Pro-life Americans… let’s call them what they are
The decision by the United States Supreme Court, known as the Dobbs decision, rolled back Roe v Wade. It has received a lot of attention and has generated a lot of commentaries. This article is not about the Dobbs decision. The people of Alabama or any state have the right, through their state legislature, to pass bills that may then be signed into law by the governor. I am writing about the commentary that has been spun up by the Supreme Court’s decision but has existed for far longer. The right-to-life debate is charged with emotion; we all get that. What many of us do not get, nor accept, are the efforts by those who favor abortion rights to label those who are pro-life as… wait for it, because you have probably never heard the left talk this way before… women-hating, white, Evangelical, racist, misogynistic Republican men who are a small, vocal minority. Pro-life proponents are determined to control women’s bodies and maintain some kind of patriarchy the left shouts; they will force women into pregnancy, they insist. The icing on the cookie is the “they really don’t care about children” line. None of this is true. None of this is accurate. These are lies, and we will not live by these lies.
Let’s start with the “small, vocal minority” bit. In May 2021, a Gallup survey revealed the following: of all adults in the United States, 49% identify as Pro-choice and 47% as Pro-life. This breakdown has held remarkably steady over the last 5 years in Gallup’s data. A January 2021 Knights of Columbus/Marist survey had percentages that were slightly different: 53% identified as Pro-choice, 43% as Pro-life, and 4% as not sure. Those who support the life of the unborn are a small, vocal minority? Not at all. Nearly half of all adults in the United States call themselves Pro-life.
OK, how about the claim from the left that the Pro-life half of the country is made up of men who do not respect women? Facts are stubborn things: the Gallup survey, by gender, shows that 43% of women consider themselves Pro-life. I am sure Pro-life women respect women and value their contributions to our society. Sit down with a group of Catholic nuns and ask them if they, ardant Pro-life champions, think women should be kept uneducated and relegated to the kitchen and the bedroom. These women who have chosen a religious vocation know the value of life, they are true feminists, and they demonstrate, by their roles as teachers, nurses, doctors, university professors, social workers, and servants of the most poor and vulnerable, that our society is dependent upon and enriched by women in their roles inside and outside the home.
Well, surely, at least, the Pro-life crowd must be racist because it’s 2022, and if you are socially conservative you are automatically labeled a racist. Nope. Look at the data: 48% of adults who categorize themselves as “non-white” identify as Pro-life, while 46% of white adults in the United States are Pro-life. That’s right, the percentage of black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans (as a group) who consider themselves Pro-life is higher than whites. In 2020 when black Americans were surveyed, less than half, 46%, stated their belief that abortion is “morally acceptable”. If you try to convince us that the millions of Pro-life Americans who are not white are racists and bigots, good luck… it is simply not the case. I do agree with the Pro-choice voices when they say that attempts to end or limit abortion would disproportionately affect minorities, but my take is not theirs. It is a fact that the percentage of abortions is stacked against women who are not white: in the United States (2018), 39% occurred in white women, 34% in black women, 20% in Latinas, and 8% in other non-whites. Significantly more black and Hispanic lives are ended by abortion than white lives. Focusing on abortion rates among racial groups in the 2020 article “Perceiving and Addressing the Pervasive Racial Disparity in Abortion,” the authors point out that black women have abortion rates that are almost 4 times that of white women. They state, and sadly it is so, “… there may be no better metric for the value of black lives.” Was the life of another Clarence Thomas, Martin Luther King, or Joe P. Martinez ended among the millions of minority children who were not allowed to be born? Probably, yes. While the first two names are well known, the name Joe Martinez is not; he was a Hispanic American who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. He died in May 1943 while fighting in the Pacific theater; our country is a better place for his actions, his witness, and his life. Pro-life advocates are not racists. They are anti-racists; they speak and protest and vote to limit something that kills, that denies life and liberty to mostly people of color.
The Pro-life half of the country is almost exclusively Republican, right? Wrong again. When questioned, 74% of Republicans call themselves Pro-life. No surprise there. Here’s what Pro-choice advocates try to hide with their smoke screen: 26% of Democrats self-describe as Pro-life, and 41% of Independents call themselves Pro-life. Yes, most Pro-life in our country are Republican, but many, many are Democrats or political Independents.
It has become fairly common to see Pro-choice demonstrations where at least some of the protesting women are dressed in long, red dresses and wearing white bonnets. These are not simply women with an especially poor fashion sense. These protesters are referencing the series “The Handmaid’s Tale”. In this series, men have established a social order where women are forced by their male masters to become pregnant through ritualized rape. The message these protesters send is that Pro-life men and women want to establish a totalitarian patriarchy as in the series. And don’t tell me they are using the show as a metaphor; they’re not. They are trying to gin up fear. I have never once heard a person who is Pro-life suggest that a woman should be forced to become pregnant, that a woman should be subject to rape with the intent of pregnancy, or that any man or woman should have the right to force sexual intercourse on a woman… ever. Let’s be clear, Pro-life Americans solidly support a woman’s right to become pregnant or not become pregnant. However, they do not support a woman’s unrestricted “right” to end the life of another person.
Which leads to a final point. When voices on the left say that Pro-life Americans do not truly care about the life of children after birth, see that for the lie it is. Americans who support life, solidly and consistently support pregnant women who struggle during their pregnancy. They support the lives of children before and after birth. The many clinics and shelters, and social support programs that exist as resources for pregnant and recently pregnant women and their children are supported by millions of dollars in donations by the Pro-life citizens of our country. Parochial initiatives support pregnant and poor mothers and children… Catholic Charities, mainline Protestant and Evangelical Christian churches, other religious groups, and secular organizations that are Pro-life minister to, educate, and job train pregnant women who have limited financial support. They offer free or very inexpensive daycare services. And, women who have chosen abortion can, and do, find support at these very same institutions. Pro-life Americans passionately support the lives of the unborn child and children in need. They just as passionately offer mercy and support to those women who hurt and grieve after abortion.
The Pro-life/Pro-choice debate is a minefield. Emotions surrounding it run deep. Describing the Pro-life half of our country as men and women who are mostly religious, who tend to be conservative (but not always), are most often Republican (but not exclusively), could be of eany race, and who are respectful of women while equally respectful of an unborn child would be accurate and correct. Call us what we are… but we will not let those who disagree call us what we are not.
Brian Christine, MD