Note: This story appeared in slightly different form on my blog on January 28, 2017.
Yesterday, the annual March for Life took place in Washington, DC. While there are no official estimates of crowd size, it is estimated that “tens of thousands” of people attended the anti-abortion march.
This year, the March featured Vice President Mike Pence and presidential advisor, Kellyanne Conway as guest speakers. On the podium, Mike Pence said, “Life is winning again in America.” While Pence was most definitely overestimating anti-abortion sentiment in the United States, he was dramatically underestimating pro-life sentiment in America.
Although I did not attend the march, or even want to attend, I am most definitely pro-life. I consider myself to be pro-life because:
- I am pro-Obamacare, or more accurately, pro-universal healthcare. After all, we start needing healthcare the second we’re born. Whether we need antibiotics for the occasional bout of strep throat or medications for long-term chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes or intensive treatment for diseases like cancer, we should not go broke seeking (or altogether go without) medical care.
- I am pro-social safety net. No one should starve or go without medical care in their old age. For that reason, I happily pay into Social Security and Medicare. For that matter I also support food stamps, Medicaid, WIC, and the Federal Free Lunch Program, too. Those programs have saved millions of Americans from hunger and want.
- I am pro-environment. All humans regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, culture, language, sexual orientation, religion, etc. need clean water to drink and clean air to breathe. A pollution free environment is a human right.
- I am pro-gun control. Entirely too many Americans lose their lives to gun violence because the NRA controlled Congress (bullied by its Second Amendment gun nut constituents) refuses to pass common sense gun control measures.
- I am pro-public education and pro-debt free college education. Not only is knowledge good for its own sake, children need adequate education to compete in the post-industrial job markets of most of the developed world. And most of those children have parents who cannot afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on private education.
- I am pro-prison reform and pro-sentencing reform. Entirely too many Americans have had their lives ruined, their opportunity to positively contribute to society squashed, due to poorly thought out (and racially motivated) mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crime. And entirely too many Americans (mostly black and brown ones) are subjected to Dickensian living conditions once they are incarcerated. As of right now, six million Americans are either incarcerated, on parole, or under post-incarceration supervision. That is more than any developed nation in the world.
- I am pro-business regulation. The vigorous kind. The kind that prevents a small number of greedy/unethical humans from ruthlessly exploiting others in pursuit of profit.
- I am pro-science. Not only does science contribute to our understanding of the world, scientific advances improve the quality of our lives.
- I am pro-contraception and pro-comprehensive sex ed. Although the birthrate for teenaged girls has dropped dramatically over the past few years, entirely too many teenage girls become pregnant or become infected with STI’s due to the fact that they have been deliberately kept ignorant about how their bodies work and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
- I am anti-income inequality. The fact that so few people control almost all the wealth in this society guarantees that a lot of people languish at the bottom of the economic ladder. It also guarantees toxic class warfare.
- I am anti-police brutality. Hundreds of Americans (mostly black and brown ones) lose their lives at the hands of law enforcement officials each year. The fact that these individuals were almost always unarmed, not committing a crime, or were mentally ill during these encounters makes the actions of the police during these encounters especially egregious.
- I am anti-poverty. Poverty condemns people to a life of suffering, deprivation, and degradation. Eradicating it altogether helps everyone.
- I am anti-death penalty. Even committing the most heinous of crimes should not deprive people of their right to live.
- I am anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, anti-anti-Semitism, anti-Islamophobia, anti-any instutionalized prejudice. Structural bias and discrimination creates an environment where millions of people do not live up to their full potential because of insurmountable barriers put in place by society.
Most importantly, I am pro-life because I am pro-choice. The lives of women, the people who are exclusively assigned to the task of bearing children, matter. No woman should become pregnant simply because she could not access or afford reliable contraception. No woman should risk/lose her life trying to bring a pregnancy to term. No woman should be forced to reward her rapist by producing a child with half his DNA. No woman should be forced to bear another child when she can barely afford the one(s) she already has. No woman should be forced to bear the pain of childbirth when her fetus has already died or will quickly die after its birth due to severe birth defects. No woman should be forced to sacrifice her dreams and aspirations to give birth to a child she is ill-equipped to raise. No woman should ever be subject to compulsory pregnancy and childbearing.
While many of the participants at yesterday’s march wouldn’t characterize me as a pro-lifer, I cannot characterize many of them as pro-life, either. Until pro-lifers stop elevating the well-being of non-viable fetuses over the well-being of the women who carry them and the children who have already been born, they should seriously rethink their decision to call themselves pro-life.