President Trump never represented the values of a pro-life movement centred on equality, nonviolence and non-discrimination. Yes, Mr. Trump secured some victories for the pro-life movement: His administration moved to end U.S. taxpayer–funded abortion in developing countries, fought back against the pro-abortion agenda of the United Nations’ human rights bodies and appointed the first pro-life woman to the Supreme Court.
But government funding of Planned Parenthood remains at an all-time high, and another one of Mr. Trump’s picks for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, is not turning out to be the ally we wanted. As a whole-life advocate, I am also worried about Mr. Trump’s dismantling of the social safety net and what that means for working families and single parents.
The credit for pro-life victories over the past four years belongs to the pro-life movement more than it does to Mr. Trump, who called himself “pro-choice in every respect” in 1999. During his campaign for the Republican nomination in 2016, he exhibited profound ignorance of the goals and values of the pro-life movement. Prominent pro-life leaders chastised him for saying of legalised abortion “we have to leave it that way,” and a joint letter from the leaders of pro-life groups urged the nomination of “anyone but Donald Trump.” The Susan B. Anthony List and other groups deserve great credit for exacting pro-life commitments from him before the 2016 general election. He has kept those promises, but if pro-life leaders had not forced his hand, the past four years could have turned out very differently.
Mr. Trump was the one signing pro-life laws and executive orders, and that image—now more tarnished than ever, following his encouragement of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters refusing to accept the result of last year’s presidential election—carries a huge risk. If Mr. Trump is seen as the face of the pro-life movement in the United States, we will have scored a goal against ourselves. His sexist insults, contempt for disabled individuals and history of racism are at odds with the fundamental principles of the pro-life movement. We cannot claim to care about women facing crisis pregnancies, defend the lives of disabled persons or combat the disproportionate impact of abortion on people of colour if Mr. Trump is our poster boy. On whole-life issues, his record is abysmal; there are no better examples than his dismissive response to the COVID-19 pandemic and his barely noticed resumption of the federal death penalty.
The good news is that there are thousands of better pro-life and whole-life advocates who do represent our values, across the political divide. These range from the 13 new pro-life Republican women in the House of Representatives—to Democrats like state senator Katrina Jackson, Louisiana’s most vocal proponent of pro-life and whole-life legislation. They also include Lila Rose, the founder of the non-profit media group Live Action, and Aimee Murphy, the founder of consistent life ethic group Rehumanize International.
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Xavier Bisits is vice president of Democrats for Life of America. He is based in Washington, D.C.
With thanks to America Magazine and Xavier Bisits, where this article originally appeared.