Jeane Kirkpatrick, the first woman to ever serve as a US ambassador to the United Nations once said, “solidarity was the movement that turned the direction of history, I think.” Well, she thought correctly. On March 22nd, despite the below freezing temperatures, my team members and I here at the World Youth Alliance joined a sea of youth starting from infants to college students to people of all ages. We joined together in our nations capital for those who cannot march for themselves. Freezing together, holding signs together, and marching together, all in order to direct our future towards life; in those moments, Kirkpatrick’s words could not have rung more true. The cold that day even froze the ink on our pens (I think I’ve been traumatized), but amidst all this, the warmth of solidarity I felt continues to flicker in my heart.
The abortion debate can be so polarizing at times. The dismembered pictures of botched abortions from the more radical pro-lifers that haunt me at night, or the harsh “anti-women” accusations from pro-choicers that leave me in fear, afraid to say what I believe. Even the terms “pro-life” versus “pro-choice” cause us to focus on divisive labels and forget what we’re talking about in the first place. In these cold environments we often lose the point of it all: the dignity of the human person, and that is where World Youth Alliance comes in. The World Youth Alliance is an organization built on the idea of the dignity of the human person, present from the moment of conception, when human life begins.
I’m going to share yet another enlightening quote on solidarity (you can never have too much) by the former president of Poland, Lech Walesa, “The sole and basic source of our strength is… the solidarity of people who seek to live in dignity, truth, and in harmony with their conscience.” The dignity that shines in every person will bring us together and hopefully that is a place that everyone can see eye to eye on.
So, what is dignity and why is it so important? Dignity is simply three things: universal, intrinsic, and inalienable. Human dignity recognizes the personhood in human beings. Dignity is objective because it cannot be created by any person, it does not rely on subjective feelings, and it is neither created nor defined by the world. Since dignity is innate, all human persons are already in possession of dignity from the moment of conception, even before birth. If we don’t have life at the moment of conception, then when do we have life?
Does it depend on our independent viability? Are we more of a person if we can live on our own outside of the womb? But if this is the case why are 3rd trimester abortions where most people draw the line? Perhaps abortions visually appear more grotesque as they get closer and closer to term and resemble more of a human face, but does looking more human grant personhood? We cannot ignore that whether you are a 6 month old fetus, a 9 month old fetus or a 3 year old baby, at one point you started to grow, so much so that you reached that point of being an infant, a toddler, an adolescent, and so forth. I believe that for me, and all humans, this begins when we first began to form into the persons we are today, which is at conception. We are beings with innate dignity, thus dignity begins at conception.
It’s interesting because when parent’s have conceived a child they never refer to it as a “gestating fetus”, they refer to it as a “baby”, regardless of it’s stage. Even from the minute they find out they have conceived, it’s a baby, even at a couple of weeks old, even before the baby’s heartbeat. And yet, if a child is unwanted, it is suddenly a clump of cells? Is human life merely hanging on the thread of human perception? Isn’t dignity universal, innate…true? What is human?
In the “Abortionist Letters”, an unnamed abortionist writes: “Nobody wants to perform abortions after ten weeks because by then you see the features of the baby, hands, feet. It’s really barbaric. Abortions are very draining, exhausting, and heartrending. There are a lot of tears.”
Now, it’s important to understand that both sides of the debate are seeking to be compassionate. Those who are pro-choice are being compassionate to the women in a difficult situation and those who are pro-life are being compassionate to the unborn child. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the power of choice. And I choose to stand for life, for the dignity of the child and the mother. I choose to fight for a world where our understanding of the human person is so valuable, so precious, that abortion will one day be unthinkable and undesirable, regardless of law.
We must stand in solidarity, in defense of dignity, and the dignity possessed by the smallest of persons. For, if we don’t stand up for life, what do we stand for?
Monica Kim is an intern for WYA North America