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The pro-life movement does care about George Floyd

Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America.
Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America. | Courtesy of Kristan Hawkins

The pro-life movement faces a difficult decision every time there is a national tragedy like the one we are facing today. As people who are motivated to activism by the human rights issue of the day, chemical and surgical abortions that have ended millions of innocent lives, pro-life Americans wrestle with how to engage when lives are being lost for other reasons. Given the horrific loss of George Floyd and others since the protests began, many Americans are grieved and responding to these tragedies. But critics of the pro-life movement are abusing this crisis to dictate what our responses must be. They have it all figured out because if we “were really pro-life” our life’s work would be something else.

Pro-life organizations, sometimes, are uniquely placed to respond to other human rights injustices. But if all we do is respond to other issues, we're no longer focused on defending mothers and their children, born and preborn whatever their color or race, and we would be buying into the false argument that the “pro-life issue“ isn’t important enough to be considered on its own.

Though it can be powerful when companies use their expansive platforms to promote social justice issues, such as when Wendy's promotes adoption, no one expects Wendy's or Airbnb or Nike to post every single time there is a human rights issue in the news. But for pro-life groups, there is this expectation, often expressed angrily and on social media, that every life lost requires our immediate action. 

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Consider the op-eds criticizing conservatives and Republicans for wanting to scale back the coronavirus lockdowns, saying it was a denial of their pro-life views. Multiply that by crises in immigration, criminal justice reform or anti-poverty programs. Lives are lost in many ways. But I don't need to be lectured on how pro-life people should respond to events by those who support abortion through all 9 months of pregnancy and, sometimes, even after, working to push the limits on how lives are ended in the U.S.

I wake up every day with the knowledge that at least 2,600 innocent lives, majority black and brown, will be taken from us. It’s hard to press on in face of this continued injustice, which impacts the African-American community much more intensely as black Americans make up 13 percent of the population yet experience 36 percent of all abortions, according to the CDC.  The knowledge of these innocent lives lost fuels my passion even in the midst of massive setbacks.

To be clear, I’m heartened to see so many rise up to speak out against the injustice of George Floyd’s death. Showing that one person’s life matters deserves attention and peaceful protest. Many current and former Students for Life leaders have shared their outrage over what happened, a personal extension of their human rights activism.

However, I’m dismayed that some would rush to blame the pro-life movement for not doing enough. I fight injustice every day. While there is not enough time in the day and funds in the bank account to fight every injustice every day, that doesn’t mean I and the organization I lead doesn’t care about all of the other issues and injustices that affect Americans, at all stages of life.

The pro-life movement is diverse and engages in many debates impacting our communities. In fact, I regularly disagree with my own team members about the best way for America to solve some of the biggest challenges we face like immigration and educational inequalities. But that doesn’t mean that we believe that the other person simply does not care. 

For me, my daily priorities are clear. It’s always wrong to intentionally end the lives of innocent, preborn human beings, no matter their color. The violence of abortion is always wrong. Deliberately killing one another is always wrong. 

As we continue to articulate our national values, I pray America can build the kind of culture that offers respect, hope and opportunity to all — born and pre-born, from birth to natural death. And I realize that no one group can address all the issues. It’s going to take every American doing what they can on the issues that motivate them. And for the Pro-Life Generation, that issue is abortion. 

Kristan Hawkins is the President of Students for Life of America, the nation's largest pro-life youth organization with over 1,200 chapters nationwide. She is author of the new book, Courageous: Students Abolishing Abortion in this Lifetime.

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