Some Americans have a romantic view of the pro-abortion movement. Influenced by a liberal media, they think of abortion in terms of poor women who sinned, got pregnant and are faced with the choice between abortion and greatly altered lives.
Granted, even under such circumstances abortion is murder. That is why many of this opinion are heroically active in the pro-life struggle. However, this romantic conception is flawed, and its widespread acceptance is greatly damaging to the pro-life movement because it masks the true face of evil behind abortion.
I confess that a part of me suffered from this false premise…until Sunday April 25, when TFP member Norman Fulkerson and I attended the so-called March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C.
Mr. Fulkerson and I had traveled to the rally with four other TFP members. They planned to participate in a counter-demonstration. Our task was to mingle with the pro-abortionists and get an inside view of the march. After a hearty breakfast, we split apart from our group and headed for the Mall, where the rally was being held.
For the next two hours, we mingled with the pro-abortionists as unbiased journalists.
From the Speaker’s Stand
When we arrived at the Mall, the first impression I had came from the speaker’s platform. One after another, leaders of the feminist movement and celebrities such as Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, Patricia Ireland, Whoopi Goldberg, Susan Sarandon and Cybill Shepherd spoke. Some of them shouted invectives into the microphone.
They did not use logical arguments to back their position. Rather, they shouted emotionally charged slogans into the microphone that reminded me of a Marxist-style revolutionary spirit. However, the rich were not the target of their anger. The Catholic Church, the United States and President Bush were.
For example, Gloria Steinem, founder of Ms. Magazine, said: “We are here because we are fed up with the U.S. policies that are so anti-women. We are not going to take it anymore.”
Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, said: “We will not put up with religious leaders who tell women they don’t have the right to control their own destiny…Not the church, not the state – women will control their own fate.”
More than the content of the speeches, I was impressed with the anger with which these women spoke. It was as if they were trying to work the crowd into a frenzy of emotion. Such emotional frenzy seemed to be necessary where logic had no place.
Interviewing the Participants
Mr. Fulkerson and I then began to mill around and speak to march participants. The first woman we spoke to was holding a sign that said, “Real sex education saves lives.”
When asked about it, she replied, “Real sex ed is the most important thing, as opposed to the abstinence only education that is currently promoted by our government…we want to teach teenagers how to have safe sex which does save lives…”
Apparently, she did not believe that the traditional morality, taught and lived for two-thousand years of Church history is feasible any longer.
We spoke with one elderly lady from Rochester, N.Y. representing an organization called Raging Grannies, which she described as, “an international organization of older women who promote social and economic justice through the medium of song and humor.”
When questioned about the apparent contradiction between being a grandmother and promoting abortion she replied: “We can remember when the questions of family planning had to be done in clandestine back alleys and where our friends died from botched illegal abortions…. It is our constitutional right to choose when to have a family, how large to have a family and we can take care of our own bodies.”
Time and again, when we broached sensitive questions about the morality of killing a pre-born child, we were met with a perplexed glare and anger.
Mr. Fulkerson asked one lady named Evelyn from Maryland, “How would you respond to a pro-lifer who would point out that unborn children are genetically distinct from their mothers?”
She replied, “My husband is a medical engineer maybe he could answer.” After her husband refused to answer, she affirmed that no one wants to have an abortion, but that it is a choice that women should have.
The interview continued:
Mr. Fulkerson: “What about the baby, does he have a choice?”
Evelyn: “I don’t think it is a viable living being that we are talking about here.”
Mr. Fulkerson: “Then what is it?”
Evelyn: “It is a fetus.”
Mr. Fulkerson, “What is a fetus?”
Evelyn: “Let me ask you a question, have you ever been pregnant?!”
Mr. Fulkerson: “No I cannot get pregnant.”
Evelyn: “Have you ever had a miscarriage?”
Mr. Fulkerson: “No”
Evelyn: “I’ve had a miscarriage so I know what a fetus is!”
Mr. Fulkerson: “Okay, what is it? If you leave it alone what will it become?”
Evelyn: “Well, I guess if it was supposed to get to something it would eventually get to be a baby, but I can assure you that it is not a baby when it is a fetus, because I have seen it and I know about it, I’ve had two miscarriages so you are talking to someone who knows!”
Mr. Fulkerson: “What did it look like? Did it have arms and legs?”
Evelyn: “No, none of that. Nothing, nothing.”
Mr. Fulkerson: “How far along was your pregnancy?”
Evelyn: “This interview is over.”
Everyone we spoke to was largely motivated by egotism and emotionalism. In two hours, no one used morality to defend their position. Their argumentation could be summed up in the following statement: This is my body, I am going to do whatever I want and no one is going to make me take responsibility for the consequences of my actions.
Another shocking aspect of the protest was an overwhelming barrage of immorality. I have always believed that the pro-abortion movement is built largely upon a desire for sexual freedom. At the march this was spelled out clearly.
The profanities I repeatedly heard the marchers shouting against the scattered groups of pro-lifers would have made a sailor blush and many of the participants’ posters carried slogans which are unpublishable. Even the podium became a medium for their vulgarities.
Many of the speakers (who claim to promote respect for women) were referring to female anatomy in “street terms” that I have never heard used in public. One woman started reciting a “poem” that was so vulgar, that, as a practicing Catholic, I could not in good conscience continue listening to her.
Pornographic drawings were on many of the participants’ posters and once the march got underway, there was a small group of women who marched topless. I cannot fathom why they were not arrested for public indecency.
Blasphemies were also rampant. Understanding that the Catholic Church is the greatest obstacle to pro-abortion goals, the marchers’ invectives were often aimed against the Church, the Blessed Mother and Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Birds of a Feather…
I was also impressed by the wide gamut of leftist organizations which gathered at the march. There was a representation from the U.S. socialist party, a group of “freethinking” atheists and agnostics, homosexual activists and many more.
While I was trying to figure out why homosexual activists would get involved with the abortion debate (after all, unwanted pregnancies are not an issue for homosexuals), I even saw a group of anarchists distributing literature.
It did not take me long to realize that the atmosphere of revolt, free love and anti-Catholicism present at the march was shared in common by all these organizations.
A Tense Moment
Although violence did not break out at the march, there was a moment when I thought it would. A group of protestors, dressed in black, with masked faces began to congregate in front of me.
They were sporting T-shirts and signs with anarchist symbols and violent slogans such as: “I am pro-choice and I shoot back,” and “We are pro-choice and we riot.” As soon as they converged, they beat a tribal rhythm on drums and danced in the streets. The beat seemed to put them into a frenzied hypnosis as they moved down the street.
About one hundred yards along their path was a group of pro-lifers praying the rosary. As soon as the anarchists started to move, several police officers rode bicycles and motorcycles in front of the pro-lifers to ensure their safety.
From behind the pro-lifers, I sensed an air of serenity as they recited their prayers, despite the din of the approaching mob. When the anarchists arrived, they formed about three feet in front of the pro-lifers and hurled blasphemies and insults at them. Nevertheless, the pro-lifers remained calm and defiantly faced the mob.
Even when several homosexuals tried to provoke the pro-lifers by screaming profanities into a bullhorn and kissing each other in a suggestive way, the pro-lifers continued their silent defiance. One young lady in the front row put her head down and began crying in face of the cacophony, yet she held her ground, determined to remain until the end.
After about ten minutes of this assault, the anarchists moved again and continued their tirade in another place.
“This is Pure Evil”
After the ordeal with the anarchists, I had had enough. Mr. Fulkerson and I decided to join our fellow TFP members at the counter-demonstration several blocks away. When we arrived, I recognized Gary Livacari, a George Washington University student who was energetically protesting the event.
As a sea of pro-abortionists paraded past us, several stopped to chide us with insults and profanities. Some had an air of anger and hatred while others expressed cynicism by dancing and poking fun at us. Mr. Livacari and I agreed that their bearing and behavior unmasked the abortion movement’s true face.
Mr. Levacari described the scene well, in these terms: “This is pure evil. This march is something of biblical proportions. It reminds me of Moses returning from Mount Sinai to find his people adoring a golden calf.”
The metaphor was well-made. Like the Israelites in the desert, these marchers had lost their fear of God, worshiping the false idols of pride and sensuality.
Unmasking and Resisting
When I returned home, I picked up my copy of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s celebrated work, Revolution and Counter-Revolution and read this quote: “We must know how to reveal, amid the chaos that envelops us, the whole face of the Revolution in its immense hideousness. Whenever this face is revealed, outbursts of vigorous reaction appear.”1
At the Washington D.C. march, I saw the whole face of the pro-abortion movement, allowing some of its hideousness to shine through.
While I do not doubt that some individuals involved in the pro-abortion movement are misled and need compassion, my experiences at the march reaffirmed my conviction that the movement itself is not built upon these people. It is built upon hideousness and evil and must be vigorously resisted.
My experience at the march convinced me that pro-lifers must continue to struggle, protest and argue – legally and peacefully – but with this evil very much in mind. We must refuse to be misled by those who strive to reduce the debate to emotions. It should be framed in terms of good vs. evil, life vs. death and logic vs. illogic. If we reveal the immense hideousness of the sin of abortion, vigorous reactions will appear. Then, with the help of Mary Most Holy, we will gain victory.
- Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, (Spring Grove, Penn., 2003, The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property) pp. 101-102. Also available at: https://www.tfp.org/what_we_think/rcr_book_online/rcr_part2_chap7-8.htm.