By: Meera Eragoda, SFU Student
It all started during Clubs Days when I was wandering the booths. As I approached one, a member who was explaining the club to a passerby turned to include me in her explanation: “We’re SFU’s pro-life club.” It took me a moment to register her words but once I did, I turned around and nope’d right out of there.
Since then, I have not been able to stop thinking about the insidiousness of the term “pro-life.” The definition of pro-life begins and ends with the birth of a child. Proponents of it don’t really care about the life of the mother or the life of the baby once it’s born. If they did, they would look at the bigger picture, and not focus on such a narrow view of what life is. This movement is anti-abortion or pro-birth, but what it definitely is not is pro-life.
The anti-abortion movement feeds into the classism and racism embedded in our society. According to an article made available by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the most important factor in the decision to have an abortion reported to researchers were socioeconomic. For those already struggling with finding adequate resources to support themselves, the additional cost of food, childcare, clothing, medical expenses, a larger living space, etc. places a huge financial burden on women living in poverty.
This economic insecurity is compounded by the fact that many employers view parents, especially new mothers, as unreliable—and parental leave in general as a negative thing. As a result, this leads to fewer employment opportunities for pregnant women or new mothers. The ensuing lack of job security and need for increased resources disproportionately effects poorer people, forcing them deeper into a cycle of poverty. And because poverty is also racialized due to structural barriers in employment and racist stereotypes, forcing women to carry their pregnancies to term furthers the marginalization of racialized folk as well.
If anti-choice folks are so concerned about “loss of life” through abortion, there is a simple solution: create situations wherein parents are stable enough to have and care for children. Give them access to housing, food, better working conditions, child support, job security, access to mental and physical health resources, contraception, and better opportunities for education in general. The anti-abortion movement only succeeds in punishing people for perceived moral failings and furthering racial and class scorn.
Where in the anti-abortion movement is the concern for the conditions in which life is lived? Where is the understanding of the intersectionality of racial and class disparity and its effect on life expectancy?
For anyone looking for pro-choice resources on campus, the SFSS Women’s Centre is one that is “committed to ensuring reproductive rights and justice for all, including non-judgmental information on abortion and pregnancy, and support for parents and families.” They provide a necessary, informed, and inclusive alternative to those who do not wish to be subjected to the myth-based morality judgments advocated by anti-choice groups. You can find them in the Rotunda, just outside of the W.A.C. Bennett Library.