Every year for the past 48 years, anti-abortion activists have gathered in our nation’s capital to protest the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in all 50 states.
A less striking change will be the large contingent of progressives and liberals who are turning up in greater numbers each year. Yes, the event is often championed by right-wing politicians and organizations. At the same time, progressives like us are marching too: even progressive atheists, such as myself (Terrisa).
When we first marched in the March for Life, it was a challenge to find others who shared our worldview. Today, signs by liberal or secular groups are among the most visible at the March: Rehumanize International, Secular Pro-Life, Feminists for Life, PLAGAL+ (The Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians) and more.
This change at the March reflects the growing number of non-religious and progressive Americans who oppose abortion. In 2012, the Pew Research Center found that 24 percent of non-religious Americans believe abortion should be mostly or always illegal. In 2018, Gallup found that figure was up to 30 percent.
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But it’s also driven by the pro-life movement’s improved outreach to secular and liberal Americans. The movement has increasingly relied on messages that resonate with the core beliefs of millennials and Gen Z. We don’t consider these arguments dishonest or backhanded: on the contrary, we believe they capture the heart of the pro-life movement.
First, the pro-life movement gives increasing weight to science. In 1973, the Supreme Court told us that there has “always been strong support for the view that life does not begin until live birth.” Today, 95 percent of biologists affirm the view that human life begins at fertilization. Modern advances in ultrasound technology and discoveries in prenatal development have laid the Roe Court’s view to rest, rendering the decision obsolete.
Second, the pro-life movement is increasingly calling out the anti-feminist assumptions of the abortion-industrial complex. It is anti-feminist to suggest that women need abortions to succeed in a world that still hasn’t upended patriarchal assumptions in families and the workplace. Moreover, it is inconsistent with the non-violent instincts of feminism to tie the liberation of women to the elimination of any group of human beings. Girls, furthermore, are disproportionately the targets of abortion—especially in places like China, India and parts of Eastern Europe.
Third, the pro-life movement increasingly points out the economic interests of the abortion-rights movement. We respect the personal sincerity of abortion rights proponents. Sadly, however, this social movement is inextricably tied to the interests of Big Abortion, a $3 billion industry. This industry stands to lose a lot if the demands of progressive pro-lifers—paid parental leave, free health care, an increased focus on preventing unwanted pregnancy and, critically, ending legal elective abortion by targeting abortionists—are met. As younger Americans grow skeptical of the excesses of capitalism, they increasingly understand the conflicted motives behind the movement to expand access to abortion.
Finally, progressive Americans are finding it more difficult to square their commitment to non-discrimination with advocacy for abortion. Sophie Trist, a blind progressive advocate against abortion, speaks movingly about the ableist implications of abortion for people living with a disability. Some countries, like Iceland, claim to have “eliminated” Down Syndrome—a feat accomplished not by some miracle cure but by systematic elimination of human beings likely to have Down Syndrome in the uterus. This month, The New York Times ran an investigation revealing that many, if not most, prenatal tests used to diagnose Down Syndrome are not even accurate.
Fundamentally, we believe there will never be equity in our nation as long as we try to achieve it by ending the lives of the tiniest human beings among us.
Because we cannot outspend the industry, our quest for justice as a movement relies on our ability to mobilize enough people power for non-violent resistance. That is what the March for Life is all about.
This year, we hope, Roe v. Wade will fall under the weight of a pro-life revolution. We look forward to the day abortion is a distant memory of a late-capitalist past when profit mattered more than human lives.
LifeNews Note: Terrisa Bukovinac is founder and President of PAAU (Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising). Xavier Bisits is Secretary of PAAU and former Vice President of Democrats for Life of America.