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The hypocrisy of the pro-life movement in America

By Ava Zardynezhad, June 14 2022

On May 2, a leaked draft of a majority opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade — a decision that protects abortion laws in the U.S. — was released. This leaked draft quickly raised an uproar of dissonant voices across the nation. Many rallied on the pro-choice side, calling for freedom over one’s body. Others on the pro-life side, supporting anti-abortion sentiments to protect the lives of the foetus. For years, the debate on abortion has been that of choice vs. life, so much so that conservative republican leaders are often referred to as pro-life by themselves, the public and the media. But, the draft makes one wonder whether anti-abortion politics are about life at all. 

Twenty-two days after the release of this leaked draft, tragedy struck in Texas when a school shooter murdered two teachers and 19 students. This bloody massacre followed only 10 days after another mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, becoming the 27th school shooting and one in over 200 mass shootings across the U.S. in 2022. Over two hundred and fourteen shootings could have been prevented with a change in legislature the last time something like this happened. So, is America really pro-life? 

Between 2009 and 2019, there have been 180 school shootings in the U.S. killing 356 individuals most of whom were children. In 2020, firearms replaced motor vehicle accidents as the number one cause of death among children in the U.S. To draw a connection, these are the same children whose lives are to be protected if Roe v. Wade is overturned. So, if conservative America is pro-life, why does this ideology only apply to the foetus during pregnancy? 

As of today in the U.S., these two rights are protected under the same bill of rights. The Second Amendment under this bill gives U.S. citizens the right to bear arms and the Fourteenth Amendment protects citizens from state laws that “abridge the privileges or immunities of U.S. citizens” or “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This amendment is the foundation that Roe v. Wade is based upon. 

This is important to know, because this foundation is the exact one Justice Samuel Alito is trying to discount in his draft to overturn Roe v. Wade. Alito’s argument is based on a lack of reference to abortion in the Constitution of the U.S. and no implicit protection of such right by any constitutional provision. He argues that the Fourteenth Amendment “has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.’” This claim is absolutely outrageous and ridiculous considering the “Nation’s history and tradition” and “concept of ordered liberty” did not even include women’s suffrage at its conception. 

My point is, the idea of the pro-life republican is nothing but a lie. American politics revolve around colonialist ideals of patriarchy and capitalism. Why does the U.S. not ban guns? Well, the firearm and ammunition industry employs 169,523 Americans and generates 206,296 jobs. Not to mention the $7.86 billion that the government earns from the industry in taxes. Why would the U.S. oppose abortions? One can’t say for sure, but the fact that the U.S. had its record lowest fertility rate with 56 births per 1,000 women in 2020 might have something to do with it. A nation needs a bustling economy to survive and a slew of laborers to sustain it. It’s as simple as that — like John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” 

On a similar note, the U.S. is built on the pillars of patriarchy. Being a colonialist superpower, America runs on a system that secures privileges for White men, specifically those of high socioeconomic status (SES). Social determinants of health (SDH) is a public health concept for non-medical factors that influence a person’s health and survival. SES is a major SDH and it influences and intersects with other SDH such as education, housing, employment and more. In both matters of abortion and gun control, Americans of low SES experience the most harm. What type of schools experience the most shootings? Which neighbourhoods most often fall victim to gun violence? Even when it comes to school shootings, rich, White men win. Almost every mass shooting in recent years has taken place in public schools — I haven’t been able to find any record of a shooting at a private school to date. Black students account for 15 per cent out of more than 50 million students in the U.S., however, they make up one third those who have experienced a school shooting since 2009. In the meantime, according to a public database including data from 1966 until 2019, 97.7 per cent of mass shooters in the U.S. have been male with 52.3 per cent being White. 

The same principles apply to abortion laws. Illegalizing safe abortions will invariably disadvantage those of lower SES. Anti-abortion laws will only increase the disparity that exists between the rich and the poor. Accessing abortions would require travel or illegal and unsafe means. According to economist Caitlin Myers of Middlebury College, increasing travel distance by 100 miles would prevent 20 per cent of people who give birth from accessing safe abortion. Additionally, abortions are more common in families that cannot financially support an infant or families with single parents. 

All this is to say that U.S. politics run on the interest of rich, White men rather than concern for saving foetus lives, and hiding behind the pro-life shield only makes hypocrites of lawmakers and politicians.

This article is part of our Opinions section

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