Amanda Krieger is a longtime follower of mine. When I started discussing what it means to be pro-choice on my blog, she messaged me to explain her point of view. She describes herself as “staunchly pro-life” but votes Democrat and wanted to explain why. “I know we disagree on abortion, but we agree that discourse is important. And we especially agree that the current president is unacceptable. I truly believe this election is one of the most critical in history, and if my perspective can help educate single-issue Republicans, I’m happy to share it. I hope this article inspires meaningful conversation.”
I am pro-life.
I am staunchly, unwaveringly, unequivocally pro-life.
I believe that life begins at conception and deserves dignity and protection under the law.
I do not believe that “wantedness” changes the sanctity of life.
My beliefs are rooted in science, faith, and my own experience as a woman and a mother.
Before you start throwing tomatoes at your computer screen, I want you to know: I’m a pro-life Democrat. And, please, hear me out. Because passionately clinging to both sides of the political spectrum can be lonely.
I believe this issue is literally one of life and death, and because of that I take it really, really seriously. As a woman, I feel conflicted – somehow both empowered and completely left out when I see throngs of women wearing pussy hats and demanding equal treatment. I want to raise my fist and join that crowd, until they get to the part about reproduction. That’s when I side-step over to the pro-life crowd, vehemently demanding protection for the unborn with every fiber of my being.
As I’ve gotten older and had children of my own, I’ve come to see abortion more fully. I believe that the unborn deserve full protection under the law. But I also understand what a life-changing event it is to have a child. I have enormous empathy for women faced with an unplanned pregnancy. The two most common reasons women choose abortion are that their life would be dramatically changed (by losing educational or career opportunities), or because they cannot afford a child. If that’s true, then it stands to reason that with more social support and more resources, fewer women would choose to terminate their pregnancies.
Republicans claim to care for the unborn, but it is the Democratic party that supports programs that make feasible the whole process of bringing a life into the world, from pregnancy to birth, to raising a child.
Republicans got billed as the pro-life political party, it seems, because of legislation. Republicans want laws that restrict abortion and Democrats don’t. It seems obvious that the pro-life voter should side with Republicans, but abortion is a complicated issue, and anti-abortion laws aren’t the only way to stop abortion. In fact, they’re not even a good way to stop abortion. Everyone knows that even if abortion was criminalized today, women would continue seeking to end their pregnancies. Furthermore, research shows that abortion rates are actually higher in countries that restrict abortion. The United States is a good example of this; currently, the abortion rate in the U.S. is the lowest it’s been since Roe v. Wade.
The simple truth is that social programs that support women, parents, and their children do more to decrease abortion than criminalizing it does. It is easier, perhaps, to pass a law than it is to do the hard work of changing the system to benefit women. But the easy path is almost never the most effective path; women have known that all along.
I believe that a genuinely pro-life stance involves honoring the whole lives of mothers and their children in all stages, not just in their births. Since financial insecurity is the most common reason women cite for choosing abortion, an obvious start would be free access to birth control and universal health care to help alleviate the medical costs of pregnancy and childbirth.
But why stop there? Women are more likely to live below the poverty line and rely on government aid like food stamps and welfare. Expanding programs like government-supported parental leave, the Earned Income Tax Credit, affordable access to higher education, and equal pay for women would all contribute to a decline in abortions.
The pro-life voter should never be considered a single-issue voter. Rather, the pro-life voter should be a whole-issue voter that takes into account all the issues that impact life. The pro-life voter should march on Washington to give voice to the unborn, and they should also rage against gun laws in this country. They should hold politicians accountable who do nothing to restrict the access and availability of guns, while school shootings become commonplace. The pro-life voter should demand environmental reforms that would combat climate change, ensuring clean air, water, and land for our children. The pro-life voter should be speak out against racism and discrimination, and should embrace immigrants and refugees.
The pro-life voter who believes the sanctity of human life even in the womb cannot vote for a candidate who separates families, or calls white supremacists “very fine people.” The pro-life voter cannot vote for a president who stands at a podium and mocks differently-abled people, or laughs about sexually assaulting women.
Especially in 2020, the pro-life vote should go to the candidate who supports vulnerable women and their children, not only because doing so will decrease abortions, but because it is the right thing to do.
Amanda Krieger lives in Richmond, VA with her husband and four kids. You can find her on Instagram at @amandaleighvt or on her blog Living on Grace, where she makes mom jokes, sentimental odes to this stage of life, and only occasionally writes about politics.