I was in San Diego on January 21.
The morning was bright and crisp that day. The previous night the city had been lashed by a rainstorm, leaving everything shiny wet and the streets and sidewalks littered with puddles.
You couldn’t help but feel the energy in the city that morning.
It was the day of the Women’s March.
Blue skies opened up as residents streamed down Broadway toward 5th Street to start the march.
And I joined them.
There were smiles and laughter. People were dressed in costume, many wore pink. Muslim women wore hijabs. Most carried signs, some of them hilarious, others quite touching. No one was threatening to bomb the White House. It was one of the most joyous public demonstrations I’ve been part of. And I’ve been part of a lot of them over the years.
By now you know, the marches were originally conceived as a single event, the Women’s March on Washington, and intended to send the freshly minted Trump administration a message about women’s rights and social justice.
But it couldn’t be contained to the capital.
Marches began sprouting up in over 400 US cities, including lil’ ol’ San Diego.
And 168 other countries, where there were nearly 700 marches worldwide, including 20 in Mexico and 29 in Canada.
It is estimated more than 3 million people marched in the USA alone and countless more worldwide.
So why did we march?
The organizers released a policy platform addressing such issues as immigration reform, religious tolerance (particularly toward Muslims), workers’ rights, gender equity, environmental issues, and, yes, reproductive rights.
Yes, I know. The Women’s March was committed to reproductive rights. And as you’ve probably heard by now, pro-life women’s groups were barred from becoming co-sponsors, a deeply regrettable decision in my view.
Several people have rebuked me for joining the Women’s March, precisely because it was, in their minds, a pro-choice rally.
I won’t dispute that reproductive freedom was a central part of the Women’s March platform. But it must also be seen in the context of its other goals. Of the 19 points on the Women’s March platform, I could agree to 18.5 of them.
Does that mean I shouldn’t have participated?
Should I not collaborate with likeminded neighbors with whom I happen to disagree on the issue of abortion?
Some would say the 0.5 point on which I differ with the organizers is so great I shouldn’t have participated. But I don’t agree.
Yes, I’m pro-life. I believe God is the source of life.
Being pro-life means I’m committed to preserving life on this planet in the face of devastating climate change.
Being pro-life means I want universal healthcare, especially for the poor and disadvantaged, and particularly in the areas of contraception, midwifery, and maternal care.
Being pro-life means I want the conditions that lead women to aborting their babies to be addressed – conditions such as a higher minimum wage, gender equity in wages, maternity leave, and affordable childcare.
Being pro-life means I want all human beings to be treated with respect and dignity, no matter their religion, race or sexuality.
You see, these were exactly the concerns the Women’s March was campaigning to address. I think it was a great shame that pro-life women’s groups weren’t permitted to sponsor the marches. There are so many pro-life women who could agree with so much of what the marches were protesting about. I hope they marched even if they couldn’t sponsor it.
And I hope pro-life and pro-choice campaigners could see that while we differ on a very important issue, we agree on a great many things that need our joint effort to achieve.