Pro-life Profile is a new series I will be publishing regularly. These brief interviews will highlight pro-life leaders in order to dispel the preconceptions that predominate in the mainstream press and the minds of pro-choice people. I’ll begin with my Vita Institute classmates.
Gwendolyn Loop currently lives in Wisconsin, and is the Outreach Director for New Wave Feminists.
Have you always considered yourself pro-life? If so, what’s your first memory of being pro-life? If not, tell me what changed your mind.
As the oldest of six kids, I was always pro-life because I recognized a continuity through all nine months of my mom’s pregnancy. It didn’t make sense that my little sibling in the womb would stop being a human person if my mom decided she didn’t want the child anymore. I was raised Catholic, but even when I became agnostic for a few years, I never supported abortion. My stance is informed by my faith, but it’s not tied to it.
My greater journey was actually in the shift from a more traditional “anti-abortion” stance to an all-encompassing consistent life ethic. My first step was embracing feminism, fighting to combat the devaluation of women. I realized that abortion was only a single symptom of our pervasive culture of dehumanization, which sacrifices the vulnerable for the sake of the privileged. 75% of abortions are influenced by financial concerns— there’s not much of a “choice” when your housing is at risk, or you can’t pay for healthcare, or you’ll get fired if you have to take time off work. I want families to have resources and radical support, not only for pregnancy and birth, but throughout their entire lives.
Tell me a little about your pro-life work, currently and in the past if you wish.
I’m the Outreach Director for New Wave Feminists, a secular and non-partisan pro-life feminist organization. We advocate a consistent life ethic, the belief that life should be free from violence “from the womb to the tomb.” Right now, NWF is making a migrant shelter in Ciudad Juárez, a city where thousands of people are stranded while waiting on asylum cases for the United States. We also plan to open a medical clinic with pregnancy classes, free STD testing, lactation talks and more.
This spring, I lived and worked at Casa Juan Diego, a migrant shelter in Houston. As part of the Catholic Worker Movement, our group embraced voluntary poverty, personalism, and nonviolence. We lived in solidarity with migrants who are received directly from the border or detention. Volunteers also help to run a pro-bono medical clinic and food distribution, regardless of the recipients’ documentation status. Although Casa is not directly related to the abortion issue, I nevertheless see this as deeply pro-life work, whether that’s reuniting families post-detention, teaching impromptu English lessons, filling out work permits, or driving families to appointments. I hope to continue my focus on immigration as a law student at Notre Dame this fall.
What brought you to the Vita Institute, and what were some of your biggest takeaways?
The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture graciously chose me as the recipient of this year’s Polking Family Fellowship, which is given to one Notre Dame law student per class to cultivate leaders in a culture of life. The Vita Institute was my first official introduction to the Center, and it was an amazing opportunity to meet faculty and fellow activists. I loved having conversations about women’s real needs, seeing so many other organizations trying to support families in crisis. At the same time, the week really highlighted how much work still needs to be done to build an authentic culture of life.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you and your work? Especially, is there anything you’d like pro-choice folks to understand?
I want pro-choicers to know— you and I have a lot of common ground! I want to work with you to make real solutions like affordable healthcare and childcare, fair wages and flexible workplaces, housing and transportation. It’s absolutely shameful that in one of the richest countries on earth, a woman’s financial situation would be so precarious that she would give up her child to secure her own future. I dream of a society where we all care for each other at all stages, in every circumstance.
Learn more about New Wave Feminists here: https://www.facebook.com/
Check out Casa Juan Diego here: https://cjd.org/
Read more Pro-life Profiles here: Herb Geraghty