I’ve been pro-life since I knew what the term meant, but it wasn’t until recently that I started to examine what that means and whether or not it still makes sense to wear that label. To be clear, I am still pro-life. I think that personhood starts at the moment that a new unique human DNA is formed, and I believe that humans have the responsibility to insure that each person has the best chance of survival inside of the womb and outside of the womb. I do not think that there is any good enough reason to end the life of the unborn unless removing the baby is medically required to save the mother’s life (and even then I think it should be treated like an early delivery and the baby given the same kind of respect and dignity as any human death including a death certificate and a proper burial).
That said, I struggle with a lot (most) of the pro-life movement’s rhetoric and norms. There are so many things that the pro-life movement pushes that are based on false information and false connections. There is good existing data that the pro-life movement ignores because it doesn’t feed the narrative that they push.
As someone who wants to see abortion numbers reduced, and as someone who is drawn to pragmatic answers and real solutions, I wonder why:
* the pro-life movement pushes abstinence-only sex education for teens, when abstinence-only education has been shown to dramatically increase unwanted teen pregnancies . When one state dropped the abstinence-only program for a more comprehensive one that included access to contraception, the abortion rate dropped by a whopping 30% in four years.
In reality, the pro-life movement is working to prevent education that has proven to reduce teen pregnancies that often end in abortions.
* the pro-life movement is rabidly against Plan B, calling it an abortifacient, when in fact the medication prevents ovulation NOT implantation (this means that it prevents conception and doesn’t cause the death of a DNA-unique embryo). (Plan B is different from “RU-486” which DOES cause an early abortion.)
In reality, the pro-life movement is working to prevent women from being able to stall ovulation and thus prevent unwanted pregnancies after rape or intercourse without birth control.
* the pro-life movement is largely against free and easy access to birth control when easy access to contraception has been shown globally and nationally to be a primary means of reducing abortions. In fact, a study on the results of providing free birth control showed a drop in abortion rates of 72%.
In reality, the pro-life movement is actively against the very thing that has prevented untold thousands of abortions across the world.
* the pro-life movement is fixated on the Republican party as Saviors who will overturn Roe V. Wade by appointing conservative Supreme Court justices when in fact, it was a Republican nominated Supreme Court that legalized abortion to begin with, and in 2007 an all Republican federal government and Supreme Court still did not overturn abortion laws.
In reality, the pro-life movement spends most of its money, energy, and time invested in a pipe dream rather than in real solutions to reducing abortion numbers.
* the pro-life movement speaks very little about and does very little outside of pushing for anti-abortion legislation when multiple global studies have shown that abortion numbers are roughly the same regardless of whether or not abortion is legal. The Netherlands has the lowest abortion numbers in the world though abortion is legal there.
In reality, the pro-life movement is fixated on legal channels that would acknowledge the evil of abortion, but pragmatically would not actually protect babies and would kill mothers as well.
* the pro-life movement does not push for poverty reduction programs or mandatory paid maternity leave when the vast majority of women having abortions in America do so because they can’t financially support a baby (often in addition to other dependents).
In reality, the pro-life movement ignores the major reasons that women choose abortion and doesn’t bother to address the ways they can alleviate those risk factors.
While I continue to identify as pro-life (and given the ability to push a button and make abortion illegal, I probably would), I can’t see any use in the pro-life movement as it currently exists. At the very least, the pro-life movement is making little impact in reducing abortions in America. At worst, I fear the tactics, alliances, and rhetoric of the pro-life movement may very well be causing them.