Soter: Real Pro-Lifers Can’t Be Anti-Mask

Protestors+demonstrate+at+the+Capitol+to+advocate+for+stricter+abortion+laws+in+2017+%28Photo+by+Tom+Denton+%7C+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

Protestors demonstrate at the Capitol to advocate for stricter abortion laws in 2017 (Photo by Tom Denton | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Theadora Soter, Opinion Writer

 

Pro-lifers — people against abortion — recently created a plethora of memes comparing mask requirements to the pro-choice argument. Essentially, the group is arguing that if the pro-choice catchphrase, “My body, my choice” is valid, then the government has no place requiring people to wear masks in public. On the flip side, pro-choice advocates have pointed out the flaw in the pro-life argument: that limitations on personal freedoms are justifiable when they save lives. The irony here is hard to miss. I’ve been thinking a lot about this controversial topic since the anti-mask memes started flooding my social media feeds. Face masks could save tens of thousands of lives in the next few months. How can a mask be more of an infringement on liberty than another lockdown, or even death?  If anti-abortion advocates truly believe in the sanctity of life, shouldn’t they embrace mask mandates?

The critical difference between pro-lifers’ anti-mask arguments and those in favor of a woman’s right to an abortion is that while abortion does inhibit one potential life, it is dependent on the life of the person who carries it. Restricting that person’s control of their own body is, logically, an infringement of their personal, inalienable rights. Nobody wants to have to get an abortion; it is not an easy choice for anyone, whatever messages the media spreads. It is a monumentally difficult choice of conscience. The decision to wear a mask, on the other hand, is not. At worst, wearing a mask is a mild inconvenience that benefits those with whom you come in contact — more comparable to a condom than an abortion.

The hypocrisy of the pro-life/anti-mask argument is perpetuated by the nation’s leader. President Trump, has shown complete apathy to human life since COVID-19 broke out and throughout his presidency, going so far as to say, “It is what it is,” when asked about the virus’s US death toll. In a normal presidency this callous indifference to life would not be acceptable, but because of the president’s cult-like following, his supporters have followed his lead by continuing to refuse masks six months into the apocalypse. Just as bad, conservatives’ support of the premature economic reopening in red states across the country indicate that they are more concerned about the economy than public health. I’m sure the families of COVID-19’s deceased victims would feel differently.

If the far-right, “pro-life” faction of the Republican Party really valued the gift of life — if they really believed that “all lives matter” —  they would not tolerate many of the decisions the Trump administration has made over the past four years. They would not have stood by while ICE locked children in cages and watched them die. Nor would they have stayed quiet over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal or others lost to police brutality. And they would not tolerate Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as it is a threat to every single American citizen. Conservatives should put their wishful thinking and concern for economic growth behind them and realize that the comparison of abortion to masks completely dismantles their own pro-life argument.

Of course, the element that has arguably played the greatest role in the conservative refusal of masks is their belief that being required to wear one is an infringement on American freedoms, or even a seedling of the socialist takeover. This constitutional misunderstanding that America should have no moral regulation is flawed, and one of the many reasons COVID-19 is still so present in the US. And on the abortion side of things, it’s baffling that the GOP pushes for government control over women when they generally believe in limited government. This is not only hypocritical, but a modern enforcement of the antiquated patriarchal beliefs the nation was founded upon.

All this to say, the argument against mask mandates on the basis of pro-choice rhetoric simply holds no relevance to the crises our nation is facing today. In fact, it only adds to the ever-growing culture war taking place in America right now. Wearing a mask to protect yourself and those around you is a simple choice that has the potential to save dozens of lives — so why not do it?

It’s time for all Americans to do the thing that any true advocate of life would do: wear a mask (and while you’re at it, a condom).

 

[email protected]

@SoterTheadora