In the United States today, abortion is an extremely controversial topic with the pro-choice and pro-life movements seeming more polarized than ever. Supporters of the pro-choice movement base most of their arguments on the fundamental right of a women’s bodily autonomy, while pro-lifers believe that all life deserves saving, usually regardless of the circumstances. However, within the pro-life movement, there is vast inconsistency within their pretenses of valuing life to the highest degree.
More specifically, the state of Texas exemplifies this concept perfectly, especially after the signing the “fetal heartbeat” abortion bill, prohibiting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy even in the case of rape or incest. Before signing this bill, Texas governor Greg Abbott defends his decision by stating "Our creator endowed us with the right to life, and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion. In Texas we work to save those lives" (Borter 2021). While Abbott announces his consideration for the children of Texas, it is apparent that he is only considering the unborn in this statement and not actual children existing outside of the womb. Thus, according to Annie E. Casey Foundation‘s 2019 Kids Count Data Book, Texas ranks 41st in the nation in overall child well-being based on measures of health, education, and economic well-being (Garza 2019). If Texans value life, especially the lives of children, as much as they claim while advocating against abortion, their care would show in their state rankings. The lack of efforts to better the lives of children in Texas further displays that Texans care about embryos more than living breathing children.
During COVID, the hypocrisy of pro-life people became even more apparent with much refusal among Republicans (who are majority pro-life) to wear masks and their massive push to reopen country, even if it meant people would die because of it. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, an anti-choice extremist, is a shining example of this pretense, stating during his appearance on Fox News “there are more important things than living” while advocating for the reopening of the economy (Samuels 2020). Patrick’s disregard for human life during the pandemic is just one instance out of many that exhibit proclaimed pro-lifers’ sanctimony regarding the value they place on life.
While the supporters of the anti-abortion movement fight for life and place a strong emphasis on the moral rights of a human, the demographic they tend to disregard the life of is the women who are actually giving birth. Not only does this fight to save embryos strip women of their bodily autonomy, a fundamental human right, the United States essentially abandons mothers who decide to complete their pregnancy, leaving them with a newborn child and no support. America continues to fail mothers by being the only industrialized nation without guaranteed paid parental leave, making it much more difficult to remain finically secure while raising a child in the early stages (Lenz 2020). Many other nations subsidize child-care or offer income supplements as aid, while half of the American population is paying more than in-state college tuition for full-time day care. On top of experiencing these massive expenses that come with actually giving birth, women’s wages following this tend to decrease (Budig 2014). If this movement is so insistent on women having children and claim to value life above anything else, then why aren’t the women who do choose to go through with their pregnancies getting the help they need in order to give their child a happy life?
A solution many pro-lifers pose to pregnant woman who are against raising a child, is to put them up for adoption. They suggest this in order to prevent abortion, but do so without considering the poor quality of life that child will have growing up and the lifelong damaging impacts that follow. The foster care system in the United States is not only beyond capacity, but completely failing. Among many other disturbing statistics, approximately 74.9% of children in the foster system are neglected leading to grave consequences later in life (American SPCC). The anti-choice movement supporting putting children in a system where they have an almost 3 in 4 chance of getting neglected and an extremely exacerbated probability of their traumatizing childhood negatively affecting them for a lifetime, makes it blatantly obvious that they do not value life in the slightest after a baby is actually born.
Although a lot of people have a different concept on when life actually begins, to put the anti-choice’s main proposition to the test, I want to leave you with a thought experiment that could help you figure out how you comparatively value life. Imagine there is a person at the top of a building holding one hundred embryos in a dish, while in the other hand is a living, breathing baby. Even if you believe that life begins at conception, would you really let a crying baby fall to the group rather than a bowl with 100 embryos? What if a woman who did not want to have her child replaced the baby, so now you must choose between a woman and the bowl of embryos. Would you not save the life of the woman? Even though this thought test might seem extreme, it brings into question the equivalence of a living breathing baby or individual to the embryos pro-lifers claim hold the same value.
To sum up this argument perfectly, I’ll leave you with a quote from George Carlin, among many other professions a social critic, in regard to pro-lifers: “They will do anything for the unborn, but once you are born, you are on your own” (Carlin 2017).
Hattie Rodriguez is a senior Sociology major and Environmental Studies minor at Davidson College.