Persons, places and things
By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
I overheard a colleague, a passionate pro-life and social justice activist, talking about the Women’s March on Washington (D.C.) to be held the day after the presidential inauguration. E-mails about the Women’s March in Iowa, a companion to the national event, have been popping up in my computer. I was curious to learn more about this movement gaining momentum through social media.
The Women’s March on Washington describes itself as a “women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds in our nation’s capital on Jan. 21, 2017, to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination.” That, of course, is a not-so-subtle statement about the movement’s displeasure with the election results.
I visited the websites of both women’s marches (www.womens march.com and www.womensmarchiowa.com) and found a list of values and principles that in many ways align with Catholic social teaching. But the list contains some major disqualifiers.
Leaders of the Women’s March on Washington affirm reproductive freedom, which they state “means open access to safe, legal and affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education….”
Supporters also call for gender justice. Women, regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation should be “free and able to care for and nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.”
Six days after the women’s marches, the 44th annual March for Life will take place in our nation’s capital. Its mission “is to provide all Americans with a place to testify to the beauty of life and the dignity of each human person.”
On the surface, the Women’s March on Washington and the March for Life support the dignity of the human person and advocate for the well-being of all. But the Women’s March falls short, by leaving out the value of the unborn child.
In a terrific America magazine article (Jan. 19-26, 2015), author Serrin M. Foster shows how we came to this intractable divide over nascent life. In 1973, Roe v. Wade attorney Sarah 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.” Foster asks, “What if Weddington had used her legal acumen to challenge the system and address women’s needs?”
The Quad-City Times, in a Jan. 15 editorial blasting Gov. Terry Branstad for his goal to defund Planned Parenthood, notes that abortion access is a constitutional right. Yes, but that doesn’t make the act of abortion right.
Pope Francis, beloved by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, is a strong defender of the unborn child. “The right to life is the first human right. Abortion is killing someone that cannot defend him or herself,” the Holy Father has said (CRUX, Jan. 11, 2017).
Reporter Erin Gloria Ryan of The Daily Beast recently chastised an abortion-supporting Hollywood actress who wished she had had an abortion so it wouldn’t seem so stigmatizing to others. Ryan seems to think the actress hurt the cause of abortion supporters. Abortion, Ryan says, is “necessary to protect the health of women and their families” and that’s “what we need to keep repeating to our friends, neighbors, and elected officials” (www.thedailybeast.com, 12-20-16).
How sad that Ryan doesn’t appear to consider the unborn child to be a member of the family. That’s what’s missing from the Women’s March on Washington.
(Barb Arland-Fye, Editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)