What about the woman?” And pro-lifers have answered, “What about the baby?” This does nothing to address the needs of women who are pregnant. We should start by addressing the needs of women—for family housing, child care, maternity coverage, for the ability to telecommute to school or work, to job-share, to make a living wage and to find practical resources.

As pro-life employers and educators, we must examine our own policies and practices in our own communities, workplaces, colleges and universities. With woman-centered problem solving, we can set the example for the nation and the world. We must ramp up efforts to systemically address the unmet needs of struggling parents, birthparents and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Because 61 percent of abortions are performed on mothers who already have dependents, Feminists for Life is determined to help those facing tough economic times; FFL has published “Raising Kids on a Shoestring,” a national directory filled with creative, frugal and free solutions for pregnant women, parents and advisors.

And Feminists for Life advocates unconditional support for women who lovingly place their babies into the arms of adoptive couples. We applaud birthmothers like the former FFL board chair Jessica O’Connor-Petts, who tells us that “adoption can be an empowering option for women.”

We must focus our efforts on collegians who have never known a day without legal abortion. Forty-three percent of all abortions are performed on college-age women, women who will become our future leaders and educators in every field. For these reasons, Feminists for Life’s flagship effort is our college outreach program.

In addition to teaching the rich, pro-life feminist history that we have uncovered, we have been moderating FFL Pregnancy Resource Forums at campuses across the country. The first such panel discussion was at Georgetown University in 1997. Administrators, community leaders and students came together in a nonconfrontational setting to identify available resources on and off campus and to set priorities for new policies, resources and ways to communicate nonviolent options.

Within two years, Georgetown University’s board of trustees set aside endowed housing for parenting students. The Hoya Kids Learning Center was established. Pregnant and parenting students had access to health services and user-friendly information on the school’s website. Students created volunteer babysitting services. A “safety net” team of university administrators organized to ensure that no pregnant women—including birthmothers and international students—fall through the cracks. And every year, Georgetown hosts a Pregnancy Resource Forum to take another look at ways they can improve.

The first Georgetown forum started with the story of a woman who had an abortion because she did not know where to go for help. At the 14th annual forum, babies played on the floor. Beaming mothers told us they have “everything [they] need.” This past fall I moderated the 19th annual forum at Georgetown University. Because of our early efforts at Georgetown, Villanova and Notre Dame, this is the first year that babies born with the support of administrators are now likely entering college themselves.

Other colleges have also expanded their support for student parents. Pepperdine University created a task force to support pregnant women, adjusting policies to better suit student parents’ needs and building family housing. A donor recently stepped forward to fund a housing scholarship. Abbot Placid Solari and the monks of Belmont Abbey donated land adjacent to Belmont Abbey for “A Room at the Inn,” now called Mira-Via, so that women will not feel pressured to terminate either their pregnancies or their educations. Pregnant women and new mothers can now have their babies and continue with school.

Pro-life and pro-choice students came together at Wellesley College to hold a rummage sale benefitting a pregnant student who lost her financial aid for housing. The young woman had her baby and graduated. A University of Virginia student started a babysitting club. Berkeley Students for Life held bake sales to pay for diaper decks. Students for Life at St. Louis University started a scholarship fund for child care. There are many other examples like this as the ideas of Feminists for Life members and supporters go viral.

In 2010, FFL Pregnancy Resource Forums findings became the inspiration for federal grants to states through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Pregnancy Assistance Fund. After the first 10 years of FFL’s College Outreach Program, Planned Parenthood reported a 30 percent drop in abortions among college-educated women.

Women Deserve Better

Abortion betrays the basic feminist principles of nonviolence, nondiscrimination and justice for all. Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women—and that women have settled for less. Women deserve better.

Forty years after Sarah Weddington capitulated to inherently unfair practices against pregnant and parenting women, we say no to the status quo. We refuse to choose between women and children.

More than a century ago, the same women who fought for women’s rights and for the rights of slaves to be free also fought to protect women and children from abortion. We continue their fight in the spirit of Mattie Brinkerhoff, who wrote in 1869 in The Revolution:

When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we can safely assume that there is something wrong in society—so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged.

Feminism was born of abolition. All people are equal. Not all choices are equal. We envision a better day, a day when womanhood is celebrated, mothers are supported, fatherhood is honored and every child is cherished.

If you refuse to choose between women and children, if you work to systematically eliminate the root causes that drive women to abortion, then you already follow in the footsteps of Susan B. Anthony and our other feminist foremothers, whether you call yourself a feminist or not.

Serrin M. Foster is president of Feminists for Life of America, the creator of the Women Deserve Better campaign and editor in chief of The American Feminist. Since 1994 the author has focused her efforts on serving women at high risk of abortion, including the poor, victims of violence and college-age women. This essay, adapted from the landmark speech“The Feminist Case Against Abortion,” is part of America’s coverage of issues related to the Synod of Bishops on the Family.

Comments

Zachary Gerber | 3/9/2016 - 8:38pm

In the article, “The Feminist Case Against Abortion” , Serrin Foster supports her purpose of showing America that feminist to not have to support abortion well through the historical evidence on the start of the feminist movement. For example, in the article the author states. “Abortion betrays the basic feminist principles of nonviolence, non discrimination and justice for all”(Foster 1). She is showing the historical realities behind feminism as it started out as an organization of women that were determined to be a non violence, non discrimination and equal justice for all organization. By showing that the original feminists did not feel that abortion was a good thing and that they respected life greatly helps to support her purpose by showing that the ideals of abortion have only snuck their way in because abortion is the easy way out for the women who do not want to take responsibility for their actions. In addition, she later in the article quotes Susan B. Anthony a very well known women's rights activist and feminist did not feel abortion was right, she states, ‘“Child murderers practice their profession without let or hindrance, and open infant butcheries unquestioned.... Perhaps there will come a day when...an unmarried mother will not be despised because of her motherhood...and when the right of the unborn to be born will not be denied or interfered with”’(Foster 1). By integrating this quote into the article the author greatly supports her purpose by giving the historical evidence that even one of the best known women's rights activists was against abortion. She develops a cohesive argument by giving credit to the work that she is doing and thus clearly is able to convey her purpose. Serrin Foster supports her purpose in the article very well through the historical evidence she conveys.

Tom Fields | 2/6/2015 - 1:59pm

The idea that abortion is, "..an easy way out" is the line of the pro-abortion movement--in and out of the Church, in and out of the feminist movement. Although there is a slowly growing revulsion with the shameful American rate of abortion--backed by the President and his Party---there is a weakness in the strength of our response to this abomination. There is a great danger of becoming Luke warm.

KEVIN DOYLE | 1/24/2015 - 11:33am

Thank you so much for allowing so much space for this article. It is terrific and especially valuable in taking on the false Pro-Choice narrative.

Imagine how much more powerful Catholic witness on behalf of the Unborn will be once we have honestly confronted our sins against women today and over the centuries.

Jennifer Robbins | 1/20/2015 - 3:37pm

Thank you so much for this article. The past has so much to teach us! I strongly agree with comment regarding life long formation of the conscience, the soul. I am a cradle Catholic, but, like many at that age, had fallen away from the Church when I found myself college-aged, pregnant, unmarried, and full of dreams for my future that did not include a baby. Abortion was a practical consideration at the time, but my conscience said no - even though it would mean sacrificing, at least for some time, my professional aspirations. In addition to my loving family, many state institutions supported me and my beautiful daughter in the early days, including food stamps, WIC, and medicaid. Looking back I believe that every hour of catechetical formation in my young life had been leading up to that life-changing decision. The holy spirit gave me the courage to choose a path that my upper middle class culture did not always sincerely support. Thank you for your efforts to support women in their college years.

Annette Magjuka | 1/20/2015 - 10:54am

"What if Weddington had used her legal acumen to challenge the system and address women’s needs?"

As a Catholic and a person who does not "believe" in abortion, I agree that we should make it easier for women to "choose life." But change comes very slowly. I have waited my entire life for the Catholic church to affirm the contributions of women within the church. I want women priests! This will not happen in my lifetime--all the years of waiting, arguing, and hoping, and I will die with the church being a patriarchal system that controls women through fertility issues. I marched in Right to Life events when I was young! Then, in the mid-70's, my mom got early onset breast cancer. She had chemo and radiation. Bald as a billiard ball, she thought she was pregnant. She told her doctor, and he said, horrified, "There is no way you can have a child. There would be zero chance of having a normal child with all the drugs in your body." She got her blood drawn (this was before instant pregnancy kits) and waited for the answer. These few days were by far the worst days of her life. A devout Catholic, she knew she could never have an abortion. She truly experienced the dark night of the soul. She was not pregnant, but I realized that had she decided to have the pregnancy terminated, I would understand. THEN, suddenly, I got it. If I could understand this one case, I could not judge other women and their choices! I stopped the Right to Life marches, and decided that abortion should be legal and safe. The woman carrying the child must decide what to do. This does not mean that I am "for" abortion! I believe in all efforts to support (not control) pregnant women who are confused, scared and without resources--so that if she WANTS to continue the pregnancy, she has support and resources. In this way, the article is good. But making abortion illegal? NO. NO, NO, NO. Bottom line: I do not trust male hierarchies to "take care of " women. Women must take charge and care for themselves. And for this, they must be in charge of their own bodies. The article cites tragedies of botched abortions. What about women who die in Catholic hospitals because the doctors must never choose a mother's life over the life of the child? These are also tragedies. This is a complex issue. But the parenting centers on college campuses? Great. Let's expand this as much as possible. THIS is a right to life move we can all support. Just don't tread into the area that a patriarchy will "take care of" women. This is a fiction, in and outside of the church.

Annette Magjuka | 1/20/2015 - 11:00am

Also, we must support the important concept of lifelong conscience formation. It is up to the individual to act according to conscience. The church and its dogma, priests, family--all help inform a woman who is facing a complicated pregnancy. Ultimately, the woman must act. It is her soul, it is her conscience, and we must love and not judge. The article gives examples of how we can offer loving support to pregnant woman. These are all great. But legislation against a woman's right to choose? This would lead to so many negative consequences. NO.

THE CHRISTOFFERSONS | 1/17/2015 - 11:41am

Excellent article! It is heartwarming to see a support structure for women being developed to counter the circumstances (including poverty and the convenience of some males) that prompt abortion. It is the field hospital emphasis being advocated by Pope Francis. Let us hope news of this kind does, indeed, "go viral".

It is noteworthy that the article stops short of advocating a return to the days when abortion was illegal. Laws against abortion have the practical effect of sweeping under the rug the "root causes" which must be addressed in order to celebrate and support childbirth in such circumstances.

As Pope Francis has recently emphasized with respect to marriage, it is good to keep the ideals of Christ as beacons for society. But those ideals, embodied in doctrine, should not detract from primary emphasis upon being a field hospital. It is all too easy to convert ideals into law, turning attention away from the "root causes" which the field hospital must address.

Jesus faced this in the Jewish society of his time, which was beholden to the law. Jesus calls us to a different place, distinct from the law but a fulfillment that is beyond the law. St. Thomas understood mercy in this sense (Book I, Q.21, Art.3). The law operates from the outside, the Spirit takes hold from the inside. The law enforces what is necessary for the good order and discipline of society; the Spirit calls us beyond that to what Paul VI called a "civilization of love."

The law has its place, in ancient times (Matt. 5:17) as well as our own. It is regrettable that our society's idealism -- and, indeed, the idealism of our Church -- has too often succumbed to the temptation to turn ideals into laws, seeking love on the cheap without the hard work of the field hospital. The primacy of the field hospital and the primacy of conscience are good antidotes for this temptation.

If this temptation is understood, those who are labeled "pro-choice" and "anti-abortion" will find themselves working together in the field hospital and promoting the actions so passionately described in this article.

Annette Magjuka | 1/20/2015 - 11:06am

YES.

Monica Doyle | 1/14/2015 - 11:04pm

This is excellent. My first reaction was to hit like and share on Facebook. But included in my hundred or so Facebook friends ( acquaintances? Barely Know You? ) are some whom I suspect would staunchly retreat into their pro-choice rhetoric because of the wounds in their own lives. I wish I knew a way to share this without ruffling their feathers.

Rosemary McHugh | 1/10/2015 - 11:02pm

Thankyou for this excellent article. As a woman and as a physician, I believe that it has to remain the mother's decision about whether to end her pregnancy, or hopefully to allow her unborn child to live. Being pregnant can be very hard for some women and even lead to suicide for a woman with an unwanted pregnancy. The celibate men of the Church have always acted as if the unborn child was more important than the mother, in my view. I am grateful to see that this article is acknowledging the plight of the mother as well as the plight of the unwanted unborn child.
Sincerely, Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh, M.D., M.Spir.

William Rydberg | 1/15/2015 - 8:36pm

Objectively abortion is serious matter.

Luis Gutierrez | 1/9/2015 - 4:37pm

Issues of human sexuality, including contraception and abortion, cannot be resolved in a coherent manner as long as our sacramental theology remains contaminated by patriarchal ideology. Specifically, the exclusively male priesthood is a choice, not a dogma (CIC 1024, CCC 1598). Something is wrong about the church being "pro-life" and choosing to prevent female vocations to the ministerial priesthood. My understanding is that all the sacraments are nuptial, and none was instituted by Christ to be gender-exclusive forever. The dogmatic definition on the institution of the priesthood (Trent 23) clearly states the apostolic requirement but does not mention any masculinity requirement.

With so many nuns who have the "signs of the priesthood," it is lamentable that they cannot be ordained for cultural reasons that have nothing to do with divine revelation. Ordaining nuns to the priesthood would be the right response to the "signs of the times" and the most sensible response to the shortage of priests. Besides, the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopacy would be instrumental for integral human development and fostering social and ecological justice. It has been said that "human development, if not engendered, is endangered." Likewise, human ecology without gender balance is endangered. As long as women are excluded from sacramental ministry, can we really say that the church is a sacrament of Christ's presence in the midst of our current ecological predicament?

Annette Magjuka | 1/20/2015 - 11:07am

YES

Kristen Hoffmaster | 1/9/2015 - 1:15pm

Well written! We should never have to choose between women and children. We should stand beside women in unimaginably difficult circumstances and give them every opportunity to choose life: change the structures that make the world a place where it is difficult for some women to choose life. We should make this world a place where it is easier for all of us to do good. Many women will need medicine during and after pregnancy to alleviate the effects of complications, and quite a few of us may be told that future pregnancies are not medically safe. There is nothing wrong with family planning. Most women (and men) prefer the most natural (and least invasive) methods that they can find. The author is correct and spot-on here: pregnancy is not a disease. And where pregnancy leads to disease or causes burden for women, society often has much more to make-up for than the pregnant woman herself. We do need to stand with women and make it easier for them to choose life; and we need to walk with women whose situations have not been so fortunate. Nicely done.

Jim Lein | 1/10/2015 - 1:16pm

We are stuck in the choosing of woman or child to be. I agree, we shouldn't stay stuck here. Start with the woman. Do all we can, personally and as a community and society, to help her have the freedom, the room, the time, the wherewithal to choose life. Cardinal Sean O'Malley said at the pro-life rally in DC, we should start with the woman. In effect he advocated the refusal to choose between woman or child to be. A woman is more than a womb. We have to admit this. We have to show this. That is the Christian way, the gospel way. As I have thought and occasionally said for decades, we are all implicated in abortion. We all fail if there are abortions. To regard women as wombs first and persons second is part of the problem -- rather, it is the problem.

Annette Magjuka | 1/20/2015 - 11:10am

But the solution is not to take away a woman's autonomy. If Right to Life got out of the business of changing laws but only supported initiatives like the ones in the above article, that would be great. It is the idea that women must be controlled through church and secular laws that causes the divide.

ESTHER COOKE | 1/9/2015 - 12:21pm

Please. You are obviously a thinking person.
Why confuse pro choice with pro abortion?
God gives women a choice just as we are given choices about life in general..
It is your choice to not jump off a building.
We may try to talk with love to you about choosing life but we will not make you risk
Infection or bleeding out or condemnation.
Can you not see that comparison to
Murder only alienates the people who you want to welcome into care and love ?

Luigi Del Gaudio | 1/10/2015 - 3:39pm

Eating too much may be "gluttony" in the definitive sense, but are we to use such a term for those people who are obese, gluttons? That would be hardly helpful. Calling a woman a "murderer" for ending her child's life may fit the definition of what has happened, but also, how does that help? Pope Francis talks about "accompanying" our brothers and sisters in their journey to find Christ. A gradualist approach that never ever waters down the Truth but starts where the person is, in the present moment and the encouragement to find the Truth in Christ.