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Today’s culture is marked by profound confusion about what it means to be pro-woman. Hollywood, the abortion industry and sadly many political figures of our day, including all but one of the Democratic candidates for president, are in favor of abortion without limits. They tell us abortion — that is, ending the life of an innocent human being — is essential to women’s freedom, empowerment and progress.

In order to combat this harmful message, we have chosen a unique theme for this year’s March for Life, hoping to bring some clarity to the confusion. The theme for the 47th annual March for Life, happening on Jan. 24 in Washington, D.C., is “Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.” This year marks the centennial of the 19th Amendment which granted women the right to vote. As we celebrate this occasion, March for Life intends to shine light on the suffragists who not only won women the right to vote, but who also acknowledged that the inherent dignity of the unborn and women are not at odds with each other.

Educating on the issue of abortion and true women’s empowerment couldn’t be more important than it is now. A consequential presidential election is around the corner and state abortion politics are making national news. Consider how, in January, Virginia Rep. Kathy Tran proposed a bill allowing abortion until birth and even during labor; and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York lit up area landmarks pink in celebration of New York’s Reproductive Health Act, a bill allowing abortion up until birth and paid for by tax dollars. Not long ago, Michigan House Democrats introduced similarly radical abortion legislation.

The original suffragists who fought for and won women the right to vote also advocated for women’s voice in government which they believed would improve their own lives and the lives of their families. It would permit full political, economic and social participation in civic life. These courageous women would be shocked and saddened to see so many politicians today advocating for extreme abortion laws in the name of women’s equality.

Unlike many claiming to champion women today, the suffragists wanted no part of abortion or laws advocating for abortion. The newspaper Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony operated referred to abortion as “infanticide” and “child murder.” Alice Paul famously called abortion the “ultimate exploitation of women.”

Abortion harms women and runs counter to the principle of equality the suffragists used to establish their own rights. They asserted in the Declaration of Sentiments signed at the Seneca Falls Convention that: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

As we reflect on the gains won by and for women over the past 100 years, we ought to also raise serious questions about what really empowers women. Is it abortion up until birth and paid for by tax payers or things like Pregnancy Care Centers that provide free support and resources for women and men facing unexpected pregnancies, giving them the opportunity to welcome new life?

Our hope and prayer is that this year’s March for Life theme will be a healing remedy for the wounding and deceptive messages coming from some politicians and others pushing abortion without limits as a victimless solution, when the truth is that life empowers.

Jeanne Mancini is president of March for Life.

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