When Women Lead: The Pro-life Women’s Conference
by C.J. Williams
This year’s Pro-Life Women’s Conference had a theme: WHEN WOMEN LEAD. But what might just as well have been the unspoken theme was unity, and underlying all unity is consistency.
As the Consistent Life Network (CLN) set up to table in the enormous Pontchartrain Conference Center in New Orleans, we were surrounded by a sea of fellow advocates for life. Women poured in from as far away as California, as near as New Orleans itself, speaking more than one language and sporting more than one exterior style. Eight hundred plus registered this year, and we were excited to notice our fellow tablers focused on restoring resources and building a culture of peace consistently.
From Feminists Choosing Life of NY, whose executive director Michele Sterlace-Accorsi (who keynoted the event with verve and personal passion) to Sisters of Life, who spoke eloquently of developing our own interior silence and peace, the women spoke and heard consistency.
END WAR and STOP CALLING FEMINISM VIOLENCE FCLNY’s buttons stated boldly.
NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL Rehumanize Intenational’s new stickers flashed in appropriate Spanish.
“[We are here] valuing life no matter what,” Sterlace-Accorsi rounded up her keynote, “We can cure diseases. . . but the only cure for despair, loneliness . . . and fear . . . is love.”
Within all this, Rachel MacNair and I mini-trained multiple conference goers on the peaceful but radically impactful Grassroots Defunding Planned Parenthood Campaign. Rerouting non-pregnancy healthcare needs away from PP and to the local federally qualified health clinics both aids men and women in local communities find the testing and treatment they need, and takes customers and funds away from clinics that kill, ultimately starving out PP centers across the nation.
“This is wonderful,” said one woman from Massachusetts, “I was at the huge public hearing on the abortion bill last week, but this is something I can do every day.”
Panels ran that unified and consistent gamut as well, pinpointing women’s power to lead in their communities. “Prolife? For the people at the border!” cried Fr. Craft, leading Sunday mass for the Catholics in attendance, “Are you leading with love?”
Cynthia J. Wood also addressed the #MeToo movement in her breakout, “Sexual Harrassment- A ProLife Issue Too.” A physicians’ panel, “Comprehensive Care” addressed healthcare needs and holistic nonviolent avenues for doctors also keyed in the consistent note.
A final highlight, the conference wrapped on Carrie Murray Nellis’s look at caring for and supporting birth mothers in the adoption process – and their lives going on.
“Nonviolence,” said Diane Lara from Texas, “I mean, caring about life and replacing violence. That’s why I sidewalk advocate. It’s also why I started a small organization here that works on, like, do no harm. Local agriculture and care for our environment and community. Vegan living – avoid harming animals. And never, never kill a preborn person.”
That’s unity. That’s consistency. And we were beyond pleased to participate this year – our table covered by two trailblazing women – in a conference lead by the feminine genius of unity and consistent compass
Note: This was the fourth annual conference; the 2020 conference will be June 26-28 in Indianapolis.
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