Women’s march critics missed message

To the editor:

One phrase from a recent letter about the Jan. 21 Women’s March stands out to me: “Although all people have a right to demonstrate, it turned out to be more a Pro-abortion rally than anything else. It was a rally in favor of being allowed to kill and murder unborn children.”

If the writer had attended the march, I hope they would have left with a much different feeling.

I did attend. In my hands, I held up a sign with my mother’s picture on it — honoring her for raising me to be a strong woman. I was surprised at how polite, respectful, and peaceful it all was. At one moment, I looked to the right and saw a lady in a wheelchair. My first thought was: how brave. I hoped she wouldn’t get lost or trampled in the crowd. As she politely said excuse me and wheeled herself over the ice, someone stepped forward and helped her navigate the crowd. And so it was. Not a march of anger, hatred, or violence, but a march filled with so many moments of kindness where we came together with each step forward demanding a more perfect union.

To single out one issue and defame the event is to not have heard our voice. So let me say it loud and clearly here: we marched “together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.” And under that umbrella of unity we advocated for the environment; to end violence against women; and for immigrants, workers, civil, disability, LGBT, and reproductive rights.

To say those who marched for reproductive rights are pro-abortion is to fail to see the shades of gray around the issue. If we are too quick to judge one another, we lose the chance to understand one another. We can neither proclaim that pro-choicers are baby murdering fiends or pro-lifers are antiquated dinosaurs who want sovereignty over women’s bodies because to do either is to lose any hope of common ground. I would argue that we are not so different. What we both want is a world where there is no abortion. If you go to the Naral pro-choice website, under ‘what is choice’ one of their first bullet points suggests ways to lower abortion rates by making birth control and sex education available to all women. We have proven time and again as a society that when we fail to offer these things, it raises abortion rates instead of lowering them. So, no I am not looking forward to the possibility of Planned Parenthood being defunded. I am not because I am for every life. Every life they have saved through cancer screening, STD treatment, prenatal care, offering services to rape and incest victims, and yes, by giving out contraception.

It’s a beautiful thing in this democracy that we can demonstrate for what we believe in. And it is even more beautiful when we can put down our pitchforks and accusatory words and instead, seek to understand one another. For if we do, we may just find that our black and white views blend together to an even shade of gray.

Megan Benage

New Ulm

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