When one thinks of a pro-life activist, rarely does one imagine a girl with teal-colored hair. But shortly before the 42nd March for Life began on the National Mall, a group of self-described “non-traditional” pro-life activists were meeting at the Smithsonian Castle to launch #ProLifeAllies—including not one, but two, with teal hair.
#ProLifeAllies is a new coalition of both organizations and individual pro-lifers aiming to be more welcoming to all who identify as being pro-life, regardless of religious beliefs (or lack thereof), sexuality, or other political affiliations. Coalition members present at the press conference included: Life Matters Journal, New Wave Feminists, And Then There Were None, Secular Pro-Life, Democrats for Life of America, Feminists for Nonviolent Choices, and several other pro-life individuals who did not fit the traditional stereotype of a pro-life activist. (A full list of coalition member organizations can be found here.)
A common theme throughout the press conference was the importance of highlighting shared pro-life values rather than dividing over differences that are unrelated to ending abortion. In addition to outlawing and ending abortion, the goal of #ProLifeAllies is to promote a united front to people who do not currently identify as pro-life and to “stop the infighting” that plagues the movement.
Peace Cannot Be Attained By Mere Factions
Aimee Murphy, founder of Life Matters Journal, a publication dedicated to promoting a “consistent life” message against abortion, unjust war, euthanasia, and the death penalty, is the brains behind #ProLifeAllies, and she’s dedicated to smashing the stereotype that all pro-lifers are Christians who are card-carrying members of the Republican Party. Murphy said that she’s “eager to work together across party lines” with #ProLifeAllies and welcome all to the pro-life movement.
“It is a movement for human rights,” explained Murphy. “The #ProLifeAllies coalition is an effort to both be a more welcoming space to nontraditional pro-lifers and to be a witness to society that the pro-life movement is united in the midst of diversity. The coalition consists of individuals and organizations who believe that time is better spent doing the work of ending abortion rather than causing division by infighting.”
According to Murphy, part of the reason why so many “non-traditional” people are becoming pro-life is because the issue is being framed as one of human rights, not necessarily as a religious issue. Murphy believes that placing abortion in the context of a violation of human rights and ethics will make the issue more palatable to those who do not identify as religious. Additionally, Murphy hopes that the diverse coalition of pro-lifers will help to shut down the pro-abortion movement’s argument that the pro-life movement consists only of religious white Republicans.
“We cannot afford to neglect and discourage the nontraditional members of the pro-life movement. If we alienate them, we run the risk they will become inactive and apathetic.”
The Feminism of the Future
Another coalition member present was New Wave Feminists, whose Vice President Kristen Walker Hatten argued that “pro-life feminism is the feminism of the future,” and that New Wave Feminists was “committed to infiltrating the culture with reason, science, and humor with a message of love, compassion and support to women and their families.”
Destiny De La Rosa, New Wave Feminists’ founder and president, said that she feels the pro-life movement should focus on “being people to help women” rather than just protestors outside of a clinic. De La Rosa urged the crowd to love women in a crisis and support them to choose life for their children rather than scare or shame them. De La Rosa cited her own experience getting pregnant at 16 and choosing life for her son.
“We can no longer allow them [protestors] to make abortion clinics look like a safe haven. We can no longer allow them to make abortion providers look like the compassionate ones,” she said.
Changed Hearts, Changed Minds
Albany Rose, a post-abortive, atheist, pro-life, pro-marriage equality activist spoke about her decision to abort her unborn son seven years ago, and how seeing her unborn daughter’s heartbeat a few years later spurred a complete change of heart and mind on the issue. She also spoke about the struggles and “roadblocks” she felt in the movement, being non-religious and in favor of marriage equality.
“We will end abortion when we work together,” said Rose, “[W]hen we begin to accept the true and wonderful diversity that is in this wonderful and beautiful movement.”
Groups like #ProLifeAllies are right to extend a welcoming arm to all pro-lifers, regardless of creed, sexuality, gender, personal history with abortion, or political beliefs. Personally, I was stunned by the diversity present at the March for Life the first time I was there. Women and men, young and old, and people of all backgrounds were present, giving witness that they believe that abortion is wrong. This diversity can and should be reflected among the people in charge of the movement.
The younger generation is the future of all political movements, not just pro-lifers. Politically, they’re more likely to be unaffiliated with a party, and they’re less likely than older generations to profess a religious faith. The decision to form #ProLifeAllies was smart and timely—it is a good idea to get a head start, so to speak, on both changing hearts and minds of young people and carving out a place for everyone to feel welcome.