Social justice is a driving force in our millennial generation, defined as “a state or doctrine of egalitarianism,” and our attention to its perpetuation comes across in more than just policy engagement. It is a major factor in the decisions we make — how we shop, what we eat and the causes we promote.
Millennials are increasingly creative in the ways we support certain agendas, and feel a responsibility to interact with society in a healthy way that brings equality to all instead of a select few.
The Millennial Impact Project is an organization that looks at how U.S. millennials engage with causes. Its 2017 report tracked how a presidential campaign affected millennial social-activism engagement. “Millennials we interviewed wanted to give all people — but especially marginalized or disenfranchised individuals or groups — early interventions and opportunities that would ensure increased prosperity later in life ” (2017 Millennial Impact Report). If our generation is to be concerned with the disenfranchised, the marginalized, the oppressed and the outsider, the unborn child fits all of these descriptions.
Yes, abortion is a violation of providing life to a human being — but it should also be acknowledged as oppression in its barest form. It ostracizes the weaker members of society, and it places a particular burden on minority communities.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortion rates continue to vary by race and ethnicity. In reference to a study published by the American Journal of Public Health, abortion rates have declined in recent years — but not across every populace. While white women had the lowest abortion rate, black women “were overrepresented among abortion patients and had the highest abortion rate.”
Income level is also increasingly a major player in the number of abortions. “In 2014, 49% of abortion patients had family incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level, a significant increase from 42% in 2008.” Not only does this show us the majority of people who are aborted, but also the communities that abortion affects.
Abolitionists worked to abolish slavery and give meaning to each individual life, rather than seeing a person as disposable property.
In the same way, we must accept the hard reality that in allowing the celebration of abortion, we are committing injustice against human beings. The families that deal with the ramifications of an abortion also experience trauma, which, in turn, impacts the communities in which they live, creating a destructive cycle.
Dr. Philip G. Ney, a Canadian psychotherapist and professor at the University of British Columbia, has done extensive studies on the psychological consequences of abortion. He found many siblings suffer from feelings of depression and survivor guilt after learning about their mother’s prior abortion. These symptoms did not present themselves as clearly if the mother had a miscarriage. His research shows that siblings and mothers can both suffer from Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome, a condition similar to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
By celebrating abortion, we aren’t just depriving the unborn child of life, but harming her would-be friends, his would-be brothers and future spouse. We eliminate the possibility of rich relationships and contributions that might advance and improve disenfranchised communities.
Abortion is also a women’s issue, but not in the way in which the progressive left has used it. The pro-choice message tells a woman the way in which she should live. The narrative is not one of empowerment and self-sufficiency; it is of fear.
We aren’t telling women they have to stay in the kitchen anymore, but we are still dictating the correct way in which they enter society — on certain terms, the terms of those who created the path for them. In some areas, to stray from this track is deemed unacceptable — and so the cycle of harm, guilt and pain continues. This is systemic violence and it is perpetuated in inconspicuous ways.
Just like the motivation behind most social justice issues, this cause has to begin with compassion. This message is not directed at women who have had an abortion. They are not the ones at fault in this scenario, but rather society is responsible for having failed them — and my heart goes out to each one of them.
Also, call on communities to champion the cause of adoption to make it easier and more popular to adopt, to come around those who find themselves in this situation instead of shaming — and thus, subjugating — them.
I refuse to preserve the lie we tell girls from the time they are young: That the child they carry is an inconvenience, that they are not capable of rising above unforeseen life circumstances, that we will not reach out to help them.
A world free of abortion won’t start from a government.
Just this week, we watched as the Senate voted to block consideration of a bill that would provide care to children born alive after an attempted abortion.
We are in a pivotal time in our culture that will decide the moral ground we stand upon. This has to be a grass-roots movement of kindness, love and a sincere demand that the weakest in our society no longer be silenced and removed.
Only then will we see a cultural shift where we start to right the wrongs of the past and move toward a better future for our children — the ultimate desired outcome for social justice. Policy change is not the only response here, but rather a coming together should be our fight.
The unborn — and others affected by abortion — are the marginalized members of our society, whose voices we are not hearing because their future has been decided for them.
We have taken away their ownership and agency by limiting their ability to fulfill their potential.
In doing this, we provide oppression with a strong foundation to take root in our midst — a foothold that history has shown is not easily broken.
• Charlotte Pence, the daughter of Vice President Mike Pence, attends Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of “Where You Go: Life Lessons from My Father” (Center Street, 2018).