May 8, 2018


Racism and the Pro-Life Movement (Hunter Baker, May 7th, 2018, Public Discourse)

[It is good to think upon the continuing problem of race and justice in America. But in so doing, we should take care not to set righteous causes in opposition to one another. Somewhat bizarrely to those with memories and long knowledge of the pro-life movement, we now hear suggestions from progressive evangelicals that the protection of unborn life enjoys inappropriate priority over and against black lives. It seems to be becoming a new article of faith among some evangelicals that pro-lifers erred by building a great movement in opposition to Roe v. Wade when so much racial injustice remained to be vanquished. Indeed, the attack may be formulated more sharply to argue that pro-life votes are positively pernicious in the sense that they have supported politicians whose commitment to law and order undermines racial justice.

But it is terribly unfair and wrong to see the goals of the pro-life movement as being in competition for priority with the need to address continuing manifestations of racism. To a large extent, perhaps unappreciated by many, the two struggles share a common foundation. The movement against slavery and institutionalized racism was and is a struggle against dehumanization. Under slavery, the legal regime held that the owner of a slave effectively had the power of life and death over another human being. In other words, the fate of the slave depended upon the wishes of the owner. It should not be difficult to see (and much scholarly and other writing has been produced to this point) that the unborn child is in very much the same situation. If an unborn child is wanted, then he or she has status and protection. If the same child is not desired by its mother, then she and the health care apparatus have the same godlike dominion once extended by the owner of chattel slaves. In fact, the unfortunate unborn life now disposed of may also become an object of commerce in various ways. The parallels are substantial.

Let me repeat that: the two struggles are against the same enemy. The struggle against racism is directed against dehumanization, and so is the fight against abortion.

Posted by at May 8, 2018 1:40 PM