I promised myself I would stay out of the Covington Catholic mess. What happened? I don't really know. I am inclined to believe the boys in the situation but I really don't know exactly what took place because I didn't see it. So, since we had plenty of keyboard warriors weighing in I just stayed out of it.
Then the picture above started floating around with captions like, "nobody in this photo can get pregnant" and comments like, "why are boys even at an anti-abortion march? They just want to control women's bodies!"
That cheesed me off.
Then, and this was the final straw, I read an opinion piece from Canada stating that if the boys hadn't been where they "don't belong" it never would have happened. So, here I am. Weighing in.
Because I am fed up with the constant complaining about pro-life men. Killing children is wrong. Period. It's not a "woman's issue" it's a human rights issue. Not only should men and boys be permitted to be involved in the pro-life movement they should be expected to.
Because men are wired to protect, and nobody is in need of protection more than an unborn child. Because roughly fifty percent of aborted babies are male. Most importantly, because for every mother who chooses to abort her child there is a father that is powerless to stop her.
Abortion hurts. It hurts women, yes, but it also hurts men. It hurts our communities and our churches. Above all, it destroys our babies. Every person, regardless of their gender, faith background, or other convictions, should speak out against abortion. We shouldn't even think about silencing our men and boys. We should encourage them to protect the most vulnerable among us, our unborn children.
I have been working in pregnancy help since 2008 and I am tired of hearing that it's a "women's ministry." I am tired of watching men glaze over when I talk about needing volunteers and start looking for their wives or daughters. I am fed up boyfriends awkwardly saying "I'll support her decision" when she is practically begging him to stand up for her and for their child. Men matter, and they need to know that their voices should be heard.
Men have a powerful voice in this issue. When I talk to a young girl considering abortion, she is often more worried about what dad will think than mom. She wants his approval, and she wants to know that he will take care of her and her unborn baby. She also wants to know that her boyfriend will marry her, commit to her, or at least promise to be there for their child. Mothers want to know that there are men out there that value them for more than their bodies and will be there for them and for their children as the years go by.
Are women important? Yes. Should we be active in pro-life work? Absolutely. Does that mean there isn't any space for men? No. Not at all.
Shortly after I started my job as executive director, I challenged the long-held idea that all of our positions had to be filled by women. In fact, I went through every position we had and picked one or two that should probably be women, and declared that the rest (including mine) could be filled by men. In fact, as we have grown, any of our positions could be filled by men as long as there is a female option available (for our clients that aren't comfortable being seen by a man).
Not only can almost all of our positions be filled by men, we have plenty of space for men on our Board of Directors, committees, advisory board, and several volunteer positions that are almost always filled by men. Guys, we need you!
While I see some of this in the pro-life movement and frequently in pregnancy help (although thankfully very little in my particular ministry), the opinion that men should stay completely out of the abortion issue is rampant in pro-choice circles.
In fact, this belief has been boiled down to the phrase "no uterus, no opinion."
(Not sure how they feel about women who have had hysterectomies.)
The idea is that, because abortion is about "women's bodies", men should shut up and stay out. Don't come to protests, don't speak out, don't discourage someone from aborting their child, and above all DON'T speak up for the unborn. Pro-choice people opine that men are only interested in forcing women to reproduce and in controlling their bodies. Therefore their pro-life opinions are not only unacceptable, they're oppressive.
Side note: I think they're totally happy for men to be pro-choice. This only seems to be a problem when they're pro-life.
Is that why these young men went to the March for Life? To oppress women and control their bodies? Of course not! They went because they understand the humanity of the unborn and they know they need to do something. They marched because they know that many of their generation didn't make it. Their parents and schools bring them to take a stand but also to see that they're not the only ones who believe in the sanctity of human life. Most importantly, if they do end up a father in an unplanned pregnancy, they will remember that their child matters and their job is to care for and protect the child and the mother.
Does that mean women need to take a step back? Not at all. I am all for women in leadership. I am a woman in leadership! But, let's not get so wrapped up in the femininity of pregnancy that we forget to include guys in this fight for justice and equality for the unborn. Don't keep your boys home, and don't sideline the men in your life, there is plenty of work for all of us to do.
Men should be encouraged, empowered, and expected to be an active and vibrant part of the pro-life movement. Not just in legislation, although that's important, but also in the day-to-day work of meeting people where they are and encouraging them to choose life.
So please, take your boys to the March for Life. Pile them into buses, give them the day off of school, offer them community service hours, and show them that their voices matter. They shouldn't be silent because of their gender. They aren't "less than" because they're incapable of becoming pregnant. They need to know, through and through, that part of their job as men is to protect women and children from abortion.