A contradiction? An oxymoron? A pander to roiling social debate?
NO. Semantics, perhaps. But, in truth, a more complete view of what “pro-life” really means, despite its accepted, and conveniently limited, definition as “against abortion.”
A Republican congressman (white, older, male… of course) climbed on Twitter today to proudly announce that he is “unapologetically pro-life,” echoing a stance held by so many on his side, and asserted without a scintilla of awareness of just how myopic, insufficient, even dishonest the statement is.
Because to be truly “pro-life,” one must be for life in its every manifestation, offering care, concern, and protection not just for non-viable fetal cells inside a woman’s womb, but for life in all its most inconvenient, challenged, even repugnant forms, often found in those one fears, those who are “other; those who are dirty, poor, needy, and… living.
Right wingers, Republicans, Christian conservatives, and social fundamentalists have made the issue of abortion a rallying cry of self-righteousness while keeping themselves insulated from, and blinded to, the myriad ways in which they diminish, demean, and endanger life for so many, and in so many circumstances beyond abortion:
Living children facing poverty, poor schooling, and lack of health care. The mentally ill left on streets to suffer homelessness, illness, and crime. The incarcerated, disproportionately BIPOC, often wrongly convicted or poorly defended, facing the antiquated barbarity of the death penalty. Immigrants fleeing drug wars, religious persecution, and lack of opportunity. LGBTQ and BIPOC who endure hate crimes, discrimination; profound inequity and inequality. Women struggling, in a still-patriarchal society, to earn enough to feed their kids, pay the rent, and find basic stability. Living, breathing human beings, all in need of fairness, compassion, and protection.
But that’s so much less interesting, and so much more demanding, than huffing and puffing and pontificating about your loyalty to fetal cells.
Let’s face it; this debate is not about life; it’s about religious belief. Dogma. Not science. Not fairness. Not rights. Not empathy and compassion. It’s religious belief being pushed, shoved, and beaten into law, thereby enforcing a kind of theocracy Americans have long decried in other countries, particularly those who discriminate against and brutalize their women. The American right appears ready to follow their oppressive blueprints.
To be “unapologetically pro-life,” sir, one must be willing to look at, and act progressively for, all life, even life you wish to look away from. You can’t be selective and still pretend you give a damn. If your religious beliefs mandate an anti-abortion stance, so be it. Observe those rules for yourself. But your religious beliefs are not mine, not hers, not theirs, and your religious beliefs have no business in our secular, inclusive, diverse government.
I believe in science. I believe in body autonomy. I believe in individual rights. I won’t tell a man what to do with his sperm (also a living cell), nor tell him he can’t take Viagra or get a penis pump. His choice. I also will not tell a woman what to do with the cells existing inside her body. Regardless of how they got there or what they’re doing. Her choice. Always her choice.
Which means I am unapologetically “pro-life” by the truest metric of the word. I will fight for the rights of all women (and men) to have autonomy over their own bodies, as I will actively contribute to feeding hungry children, protecting the rights of marginalized groups, finding space and care for immigrants, seeking solutions for homelessness and the mentally ill, banishing the death penalty, working to reverse climate change, and raising women to an equal playing field with men.
The rest is noise and religion, semantics that should be struck down for their selective, deflective, dishonesty.
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