The March for Life is Not Pro-Life

Inviting Trump to Speak Undermines The Respect-For-Life Message

Photo Credit/James McNellis

A crowd at the 2017 March for Life in Washington D.C.

Beth Gillespie, Editor-in-Chief

Every year, thousands of people from across the nation attend the March for Life. This rally is dedicated to protesting abortion and its legality within the United States. Currently, the March boasts of being the largest pro-life event in the United States. On the organization’s website, the March for Life: Education and Defense Fund describes its vision as, “A world where the beauty and dignity of every human life are valued and protected.”

Yet, the March invited Donald Trump to address its crowds of protesters at both this and last years’ rallies.

This choice of speaker calls into question the March’s commitment to life. As President Trump does not show respect for the beauty and dignity of every human life. Instead, he makes decisions that show a disregard for the lives of humans around the world. This is present in many of his policies, especially those that deal with refugees and foreign conflicts. The choice to invite him as a speaker gives him a platform, and legitimizes his actions to the audience to whom he speaks. As long as the March for Life continues to invite him as a speaker, they are not truly pro-life.

As humanitarian crises pose threats to human lives around the globe, the Trump administration turns a blind eye to refugees worldwide. Even before becoming president, Trump made statements about how the United States should do less to help refugees, which was often justified by painting refugees as dangerous. Throughout his time in office, Trump has made good on these campaign promises.

At the very beginning of his presidency, Trump filed Executive Order 13769, which banned all refugees from entering the United States for a period of 120 days, and banned all Syrian refugees from entering the United States for an indefinite period of time. Later, this would be replaced another executive order that continued to ban people from Syria from entering the United States, and imposed greater requirements on refugees entering the United States.

This is despite the fact that, at the time, Syria was undergoing a civil war, and had one of the greatest refugee crises in the world. Most recently, the Trump administration capped the number of refugees allowed in the United States to 30,000. This was the lowest limit a president has ever placed United States’ refugee program. With these policies, the administration Trump ignores the duty of countries worldwide to help those fleeing violence and destruction.

Yet, countries have the duty to take in refugees for a reason. For people living in war torn areas or countries where they may be victims of genocide, the ability to live in a foreign nation can be one of the few choices left for survival. When countries allow refugees in, it is as a way of allowing them to escape the violence of their homelands. If places of refuge are limited, it is much more likely that those facing violence will be unable to escape it. Policies that are designed to limit or exclude refugees, such as the ones Trump has put in place, put vulnerable people in life-or-death situations.

Trump’s pro-life stance is similarly undermined by his response to the civil war in Yemen. Throughout his presidency, Trump’s administration has been a steadfast supporter of a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which has opposed rebel forces backed by Iran in Yemen’s civil war. This has included supplying weapons and other support to Saudi Arabia. However, in doing so, the United States has become complicit in the violence caused by the Saudi-led coalition.

This does not just include only Iran-backed forces: it also includes innocent civilians. A notable example of this occured last August, when the Saudi-led coalition made headlines after it bombed a school bus. This killed 51 people, including 40 children, and injured 77 more. In the aftermath of this bombing, an investigation by CNN found that the bomb dropped was American-made. This incident sparked outrage because it highlighted America’s role in supporting a a military force that targets innocent civilians.

Furthermore, the Trump administration supports Saudi Arabia despite its role in bringing about a major humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Saudi Arabia caused this crisis through its imposition of a naval blockade on Yemen. This blockade, which lasted from 2015 to 2017, prevented many necessary supplies, such as food and medicine, from reaching ordinary citizens.

The crisis that resulted from this is still ongoing. According to the United Nations, it is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Millions of people across Yemen face problems such as food insecurity, lack of access to safe drinking water, and cholera. This crisis has caused many preventable deaths across the country. Yet, the human toll of this crisis has not caused Trump to reconsider his administration’s support of Saudi Arabia’s role in this conflict.

Pressure from others in Washington has not had this effect, either. Due to these civilian deaths, many activists and politicians believe that the United States should no longer support the Saudi-led coalition. Both the Senate House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for the United States to end its support of Saudi Arabia in this conflict. Yet, Trump has said he will veto this measure. In his response to criticisms of his position on this conflict, Trump has refused to consider how this position may be enabling violence against people globally.

I could elaborate on the many other examples of Trump’s disrespect for life. Just as I have discussed Trump’s lack of concern for refugees and victims of Yemen’s civil war, I could also discuss his inaction on gun violence or climate change, which also threaten human lives.

However, that is not the point of this piece.

It is not only important to focus on Trump, but also to focus on those who enable him. The actions of the Trump administration would be impossible without those who support him and do not question his actions. When organizations like the March for Life allow Trump to represent himself as pro-life, they give him a way to cover for his destructive actions.

When the March for Life allows Trump to speak at their rallies, they communicate that he is a worthwhile person to listen to. The message that the those attending the rally gain from this is that he is someone who represents what it means to be pro-life. Regardless of what the audience may know about his actions, the implication here is that Donald Trump is a leader worthy of support of those who are pro-life.

Yet, many pro-life leaders have declared that being pro-life means standing up for all human life everywhere. This includes Pope Francis, who declared last year in his Gaudete Et Exsultate statement last year that,

“”Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned.””

— Pope Francis

It is hypocritical for one to claim to stand for life, but to tolerate policies that disrespect it. A truly pro-life movement would support refugees and those in areas of humanitarian crisis. It would put pressure on world leaders to do more for those who are facing violence. It would stand against those who cause violence worldwide.

This is not what the March for Life does.

Instead, for the past two years, their response to a world leader with policies that threaten the lives of people globally is to invite him as a speaker at their rally. By doing so, they represent themselves as an organization that believes him to be a good and pro-life leader.

They should be encouraging their participants to challenge authority that perpetuates any type of violence anywhere. By not doing so, they send the message that the violence enabled by Trump’s administration is unrelated to their mission of valuing and protecting human life. This stance encourages people to be apathetic toward ending violence that may be more distant from their immediate position.

The effect of an apathetic public such as this is leaders who feel empowered to make decisions that disrespect human life. As long as the March for Life continues to invite Donald Trump as a speaker, it should not claim that it is a pro-life organization.