Did you know that by virtue of being pro-life, you are racist, sexist, classist, and heterosexist? That you desire, above all, to protect white, male privilege and power? Yeah, me neither. But that’s the claim of the Rev. Dennis Wiley in a speech to the board of directors of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in March 2010 (just put up today on the RCRC web site):
For some time now, I have wondered why right-wing conservative Christians are so passionate about their opposition to abortion. I know what they claim – that they desire to save the life of the unborn child – hence, the moniker “pro-life.” But I have never understood why on the one hand, they often seem to have such high regard for life before birth and, on the other hand, appear to have such little regard for life after birth.
This is a fact-free calumny that Wiley repeats several times in the course of this speech. The truth is that conservative Christians, in numbers and with dollars that undoubtedly baffle their liberal counterparts, give both time and money toward helping the poor, and particularly single mothers who choose not to abort their babies. I’ve been involved with several crisis pregnancy centers (of which there are over 2200 in the U.S.) in the course of my ministry, and without fail they have been staffed by people who are interested, not just in preventing abortion, but in seeing to it that the children who are brought into the world are provided for and raised in loving environments. The people who work there are usually volunteers, and do so out of conviction, rather than for profit. Do they have enough resources, help enough women? No–the need is far greater than the response, at present. But to say that prop-lifers “don’t care” about what happens to children after birth is simply defamatory. I expect that out of Planned Parenthood and NARAL. Hearing it from a pastor (Covenant Baptist Church in Washington, DC) is shocking.
[W]hile I applaud the anti-abortion movement’s concern for life, I must admit that I have always smelled a rat. I have smelled a rat because I have not been able to fathom how one can be so concerned about justice for a child who is inside the womb, and yet not be equally concerned about justice for that same child once he/she is outside the womb. I also smell a rat because, while anti-abortionists express a profound interest in the life, health, and welfare of the child, they seem to express minimal interest in the life, health, and welfare of the mother who, by the way, is also a child – a child of God.
Once again, this is a lie, and a despicable one, that is based purely on differences of views of public policy.
Revealingly, my skepticism about the underlying motives and motivations of “pro-lifers” has not been unlike my similar skepticism about the underlying motives and motivations of politicians, media pundits, and ordinary American citizens who have been so outraged by the recent passage of the health care reform bill. My point here is not to suggest that we should all be happy with the bill, with the compromises that were necessary to pass it, or even with the process that was followed to ensure victory. My concern is with the ugliness, bitterness, and lack of civility, decorum, and respect exhibited by angry politicians and citizens who opposed the measure.
And this speech is, of course, a wonderful testimony to the civility of those who support that legislation. What is it about people such as Rev. Wiley that are completely incapable of hearing themselves in their own words?
And as I thought about all of this it dawned on me, opponents of abortion and opponents of health care reform are essentially the same people. And they are the same, not because their real issue is either abortion or health care, the unborn child or the growing deficit, the right to life or the threat of socialism. Their real issue has to do not with the preservation of life in general, but with the preservation of white, male heterosexual privilege. In other words, even though they will never tell you – because we don’t talk about those things in polite company – their real issue has to do with racism, sexism, classism, and even heterosexism.
And there you have it from Mr. Civility. It isn’t really about saving children from a gruesome death, it isn’t really about sparing women the psychological, spiritual, and possible physical damage inflicted by abortion, it certainly has nothing to do with moral convictions or religious beliefs. It’s all about privilege and power, and continuing to oppress people of color, women, gays (!), and poor people. All you pro-life haters are on notice–the Rev. Wiley has looked into your hearts, and knows the darkness therein, and has pronounced his anathema on you. So there.
The fact of the matter, in my opinion, is that predominantly white, male, privileged pro-lifers have experienced no revelation or conversion experience that would suddenly qualify them to prescribe what is in the best interest of Black babies, Black women, the Black family, or the Black community.
No, that would be Kermit Gosnell, about whom the RCRC has still not said a word.
The Bible asks, “When I was hungry, did you feed me; when I was thirsty, did you give me something to drink; when I was naked, did you clothe me; When I was a stranger, did you welcome me; when I was in prison, did you visit me; and when I was sick did you take care of me?” I assure you: Pro-lifers cannot do any of these things for unborn babies when they are still in their mother’s wombs, and they have proven that they will not do any of these things after they are born and out of their mother’s womb. Jesus’ response, therefore, is “Truly, I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it unto me.”
Look in the mirror, Rev. Wiley. Not only is your accusation regarding what pro-lifers don’t do for children outside the womb a lie, but it applies precisely to you. You are inherently incapable of doing anything for the children in question, because once they are outside the womb at the hands of your friends in the abortion industry, they’re dead. Talk about doing unto others.