The Problem of the Pro-Life Movement
The Pro-Life Movement does not choose life; it chooses talking points. Take a moment and think about what is associated with the Pro-Life Movement. Did you think about abortion, birth control and restriction of family planning services to protect the integrity of life? Did you think about picketers at the entrances of Women’s Health Centers? Legislation restricting access to reproductive health care? I did. What I didn’t think of was how the Pro-Life Movement is synonymous with Life, pregnant women’s lives. The Pro-Life Movement focuses on protecting the life of the fetus but fails to protect the woman whose life the fetus is dependent.
The United States has failed pregnant women. Since the year 2000, the United States maternal mortality rate has increased while other countries have witnessed a decrease in respective rates.1 Sixty percent of maternal mortalities occur during the maternal period. The Centers for Disease Control defines the maternal period as the time that pregnancy begins until one year after the cessation of pregnancy whether through termination or birth, are preventable.1 The Guttmacher Institute’s Laws Affecting Reproductive Health and Rights: State Policy Trends at Midyear, 2017 report details how states have limited or banned access to reproductive health services. Reports such as this are helpful in highlighting the failure of Legislators to protect women’s access to healthcare but even so these reports fail to show a complete picture.
Women’s healthcare is more than birth control and abortion. There is a broad spectrum which is not addressed by the Pro-Life Movement. Heart health, weight issues, poverty, race, access to transportation, and where a woman lives all determine the health status of a woman. In a study conducted by NPR and ProPublica, there were multiple issues which have led to the increase in maternal deaths.2 The maternal death outcomes reflect political and social views. One of the highlighted issues was the spending, or lack of spending on Federal block grants towards maternal health. Six percent of the money dedicated to maternal and child health in Federal block grants is dedicated towards maternal health.2 This is an alarmingly low number especially when the maternal death rate is factored in maternal and child health statistics.
Any organization which touts the sanctity of life must support the protection and sanctity of all life. Pregnant women are more than incubators. To not focus more research and funding on protecting the lives of those who provide life is egregious. The health of women and children, and the safety of pregnant women is an integral part of what makes a society great. There should not be a distinction in the discussion about the sanctity of life. Women deserve to know they will be safe and free from preventable death while pregnant. For those who are Pro-Life, I suggest the emphasis should be on all facets of women’s health, not just talking points.
1. Nash, Elizabeth, Rachel Benson Gold, Lizamarie Mohammed, Olivia Cappello, Zohra Ansari-Thomas. Laws Affecting Reproductive Health and Rights: State Policy Trends at Midyear, 2017, Guttmacher Institute, July 13, 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2017/07/laws-affecting-reproductive-health-and-rights-state-policy-trends-midyear-2017.
2. Martin, Nina. U.S. Has The Worst Rate Of Maternal Deaths In The Developed World, NPR, May 12, 2017, https://www.npr.org/2017/05/12/528098789/u-s-has-the-worst-rate-of-maternal-deaths-in-the-developed-world.