White Supremacy and the Pro-Life Movement, Part 3: Deafening Silence on Bans, Walls, and Raids

| Reproaction

By: Shireen Shakouri

I’ve been outraged by Human Coalition for a while: I have written previously about Human Coalition’s attempts to co-opt racial justice language while shaming women of color for their choices, and how they perpetuate anti-Semitism and violence against abortion providers by insinuating that abortion is worse than genocide against Jewish people. But what I’m diving into today illustrates not only Human Coalition’s cruelty and indifference towards racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S., but it may be the apex of their hypocrisy.

The idea that the pro-life movement, and conservatives generally don’t actually care about life is well-worn in reproductive health, rights, and justice circles. [1-4] My colleague Jessica recently dove into the topic on our blog, describing how conservative dialogue around the undocumented teen in Texas, known as Jane Doe, exposed pro-life stalwarts’ animosity towards immigrants. What I want to dissect, though, is how they’re not really all that interested in family, either. They love using “family” in the names of their prominent organizations, and touting “family values,” but do they actually care about promoting loving, supportive families?

If that were the case, and maintaining a strong, supportive family structure were important to the pro-life movement, surely, they would mobilize around families being torn apart by raids, detainment, and deportations of undocumented immigrants. [5] They would be outraged by the destruction of humanitarian aid by border patrol agents, and the criminalization of aid workers providing life-saving sustenance to migrant families facing impossible conditions as they cross the border. [6] They would stand side by side with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, whose families would go hungry without their ability to work in this country. [7]

We haven’t seen that, though. At best, we see prominent conservative voices hand-wringing about how DREAMers losing their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status shouldn’t be punished for their parents’ actions – a problematic line of thinking suggesting the parents should be punished for seeking a safer and better life for themselves and their children. Then there’s their classist arguments that DREAMers deserve to stay because of their economic output, military service, and pursuit of higher education, as if they need to prove their worth to the U.S., and anyone without an impressive resume doesn’t belong (but people born here don’t need to jump through any hoops to prove their utility to American society.) Mostly, though, we see rants about how society cares more about people that weren’t born in the U.S. than it does about fetuses, along with pleas to build a border wall. [8-10] All that is not to mention the pins I can hear dropping as supposedly pro-life and pro-family bodies fail to appeal for reinstating adoption tax credits, Medicaid expansion, and funding the Children’s Health Insurance program (also known as CHIP, which provides funding to support low-to-moderate income families who do not qualify for Medicaid.),  All of these programs are critically important to support families of all backgrounds.

One mind-boggling example of this hypocrisy comes when Human Coalition’s President Brian Fisher attempts – and fails – to poke holes in progressive activists’ concern with the well-being of dual citizens, immigrants, and refugees after Trump’s Muslim Ban was first issued, by diverting the conversation to fetuses that were conceived in the U.S.:

“What I find striking is that there’s this clamor and riots and protests and whatnot going around the country that we should deny ourselves legitimate borders and welcome anybody into the country who wants to be here to have all the rights and privileges that America provides, and yet that same group of people most often says we want to deny all those rights for those pre-born people already conceived in our country.” [11]

It’s pretty astounding that Brian Fisher thinks families being violently separated because of their birthplace or religion have less claim to a supportive environment for their families than a zygote incubating inside a woman, inside the U.S. And to draw that line of thinking out further: If life begins at conception, Brian, does that mean, say, an Iraqi couple on honeymoon in Hawaii gets to claim their child is a U.S. citizen because they conceived in the U.S.? Something tells me you aren’t including them… how far do you want to extend this ideal?

The right has maligned “anchor babies” and “chain migration,” which are repulsive and dehumanizing phrases referring to what they perceive as calculated tactics that immigrants use to gain access to this country, but are actually just a racist lens applied to how people build and support their families. But by your logic, Brian: anyone should be able to claim a zygote’s US citizenship, but families detained at airports for being from a Muslim-majority country don’t deserve to be reconnected with their loved ones. But family values, right?

These misplaced values don’t just spew from pro-life leadership: a Reproaction supporter spotted the above sign at this year’s March for Life in Washington, one of several seen that seemed to pit DREAMers and racial minorities against abortion rights. There’s so much to unpack here, between the myth of pro-life “censorship,” which Jessica righteously smacked down in another recent blog post, to the quotes around “kids,” as if the children of immigrant families are somehow less of kids than fetuses.

And here, we have a tweet from Human Coalition lamenting healthcare coverage for all in Oregon, calling undocumented immigrants “illegal aliens.” Someone should really tell Human Coalition that saying a fetus is a human but a living, breathing person is an “alien,” and insinuating that a person could be “illegal” is not a good look at all.

What it all comes down to is the pervasive and repugnant view that certain people are more deserving of what this country has to offer than others, and those tend to be white, Christian people, especially those who were born (or I guess in Brian’s mind, fertilized) on U.S. soil. Anyone who doesn’t fit those constraints can take a back seat to all the fetuses, for all they care. I’m not sure I could get someone like Brian Fisher, who has built his career on systematically misleading and shaming people seeking abortions, to ever quit calling abortion rights a “genocide.” But what we can do is hold abortion opponents accountable when they deny the humanity of people who are trying to grow and support their families in this country.


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