I am Catholic.
I am a woman.
I am pro-life.
I am a feminist.
I would like to make it explicitly known that this is an opinion piece. What good is this blog if it’s not representative of who I am? I’ve shown triumph in all aspects of my life — personal and professional. My blog is largely about self care and regaining control and acceptance of your body. This post is about human life and the concept of how I define it. I do what I believe is right and in the interest of all human life. I hope this can be deduced from my blog that this is who I am – a life activist.
There are misconceptions about what it means to be a Catholic, pro-life feminist and they are devastatingly false.
I am feeling a new breed of exhaustion.
It began in the run-up to the 2016 election, when our political-system-hell broke loose.
On November 8, 2016, I voted.
On November 9, 2016, I was dumbfounded at friendships irreparably damaged. I was shocked at the assumptions made about my political choices solely based off of my gender.
Of course, you might argue that one cannot be both pro-life and a feminist. For a long time I avoided calling myself a feminist because I was afraid of what it stood for, and I still am in a lot of ways. I really don’t like a lot of mainstream, American feminism.
One day I sat down and analyzed exactly what I believe about femininity and the politics of abortion and exactly how they affect me as a woman and how I treat the women around me — that’s when I realized that feminism isn’t some exclusive club. Other feminists have absolutely zero right to tell me I can’t be one of them because we disagree on this issue. To me, being a feminist is fighting for issues such as: Women’s education, literacy, marital rights, health, and safety.
To me, true feminism is equality for both genders, while encouraging individuality and respect for gender differences.
It means that women should be paid a fair, equal wage for doing the same work as men. Women should be given equal opportunities in careers and leadership and should be appreciated for the uniqueness they bring to any field because of their femininity.
It also affirms that men don’t have to give in to the temptation to be aggressive, controlling, and objectifying towards women. We can appreciate what their masculinity offers the world while not looking down on a man who knows how to communicate his feelings, or who isn’t ashamed to admit his failures and weaknesses.
An ideal feminism incorporates the virtue of humility. It’s saying we all have something valuable to offer whether male or female but neither of us have everything, therefore we respect our differences and build each up. Gender equality is a universal partnership. We need each other.
I am not close minded. I am not a bigot. I don’t wish harm on women, nor do I wish them to be objects in a patriarchal society. I support women in the workplace (heck – I am one, technically). I support sweeping maternity leave reform and protections for breastfeeding mothers. I work to ensure my future daughters a life without discrimination and objectification; I endeavor to raise my future sons to support and respect women at every stage.
For the Women’s March on Washington, I was not welcome to support the cause due to my beliefs.
Apparently, my pro-life beliefs are misogyny. In working for an end to abortion, I am denying women the right to choose their own path; to make their own decisions in the face of hardship, abuse, inconvenience, or fear. I am denying access to affordable healthcare and chaining women to an old-fashioned view of the feminine mystique: that they are fragile and incapable of making solid decisions.
Never mind the most fundamental gift solely bestowed on a woman: an ability to create, sustain, and nurture life.
Press coverage of pro-life marchers reeked of haughtiness, referring to participants as “anti-choice.” Perhaps most irritating (to me, at least), was this sentiment:
“Surprisingly, a number of them…don’t think their religious beliefs have anything to do with their stance on abortion.” – Lisa Ryan
Mine do, but even if I weren’t Catholic, I would still be pro-life.
Bodily autonomy is having the right to do what you choose with your own body. A woman has every right to her own body, and a fetus every right to theirs. I believe that the right to bodily autonomy begins at conception and is an invaluable, inalienable right.
It’s interesting that people think I’ve been “brainwashed” because I have a different opinion. Do you believe all women are supposed to think the same?
I believe my duty is to defend the voiceless, to protect the innocent victim.
A zygote, created at conception, is the first stage of human development. The lack of organs, limbs or intellect is not justification for stopping its development, since it is a human and will grow into an adult, assuming all goes well. To say that a zygote/fetus/human is not worthy of life because a. the mother doesn’t want to suffer through the pregnancy, or b. it doesn’t have a comparable “mind” yet is to essentially say my feelings are worth more than a human life or to say the state has the power to define when you are human and when you are disposable.
While my mother was pregnant with me, her placenta ruptured and led to an emergency c-section. I was born at six months and three weeks old (~ 24 – 25 weeks). An average pregnancy is nine months (40 weeks). The first thing the doctor told my mom was, “She is not likely to survive.” Clearly, I did. I was a strong baby and I fought for life, and so too did my mother.
In Ohio, abortion is prohibited at about 24 to 26 weeks. This means I was only 1-2 weeks away from legal abortion. Only a matter of days for my mom to decide life or no life for her daughter.
Saying a fetus isn’t alive or a human at 24 weeks is like looking at me directly in the eyes and saying, “You shouldn’t have been born.” And I was clearly capable of a life and still worthy of life.
The Truth About Catholic Teaching
Here is what people misunderstand about Catholicism. They assume the argument against contraception and abortion is one of control: the authority of a male hierarchy ruling with an iron fist. But I have never in my whole life felt more free than I do as a Catholic woman. The teachings of the Church recognize every part of me as perfect, not as something in need of fixing or controlling. I am respected as a human person, created in the image and likeness of God, worthy of respect in all my capacities.
Over the past few decades, pro-lifers have been insultingly labeled as merely pro-birth – meaning that they don’t care what happens to a child brought into the world after a women gives birth. Aside from being patently false, the claim seeks to minimize the root cause of our culture of death: the acceptance of contraception and abortion as a means to liberate women.
Denying a fundamental aspect of femininity is not liberating. It identifies women as broken and flawed, relying on artificial means to prevent an integral part of who we are. As such, contraception and abortion are the ultimate in misogyny. And why not? When you divorce one of the two natural consequences of the sexual act – new life – from the act itself, what is left?
A recreational pastime devoid of meaning, commitment, or mutual respect.
Somewhere along the line, the abortion/contraception argument stopped being about life. The argument is now about choice, and what we choose to do with our free will.
Some choices are wrong.
Some choices are not choices.
Some choices are made in desperation and fear, not out of free will but out of coercion and a misguided attempt at saving women.
We do not need saving. There is nothing wrong with us. This is why I am a feminist, whether the pro-choice camp agrees with me or not, and this is why I believe the March for Life is the true Women’s March. It is a testament to the acceptance of what makes a woman a woman. One of the most revered women in history said “yes” and became the mother of God.
We have the right to embrace our feminine genius and all that entails.
We have the right to say no the people and institutions who would deny the very fabric of our being.
We need to choose life.