Last week was an exhilarating one for advocates of women and their unborn children. In a desperate attempt to regain territory they lost as a result of the rousing March for Life and the new focus on adoption and late-term abortion, liberal voices tried to resuscitate their “war on women” meme. Their target? Comments by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee about the Obama administration’s obsession with mandating “reproductive health care” coverage nationwide.
Governor Huckabee’s point was simple. American women are proud and strong and by no means uniform in their views. They do not equate health care with abortion or abortion-inducing drugs and speaking as if they do — even valuing these things above moral and religious liberty — gravely insults them. Taking his quote not merely out of context, but to the opposite context, leading Democrats accused Huckabee of expressing the kind of patronizing attitude he was actually criticizing.
The Obama administration’s condescension towards women was first exposed during the debate over health care, when a “preventive services mandate” was added to the law without debate over its implications for forcing American women, including business owners, into plans with coverage for drugs that could cause abortions.
In 2012, the Obama campaign made its philosophical underpinnings clear when it released the notorious “Life of Julia” propaganda video. This portrait of a woman’s life course seemingly had no other purpose than to underscore the impossibility of female success without massive federal programs that cater to her every wish. School, work, childrearing, aging — all of these stages in a woman’s life are doomed to failure if Uncle Sam isn’t there to guide her steps.
Last Wednesday, President Obama insulted American women more directly. While tens of thousands of young women braved the bitter cold at the March for Life to protest the 55 million lives lost to abortion since Roe v. Wade, Obama asserted that abortion on-demand (he was too squeamish to use the phrase) is necessary for women to have the “freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.” As a statement of fact, this is simply false, as the lives of women leaders both before and after 1973 make clear.
But it’s time American women had a conversation about what exactly this implies. Why must women, unlike men, make a fatal choice between their children and their achievements? Why must women stifle the dreams of their daughters and sons to fulfill their own? What does it say about a society that tells women they can have a glittering future, but they cannot take all of their children with them? It is a form of Sophie’s Choice.
There is another way. Those of us who espouse authentic feminism reject the idea that abortion is the be-all and end-all in how successful a woman’s life will be. We reject the notion that mothers must become enemies of their children. The well-being of women, families, communities, and nations can only be enhanced and strengthened by challenging this false and cruel dichotomy.
One woman poised to do so is Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.). McMorris Rodgers will give the Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union tomorrow night. She is a leader among a growing group of accomplished pro-life women in Congress. These women understand that protecting the lives they carry and strengthening women in leadership are not only compatible choices, but complementary and essential roles.
A mother of three, including one child with Down Syndrome, McMorris Rodgers credits her children with making her a better person and a better legislator. She is taking her message of help and hope for the weakest among us across the nation through her work with the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus.
The droves of pro-life women and young people charging into the seemingly arctic winds last Wednesday did so not only to counter Roe’s enshrinement of abortion on demand in 1973 but the attempted silencing of this much-needed conversation about caring for the most vulnerable in our midst.
For 41 years, women across the country have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous abortionists — while their children, some old enough to feel excruciating pain, are killed in the womb. This happens daily by the thousands, and polls show that Americans are blood-weary of it.
The tide is turning with numerous state legislatures and the U.S. House of Representatives voting for historic legislation to protect babies after 20 weeks, more than halfway through pregnancy and when science shows they can feel pain. Women, it should come as no surprise, overwhelmingly support this legislation — in fact, they do so in higher percentages than men.
So, yes, Mr. President, women want to fulfill their dreams. And the dreams of all their children, not just the perfect, the privileged, and the planned.
— Marjorie Dannenfelser is the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a nationwide network of more than 365,000 Americans dedicated to electing leaders and pursuing policies in order to reduce and ultimately end abortion.