From Women's March to March for Life

Now, instead of invoking the cry, “My body, my choice,” Lisa likes to talk about “My child, my duty.” 

By Maria V. Gallagher

Lisa Eshleman (pictured above) knows what it’s like to march for a cause. Not that long ago, when she was in high school, Lisa attended the National Women’s March — an event which promoted abortion. She shouted, “My body, my choice!” and even thought she would like to serve as an escort at a Planned Parenthood facility, ushering other young women to their abortion appointments.

But this year, Lisa will participate (along with the Marian Fathers and seminarians) in the March for Life on Jan. 19 in Washington, D.C., as a staunch advocate for the value and dignity of human life. Her transition from pro-abortion activist to pro-life champion demonstrates the influence of accurate, scientifically-based information, the contagious joy of the pro-life movement, and the power of prayer.

Grace and education
Some might consider Lisa’s transformation miraculous. After all, she had been taught in school that the unborn child was a parasite, undeserving of protection. But then, she began to ask questions — questions that led her to the truth about fetal development and the horrific nature of abortion procedures that involve tearing preborn children limb-by-limb from their mothers’ wombs. 

Lisa also learned about the resources available to pregnant women in need, and the vastness of the material aid and emotional support shocked her. Over time, she realized that the pro-life movement stood for the value of each human being, and was eager to assist both mother and child.

Her transition to the pro-life movement was not without its crosses. For instance, Lisa reports that she “lost nearly every single friend from high school” because of her decision to embrace the right-to-life cause. Still, she contends that she now has new friends and even better friends — friends who encourage her in virtue. “That’s been such a blessing,” Lisa says.

In the end, Lisa surmises that “the very thing that converted me on this issue were the prayers of strangers.” She believes in passing on the blessing by praying for those who cross her path who are vehemently pro-abortion.

Next steps
In 2022, Lisa earned her degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied health sciences as well as French. While in college, she participated in the pro-life club and the Catholic collegiate outpost known as the Newman Center — the first Newman Center in the country, dating back to 1893.

After graduation, Lisa began working as an educator for an organization called Generation Life, based in the Philadelphia area. Generation Life is made up of young people who reach out to students from middle school through college with a life-affirming message: “You are worthy of authentic love.” 

Generation Life, which was founded in the year 2000, hopes to build a culture of life by spreading the truth about the dignity and incredible value of the human person. “It is a joyful message of life and love,” Lisa says, noting that the group is active in the suburbs of Philadelphia, as well as Lancaster, Scranton, and Allentown, Pennsylvania. 

Lisa notes that the surveys that Generation Life conducts of students following educational presentations are illuminative. In one case, a 12-year-old boy responded, “I need to think more about my future bride.” Lisa was touched by the fact that the boy was able to get “out of the video game mindset” and focus on the family he eventually hopes to have.

A tale of two marches
As she looks back on her journey, Lisa likes to point out the stark differences she observed between the Women’s March and the March for Life. She encountered a great deal of negativity at the Women’s March, whereas the March for Life was filled with joy.  

Now, instead of invoking the cry, “My body, my choice,” Lisa likes to talk about “My child, my duty.” It is a hope-filled message that resonated with the young people she is privileged to encounter in her work at Generation Life.

When she shows a class a sonogram of an unborn baby at 12 weeks gestation, active in a mother’s womb, “That always shocks them.” Led to believe that a preborn child is just a clump of cells, the students are surprised at how developed a preborn baby is at that stage of life.

For Lisa Eshleman, her evolution from the pro-abortion cause to the pro-life banner has been like crossing the bridge from darkness to light — and there’s no going back.

Maria Gallagher is the author of Mercy’s Power: Inspiration to Serve the Gospel of Life (Marian Press). 
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