CEDARVILLE, Ohio – Cedarville University students hope to send a pro-life message with a new fashion trend: combining baby clothes with their own. It produces a startling visual statement of the human cost of abortion.
If you're a pro-life woman, it's a way to make a fashion statement that's also a statement of your beliefs about abortion. As prom and the formal season kicks into high gear, Cedarville women wearing these "message dresses" want to see the trend spread.
Senior Susanna Edwards first came up with the idea of the message dress and wore her first one to this year's national March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Surrounded by more than a dozen of her female friends wearing such message dresses, she told CBN News, "We hope that high school girls, even college women such as ourselves will take at their formal this year or any other opportunity they have to be seen with a onesie or other baby clothes pinned to them to connect the humanity of the child that belongs inside that clothing to their humanity."
'The Children Who Should be Wearing Them'
Fellow student Anna Edwards said these outfits for tiny babies pinned to beautiful dresses can have an impact both beautiful and haunting.
"When you see baby clothes, you think of sweet things and lovely things and the children who should be wearing them," she told CBN News. "And when you think about them in this context, it just adds a level of intensity and love and beauty to the message."
Susanna Edwards believes the very term "message dress" was God-breathed.
She recalled praying and brainstorming with her roommate, saying, "We were going through synonyms for clothing and garb and all these things we were coming up with, and then the Lord just like a lightning bolt gave us 'the message dress.'"
Stephanie Schlabach works at the pro-life Miami Valley Women's Center, gave Edwards her first bags of donated baby clothes.
"This is the first that anybody's ever thought of doing something like this," she explained. "The fact that she was able to wear it to the March for Life in D.C .for 2019 is fantastic. And I think that it spoke a lot to people and it was a very respectful way of showing the love for the unborn, and the way that Sue went about it was very creative and gentle and kind."
Several national news media outlets interviewed Susannah at the March for Life, including CBN News.
One Way to Get the Baby Clothes
Schlabach recommends for women wanting to make their own message dresses to contact their local pro-life pregnancy centers, which often have extra baby clothes they can donate.
The fact that it just takes sewing or pinning baby clothes to a dress makes such an outfit something everyone can create.
"The pro-life movement didn't have such a creative idea in place before that people can come around and take part in and join in with themselves," said Tayana Fowler, who produced and posted a video to Facebook about the message dresses.
"Everyone has a different taste. Everyone has a different level of creativity. I want all pro-life advocates who are young women to feel comfortable that they can take part in this initiative," Susanna Edwards added.
The Damage Abortion Can Do Women
Schlabach was a psychology major and Anna Edwards is pursuing that field now. Both have studied the mental wounds many women carry from an abortion.
"It causes a lot of post-traumatic stress on their bodies," Schlabach told CBN News. "They have nightmares. They get very depressed."
Edwards added, "And for women who are even OK with abortions, they still have to accept that they had something that they then lost, no matter what they believe that something is. Of course, we believe that it's their children and thus you shouldn't kill them. So, it's extremely harmful for women."
"They have suicidal thoughts and behaviors in some cases, especially if it's a late-term abortion," Schlabach noted. "Because they've started to develop that bond – even without knowing it – with their child. And when they just force that child out of them and it's no longer living, that does cause a lot of psychological damage."
All Cedarville pro-life students now wearing the message dresses know the horror of abortion is so often unseen. They're hoping to make it a little more visible by displaying the clothes abortion's tiny victims will never get to wear.