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Talk given by Marisa Hoover:“We are each unique and innately worthy of respect.” From the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations on March 14, 2017

Marisa Hoover is a freshman at Brigham Young University where she is studying public relations. She served as the senior class president in her Idaho high school where she was also a member of Varsity Chorale performing in Carnegie Hall in January 2016. Marisa is an accomplished pianist, ballerina, and student who was chosen to represent the state of Idaho as its Distinguished Young Woman of 2016. She was elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction at Idaho Girl’s State, June 2015. She served as a member of the Mayor’s Community College Advisory Committee tasked with rallying support for a community college in her hometown. She is passionate about education, particularly the opportunities for education of women and girls.

I love being a young woman and I have always understood that I am unique and innately worthy of respect. I identify myself as a maternal feminist which means I believe that “all girls, women, and mothers have something unique and powerful to contribute to the world in all facets of both private and public life.” As I have studied women’s issues,  I’ve found that the message sent to me as a young woman by the feminist movement in America is that “If you’re not pro-choice, then you’re not pro-woman.” In other words, you can’t be a “Real Feminist”, if you are pro-life. I’ve been told that if you care about women, and if you care about women’s rights, then you must be pro-choice. I was very surprised to learn that the leaders of the Women’s March on Washington were unwilling to listen to the pro-life feminist perspective as it has deep roots in the history of feminism. Susan B. Anthony, a woman who played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement said, “Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own, has it been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.” In other she believes in respecting and protecting the lives of preborn babies.

Feminists of all kinds believe that every woman is deserving, inherently and naturally, of safety, goodness, and respect. That respect is what we are fighting for! I know that we are each unique and innately worthy of respect. Every individual; even the preborn,  or especially the preborn, because they are relying on us to protect these rights. Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848, organized the 1st women’s convention in Seneca Falls. She stated, “When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.” For ages women have been subjected to inequality largely based on the fact that we are less physically powerful. Preborn babies are the most vulnerable of us all, and to regard them as disposable is horrifying. Women are inherently protectors of children. We cannot pass this oppression down to preborn children and call it liberation.  Every child, every person is unique and worthy of respect. We must protect this truth by advocating for life.

Uniqueness truly is a wonder. It is almost impossible for me to comprehend the fact that each and every person contains a unique genome that will never exist again in the lifetime of our universe. There are over 8 million possible combinations of chromosomes you could have inherited from your parents. This completely unique creation is one of a kind. I am one of those unique creations. You are one of those unique creations. And so are the 4 million babies aborted worldwide already this year.

I wonder who these people might have been. I wonder what kind of things they would have accomplished. They could have been an inventor like Steve Jobs, or an inspiring religious leader like Pope John Paul II. Both of these men had mothers who considered abortion but chose life instead. These influential men were given a chance at life through adoption, and because of them our world will never be the same. 4 million babies already aborted this year. These numbers are mind blowing and so I put it in a smaller perspective.  

I was born in 1998. That year, in the United States alone, 884,273 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC.

That is 264 abortions for every 1,000 live births. I graduated from Hillcrest High School with a graduating class of 400.

That means 105 unique people were missing from my graduating class because they were never born.  In an average classroom size of 30, almost 8 students missing.  I wonder what I could have learned from them.  I wonder what I could have inspired in them. I wonder what they could have encouraged in me.

One of my best friends, Jacob Ritter, was adopted, instead of aborted.  He changed my life. He inspired me to excel academically. He always made me feel comfortable with who I was, and he gave me a unique perspective on life that could not be replicated by anyone else. He is uniquely Jacob. His birth mother made a choice. The choice of life. And so many have been blessed because of that. Jacob is now in the Honors program at the University of Utah as well as a Freshman Ambassador. I know he will continue to take his ambition with him throughout his life and will make a difference in the lives of so many people. Thank heaven for his mother and women like her, who made a choice that I am certain was not easy to make, especially 20 years ago.  

Another example of an incredibly brave woman, is the birth mother of Big Ocean member Ann Takasaki’s adopted son, David. The circumstances regarding her pregnancy were heartbreaking, and both the father and the parents encouraged her to get an abortion. Instead this woman chose to give her son, David life and a family. During her entire pregnancy she kept a journal and wrote countless letters to David. These gifts are treasures to him, and are an enormous manifestation of her selfless love. No woman ever plans to have an abortion. Both pro- life and pro-choice sides completely agree with this fact. Abortion is a manifestation that our society does not meet the needs of women. We need to create a culture that supports women so well that no woman ever has to get an abortion. We need to create a culture in which pregnancy and motherhood are accepted and supported. We need to create a culture that tells expecting mothers, “You are capable,” “You are powerful,” and “We are here when you need help,” That is women supporting women. And that is equality.

The fight for equality is about so many things. It is about things like closing the pay gap. It is about things like equal representation in the political arena and the board room.  But it is also about understanding and affirming the internal worth of every person, born and preborn, and standing for life-affirming choices and inspiring others to do the same. I will continue to identify myself as a feminist, a maternal feminist. I will advocate for the equality of the sexes.

And I will advocate for life.