Saying that putting anti-abortion judges on the Supreme Court makes one Pro-Life is like saying the side salad next to your steak dinner makes you a vegan; it ignores the bigger issue.
As was said from the podium at the March for Life just nine months ago, “All of us here today understand an eternal truth that every child is a precious and sacred gift from God. Together we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and sanctity of every human life.” Unfortunately, the man who said this also reacted to the deaths of 200,000 Americans by saying, “It is what it is.”
Being Pro-Life means respecting and protecting the dignity and sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. It is not just the bookends of life that have value, but the entirety of the volumes of life in between to the start of life and its eventual end.
Few groups have had the tenacity of America’s pro-life constituency. Since 1973, they have maintained a laser focus on protecting human life, however, it would seem that between then and now the definition of life has changed, and with it, the movement’s willingness to overlook the massive loss of life that has occurred during the current administration’s tenure.
When the credentials of President Trump’s pro-life record comes under scrutiny, the rush to judgment over the deaths of over 220,000 Americans is usually the main point of contention, but not in this case. These most recent deaths are not the most pressing question when it comes to the Pro-Life’s beatification of Trump because there is a much more troubling track record that should be examined.
From the start, the President has overseen, and sometimes contributed to, events that led to the unnecessary loss of life. Three years ago, Puerto Rico was hit by two consecutive hurricanes. The initial death toll was 64 lives lost, but over the course of the next six months, that number climbed to 2,975. President Trump claimed that Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort” while in the same statement saying, “Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.”
Four months after the hurricane hit the island, 1.5 million people, nearly half the population, were still without power; thirty-seven months later there continue to be areas without electricity. Last month, three years and thousands of lost lives later, the Trump administration offered an aid package to help the ravaged home of 3 million American citizens.
Even though President Trump said that he understands the indisputable fact “that every child is a precious and sacred gift from God,” his administration nonetheless took steps that endangered the lives of children who came to America looking for asylum. Felipe Gomez Alonzo, aged eight, and Carlos Vasquez, aged sixteen, died of influenza after the Trump administration declared they would not provide flu shots to the thousands of children held in ICE facilities. Jakelin Caal, age seven, died of septic shock after she was denied medical treatment for hours while in the custody of immigration officials.
Nine people, many of them children, died in both 2018 and 2019, and thus far in 2020, 15 people have died while being held in immigration facilities. Instead of taking steps to protect the sanctity of these children’s lives, the Trump administration deflected blame to others and said they were “using these deaths [the deaths of children] as political pawns.”
The President has a record of failing to speak out against those who take human life. When a white supremacist killed Heather Heyer after ramming his car into a crowd during the protests in Charlottesville, the president responded by saying that there were “very fine people on both sides.”
Earlier this year when Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down in his neighborhood while on a jog, the President again could not bring himself to unquestionably condemn the people had maliciously taken a human life, saying on Fox & Friends, “You know, it could be something that we couldn’t see on the tape.” Likewise, he defended Kyle Rittenhouse’s choice to arm himself with an AR-15 despite being under the legal age to do so, cross state lines, and then insert himself into the middle of a stand-off between protesters and police; a choice that resulted in the deaths of two people.
Finally, in 1989, then citizen Trump took out a full-page ad calling for the return of the death penalty in New York following the attack of a jogger in Central Park. Even though the five teenagers wrongly convicted of the crime have been proven innocent beyond a reasonable doubt, now President Trump refuses to retract his statements about the Central Park 5 still asserting that they were guilty and deserved to be punished, echoing his statement following Charlottesville, “You have people on both sides of that.” It would appear that there are only two sides when lives that the President deems valuable are on the line.
On January 24th, the President proclaimed to the participants of the March for Life, “You embrace mothers with care and compassion.” However, as President, he has not embraced mothers in this country. The United States is the only developed country in the world that has experienced an increase in maternal mortality rates. In fact, more American women lose their lives due to pregnancy-related complications than in any other developed country in the world.
Regardless of race or age, women make up a larger percentage of people living below the poverty line, and incidentally, poverty not politics is the greatest predictor of a woman’s likelihood of having an abortion.
Finally, thousands of children were separated from their mothers at the southern border, and a U.S. District Court had to order the Trump administration to reunite children 5-years-old and younger, with their parents. For someone who claims to “embrace mothers,” the President has not done much to protect them or their children.
Whether it is delaying the delivery of life-saving medication by purposefully hampering the USPS or endangering people with tear-gas in order to facilitate a photograph in front of a church or cutting millions in food stamps and WIC funding, President Trump has shown that, while he is willing to make a speech at the March for Life, he is not willing to walk the walk.
There may be reasons that voters find compelling enough to cast their vote to re-elect Donald Trump, but his record on life should not be one of them. Again and again, he has proved that protecting the sanctity and dignity of life is not his priority.
At the March for Life, as has been the case at many of his political rallies the president was played off stage by a choir singing, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you find you get what you need.” Perhaps if the camera had kept rolling we could have heard the final verse which reflects on someone “practiced at the art of deception” which we “could tell by [their] blood-stained hands.”
The last time the President used the Rolling Stones song following a speech was at his June 20, 2020, mask optional rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where pro-life conservative Herman Cain was infected with COVID-19, a disease which would end his life a little over a month later.