A full house of 400 people packed the Millennium Hotel in Cheektowaga on Feb. 26 to hear from those who work and live behind the front lines of abortion.
Dodging the mainstream mentality of "My Body, My Choice," Michele Sterlace-Accorsi, executive director of Feminists Choosing Life of New York, told the 400 people attending the seventh annual St. Gianna Molla Banquet that having children does not impede a woman's place in society.
"Women need to know that abortion is not necessary to achieve equality," she said. "That to enjoy full dignity and rights as an individual, women need not resemble men or repudiate that which is most unique to women - the ability to bear children."
Feminists Choosing Life of New York raises public awareness on topics relevant to publicly sanctioned lethal violence, including abortion, war, the death penalty, euthanasia, and other forms of violence such as human trafficking. The Human Rights coalition educates the public of the impact of these issues on women and culture. It also reveals inconsistencies within the constructs of pro-choice feminism and aims to advance common ground.
Using the words of feminists and pro-life feminists of her generation, such as Serrin M. Foster, Fiorella Nash, Sue Ellen Browder and Nancy Matthew Walker, Sterlace-Accorsi spoke on pro-life feminism, the philosophy of non-violence, and the Consistent Life Ethic.
She explained core principles of non-violence. The theory of non-violence recognizes the use of violence by people and governments as a fragile, unstable approach to handling human conflict. The philosophy of non-violence embraces the consistent life ethic. "An ideology that lucidly recognizes the inherent value and dignity of all human life from conception to natural death. The logic is seamless and coherent. Whether a human is tiny, innocent and developing in utero or guilty of committing the most heinous crime, each is equally human and equally deserving of life," said Sterlace-Accorsi. "The essential value of human life is not dependent on or relative to the worth others may assign or may not assign to it."
According to the principles of non-violence, humanity and the right to live free from violent destruction innately belongs to every member of the human species. It cannot be arbitrarily defined, bestowed or traded.
Feminism is the theory that women and men should possess equal rights and opportunities within the social, political and economic systems of civil societies. The feminist movement sought to extend human rights and opportunities, not to destroy or remove them from any group or member of the human family.
"Our feminist foremothers made it clear that abortion is not only an egregious offense against the most vulnerable human beings, but an offense against women and women's equality," Sterlace-Accorsi said.
"So, when did feminism embrace abortion rights as central to women's liberation?" she asked.
Feminist writers have stated that the Sexual Revolution collapsed into the Women's Movement, and the right to abortion became synonymous with women's quest for equality. Sue Ellen Browder stated that the Feminist Movement was hijacked by abortion activists, and women were made to feel that a woman could not be equal to a man unless she is able to kill her unborn child. Propaganda added gas to the fire. Browder asks that people go into those places of social unrest and confusion in order to pierce the deception and reveal truth, so the public will not be led by misinformation.
"If there's any aspect of modern society that needs to be scrutinized with a keen eye for partial truths and error, it's the Women's Movement," Sterlace-Accorsi said.
Feminist Theory, she said, can be divided into two branches of thought - pro-life feminism and pro-choice feminism.
"Both seek equal opportunities, social, political, economic, for women and anyone who believes in equal opportunities for women is a feminist."
The question, she said, is does a woman have to deny her womanhood or destroy human life in order to be equal?
"Pro-Life Feminism recognizes abortion as the violent destruction of human life, and the right to abortion is undermining the health and rights of women, especially pregnant women and mothers. Pro-life feminists, however, not only see abortion as the violent destruction of human life, but as degrading to women and hindering women's progress. And physical and social science supports our position."
Despite having access to abortion, women continue to earn substantially less then men for the same jobs. Business Insider states the average woman earns 19.5 percent less than the average man. Women typically do the primary caregiving of children. Sterlace-Accorsi demanded men step up and not be allowed to abandon children.
Bishop Richard J. Malone, opened the eighth-annual event, which raises money for the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center. The center serves the pro-life cause by providing material, emotional and spiritual support to single mothers, fathers and young families in need from pregnancy through the first years of life.
"We cannot give in on these important elements of our mission, one of the most important, of course, is our pro-life cause. Has the moral credibility of the Church weakened because of this crisis? Yes, it has. Does that mean we throw in the towel? Absolutely not. We have to continue to stand for life and we will do it," the bishop remarked.
In closing, Cheryl Calire, director of the diocesan Office of Pro-Life Activities said she hopes the program inspires people to devote more time to prayer, and donate time, talent and treasure to the pro-life cause.