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Pro-life and pro-woman…?

| Wednesday, January 24, 2018

“A world where every human life is valued and protected.” This is verbatim the vision outlined on the March for Life’s internet platform. However, it doesn’t take an astute observer to recognize the contradiction that is this vision. The true vision behind March for Life is, instead, a much more exclusive, sexist and downright religiously imposed ideal. Each year, hundreds of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students and faculty board a bus and trek to Washington, D.C., in a show of political assembly to back up this vision of protected human life. Each year, however, these same politically active individuals unknowingly, and even quasi-unconsciously, engage in advocacy for an intolerant patriarchal regime.

I know, it’s a hot take. But, hear me out. The proof is in the metaphorical pudding: the mutual exclusivity of the phrases “pro-life” and “pro-woman.”  

Out of the 1,000 or so Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students and faculty, how many March for Life participants showed up at the National Mall for the Women’s March on Saturday? I prompted this question to a few of my friends that participated in March for Life and the answer seemed to be a resounding zero. To be clear, every March for Life participant from the Notre Dame community was in Washington, D.C., with no plans on the day of the Women’s March. They intentionally chose not to partake in it. This fact alone (opting out when presented with an opportunity to join the largest pro-woman march of 2018) shows that the anti-abortion movement cannot be synonymous with the pro-woman movement. When asked why, one of my anti-abortion friends posited, “I think that March for Life and the Women’s March are diametrically opposed in many ways.” Most notably, I believe, he is referring to contemporary feminists’ rally cry for abortion rights. Obviously, this presents a contradiction. Contemporary feminism is overwhelmingly pro-choice. However, I would respond back that many of the ideas conveyed in March for Life are contradictory to the anti-abortion movement itself. In fact, diametrically opposed, if you will.

The claim from anti-abortion activists is that they stand for pro-life policies at all life junctures. For many, the anti-abortion stance is just one stance in a litany of others that would increase the quality of all life along with prohibiting abortion. Policies would include alleviating poverty, advocating for women, ending environmental injustice, opposing discrimination and securing healthcare. The truth, however, is that the same “pro-lifers” espousing this ideology have radically opposed it in democratic politics. You can see this in the politicians and national figures that are associated with the anti-abortion movement. The most fervent supporters of anti-abortion legislation are politically conservative and identify as Republicans.

According to a Pew Research poll done in June 2017, 65 percent of Republicans support prohibiting abortion in all circumstances. For Democrats, the number was 22 percent. Just to be sure that readers understand exactly what I’m insinuating here, Republicans are not and have not in the past 30 years been truly pro-life in this manner. In fact, they’ve been entirely against entitlement programs, against universal healthcare. Republicans have been colluding with big industries to destroy environmental regulations meant to protect Americans’ quality of life. Republicans have played on America’s racist tendencies to earn political points and power through “tough on crime” and anti-immigration sentiments. Republicans, while espousing moral superiority on the issue of abortion, have supported foreign missile strikes that murder more civilians than military targets.

Overwhelmingly, “pro-lifers” are not truly pro-life. Instead, they are only anti-abortion. This phenomenon is even seen in the speakers at this year’s anti-abortion march. March for Life invited President Donald Trump this year and Vice President Mike Pence the year before. Both of these people are entirely anti-woman. Trump is an alleged sexual offender and rapist. Trump has bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy” and moving on women “like a b—-.” Pence has claimed the movie “Mulan” to be “mischievous liberal propaganda.” Pence has expressed disapproval of the idea of women participating in military combat. This sexist caliber of keynote speakers overwhelmingly shows the true priorities of the “pro-life” movement and March for Life generally. There are, of course, exceptions. But, overwhelmingly, to take a “pro-life” stance is, in fact, to take an “anti-life” and “anti-woman” stance in many other regards.

To believe in the narrative that maintaining the legality of abortion is in fact “genocide” is to subvert oneself to the patriarchal nature of American culture. At the end of the day, to be “pro-life” is not only to be “anti-abortion.” To be “pro-life” is also to be “anti-woman.”  If women and men who claim to be “pro-life” and “pro-woman” can accept these contradictions and attend a march that is inherently anti-life and anti-woman, then why couldn’t they set aside their differences in abortion ideology to support women at the Women’s March? It’s an easy answer: Pro-life and pro-women are mutually exclusive terms.

Andrew Lischke
Jan. 22

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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