“It really is a disempowering idea that women need to be free of children in order to be empowered and to be successful.”
Pro-life feminism and non-violence, Murphy responded, challenges this narrative. “We’re unwilling to take our liberation as part and parcel of the patriarchal idea that we need to kill our children. We, as women, know that we are strong enough and can seek our empowerment without killing our own offspring.”
Murphy sees this pro-life message of empowerment and non-violence “ is not only the future of the pro-life movement but also the future of feminism.”
“Any time that any class of human beings is being oppressed for the sake of another we cannot truly say that we are making progress.” A women’s empowerment that respects life can help make further strides for women, children, and society at large, she said. “We can’t continue to sacrifice our children on the altar of success, whether we are men or women.”
There are also practical means for pro-life activists to help empower and support women to make choices for their future, Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told CNA. “In order to end abortion in our country, it’s not going to be done with just rhetoric, it’s going to be done with actions.”
“What better way to show women facing unplanned pregnancy,” she said, “than to actually be there and be another option for her?” One of the practical projects SFLA undertakes is its Pregnant on Campus initiative, which helps to link students facing unplanned pregnancies with resources on campus and in their communities.
The initiative started, Hawkins recalled, after a pro-life student at Fordham lost her housing scholarship “because they wouldn’t allow pregnant students in their dorms.” The pro-life group on campus, she retold, banded together to help the student find housing and financial support options, and “went to bat” with the administration over some of their policies. “She chose life and it was a painful process.”
The experiences at Fordham illuminated a need for work on other campuses around the country, Hawkins said. “We know that there are resources out there: it’s about getting them promoted and getting them out on the campuses.” Students on campus work not only to help fellow students have access to these resources and offer community support such as baby showers and supply drives, but also to work “with the campuses to make changes to policies they currently have that could be discriminating.”
For students facing unplanned pregnancies, Hawkins explained, “not only are we promoting alternatives in the community, but we’re that voice saying ‘we’re going to be your cheerleader.’”
These programs, along with other initiatives to support women both attain their goals and keep their children, are a key part of women’s empowerment, she said.
“Abortion is the opposite of empowerment,” Hawkins stated. “To me, it’s crazy that abortion is considered ‘a feminist issue’ when it’s actually the opposite of feminism. Abortion is telling her ‘you can’t do it all.’”
(Story continues below)
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“Really it’s the pro-life movement that’s saying, ‘we can help you through this.’”
This article was originally published Jan. 26, 2016.