Today thousands upon thousands of people attended the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., to be a voice for the unborn. I was not at the march, but I was cheering on my friends in attendance. I am passionately and unapologetically pro-life, which is why I am devastated by the decision of the March for Life organizers to allow the movement to be diminished by featuring President Donald J. Trump. My sorrow has nothing to do with a dislike for the man and everything to do with my belief that his involvement will damage a deeply important movement.
In response to criticism regarding the inclusion of President Trump, some have argued, “Don’t let Trump’s involvement dominate this event.” In other words, “Let’s just not talk about it.” Unfortunately, the scandal of Mr. Trump’s involvement was unavoidable the minute organizers invited him to give an address. Ignoring how problematic this invitation was will not make its unfortunate consequences disappear.
Why is it unacceptable for this sitting U.S. president to speak at the march? It is not that Mr. Trump has character flaws and should therefore be excluded from supporting a good cause. Regardless of his alleged extramarital relationships with porn stars, his mocking of people with disabilities, his historically pro-choice stance, his defense of Planned Parenthood during the presidential debates (surely, I do not need to go on), as Catholics we believe no one is undeserving of redemption. We can and should laud good legislation that protects the vulnerable without having to give a stamp of approval to the character of the politicians supporting it. And if we required perfection from everyone who marched today, we would have an empty event.
The primary problem is not with Mr. Trump’s past sins, it is that the policies he currently supports are inconsistent with his claim in his address today that “every life is sacred.” And where do we begin? His inhumane deportation policies? His seeming belief that the value of lives from prosperous countries are worth more than those from poor—or as he allegedly put it, “shithole”—countries? His threats to end thousands of lives with nuclear war? Legislation that benefits the wealthy while treating the poor with disdain? I’ll let you choose; the list is a mile long. By making Donald Trump a figurehead for this movement, organizers of the March for Life offer not a consistent and beautiful ethic of life, but a farce, a brazen hypocrisy.
By making Donald Trump a figurehead for this movement, organizers of the March for Life offer not a consistent and beautiful ethic of life, but a farce, a brazen hypocrisy.
After all, why do we march? Is it because babies are cute? No. (Although, in my opinion, babies are indeed very cute.) A truly pro-life ethic is founded on the truth that the life of every human being is worthy of dignity and protection. The pro-life movement is full of many different kinds of people with diverse ideologies, all joined together to protect the dignity of human life. The March for Life is intended to galvanize and unify supporters of the pro-life movement, and to change hearts and minds by communicating the truth and beauty of honoring all life, no matter how vulnerable. The choice of speakers this year failed this mission. Featuring politicians like Mr. Trump engenders division. It confirms the misconception that the pro-life movement is indeed an ideology that only cares about an unborn child until he or she exits the womb. It proves to everyone who has been watching this movement to see if we truly desire good for vulnerable women and children that the movement is inconsistent and their skepticism and dismissal were warranted.
While we cannot expect everyone to like us, pro-lifers should care about the scandal this creates for those watching from the outside. What will a woman facing a crisis pregnancy remember from following this event? Will she be bolstered by the knowledge that there are thousands of people on her side, desiring to support her in carrying this vulnerable life and raising it if she so desires? Or will she remember that it was headlined by a man who treats women as sex objects, who has said women who get abortions should be jailed, whose policies hurt the vulnerable and could lead more women to desperate decisions?
Allowing Mr. Trump to speak for the movement is a slap in the face to those who have been fighting tirelessly for the good of vulnerable children and women. Pro-lifers, we have been warned that we are nothing but pawns to these politicians—by allowing them to be the face of our movement, we are playing into their manipulation. I speak out about this because I want more babies to be protected in the womb and more mothers in crisis to be inspired to choose life for their children. I want those on the outskirts to join in this fight with us when they see the truth that the life of every human being is deserving of dignity.
Heartbreakingly, these poor decisions by the March for Life organizers will not further these goals, but hinder them. A hypocritical and inconsistent life ethic will diminish the strength of this movement and discredit it. We must do better because there is so much at stake—it is truly a matter of life and death.