One of the oft-chanted maxims of the pro-choice movement is “Keep your hands off my body.” And it is a mantra that has never settled with me. While I can certainly understand wanting to keep a stranger’s hands away, I have always wondered why those advocating for abortion never allowed the unborn child to voice the same refrain.
The most basic argument surrounding the pro-life versus pro-choice issue is one of rights. The rights of the unborn child weighed against the rights of the woman carrying it, but the current judicial climate places the burden on scientific advancement to prove when life begins. The current standard of “viability” has already replaced the outmoded trimester standard implemented under Roe v. Wade, and some states like Alabama have passed “fetal pain” laws, which pushed the mark further to the twentieth week, when the child has a nervous system developed enough to feel pain.
But for pro-life advocates, these measures are just the beginning. They should not be satisfied with enacting laws that could be quickly struck down in court. While any reduction in the number of abortions performed is something to be cheered, pro-life groups are not resting until unborn children are granted the same human rights as their mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. That means a renewed effort, even in a conservative state like Alabama, to pass pro-life legislation that provides new facts for the Supreme Court to consider.
I had the great pleasure of being invited to a meeting of Alabama pro-life agencies and crisis pregnancy centers last week, and energizing does not even begin to describe the atmosphere of the gathering. Recent congressional testimonies may lead some to believe that the pro-life movement is made up of old, white, Republican men who want to repress women and undo all the economic and political growth women have accomplished in the last century. What I saw instead was a diverse, female-led group of Democrats and Republicans, African-Americans and Caucasians of all ages, who were deeply concerned with the long-term well-being of both the unborn child and the mother.
These passionate men and women don’t volunteer to teach classes extolling abstinence because they want to suppress women. They truly believe that teens may not fully comprehend the consequences of becoming sexually active at a young age, and they want to help prevent the heartache and pain that come from those decisions. I could clearly see that these advocates of life don’t want to coldly cast their hands on the bodies of pregnant mothers, but instead want to wrap them and their unborn child in arms of love, and show them another way. Again, I was encouraged that it is the pro-life advocates who present true choice: choice for the mother and a lifetime of choices for the child.
One of the most shocking things I heard at this summit of pro-life leaders was that over 90 percent of women decide not to terminate the pregnancy when they learn that they have true choices. Choices for adoption, a job, housing, a chance for a new start; these are the choices that private pro-life organizations offer girls in crisis, choices that these young ladies might not hear about if they went to a government-funded entity like Planned Parenthood.
Proponents of abortion rarely label themselves “pro-abortion,” instead they argue that they are simply protecting a woman’s right to choose. If that is true, Alabamians would do better to support groups like The Alabama Pro-Life Coalition and Choose Life of Alabama, who not only preserve and enhance the dignity and choices of the mother, but also support the promise of life, health, and future choices for her unborn baby.