WATERBURY – Legal scholar and former pro-choice advocate Erica Bachiochi galvanized a gathering of about 85 at the 42nd annual Connecticut Right to Life Conference and Convention at CoCo Key Hotel and Convention Center April 23.
Speaking on the topic “Does Women’s Equality Require Abortion Rights? A Pro-Life Feminist Perspective,” Mrs. Bachiochi met head on what she said is the pro-choice movement’s only serious argument for abortion rights: that women’s equality and well-being depend on it.
Now married and a mother of six, Mrs. Bachiochi discussed her checkered past and the impact her experiences had on her views about abortion as a teen and then as a college student.
“My support for abortion as a teen amounted to an escape hatch for sexual permissiveness I no longer practiced or even actually believed in,” she said.
“But I grew more and more disgusted with the argument put forward by abortion advocates that the availability of abortion would assist women, I mean really was the key to assisting poor women on the road out of poverty,” she said.
“The thought that we as a nation would attempt to solve for the cost of the poor by helping them rid themselves of their own children began to haunt me,” she said.
She said she read pro-life advocate Mary Ann Glendon’s writings urging that we meet the real needs of the poor, including how to care for their children. “This way, this pro-life way, I could then see was far more difficult; it was more time-intensive; it was more messy; but I knew then and there that it was good and it was true,” she said.
“From a pro-choice perspective, abortion is necessary to secure equal status in a society that devalues motherhood and makes it difficult to pursue status-bearing employment opportunities and motherhood simultaneously,” she said. She quoted the late feminist American historian Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, who claimed, “For a woman to be the best she can be, she must be as little of a woman as possible.”
The pro-choice advocates say that women must imitate men in order to achieve equality and autonomy, she said. Men don’t bear children and are not physically inconvenienced by pregnancy.
This kind of feminism flies in the face of the attitude of early suffragettes, who were all pro-life, she said. “Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton would have thought that something had gone terribly, terribly wrong,” she said. Stanton called abortion a “crying evil,” she said.
“Might there be something awry in a sexual ethic in which pleasure trumps the very life of a human being?” Mrs. Bachiochi said.
“What women can do that men cannot is undervalued because the human being, both born and unborn, is undervalued in comparison to riches, creature comforts and prestige,” she added.
“To belittle the moral status of the unborn child is to belittle the state of pregnancy and so too the child’s mother,” she said.
She concluded, “Truly to understand the profound dignity of the human being, society may yet come to relish the true magnificence of women. There is little that women cannot do as well as men, and yet the most profound human experience is reserved for women alone. Would that our culture understood that.”
Mrs. Bachiochi was a speaker at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015. She has presented in conferences sponsored by the Pontifical Council on the Laity and has represented the Holy See at the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations.
John Waite, president of Connecticut Right to Life Corpora-tion, which sponsors the annual event, said he hopes young people will continue to be involved in pro-life events.
“We have our March for Life buses that go down [to Washington] every year, and increasingly, more and more of the young people are going,” he said. “We need to outreach to the community. We need to make the residents of Connecticut aware of what’s going on. The legislature will never change unless the people make them change.”
Ellen Cavallo, director of crisis pregnancy center Carolyn’s Place, said, “It’s important that we gather together, and that we pray together and that we come together in a common cause; but also just finding out about all of these different agencies, different venues, different people, and getting new information, because you learn something new every day.”
Other speakers were Matthew Valliere, executive director of the Patients’ Rights Action Fund; and Bryan Kemper, founder and president of Stand True Ministries.