International Women’s Day: Dignity, Not Abortion


Russia, China and Vietnam recently celebrated a shared national holiday, but I’ll bet you didn’t hear about it. March 8 is International Women’s Day, established 101 years ago to celebrate economic, social and political achievements of women. This year, there were over 1,000 events worldwide, ranging from art exhibits to panel discussions to movie screenings. You might say at this point, “That’s great, but what does that have to do with bioethics?” I’m glad you asked! Let me connect the dots.

Some women use International Women’s Day to push for legalizing abortion around the world. But what does legal access to chemical and surgical abortion translate to in real life? Fewer baby girls. In “The Global War Against Baby Girls,” Nicholas Eberstadt points out one devastating consequence of worldwide access to ultrasound and abortion: the abortion of unborn girls.[1] There are at least 35 million more boys than girls worldwide, affecting countries that account for half of the world’s population. This “ruthless son preference,” as he calls it, has an echo effect in the higher mortality rate for little girls under the age of five.

Imagine,  International Women’s Day without abortion rights. A world that better honors women and girls by focusing on their dignity.

Every woman and every girl, even in the womb, is an expression of love—God’s love. She exists because she is a wonderful, special creation of God, and is made in his image. Her dignity and her value are no different than that of any man or any boy. Women’s dignity is human dignity. While this may seem obvious to us who are Christians, this is not the case in much of the world (and if we are being very honest and self-critical, it is sad to say that many Western Christians, even evangelicals, have probably not been good leaders by example here).That is why The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity has launched our Global Women’s Health Initiative. This initiative will develop research and resources on the bioethical issues that especially affect women. The Center is also networking with organizations and individuals who share this understanding of dignity, and who want to make a difference in the lives of women and girls.

Girls should not be targeted in the womb. Mothers need good prenatal care and safe delivery of their baby. Women should not be exploited for reproductive purposes or to supply eggs for experimental research. And in poor countries, older women should not be last in line for healthcare.

Research, education, and practical assistance can help transform the lives of girls, women, their families and their communities. They should know that they are valued by their human community, and loved by God, from the moment their life begins at conception, until they draw their last breath.

In that sense, every day should be women’s day. Indeed, women’s dignity is human dignity.

[1] Nicholas Eberstadt, “The Global War Against Baby Girls,” The New Atlantis 33, (Fall 2011): 3-18. Available at


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