As I pack my bags and head towards Washington DC, just 3 short weeks after riots rocked our nation’s Capital and only one week after the inauguration of our new President, which was flanked with unprecedented security concerns, I am reflecting on what makes this trip worthwhile for me at this time. As a wife and mother, I certainly have responsibilities here at home and a number of logistics to line up in order to be gone for three days. As I’m ordering grocery pick-ups and lining up babysitters, I am tempted to think that staying home is much easier and may even be time better spent. A Mother Teresa quote runs through my mind, “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” And I am tempted to close my eyes, stay home, and hug my babies.
But then I open up my news update and read that this new presidential administration has already begun to make sweeping moves to define women’s healthcare in ways that I know are not good or healthy for women. I read about the nominations of Xavier Becerra to head the US Dept. of Health, and Rachel Levine as the Secretary for the HHS Office….and I know I need to go to DC. I do not go to oppose these individual people directly, but I go because I know that the voices of women, of mothers who are embracing their fertility, childbearing, and breastfeeding abilities need representation. I am not going only to stand against the violence that abortion is to the vulnerable preborn human, but because I love and care about women’s authentic healthcare needs. You see, the changes in healthcare policy that have already happened, and many more that are proposed to go into effect in the near future do not represent the millions of women in our country who need healthcare that understands and supports a natural female body.
As a mother and a lactation consultant, I know that the care women truly crave and need is to be taught the truth about how their body should naturally function when whole and healthy. Women in our country don’t need more access to chemical birth control that suppresses and destroys the gift of our fertility. We want to understand our cycles of ovulation and menstruation and be empowered to work with our sexual partners to properly time and embrace our pregnancies.
We don’t want unlimited access to abortion up until the moment of delivering our babies; we want hospital policies that ensure our preemies will receive world-class healthcare and advancements in treating infant disease. We want policy improvements that take into consideration the authentic needs of female bodies, such as protections for breastfeeding our babies in public and in the workplace. We want research and advancement in improving maternal and infant mortality rates in our nation. A nation as wealthy and privileged as ours should be ashamed to have the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries.
I am tired of being treated like my body is the problem when it acts like a female body should.
I’m tired of paternalism in healthcare.
I’m tired of the same old solutions that have been given to women for creating equality. (They haven’t worked for the past 50 years, so maybe let’s adjust our approach?)
I’m tired of a health system and a government that ignores women’s health professionals and mothers who know the strength and power of the female body.
We women want healthcare that understands and supports our natural bodies, not to be told that our “rights” are to suppress, alter, destroy and force our bodies to acquiescence to the current solutions that healthcare touts as in our best interests.
So, I pack my suitcase, kiss my kids goodbye, and head to the March for Life to walk alongside others who also work to end the acceptance of abortion as women’s healthcare. I will march with a variety of leaders, not all that I agree with on every issue, but who I appreciate for their care for women and their children. They understand that being a woman means that the spirit of “mother” is innate within each of us and that abortion is a violation of the very nature of woman. Women and children were meant to be together; when one child is lost, every mother hurts. No woman, no mother should ever feel like ending a pregnancy through abortion is empowering. It is the furthest thing from empowered or whole that a woman can feel and it destroys the collective identity of women as protectors of the vulnerable and mothers to the world.
I go to Washington DC during one of the tensest and most unsettled times our country has known in recent memory not to rile up more violence or more unrest, but to serve my role as a mother. A peacemaker, a lover of even the littlest life. As I finish packing, I’m reminded of another of Mother Teresa’s famous sayings,
“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” Mother Teresa
It sticks in my mind as I realize that “home” is not only my house filled with my children, but that earth is also my home and that all the children are my responsibility.