LTE: Pro-Life Does Not Mean Republican

By Annemarie Arnold, MCAS '21, in response to the June 12, 2019 article "The Hypocrisy of Pro-Life" by Christiane Paulhus. The views expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Gavel or its staff.

In 2019, it is understandable to make the mistake of conflating the Republican party with the Pro-Life Movement. However, this mistake would not be explicable in a pre-Roe world.

In the Yale Law Journal, Reva Siegal cites a Gallup poll conducted on the eve of Roe reporting that given the statement “the decision to have an abortion should be made solely by a woman and her physician” they found that “68% of Republicans supported that categorical statement compared with 58% of Democrats.”

Today, 29 percent of Republicans identify as pro-choice compared with 74% of Democrats (64 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of Democrats identify as pro-life), according to a Marist poll conducted between May 31 and June 4, 2019. Abortion was not mentioned in the Democratic Party platform until 1976, three years after Roe v. Wade passed.

This year, opposing statements on abortion can be found in both Republican and Democratic platforms, despite the apparent lack of uniformity within the parties (ex. John Bel Edwards, Democratic pro-life governor of Louisiana). The bottom line is if you are looking for long-term consistency  on the issues, don’t start your search with party platforms.

I would strongly caution against reducing the pro-life movement to the Republican party and its platform. This past weekend, I got the chance to attend the Pro-Life Women’s Conference as an intern with the Feminists for Life. (If you know your “herstory,” the first feminists, the ones who starved and picketed and protested to secure for us American women the right to vote, supported the right to life at every stage.)

This conference brought together women from all over the country working to make a difference in their own communities. Present at the conference were women who had worked at Planned Parenthood, women who chose to be birthmothers and women who chose abortion, and women who had fostered and adopted.

There were women who had been running pregnancy centers for years with advice to share and women who were opening maternity homes in their own houses looking for resources. The one thing in common here was the desire to empower women to overcome the circumstances that make a woman underestimate her own strength and say to herself, “I can’t.”

If you are looking for examples of a consistent pro-life ethic that goes beyond abortion, check out Rehumanize International and Consistent Life Network. Rehumanize International is particularly wide-reaching in the scope of issues it addresses, from racism and police brutality to unjust war and human trafficking… and every pro-life issue in between. Believe it or not, there is also an organization called Democrats for Life out there advocating for the right to life within the Democratic Party.

The Feminists for Life are an organization “dedicated to systematically eliminating the root causes that drive women to abortion — primarily lack of practical resources and support — through holistic, woman-centered solutions” by directing women to resources (like SNAP, financial aid, childcare, and Title IX advice) on their abortion-neutral website

From personal experience, I can say that the amazing people working for the Feminists for Life are by no means politically homogeneous, and on the contrary are united pretty much only (but very strongly) by their desire to help women overcome the circumstances that make choosing life difficult. 

And anywhere you look, you can find individual women and men in the pro-life movement living a consistent life ethic. I was proud to be pro-life yesterday when I saw the founder of And Then There Were None Abby Johnson partnering with Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa in the Bottles2TheBorder campaign (started by the New Wave Feminists) a “baby registry”: a gift registry with diapers, wipes, bottles, and formula to be sent to a respite center at the border. This is living out the consistent pro-life ethic.

If you want to talk about the pro-life movement, start here. Talk to real pro-life people—maybe have a conversation with someone in the BC Pro-Life Club. We don’t bite. If you want to understand what it means to be pro-life, don’t start at the Republican platform. We are so much more.