Momentum Builds for a Less Partisan, More ‘Whole Life’ Pro-Life Approach

As the Trump administration moves quickly to achieve its policy objectives and the March for Life approaches, a number of writers have analyzed the current state of the pro-life movement and its future prospects. Among the conclusions they have drawn are that the movement must reject a hyperpartisan mindset and that it is necessary to embrace a more whole life approach, showing a consistent commitment to human life and dignity (you can read more about the Whole Life movement here).

In a new editorial, the editors of Our Sunday Visitor suggest that now may be the right time for a more whole life approach at the March for Life:

While the main focus of the March for Life must always remain overturning Roe v. Wade — for without the right to life, all other rights become impossible — perhaps the March for Life could begin to more robustly advocate for additional issues that contribute to basic human dignity. For example, in addition to protesting abortion, could we protest euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide? Could we advocate for the dignity found in the poor, the immigrant and the refugee? Could we stand up for the right for access to health care and life-giving and sustaining benefits for all? Could we work together for a world where the actions of the wealthy in the first world don’t negatively impact the lives of those in the third world, as they do in many of the world’s current environmental policies?

This call comes in the same week that a meme with a whole life quote from Fr. James Martin went viral on social media:


At the Washington Post, John Gehring writes about those who will be spreading a whole life or consistent life message at the March:

The Franciscan Action Network and the Catholic Climate Covenant, national groups based in Washington, will underscore how climate change and environmental devastation are disproportionately hurting the poor…

Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, an organization that collaborates closely with bishops across the country, describes climate change as a “pro-life issue” that Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have all addressed in clear terms. Francis took the church’s teaching on environmental stewardship to a new level two years ago by becoming the first pope to release an encyclical on the environment. Respect for life, the pope insisted, must include urgent action to address the impacts of climate change. People are already suffering and dying in many parts of the world, Misleh noted, because of storms, droughts and other disruptive climate events…

The Catholic Mobilizing Network, which collaborates with dioceses across the country to help end capital punishment, will attend the march and hand out prayer cards and stickers that read “Who Would Jesus Execute?” When Francis became the first pope to address Congress, he called for the abolition of the death penalty. “Every life is sacred,” he said. Karen Clifton, executive director of the network, noted that the U.S. bishops’ conference as well as the last three popes “have called for Catholics to be unconditionally pro-life.”

At America, Sam Sawyer, SJ warns that Donald Trump is not what pro-life leadership looks like:

Symbols matter. When pro-choice citizens, or even those on the fence about abortion, look at what happened in the White House this week, they will not see a principled defense of the dignity of human life. Instead, they will see the latest salvo in a partisan war, in which abortion is mostly a proxy battle. And though they may—we pray—fare better, the unborn, like the refugees and immigrants Mr. Trump is only too comfortable demonizing, will have been reduced to a convenient symbol of political victory.

This is not what pro-life leadership looks like. Those who believe in the dignity of every human life should weigh carefully the cost of embracing it.

At NCR, Michael Sean Winters argues that the pro-life movement must build a wider, bigger culture of life to achieve the success that it desires:

One of the achievements of the pro-life movement in recent years has been to shed its image as a movement led by a bunch of male, celibate clergy unconcerned with the plight of women. Women have become the face of the movement and bishops have gone out of their way to call attention to the need to care for women facing crisis pregnancies. In recent years, at the annual Mass before the March, Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Cardinal Timothy Dolan placed concern for women at the center of their homilies. A new generation of female and male pro-life voices has been outspoken in confronting the rapes on campus and the “hookup” culture, broadening the focus of the movement in healthy ways. Online magazines such as Millennial have helped forge a distinctively feminist pro-life approach.

That achievement cannot survive a too-close association with the Groper-in-Chief. A pro-life movement that values women cannot, at the same time, find its champion in a man who spoke about assaulting a married woman, and not just spoke, but bragged about it, and did so in the most vulgar terms imaginable. And, unless the pro-life movement remains a place where women are valued, and their concerns are heard, and their crises addressed, the pro-life movement will never, ever succeed in achieving its aims.

It will also never succeed without at least some measure of bipartisan support. Yet, Dannenfelser and the Susan B. Anthony List are tied with Planned Parenthood as the group that has done more than any other to make such bipartisan support impossible….

What if Trump gets two nominees to the high court? What if they repeal Roe? That would kick the issue back to the states where, I fear, a vast majority of the legislatures would enact liberal abortion laws. The pro-life movement has not laid the groundwork for the kind of definitive win they claim to seek. Changing the law won’t be enough. The first time a woman dies procuring a back alley abortion, the backlash will be intense. Building a pro-life culture takes time and persuasion and compassion. It is harder than winning control of a legislative chamber or even of the Supreme Court. And, the political expression of a culture of life will be bipartisan or it will be a failure.

And in the Washington Post, Patrick Brown writes:

Among the next generation of antiabortion leaders, there is an increasing realization that legal restrictions alone are not enough to promote a “culture of life.” Protecting a fetus’s legal status is an essential step in ending abortion, but it is only one piece of a cultural and political agenda that would truly support pregnant women and the children they carry.

In addition to changing hearts and minds about abortion, antiabortion activists should demonstrate their seriousness in supporting children both before and after birth by championing a concrete policy agenda of family economic security. Passing the Hyde Amendment would be much more credible as a truly pro-life, rather than simply antiabortion, goal if it were accompanied by an expanded, refundable Child Tax Credit.

As a refresher, the CTC currently reduces the amount of taxes owed by $1,000 per child. For families that owe less in taxes than the amount of their credit, a portion of the remaining balance is returned as a rebate. But low-income families are often left out of the CTC’s benefits — an estimated 1 in 5 families had earnings too low to claim the full $1,000. Additionally, inflation has eroded a full one-third of the credit’s real value since it was set at $1,000 in 2001. This is especially disturbing as poor women are disproportionately represented among women who have abortions: As others have observed, women in poverty accounted for 42.4 percent of abortions — an unacceptable, disproportionately high number, considering 14.2 percent of women nationwide live in poverty, according to the Census Bureau.

Is There Room for Pro-Life Feminists at the Women’s March on Washington?

Emma Green reports:

Pro-life women are headed to D.C. Yes, they’ll turn out for the annual March for Life, which is coming up on January 27. But one week earlier, as many as a few hundred pro-lifers are planning to attend the Women’s March on Washington, which has been billed as feminist counterprogramming to the inauguration….

Many pro-life women felt just as outraged as pro-choice women about Donald Trump’s conduct and comments, including the revelation that he once bragged about groping women without their permission. For their part, the organizers say pro-lifers will be welcome to march on January 21st. A pro-life group based in Texas, New Wave Feminists, was granted partnership status on Friday. “Intersectional feminism is the future of feminism and of this movement,” said Bob Bland, one of the event’s co-chairs. “We must not just talk about feminism as one issue, like access to reproductive care.”


On Monday afternoon, after the publication of this article, the Women’s March organizers removed the New Wave Feminists from their website and list of partners. “The Women’s March’s platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one,” the organizers said in a statement. “The anti-choice organization in question is not a partner of the Women’s March on Washington. We apologize for this error.”

Some pro-life feminists and progressives are going anyway. Aimee Murphy of Life Matters Journal, who we have interviewed here at Millennial, writes:

Note to the women’s movement: It is possible to be both pro-life and a feminist. In fact, it is possible to be pro-life and a feminist and opposed to President-elect Donald Trump. It’s too bad the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington refuse to accept this fact. This week march organizers indicated that women like me are not welcome in their ranks….

Like most feminists, we pro-life feminists at Life Matters Journal were troubled by Trump’s election. His hateful rhetoric, xenophobic policies and misogynistic behavior indicate a terrifying disregard for the inherent dignity of human beings — women especially. Our foundational philosophy is the intrinsic value of humanity, regardless of gender, circumstance, age, ability, sexuality, race, religion. We wanted to make clear that Trump doesn’t speak for us: He is not and should not be the face of the pro-life movement….

But we will go. We will march. Planned Parenthood does not own women’s rights. The first-wave feminists understood that abortion is killing and that it is a tool of the patriarchy. We stand by the example of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and many others who upheld the dignity of pre-born children and fought discrimination against women.

We will fight against the modern popular feminist paradigm that says that to support women’s rights, we must support the violent act that is abortion. We will fight against the culture that understands pregnancy as a disease condition and sees children not for their inherent dignity, but for how wanted and able they are. We will stand up against misogyny, rape culture, sexual assault, sexism, racism, ageism, ableism and all discrimination. And yes, because of that, we will stand up against abortion.

Another Washington Post op-ed also highlights the disconnect between the march’s organizers and first-wave feminists:

Those of us at the Susan B Anthony Birthplace Museum in Adams, Mass., are saddened that the museum honoring this American iconic heroine and tireless worker for women’s rights will not be among the organizations marching in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Some would, perhaps, think that Anthony family descendants and board members of the great suffragist birthplace would be leading the Women’s March, especially as the centennial marking the Susan B. Anthony Amendment for women’s suffrage has begun in some states. But they would be wrong: Anthony would never have joined a march in favor of abortion access.

The unifying theme of Susan Brownell Anthony’s life was to speak up for those without a voice. Anthony fought for temperance, the abolition of slavery and especially the enfranchisement of women. She also spoke up for the voiceless child in utero, opposing Restellism, the term that Anthony’s newspaper and others at that time used for abortion. It’s easy to chalk up Anthony’s (and other early feminists’) opposition to abortion as a relic of their day and age. But these women were progressive and independent; they did not oppose abortion because they were conditioned to, but because they believed every human life has inherent and equal value, no matter their age, skin color or sex….

Many women and women’s groups who will march next week have good reason to do so, and they should be respected. However, we ask that abortion rights not be misappropriated to Anthony and the critical work of the suffrage movement. Anthony and many of her fellow suffragists were anti-abortion feminists, the contemporary existence of which even Hillary Clinton has acknowledged. If the Women’s March truly wants to honor the suffragist legacy, they will acknowledge their existence, too.

You can read more about pro-life feminism here and watch America Media’s video on millennial pro-life women, which includes pro-life feminists, here.

Donald Trump is Now the Standard-Bearer of the Pro-Life Movement. We Should be Ashamed.

Catholics are once again the swing vote that has decided who will be the next President of the United States. Donald Trump has won voters who self-identify as Catholic 52% to 45%, reversing President Obama’s 2012 win. Among Catholics, Trump outperformed numerous past Republican presidential candidates.

Catholic voters in America have given Donald Trump both the presidency and a Republican-controlled Congress. But for pro-life Catholics, one question must be considered: is this the person we want to represent the pro-life movement?

As a college student, millennial, and devout Catholic, I take both my faith and the right to life very seriously. I don’t simply want abortion to be prohibited, but for all people to be supported and for their humanity to be affirmed, dignified, and upheld. I am pro-life for the whole life. This means standing against abortion, the death penalty, unjust wars, and euthanasia. It also means being in favor of a living wage, accessible and affordable healthcare (especially for mothers and their children in times of need), mandated paid maternity leave, and more funding for crisis pregnancy centers. Everything that society can do to protect and support pregnant mothers and their babies should be offered, because this commitment to life and human dignity is what will ultimately end a culture of assisted suicide, abortion, objectification, and xenophobia. This will bring about a genuine culture of life. These are all things I consider when I enter the voting booth.

Many of my friends who are devout Catholic millennials support these same values, and many struggled to determine how they would cast their ballots. Sadly, due to their care for the unborn child, many felt they had no choice but to vote for Donald Trump due to his newfound commitment to appointing judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade.

Personally, I could not bring myself to vote for either major party candidate.  I voted for a whole life write-in candidate. On election night, as my friends watched the results of the election pour in, we looked at each other in disbelief. Many who voted for Trump had thought they were making a protest vote, that he wouldn’t actually become president. But now, he is the President-elect of the United States. Read More

Trump’s Pro-life Plan Includes Millions More Abortions

I support legal protection for the lives of unborn children. A comprehensive, whole life approach to abortion and the defense of human life should include such a commitment. The strategy of electing candidates who promise to appoint or confirm strict constructionist conservative Supreme Court justices is deeply flawed in that regard. Donald Trump confirmed this fact last week:

Lesley Stahl: During the campaign, you said that you would appoint justices who were against abortion rights. Will you appoint– are you looking to appoint a justice who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade?

Donald Trump: So look, here’s what’s going to happen– I’m going to– I’m pro-life. The judges will be pro-life. They’ll be very—

Lesley Stahl: But what about overturning this law–

Donald Trump: Well, there are a couple of things. They’ll be pro-life, they’ll be– in terms of the whole gun situation, we know the Second Amendment and everybody’s talking about the Second Amendment and they’re trying to dice it up and change it, they’re going to be very pro-Second Amendment. But having to do with abortion if it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states. So it would go back to the states and–

 Lesley Stahl: Yeah, but then some women won’t be able to get an abortion?

 Donald Trump: No, it’ll go back to the states.

Lesley Stahl: By state—no some —

 Donald Trump: Yeah.

 Donald Trump: Yeah, well, they’ll perhaps have to go, they’ll have to go to another state.

 Lesley Stahl: And that’s OK?

Donald Trump: Well, we’ll see what happens. It’s got a long way to go, just so you understand. That has a long, long way to go.

Conservative justices will return abortion to the states; it will remain legal in big states like New York and California; inadequate support for pregnant women and young families will leave many women feeling like they must abort their children; and millions will die. This is their best case scenario. Is it not clear that this plan is flawed?

To make matters worse, it is quite possible that the Court could return to Lochner era activism (when minimum wage, child labor, and similar laws were struck down on preposterous grounds) and overturn quite obviously constitutional laws in order to pursue a radical right-wing agenda. The foolishness of the pro-life movement’s subservience to Republican interests will be on full display. And again, this is only if Trump delivers on his promises to the pro-life community.

Bush’s Stem Cell Decision Was the Right Call

Millennial writer Christopher White has a new article at Crux. He writes:

Fifteen years ago this month, President George W. Bush announced he was issuing a moratorium on the future spending of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. He would later refer to this as one of the most consequential “Decision Points” (the title of his autobiography) of his presidency.

While his presidential legacy is much debated, science has already vindicated his decision to end the destruction of embryos and to pursue alternative methods of medical advancement….

While critics of Bush’s policy were eager to label him as “anti-science,” tone deaf, and unsympathetic to folks like Christopher Reeve (who they claimed would be able to walk again with the aid of embryonic stem cells), other prominent figures, including leading scientists and ethicists, urged both caution in the destruction of life in its earliest stages and also pushed for other means to be pursued that they believed could be just as effective.

That’s why when Bush made his decision, he also announced that he was doubling federal funding for research to explore alternative methods-and in November 2007, James A. Thomson (along with Shinya Yamanaka), the same scientist to first isolate human embryonic stem cells which sparked this whole debate, announced that he discovered an “embryo-free way to produce genetically matched stem cells.”…

In his willingness to give pause and to probe the intricacies of this debate, President Bush reminded us that something deeper is at stake beyond stem cells: our very souls.  Our national leaders would do well to ask these hard questions more often and to make us do the same.

You can read the full article here.