Thoughts from a Pro-Life Feminist: Why the March for Life is a Women’s March

Honestly, being pro-life gets such a bad rap.

Being pro-life means so much more than just being anti-abortion. It is about support and education; it is forgiveness and healing; it is love.

I recently had the chance to travel to Washington, D.C. with the Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) at UCF for the annual March for Life, and –WARNING: cliché quote ahead– it changed my life.

As a young Catholic woman, I have heard plenty about the pro-life movement. I knew as a Catholic that I should be pro-life, but, curious as always, I wanted to know why. In today’s society, it is so easy to take one side of an issue and completely bash the other, but I don’t think that is helpful. I want to understand both sides of the issue of abortion. I want to be a “pro-life feminist;” I want those words to be synonymous. I want to speak truth about what it is to be pro-life and what the March for Life is, because it isn’t the opposite of a Women’s March.

First and foremost, I’d like to address my view on Planned Parenthood (PP). They are a well-developed organization that provides resources for women. I think they mean well. I really do. They have a huge support system and information about options for women, including adoption and parenting, which I definitely agree with. I cannot discredit their efforts and I will not maliciously attack them. That would be hypocritical. But they advocate openly for abortion and promote it. I cannot with a clean conscious align myself with an organization that is against the core of my position on such an important matter.

Planned Parenthood and feminists and pro-lifers all want what’s best for women: we have that in common. As a pro-life activist, I believe in protecting life at all stages. Being pro-life needs to mean caring for the mother as well. One thing I was curious about while preparing for the March is the case of abortion because of rape, because I can definitely understand the foundations of that argument. I genuinely care for my fellow women who are in this situation. I hate that we live in a world where the miracle and joy of having a child can be tainted by such heartbreak. I would never wish more heartbreak on a fellow woman. But how can I speak love to a woman and answer her when she thinks abortion is her best, or only, option? I asked Aimee Ellis, a missionary with Saint Paul’s Outreach, who also accompanied CCM on the trip to the March.

“Our hearts go out to women who experience such trauma,” she said. “How could we as women give them the option to add another trauma on top of that?”

So, maybe abortion seems like the easiest solution, but in reality, women who go through with it only perpetuate their heartbreak, which is not OK with me. I will continue to speak out so long as there are women in pain because of this issue. I will not be silent when there are still women who need to hear the message that they are not alone in this.

In the words of Maggie Morgan, a freshman at UCF who attended the March, "Being pro-life means that I believe that every man, woman and child is worthy of a fruitful life.”

That includes support and love for the mother. Even if her choice is abortion. Especially if her choice is abortion.

Our role as women is to love and encourage. I asked recent UCF graduate and CCM member Savanna Shurman what the March meant to her.

“[The] March for Life inspired me to be brave,” she said. “We’re created as women [to] bear life and bring life to others.”

That means lifting our fellow women up. That means uniting, not turning against each other.

My opinion and conviction regarding this issue has been formed not only by my faith and by facts, but also by my own experience. Throughout my senior year of high school, I went through a period of depression. It was a time where I wasn’t sure I even wanted to choose life for myself. Now, having overcome it, I can see just how beautiful and precious life really is. There’s no way I could ever be anything but pro-life.

The March for Life taught me that being pro-life is about choosing life, not just at birth, but for your entire life, and for UCF freshman Christina Vazquez, the March for Life gave her hope.

“Marching in D.C. genuinely brought me hope for our generation,” she said. “Seeing so many women was especially empowering because the pro-life movement is inherently pro-woman.”

See, the problem with having such a strong division between the Women’s March and the March for Life is that, if we really want a change, we need to join forces. We need to rely on and lean on each other. Women are strong. We are capable. We are a manifestation of love. That is what I believe. If you call yourself a feminist and you are not pro-life, I’m sorry, but you are missing something.

When I asked Mary Ponchak, the sophomore chair for the CCM Pro-Life Committee, why she was passionately pro-life, her answer struck my heart.

“Being pro-life is about standing up for what is right even if it isn’t easy,” she said. “It is about living for the human person and not [for] the material world. This is what being pro-life means to me. Abortion is about death and it only leads to pain and heartbreak. A culture of life brings with it love and healing, and that is a culture in which I desire to live.”

And if that’s not what feminism is, I do not want to be called a feminist.