And I’m not voting for Trump
August 12, 2020 President Trump tweeted, “The suburban housewife will be voting for me,” and I, as a pro-life Catholic housewife, am here to say, “No, sir, I will not,” and I am not alone.
I acknowledge that I hate discussing politics and often hesitate to share my views. On the rare occasions I do, it’s usually about my support for the sanctity of human life. I have been admonished by friends from both political parties telling me that I am not pro-life enough, or I’m anti-woman, or I’m not Christian enough, or that I’m too naive. One person, went even so far as to tell me about her “great disappointment” in me and suggested I shouldn’t share my views or should only share them with like-minded people. But if I do as she suggested, my views go in an echo chamber and I forgo the opportunity for rich discussion and to see another perspective. While I might not change someone’s mind, I hope we walk away with a different perspective and the willingness to view every story with grace and compassion.
I grew up loving Jesus and loving my country And now, as a pro-life religious conservative, I’m feeling bereft, without a political party who represents me. To be honest, I felt that way at the last election and even more so now. I disagree with the democratic platform on the issue of abortion. But I abhor the ongoing lack of respect for human life as demonstrated by the current president.
As we get closer to the U.S. Presidential election there is a contingent of pro-life Catholics and evangelicals who are making their departure from supporting Trump known. They are seeing that while Trump is considered the pro-life candidate, he is not pro-life. His actions against the marginalized show the truth.
Being pro-life means having a consistent life ethic from womb to tomb. It means valuing human life at all stages, not just when it’s convenient. Often when a new election looms on the horizon the discussion of life becomes a heated topic of debate: When should life be valued? Who is valued?
I cannot in good conscience vote for a man who doesn’t value human dignity and decency. I cannot embrace the politics of a man who is willing to put children in cages and has not, as of yet, addressed the allegations of forced hysterectomies on Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) detainees.
I cannot support a leader who refuses to face the pandemic head on in hopes that it will disappear. The leader of our country mocked his political opponent for wearing a mask and then came down with the very plague he tried to ignore. Then he exposed his staff to the virus. That is not pro-life. It’s a flagrant display of ego and of disrespect for the people who work for him and the 209,000 dead that preceded his diagnosis.
I cannot support a man who is unwilling to denounce white supremacy. It is not pro-life when President Trump refused to denounce white supremacy, but instead told the Proud Boys to “Stand back and stand by.” Pope Francis said in a message to the people of the United States after the killing of George Floyd: “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”
When then candidate Trump mocked a disabled journalist during the 2016 campaign some people laughed, more were disgusted. His mockery is not pro-life. It points fingers and makes fun of people who are not neurotypical. I have a neurodivergent son and to know that he would be mocked or have his disability used against him is infuriating and heart wrenching. I expect more out of a leader. I expect compassion and restraint.
How can we support a pro-life candidate who is anything but? His hypocrisy is blatant.
I am ardently pro-life. I hold that position because I believe in the dignity and the sanctity of human life. I believe we are made in the image of God and when we love one another we share the love of Jesus. I believe life is sacred. All life. I believe it begins in the womb and ends at natural death. At a lecture at Fordham University, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin shared this consistent life ethic: “The spectrum of life cuts across the issues of genetics, abortion, capital punishment, modern warfare and the care of the terminally ill.” In short, it’s valuing all life: the infirm, the dying, the disabled, the ones in cages whether they be prisons or at the border, the mentally ill.
We should show empathy, compassion, and grace when we talk to people about their situations. If we refuse to acknowledge the humanity, do people’s stories simply become pawns in our political stances?
I believe we are called to serve one another. I believe in grace. I believe we shouldn’t be reduced to our mistakes. I believe that we are all broken, and that in our brokenness we can learn to see the whole person and embrace grace. Bryan Stevenson beautifully articulates how brokenness brings about compassion in his book Just Mercy: A story of Justice and Redemption. In his book, Stevenson describes our broken judicial system where too many are given a death sentence for crimes that they did not commit or crimes that do not warrant it.
The most politically active part of the pro-life position seeks an end to abortion. I fervently wish for an end for abortion. We also need to put in resources to empower women. This means consistent and available health care. This means jobs and housing. This means education. It means giving women the ability to support themselves and their children. It means support. We cannot demonize women for their decisions if we turn a blind eye to their needs. There are religious organizations that help women in crisis pregnancies and one of my favorites is The Gabriel Network whose slogan is “Empower Women.” They not only provide housing, but also angel friends who take women to their appointments, spend time with them getting to know them, and help by anticipating their needs whether it be friendship, baby supplies, or a hand to hold. The Gabriel Network also provides scholarships to help women further their education and careers.
Many people see a pro-life position as a religious one. It is for me, but, it doesn’t have to be. Pro-life means honoring the sanctity of life at all stages. There are other organizations not affiliated with any religion that support a consistent life ethic such as New Wave Feminists and Rehumanize International. New Wave Feminists recognizes the “…full humanity of both the unborn child and the mother and looks to rebuild a culture that embodies legitimate justice for all.” Rehumanize International is a “…human rights organization dedicated to creating a culture of peace and life, and in so doing…seek to bring an end to all aggressive violence against humans through education, discourse, and action.”
What if we set aside the presuppositions that being pro-life means that it is only a religious issue or a political stance? What if we used our time and energy to support, encourage, and embrace the sanctity of human life? When we stop pitting pro-choice and pro-life advocates against one another, we could do beautiful work together and shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, and feed the hungry. We can empower women, provide adequate healthcare, end racism, and advocate for social justice.
As I continue to read, listen, and learn, I embrace the dignity and sanctity of all human life. I acknowledge that if we want to change minds and change hearts, we have to be willing to listen to one another. Don’t discount the vote of the pro-life housewife who is working towards change.