Like many others, I have been closely following the news surrounding the Women’s March occurring in DC today. The conversation surrounding it has been interesting, yet largely unsurprising, and, for me, very frustrating.
I’ve found it frustrating because the March’s purpose and surrounding controversy not only touches on, but stems from two of my greatest passions – (1) infants, both inside and outside of the womb, and (2) womenhood/women’s health.
And to my disappointment, in the present conversation, I find both are being largely misunderstood.
I am a twenty-three year old woman who has led a blessed life in many ways. I have always had a deep love for babies, which led to my dream of working as a nurse in a neonatal ICU (intensive care for babies). By God’s grace, that dream became a reality and I now spend 40+ hours a week caring for the sickest babies in one of Illinois’ largest NICUs.
I always thought babies would be my sole passion, but in recent years I’ve encountered various health concerns and questions which have led me to personally understand that wholesome and comprehensive women’s healthcare is sorely lacking in today’s health industry. From these personal experiences, a passion for women’s health was born.
So now, I have two passions. And I’ve learned that the more I’ve gotten to know one, the more I’ve discovered and grown in zeal for the other.
I say this because I believe it is important to recognize first and foremost that one can love both. I can wholly advocate for women—their inherent beauty, purpose, equality, and health—and all the while, wholly advocate for babies—their beauty, purpose, equality, and health.
Let me share with you both passions. First, womanhood and women’s health.
I am a young woman. And women of the March, you are right… we are powerful. We have a God-given power that could change the world. A favorite quote of mine by Peter Kreeft perfectly sums up the beauty and power of woman…
”The heart is like a woman, and the head is like a man, and although man is the head of woman, woman is the heart of man and she turns man’s head because she turns his heart.”
Without diving too deeply into the rich doctrine that is the Theology of the Body, it is necessary to start with an understanding of who woman is. Women, we are the heart! We are the heart of this world, with the ability to turn its head. Women, we were not created to be trampled on or used. We are not secondary or lesser to our male counterparts. We were created with feminine qualities including gentleness, warmth, sensitivity, compassion, and receptivity. Yes, we’re intelligent, capable, and driven. We are strong and brave (shout out to Leah Darrow). We are not a slave to our fellow man, but rather a fundamental, necessary, and worthy companion. The gifts and talents that we have to offer are good, holy and beautiful. We are nurturing, loving, protective, loyal, self-giving, and communicative by nature. These qualities are of great service to our world. They are valuable in the workplace, just as they are essential to the family. It is by harnessing these very qualities that we will be be most impactful in the world whether as business women, entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists, doctors and/or nurses, but of utmost importance as mothers.
All of these qualities reflect an inherent call to motherhood. This is true even of single women, women unable to conceive, and religious women. Our feminine qualities—or “feminine genius” as St. John Paul II called it—inherently call us to some form of motherhood whether physical or spiritual.
Unfortunately, I have discovered that this motherhood thing really seems to trip women up.
The founders of the two largest abortion providers, Margaret Sanger of Planned Parenthood and Dr. Marie Stopes of Marie Stopes International believed motherhood to be the ultimate evil. They saw motherhood as an interference, an obstacle to women’s fulfillment, achievement, and success. Sanger and Stopes have successfully spread this lie through the work of their clinics and masterfully intertwined it into the hearts of women.
It has been the very source of our demise.
Sanger and Stopes were wrong. Motherhood, or more specifically, the qualities closely linked to it when built upon and used effectively, will not be a distraction but rather lead to our (woman’s) greatest fulfillment. Women are by no means weak. Women are fiercely loyal, passionate and committed. We are strong communicators, intuitive, sensitive and receptive to the needs of others. These qualities are not a matter of opinion but of science.
According to “The Female Brain”, our brains are scientifically proven to be built differently than men’s to allow for these strengths. We, as women, need to reign in these qualities—these blessings. We need to embrace them and master them.
It’s only then that we will recognize and reach true equality with men.
Women today feel like men are ‘beating’ them in the game of life. Why are we so keen on ‘beating them (men) at their own game’? It was never intended to be a competition in the first place. Women, we are not going to ‘win’ anything with the strategy currently in play. Instead, we are killing the heart of the world. We are the very heart, which has the power to turn the head. We are strangling the heart, and thereby killing ourselves and the rest of the world by fighting to ‘be’ someone else.
It is unfortunate that this lie about womanhood, femininity, and motherhood has pervaded our culture so deeply. As I mentioned above, the lie was and continues to be spread largely by ‘women’s health clinics’ founded on the principles of Sanger and Stopes. Their lies which include the supposed good of contraception and abortion have and continue to hurt us women. In fact, in and of themselves they have limited our access to comprehensive health, instead of offering it (the commonly held belief which is a whole other spiel for another time).
Both lies—contraception and abortion—are the greatest threat to life that our world has ever seen.
So, as I am sure you have already gathered, I am a woman against abortion. That does not make me a woman against women. Women, I am not saying that you do not matter. I am not saying that your future does not matter. I am not saying that the situation that you find yourself in is not unexpected, scary, stressful, painful, difficult, or a million other possibilities.
But the simple, undeniable, scientific fact that must first be recognized is that the fetus that grows inside of you is a baby—a living human being.
At eight weeks old, your baby’s heart started beating. Someone has to fight for that beating human heart. You are a woman. You are strong, fierce, loving, and brave. You are a mom.
FOR YOUR BABY—be stronger, fiercer, braver, and more loving than you’ve ever been.
Your heart beats for your baby, your lungs breath for her, but she moves inside of you on her own. She hiccups, sleeps, flips, drinks, pees and poops. She is her own body, her own person. She is a soul. True, you bear a great responsibility now. If you can choose for your body, who is going to ‘choose’ for her body, your precious baby’s body?
It’s an honor, women, to be a mother. Yes, maybe a difficult and scary one, but carrying this child is one of the only things that you can do which men cannot. Let us celebrate this, not stifle it!
I spend 40 blessed, albeit difficult hours a week caring for sick, suffering, and sometimes dying babies. Some of these babies were born as early as 22 weeks gestation—meaning mom was only 5.5 months pregnant when she delivered this tiny, precious child. This baby’s heart beats, and lungs’ breathe. Her brain continues to grow and develop at a rapid pace and is very easily impacted by all we do to her and inflict upon her. She moves, reacts to touch, and experiences pain. She recognizes mom’s voice and smell. She does best skin to skin on mom’s chest. There, her temperature and vitals stabilize. This baby does not simply live, but—let me tell you—she fights. She fights hard for her life…and I fight for it too.
I take abortion seriously, but I also take it personally. Not only because it takes an innocent life, and as humans we should all defend life, but also because frankly, I find it to be an insult to my life’s work and the tireless dedication shown by my fellow nurses and neonatologists. Doctors spend countless hours and an outpouring of knowledge specializing in this field. News flash: the patients of fetal specialists are fetuses. How have we let these lies about women and babies lead to a complete denial of an entire realm of medicine which is still at it’s height, the forefront of its knowledge, development, and progress?
I do not make a habit of swearing, as I think it’s unbecoming of women, but I’ll be damned if you tell me that the small, sick, and suffering babies that I care for on a daily basis are not worth saving, loving, fighting, and suffering for. I’ll be damned if you tell me that before exiting the miraculous home that is her mother’s womb, that she is not a living, breathing, human being.
Babies are strong, so I implore you to be strong for them!
The contradiction and lies have to stop. Babies are babies are babies. Life is life is life. And yes, women of the March… women are women, but please, I beg of you, your right to ‘be a woman’, ‘to have a body’, cannot trump the rights of defenseless babies from being recognized as human beings. Otherwise, you’re a walking contradiction and you’ll only continue to strangle yourself and your greatest potential by buying into these unfortunate lies. Until we get rid of that which is hurting us, we will continue to make no progress.
Embrace that which makes you, you, you woman of God!
– Written by Emily Knorr, a NICU nurse in Chicago, Illinois.