Four days post-hysterectomy feels a lot like four days postpartum without a teeny baby to squish and cuddle. But after carrying seven children to term, in addition to two early miscarriages, I wasn’t sad to have to say goodbye to the most trash-talked of all body parts. I’m sure my husband and children will be relieved to know that I am now scientifically incapable (circa 1879) of becoming hysterical. I joke, but I don’t think it’s a secret that medical science, outdated or modern, is not exactly kind to women. We’re slow to be believed and slower to be treated. When I first fell ill as a teenager, I was asked by every doctor I saw whether I had just been dumped by a boy. Institutions don’t care about women, or children, either, for that matter. I will go on to prove that below in ways the faint of heart may prefer to ignore. Might makes right, and it’s a man’s world that we live in, though I am profoundly grateful for the many dangerously good men who protect the fragile world that women birth and nurture. Throughout my life, I have become a strong advocate for women and children. I hope my ability to hold an opinion wasn’t removed alongside my uterus, because I really am far from done.
Though I am a true anarchical feminist in the vein of Susan B. Anthony or Alice Paul, I have little in common with today’s American feminist movement. My idea of a feminist task left undone would be increasing severity in the sentencing of sexual crimes. The revolving door that allows parasitical predators to repeatedly prey on women and children was built by men (and is maintained by men) who may not be willing to fully acknowledge the depth of damage caused by rape and molestation. We need women’s voices echoing loudly in these matters. Modern feminists tout “reproductive choice” as the biggest issue facing our gender. What they do not wish to acknowledge is that the heroic women responsible (though I doubt they’d want to take credit) for today’s women’s movement were unapologetically pro-life. When Anthony wrote about abortion, she referred to it as child murder and infanticide. She identified its root in women’s oppression and argued that abortion victimized women and absolved men of all responsibility. Democrat and Civil Rights Leader Fannie Lou Hamer insisted that “legal abortion is legal murder.” Early feminists saw themselves as the voices of the voiceless whose primary mission was to protect and uplift the weak. Imagine telling them that the only ladder climbable for women is made from the bloody bodies of their unborn children.
Before the passage of Roe v. Wade, the idea of abortion was largely abhorrent, especially past the first trimester. Pro-choice groups were working tirelessly to change the culture in anticipation of nationally legalized abortion, and Catholics especially were at the forefront of fighting back. In 1973, Justice Harry Blackmun authored the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, which he argued was rooted in the 14th Amendment’s right to privacy. The research cited by Blackmun came solely from the pro-abortion group NARAL which was co-founded by Bernard Nathanson. A leading abortionist, Nathanson performed over 60,000 abortions, including one that ended the life of his own child. He initially sought to change American minds in favor of the pro-choice movement. However, in the 1980s, Nathanson experienced a profound conversion to Christianity and became a prominent pro-life advocate. He continued this work until his death in 2011. He narrated The Silent Scream, released in 1984, which shows a twelve-week-old fetus being killed via a suction abortion. Despite a decline in abortion rates over the past decade, undoubtedly attributable to sonogram technology and the work of people like Nathanson, approximately one million babies are still aborted in the United States every year, making it one of the leading causes of death.
The pro-choice lobby insists that it is indeed pro-choice and not pro-abortion, that it exists to provide women with the options they deem best for themselves. I have always been suspicious of this claim considering how many women and girls have, historically, been ripped from their offspring against their will. In the not-so-distant past, unmarried pregnant women were regularly sent away to hide a pregnancy, birth, and subsequent adoption to protect the reputation of the family or families involved. This practice was rooted in social and moral norms rather than legal mandates. The secrecy and shame associated with unwed pregnancy have been widely documented, and many women felt compelled to keep their situations hidden due to fear of judgment. It is not only my contention but the research-based claim of pro-life advocates that legalized abortion is the quick fix to what was in the past seen as a 40-week-long problem. According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine, 61% of respondents reported feeling pressured into having abortions. This number would likely be higher, but a significant number of respondents found themselves emotionally unable to complete the survey. Independent studies suggest coercion at a number above 70%. Former abortionist Steve Hammond shares heart-wrenching stories of women protesting once the abortion has commenced, underscoring the irreversible nature of the procedure once the cervix has been dilated and metal tools passed into the uterus.
The misconception that abortion is offered as a loving choice granted to free women is debunked by examining Planned Parenthood in a historical context. Planned Parenthood is the largest producer of abortions in the U.S. Planned Parenthood’s founding documents lack a commitment to medical ethics, protecting the vulnerable, or safeguarding women’s well-being. Instead, they align with the goal of population control, echoing their founder Margaret Sanger’s eugenic aspirations. Sanger explicitly expressed her desire to “exterminate the negro population.” Although she did not advocate for abortion, which was not legal in her lifetime, Sanger paid African American ministers to promote a low birth rate among their parishioners. Presently, African American women are three times more likely to undergo abortions than other racial groups, and abortion stands as the primary cause of death in African American communities.
Most hesitant pro-choicers identify this way because of two exceptions: rape and incest. They would take almost any step possible to avoid adding to a victim’s pain. This is certainly the way I feel. While pregnancy due to rape and incest are estimated to count for less than 2% of all abortions, these women’s stories are important to the overall discussion. According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine in 2018, “Common ground exists regarding the very basic fact that at least some women do have significant mental health issues that are caused, triggered, aggravated, or complicated by their abortion experience.” While we may never reach a consensus about just how prevalent post-abortion trauma is, it seems common sense to conclude that layering one trauma upon another isn’t conducive to health. One cannot erase the trauma of rape by pretending it didn’t happen or by hurrying a woman through the healing process. While most victims of rape do not become pregnant as a result, those who do are said to have a life-long reminder of their trauma should they choose to keep and raise the child. Most victims of rape will assure you they have a life-long reminder regardless, but women who choose to parent their child have a life-long reason to heal. For those who feel that raising the child is not something they want to do, there are far more potential adoptive parents with their arms outstretched to a newborn baby than there are babies aborted each year. If we, as a society, are going to sentence anyone to death in this scenario, shouldn’t it be the rapist?
In addition to legitimate doubts over whether exceptions for rape and incest are needed, there are even more reasons to reject separate laws for these outlier cases. While she was still in school, Lila Rose (a now leading advocate for life) read a book by Mark Crutcher called Lime 5: Exploited by Choice. Lime 5 is an adults-only compilation of public records info gathered by Life Dynamics, Inc., an organization founded to provide litigation support to malpractice attorneys who were suing on behalf of women who had been killed, injured, or sexually assaulted during an abortion. The accounts in Lime 5 range from the tragic to the unimaginable: women whose uteruses and bowels are perforated by abortionists who then go on to perform ten abortions that same day, women who are lied to about how far they are in their pregnancies in order to talk them into dangerous late-term procedures, fetal limbs left inside their mothers, women and underage girls left bleeding to death while clinic staff hesitates to call an ambulance, women who are overdosed with anesthesia without an anesthesiologist available at the clinic, clinics in which no staff has current CPR training, reused bloody equipment, filthy conditions…and yes, women and girls raped while incapacitated on the table. When Lila Rose read these horror stories, she decided to go undercover in LA to determine whether the same atrocities were happening in her city. Posing as a 14- or 15-year-old girl with a much older boyfriend, she entered various clinics to ask if she was a candidate for an abortion. Not only was she offered services, told to lie about her age, her boyfriend’s age, etc., but she was also assured that no one would be filing a report or triggering an investigation into the clear case of statutory rape she presented to the clinic workers. As Lila continued to research the abortion industry in her area, she spoke with an LAPD detective in charge of sex crimes against minors who told her he’d never once in his decades-long career received a call from an abortion clinic.
One of the four core abortion lies exposed by Nathanson after his conversion was that abortion is a medical issue best left to medical professionals, not a moral issue best left to thinkers. Of course, moral thinkers had already seen through this lie. Medicine heals, or at least it attempts to; real doctors do no harm. Abortion is the intentional murder of a child with a beating heart. The method of destruction is often dismemberment. The child is in many cases fully pain-capable, but no anesthetics are used. Lethal injection is another method used to end the life of a fetus, a method many consider cruel and unusual punishment when suggested for death row inmates. Though social media comments lead me to believe that the left’s propaganda is almost airtight, convincing the masses that late-term abortion happens rarely to never and partial-birth abortion is an urban myth, it is a researchable fact that we are so sold out to abortion in American that viable babies who survive abortion procedures are being born alive and then drowned, the backs of their necks are being slit, or they’re being left to die alone without any aid or comfort. Former abortionist Anthony Levatino describes abortion in this way (trigger warning, to say the least):
We like to think of ourselves as advanced here in the U.S. Perhaps that’s why we are one of only seven countries in the world that allow elective abortions after twenty weeks. 75% of all world nations, including twenty-seven EU countries, do not permit abortions past twelve weeks. Only three of forty-two European countries permit abortions past fifteen weeks. Loose or absent abortion laws are most common in countries where abortion is forced upon women.
The disingenuous claim that abortion removes leechlike clumps of cells and not genetically unique human beings has been handled by modern science. Perhaps some still choose to believe this lie, though that’s hard to imagine with the technology we possess today. In a survey of 5,000 biologists, majority liberal and non-religious, 95% answered the question of life’s beginning with “the moment of conception.” Zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus, infant, toddler, child, adolescent, adult are all terms used to describe stages in human development. While inside his mother’s body, a preborn baby is cared for by the body of his mother. After birth, he will continue to require constant care to sustain his life, and this need will continue throughout his early years. Pro-life advocates believe that people should possess full control over their own bodies. We simply do not believe that this bodily autonomy extends to the bodies of others.
Perhaps the biggest abortion lie both propagated by Nathanson and later dispelled by him is that legal abortion saves women’s lives. From the beginning of the pro-choice movement, the pro-life crowd has been consistently accused of saving babies only, mothers be damned. According to Nathanson, maternal mortality statistics from illegal abortions are roughly on par with the statistics post legal abortion. In other words, not only are no abortions safe for women, legalizing them didn’t make them safer. Nathanson admitted that he and other early pro-choice advocates pulled maternal mortality numbers out of the air and began repeating them widely. Those numbers are still quoted today, but they were never based in fact. Because states are not mandated to report abortion, we do not even have solid numbers on maternal mortality due to abortion. Thanks to the careful record keeping of other developed countries, however, we know that a woman is three times more likely to die having an abortion than she is giving birth.
Dr. Anthony Levatino, whose graphic testimony I included in this article, no longer performs abortions. In 2015, he explained before Congress that abortions are not necessary to save the life of a mother. Having worked at Albany Medical Center for over seven years at that time, he told of his personal experience treating hundreds of high-risk mothers. He argued that while conditions requiring immediate care may (and do) arise in the late second or third trimester, abortion is usually not a viable treatment option due to the time-intensive nature of cervical preparation for procedures like Suction D&E. He illustrated his point with a real-life case of a mother with severe preeclampsia at 28 weeks gestation. To save the mother, he was forced to terminate her pregnancy through an emergency Cesarean section. This case ended well for both mother and child as he was able to save them both. To this day, Dr. Levatino acknowledges that the baby cannot always be saved when delivered early, but that the intentional killing of the child is never required, or even useful, in saving the mother’s life.
The latest tactic of the left is to convince voters that pro-life advocates are willing to endanger the life of the mother to end abortion. While abortion is a broad term that is medically applied to everything from miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) to elective abortion (induced abortion without medical cause), not a single pro-life law impedes necessary medical care for mothers. Contrary to misinformation, the newest statutes in question explicitly permit medical professionals to exercise reasonable judgment in life-threatening emergencies, aligning with ACOG guidance. In situations such as miscarriage management, ectopic pregnancy treatment, and treatment of medical conditions qualifying as life-threatening, abortion is permitted under pro-life laws as these laws do not obstruct standard medical care. Pro-life voices in no way advocate for a woman to be forced to choose her baby’s life over her own. We simply advocate for compassionate care and fetal respect, emphasizing that even when induced abortion is legal for maternal safety, efforts should be made to deliver the fetus intact and alive.
Most of the prominent voices in the pro-life movement today are men and women who have come out of the abortion industry. The pro-life movement is a place of solace, firmly rooted in the principles of repentance and forgiveness. We believe that more babies will be saved by those who know the pain and guilt of abortion than by those who can only imagine it.
My experience with abortion is not personal, though the issue is personal to me. I was a politically engaged high schooler when Bill Clinton vetoed a ban on partial-birth abortion, and I read every abortion-related news piece from that point on. I trained as a midwife the year after graduation, and it was during that time that I watched the recording of a suction abortion. Shortly after passing the NARM exam, I found myself back at home, holding the tiny body of my baby sister as I nursed my mother through a heartbreaking miscarriage. She was less than ten weeks gestation, but every part of her was human, both in reality and in appearance, and fully identifiable down to her tiny fingers and toes.
Abortion does not exist to help women; it exists to silence them. It does not exist to empower women; it exists to convince them they are weak. It is a tool used by traffickers, pimps, pedophiles, rapists, married men with mistresses, men looking to avoid child support, racists, and misogynists. It is a heartless industry of outpatient procedures whose “medical professionals” wash their hands of both the physical and psychological aftermath of their work. It is the same war on women that has always existed. Sadly, now, women have joined the fight against themselves. It is time to end this war and reclaim the culture ahead of the laws. It is time for pro-life women to reclaim feminism for the good of others — to reposition our hearts, and when necessary our bodies, as protectors of vulnerable children.
Sarah Hawkes Valente is a married mother of seven, an author, and an advocate for women and children — born and unborn. She is the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Taos County.