The huge civil rights demonstration that is the annual March for Life will take place this frigid January 22nd. Hundreds of thousands of people will organize to peacefully protest the sad reality that is abortion in the United States, that ends the life of over 300,000 human beings each year. Many of these, too many of these, are Latino. This year, interestingly, the theme of the March is Pro-life and Pro-Woman go Hand in Hand.
In these days of easy access to contraception, with abortion as back up – indeed after-the-fact-contraception – young women are under terrible pressure in the dating market.
I say interestingly because for a long time now we’ve been told that women’s wellbeing depends more than anything on access to contraception and abortion. And that simply because of our gender, all women agree. If this sexist statement were true, you would expect to see very few women amongst the demonstrators. The reality is the opposite.
The pro-life movement is a feminine one. Thousands of women of all ages, from girls to elderly women will fill the Mall in D.C., ignoring with cheerful camaraderie the bitter cold. The emergency pregnancy centers found in almost every city, that lend a helping hand to expectant mothers and fathers in need, are staffed almost exclusively by women. We are the ones that do the moving and shaking politically, and are tireless in our defense of unborn children. It is our very nature, perhaps, to recognize the beautiful enormity that lies hidden inside a woman who is in the process of creating a human being. We are privileged to see not only a burden but a cause for joy, even in the most difficult circumstances.
It is not a matter of liberation or self-determination, but of the rights and dignity of the new and individual person that has come into being. Our own rights are important yes, but not more than our neighbors’. And if our own child is not our neighbor, then who is?
Today’s young women stand to benefit the most from this way of understanding what is at stake. In these days of easy access to contraception, with abortion as back up – indeed after-the-fact-contraception – young women are under terrible pressure in the dating market. The price of any relationship is sex. The expected and unavoidable outcomes are borne most painfully by women.
Women who understand that the natural and beautiful result of sexual relations – children – are deserving of respect, will have the moral certainty they need to wait. Wait for a man that will propose a commitment that is faithful, permanent and exclusive — in other words, marriage. The young women who march in D.C. are much safer with this certainty than they could ever be by practicing “safe-sex” in a hook-up culture.
A large part of the women demonstrators are Latino. They bring a special tenderness, very Hispanic, for the disorder of a life that doesn’t always give us what we planned on. They come carrying images of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre. Those images remind us that God himself arrived in an unexpected and problematic pregnancy. There is nothing new about this. There is also nothing new in the power of women to answer with a simple “yes.” Yes to life, to love, to hope, and to joy.