The abortion conversation has only become more contentious over the past few months. Pro-lifers are on a high as President Trump continues to take steps to fulfill his pro-life commitments, and pro-choicers are concerned about the chiseling away of abortion rights and funding for Planned Parenthood. The discord between both camps is intense enough for some to want to leave the heavy lifting to those in power—politicians, media, and advocacy groups—and simply cheer from the sidelines.
But cheering from the sidelines doesn’t do much for women and children directly impacted by abortion laws. As a Federalist article recently pointed out, even when millions march in DC, these displays mean little unless backed up by local action.
Which is likely why immediately after the Women’s March left DC, they announced that their fight is coming to a town near you.
How Women’s Marchers Intend To Mobilize
“Now is not the time to hang up our marching shoes – it’s time to get our friends, family and community together and make history,” the March website reads. Women’s March organizers recently launched their plan for “huddles”: groups of 10-15 women to meet in their communities. More than 4,000 women have signed up to host these groups. In their call for community organizing, they suggest starting simple: “Consider inviting some friends, neighbors and fellow Marchers over for drink or dinner sometime in the next ten days.”
The Women’s March leaders know that small groups of likeminded friends effect significant change. From the Clapham Sect, which almost single-handedly abolished the slave trade in England; to the Algonquin Round Table, which revolutionized the way we communicate even today; to the Club from Nowhere, which funded the Montgomery Bus Boycott: these, among many other artistic, social, and political movements, began with friends around a table.
Effective movements prioritize community mobilization as the secret to their success. Local action is especially important when a political issue is deeply connected to culture, and there is no political issue more dependent on culture than abortion. Even if laws are passed protecting unborn life, and even as hope of repealing Roe V. Wade grows, several personal, social, economic, and cultural factors contribute to the abortion rate.
Support Begins Before Pregnancy, Ideally with Marriage
One of the most significant factors in the abortion rate is relationship status: specifically, whether mothers are married or unmarried at the time of their pregnancy. The Guttmacher Institute reports that 86 percent of abortions are performed on single women, indicating that unmarried expectant moms face unique challenges with their pregnancies.
This problem, as well as many other factors leading women to choose abortion, can only be addressed in families and communities. The government can’t relieve all potential sources of desperation for expectant mothers. It’s impossible to even identify what makes an unwanted pregnancy “unwanted” without unravelling individual relationship choices made before a pregnancy occurs—something a march or the government can’t do.
What laws or federal programs can’t do, we can. Real change in hearts and minds on sensitive issues like life, sex, children, relationships, and marriage happens in settings where people already have influence. Pro-life women must not be afraid to talk to our friends and family about these issues. If we don’t, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and their Hollywood friends will only be too happy to fill in—indeed, they already are.
Pro-Life Women Must Speak Out In Their Communities
Pro-life women must also be brave enough to move beyond family and social circles to areas where we wield influence as a neighbor and a citizen: local newspapers, local lobbying, local schools.
It can feel awkward and uncertain to speak out about deeply personal topics. But when people feel empowered by one another with support and knowledge, it is much easier to take concrete, positive steps to reach people who aren’t on the same page.
That is why Women Speak For Themselves (where I serve as communications director) is mobilizing women to connect in their communities. Starting this month, we’re centering our pro-life efforts around kitchen tables. WSFT Gatherings will encourage women to gather friends or other interested women once a month in their own hometowns.
We provide helpful articles and facts about pro-life issues like sex, romance, and family formation. We ask questions that act as jumping-off points for discussion, and offer suggestions for local activism—like volunteering at a woman’s shelter, or advocating for sex education that respects the emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of sex.
Life Wins When We Fight Abortion At The Grassroots Level
As Vice President President Pence said at March for Life: “Life is winning through the quiet counsels between mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, between friends across kitchen tables, and over coffee at college campuses. The truth is being told. Compassion is overcoming convenience.”
The Women’s Marchers aren’t the only ones mobilizing on abortion. Even as we make gains in legislation, pro-life women need to keep mobilizing right where they live. After all, what could be more important than doing our part to protect innocent unborn lives, to empower their mothers and fathers, and to make our communities worthy of them?
Start today, by inviting your friends over for coffee.