By Erin Matson & Pamela Merritt, Co-Founders and Co-Directors of Reproaction
This week, avowedly pro-life Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) announced he will resign after it was revealed he’d had a mistress and urged her to get an abortion.
While the anti-abortion movement will attempt to write Rep. Murphy off as a “bad apple,” we’ve seen this kind of blatant hypocrisy in the past and know it runs much deeper than one man’s scandalous behavior.
Hypocrisy is deeply embedded in a movement that claims the “pro-life” mantle while obsessing solely on what occurs between conception and birth. Once the birth occurs, pro-life “morality” flies out the door, and so too does the movement’s claims on the nation’s conscience, politics and policies.
If Rep. Murphy’s story sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve heard this before: in 2015, Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) made headlines for pressuring both his ex-wife and his 24-year-old mistress to seek legal abortions while publicly championing a proposed 20-week abortion ban. Even after this scandal, DesJarlais was reelected and had the dubious honor of voting for a 20-week abortion ban again. Just last week, he was one of the 237 representatives who helped just such a ban pass in the House.
What’s increasingly clear from the actions of Reps. Murphy and DesJarlais, the Trump administration and other anti-abortion leaders, is that the pro-life movement is morally bankrupt. Their values are in fact a veil for discrimination and a vehicle for shaming, pressuring and punishing women.
Take a glance at their record. Pro-life politicians claim to oppose all abortions except their own. They say they want to stop abortions from happening while dismantling contraception coverage for women. Pro-life organizations claim they respect women but support a president who boasted about assaulting them. Pro-life leaders pretend to care about communities of color while supporting politicians who oppose Medicaid expansion and take zero action to address alarmingly high infant and maternal mortality rates.
The litany of pro-life moral hypocrisies doesn’t stop there.
That politicians who routinely cite the sanctity of life as their rationale for opposing abortion can seek to dismantle a healthcare system that saves millions of lives is obscene. That the Trump administration can be at once the most extreme pro-life (read: anti-abortion) administration in modern history and simultaneously encourage racist rancor and bigoted division is abhorrent. And yet, the pro-life movement marches in lockstep with this moral bankruptcy.
This weekend, Vice President Mike Pence, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and other leaders in the pro-life movement will headline the Values Voters Summit – an annual gathering that claims a goal of preserving “bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government.” The headline speaker is none other than our hypocrite in chief Donald Trump, whose second marriage was the product of an extra-marital affair.
During this summit, we’ll be sure to hear about the successes the pro-life movement is having implementing laws that they claim protect women and the unborn. We’ll hear about how important it is to have pro-lifers established in the administration and within Congress, fighting for the sanctity of families. We know what they’re really saying: that they must continue down this path to limit women’s ability to plan and control their own families and lives—otherwise, their power over women is at risk.
The pro-life movement is morally bankrupt, and the Values Voters Summit is a transparent sham that claims to champion pro-life values while ignoring the issues that put real lives at stake. We won’t let them get away with it.