Abortion is anti-feminist and represents violence against the female body, according to a panel of female anti-abortion advocates at an event in Dahlgren Chapel on Jan. 15.
Women who are against abortion are often misconstrued as being anti-feminist, Gloria Purvis, creator of a Catholic television network show, said at the event. Purvis, however, argued that supporting abortion prevents women from embracing their own bodies.
“People say: ‘I’m a feminist, I’m this, I’m that, how can you be not for abortion?’ And my answer to that is I think the question of abortion poses as the problem the female body itself,” Purvis said. “The problem itself is pregnancy. Our enemy of progress is our very own body. Just the essence of being female.”
The panel, titled “Stand for Life, All Life, Every Life: Resisting the Throwaway Culture,”was hosted by the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life as part of the Dahlgren Dialogues series, which features conversations with various thought leaders about moral and political issues regarding faith and public life.
Cosponsored by the Office of Mission and Ministry, the panel also featured Aimee Murphy, executive director of Rehumanize International, a nonpartisan organization that stands against all violence, which the organization argues includes abortion and the death penalty. President of Feminists for Life of America Serrin Foster and Julia Greenwood (COL ’19) also participated in the panel.
Abortion does not advance equality but rather is a form of violence against women, Murphy said at the event.
“Pro-life women like all of us sitting up here really do represent a rejection of the idea that we need violence in order to be equal,” Murphy said. “Anyone who needs violence in order to succeed in life is ultimately anti-human and, in this case, extremely misogynistic.”
Greenwood and Murphy’s message to anti-abortion women is that abortion access does not equal the progression of women’s rights.
“Abortion is not empowering to women,” Greenwood said in an interview with The Hoya.
Violence in the form of abortion contributes to oppression, Purvis said, drawing parallels to the systemic racism faced by black people during the Civil Rights Movement.
“When you think about the Civil Rights Movement and the violence that people endured just to say, ‘I am a man, I deserve just the same things as everybody else,’ the kind of violence they endured because people wanted to keep them down,” Purvis said. “In this case, they say that women have to use violence on children, the unborn, in order to achieve our equality.”
In the spirit of combating male-dominated culture, women must embrace pregnancy as something that is exclusively feminine, Purvis said.
“If you want to talk about misogyny, then what is more misogynistic than to say maleness is the pattern for female perfection,” Purvis said. “Male bodies, as a consequence of sex, don’t get pregnant. We do. And to make that the problem and then to suggest violence to the woman and to the body within her is a problem.”
Bipartisan support for legislation like the Pregnant Women in Custody Act would give more resources to pregnant women and support them in carrying their pregnancies to term, according to Foster. The Pregnant Women in Custody Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in September 2018, would provide prenatal care to incarcerated pregnant women.
“Let’s get the Pregnant Women in Custody Act done. Let’s get these things, let’s start checking off the list and talking to people,” Foster said. “We’ve had President Obama and President Trump, Republicans and Democrats work with us on different bills, and that is what we need to do in this town.”
As a student leader of The Francis Project: Hoyas for Human Dignity and Life, a project that strives to create awareness of the Catholic understanding of human dignity, Greenwood said she has found many student pro-abortion rights organizations unwilling to participate in dialogue.
“We have found that other students on this campus, those that are most opposed to us, are not terribly interested in dialogue,” Greenwood said. “We’ve tried. They’re not interested; they want to shout at us actually.”
In response to the event, H*yas for Choice said abortion access is a life-saving procedure that prevents high maternal mortality rates.
“We believe that abortion is a fundamental human right, and it is disappointing to see these panelists discuss ‘protecting life’ while advocating for further restricting access to life-saving procedures like abortion,” H*yas for Choice wrote in a statement to The Hoya.
Women who do not support abortion have been unfairly characterized as anti-women, Purvis said.
“We all have been painted as anti-woman and that is completely contrary to progress,” Purvis said. “I think we say, ‘No, we are pro-women, authentically pro-women, without violence, and that includes our unborn daughters as well.’”
Abortion continues to prove itself as a divisive topic on Georgetown’s campus. A petition to ban the pro-abortion rights student group H*yas for Choice launched in November 2018. H*yas for Choice remains unrecognized by the university and thus does not receive financial support from Georgetown. Georgetown University Right to Life also had its anti-abortion chalk display in Red Square defaced in 2016.
Though abortion is a tense topic, many Georgetown students are open to learning more about the anti-abortion mission, according to Greenwood.
“My main surprise, just in my daily life and the people that I know through classes and through freshman dorms, is how many people are in the middle,” Greenwood said. “That’s a really important area that we oftentimes forget to work on: how to draw these people in, because it’s kind of natural to find something off-putting about the prospect of having to kill children.”