The tragedy of family separations at the American border highlights the hypocrisy of the traditional pro-life movement. One of the largest national pro-life organizations, the Susan B. Anthony List, said that “from its inception Susan B. Anthony List has been completely dedicated to protecting the first right without which no other rights matter: the right to life … Therefore, we refrain from public comment on immigration and many other topics, including other policies that impact families.” The Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, two other “pro-life and pro-family” organizations, also failed to decry the harmful policy of family separation in their statements on the issue. In light of these organizations’ lackluster responses, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Ilyse Hogue, said “Trump, the GOP Congress that refuses to stand up to him, and their followers’ weak attempts to claim the ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-family’ mantle dissolve in the face of this latest dictate (and countless preceding it).”
As a pro-life woman, I wholeheartedly agree with Hogue’s criticism. Pro-choice advocates are right to call out the hypocrisy of valuing a life in the womb while simultaneously advocating for policies that harm children and families. Traditional pro-life organizations like the Susan B. Anthony List, The Family Research Council and Focus on the Family have shown that they are not truly pro-life — they are merely anti-abortion. The pro-life movement needs a new definition of what it means to be pro-life — a definition that protects the rights of all human beings from conception to natural death.
What would a non-hypocritical pro-life position entail? We can look to the Democrats for Life of America (DFLA), the “pro-life voice and wing of the Democratic Party” for a list of pro-life beliefs that are not limited to being anti-abortion. The DFLA “[believes] in the fundamental worth, dignity, and equality of all people.” It opposes “abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, embryonic stem cell research, poverty, genocide … tyranny, terrorism, genocide, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, human trafficking, and all other unjust acts of violence and aggression.” More than just opposing certain policies, the organization also advocates for “an effective social safety net that guarantees that all people have sufficient access to food, shelter, healthcare, and life’s other basic necessities.”
The platform sounds nothing like the traditional pro-life movement. This needs to change. Pro-choice organizations are right to call out pro-life organizations that oppose abortion and simultaneously tolerate injustices like police brutality, racism, the death penalty and unjust war. Still, there is hope for the pro-life movement. New organizations like the DFLA, New Wave Feminists and Rehumanize International are working to change the movement from the inside and create a consistent pro-life platform that supports human life from the womb to the tomb. I believe that, while abortion will continue to be one of the most contentious issues in our society, a more consistent life ethic will help to foster dialogue between groups that disagree on abortion and create a society that is truly pro-woman, pro-family and pro-life.