This week, thousands will descend upon the nation’s capital from all over the United States in order to attend one of the largest marches for activism in America. Students, working professionals and families will gather to show their support for the voiceless, to speak out against injustice that most negatively affects minority communities and women. They will raise their banner and illuminate this year’s theme of pro-woman activism.
This is the March for Life.
Today, the pro-life movement recognizes that abortion affects entire communities and is inherently anti-woman. A culture of abortion is one that tells a woman that she is unable to accomplish her dreams unless she terminates her pregnancy. This is a lie that seeps into the culture, therefore allowing for injustices to take place.
Many on the left fear an era where the decision of Roe v. Wade is overturned and abortion laws are returned to the states rather than decided at the federal level. They call out for awareness that this will bring on a Handmaid’s Tale-esque time of destruction, inequality and hate.
The truth is that abortion is a form of trauma, and in America’s modern-day celebration of it, women are not given space to voice their negative experiences which can lead to increased feelings of helplessness, depression and, oftentimes, guilt. When told that these emotions are wrong, women are unable to find healing from the past. Abortion does not only affect the unborn child, but it can have detrimental effects on women, their future families and their communities for decades to come.
When trauma is suppressed, it harms entire worlds.
Today, it seems as if women — and men — are crying out for a place to talk about the pain of abortion, but our mainstream media silences them with a political agenda.
The well-known Shout Your Abortion movement is evidence of this. It originally started as a hashtag in 2015 and quickly went viral. Since then, a website was created as a forum for women to share their unfiltered stories.
Its mission is described on its website as the following:
“Shout Your Abortion is a decentralized network of individuals talking about abortion on our own terms and creating space for others to do the same, in art, media, and at community events all over the country. Abortion is normal. Our stories are ours to tell. This is not a debate.”
The website contains many stories from women who have had abortions, some describing the guilt they felt afterward, while others discuss the procedure in detail. Some use the site to release themselves of their story or explain their reasoning to an anonymous audience that will listen. One user explains that she “made up [her] mind the second [she] saw the positive test,” but goes on to write, “I kept a photo of the ultrasound. I’m not sure why. I think I just don’t want to forget about the life I once carried for a brief moment in time.”
The people who use the website come from many different walks of life, and while their messages often don’t contain an overt political bent, it seems as if the mere telling of the stories is the purpose of the platform.
Users don’t go there to win a political argument. Instead, they are seeking a place to share their trauma because our society does not allow them the space to do so.
Shout Your Abortion is a movement and a concept that ultimately harms women because it encourages them to tell their story, but stops there. It does nothing to promote healing because its message is that “abortion is normal,” i.e. abortion is good.
The post-Roe generation needs to take back the message of abortion.
The pro-life movement may very well be here, but it should not end with a change in legislation. It must be one that is driven by compassion and understanding. The narrative about abortion must shift to one that recognizes the trauma that it is so that those affected can heal.
The women, families and communities harmed by abortion will need places to go in order to process what has happened in the past.
In a post-Roe era, this will be the most important task of the pro-life movement: To be the arms that welcome these people in, to continue to champion life in all of its forms, to be a warrior for the vulnerable, to defend those who cannot defend themselves — inside and outside of the womb.
• Charlotte Pence Bond is a New York Times best-selling author and the daughter of Vice President Mike Pence; she currently attends Harvard Divinity School, where she is a candidate for a masters in theological studies.