• Paul Stark

What it means to be pro-life: Responding to a bizarre smear



What does it mean to be pro-life?


According to Erin Maye Quade, campaign manager for UnRestrict Minnesota, in a recent Star Tribune commentary, opposition to abortion is "deeply rooted in white supremacy." She says the pro-life view expressed by state Sens. Julia Coleman and Michelle Benson (who, like many others, have recently objected to a no-limits abortion bill in the Legislature) is actually "a call to violence."


These comments are absurdly ignorant and wrong. They falsely characterize the pro-life perspective of millions of Americans of different races, ethnicities, genders, and religions.


That pro-life position is based on two main ideas. The first idea is that human embryos and fetuses are living human organisms, like each of us, only at an earlier developmental stage. This is a fact long ago established by the science of embryology.


The second idea is that all human beings have equal fundamental human rights—irrespective of race and gender, and also irrespective of age, size, ability, dependency, and the desires and decisions of others. This is a principle of justice. Unborn humans, like other humans, deserve protection from lethal violence, and pregnant women—who too often face difficult and unfair circumstances—deserve support and love.


To be pro-life, then, isn't to embrace discrimination and exclusion; it's to hold that human equality is really true. It’s not to call for violence; it's to urge peace and compassion.


It's no surprise, then, that the pro-life movement has always included people and leaders of different races—from Mildred Jefferson (pictured above at an MCCL event), an early president of National Right to Life (and the first Black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School), to Alveda King, currently head of Civil Rights for the Unborn (and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.). (The pro-choice movement, ironically, has roots in the advocacy of eugenicists like Planned Parenthood leaders Margaret Sanger and Alan Guttmacher, who sought to control the reproduction of people they deemed "unfit.")


Maye Quade supports a current bill (S.F. 731 / H.F. 259) that would enshrine apparently unlimited abortion in Minnesota law, while explicitly stating that unborn human beings at any stage don't have rights. She accuses Sens. Coleman and Benson of lying about the bill. But Maye Quade never explains how or why the senators are mistaken. That's because they’re not.


Maye Quade also suggests that the public overwhelmingly supports her view. That's quite a stretch. Gallup’s 2020 abortion poll, for example, found that 55 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in only a few circumstances or in no circumstances. Polls consistently find that most Americans oppose late-term abortion and taxpayer funding of abortion.


Although abortion is already legal in Minnesota, Maye Quade's organization, UnRestrict Minnesota, was created for the purpose of undoing even the modest abortion-related laws currently in place—like informed consent prior to abortion, parental notification for minors, and a requirement that those who perform abortions be doctors. These are longstanding and woman-empowering policies that most Minnesotans, whether pro-life or not, can agree with.


The objectives of UnRestrict Minnesota are far-reaching and extreme. Bizarrely smearing pro-life people may be a convenient way for Maye Quade to try to advance unpopular positions, but these smears aren't true, and they're not okay.