Trump's pro-life comments don't match disrespect for human dignity
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If you’re pro-life, don’t vote for Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner on Hannity touts Trump: 'He was a disruptor' Ivanka Trump doubles down on vaccine push with post celebrating second shot Conservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney MORE.

While the Republican nominee makes surface statements to mollify the pro-life movement, he is the opposite of everything the movement stands for.


The movement that seeks to end abortion, care for desperate or bereaved mothers, and heal the hearts of would-be fathers is grounded in a larger, universal truth: the idea of human dignity.

Human dignity is the inherent worth that people embody simply by being human. For people of faith, dignity is grounded in each person’s creation by God, in the image of God, a spark of the divine in earthen flesh. For Christians, this dignity is reinforced in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for each and every human being, regardless of status, gender, health, or level of usefulness to society.

Those Americans of different or no faith still adhere to a civil religion grounded in human dignity: The proposition that all are created equal and endowed by their creator with inalienable rights.

This belief in human dignity, something woven into the very DNA of America, does not limit itself to the issue of abortion. We believe in the dignity of the human being, so we do not abuse criminals in jail or the enemy soldiers we capture. When we punish, even the ultimate punishment of death, we do not seek to extract pain. Some of us even oppose the death penalty on exactly these grounds.

It is not because of their worthiness that we treat prisoners well, but because of the spark each human being carries. We believe that humanity requires treating human beings with dignity, even extending to those who have not treated others with that same dignity. It is not about who they are, but who we are.

We care for the sick. Aggressively seeking new treatments and cures, we aim to overrule sickness, to eradicate pain. We fight horrific diseases like cancer, AIDS, Ebola, Zika because we know that human life is worth preserving, inherently, in itself. This activity spills over into the rest of the world, sending doctors to every corner of the globe. We even as a nation sent our medicine and money to fight AIDS in the third world through the PEPFAR program because, simply, it was the right thing to do.

We spend resources studying ways to better the lives of the disabled, from improving prosthetics to treating autism to performing surgeries to correct spina bifida in the womb. We accommodate those in wheelchairs, those with hearing loss, those with reduced or absent vision because we recognize that contribution to society is not dependent on perfect physical health. Even those who are severely disabled contain within them the divine spark and so we do our best to create humane, safe, and loving care for the deeply damaged, however long they may be with us.

In doing so, we recognize humanity with humanity.

Against this backdrop of human dignity, pro-lifers believe unborn children are worthy of the same kind of protection because they are unique and precious human beings regardless of the circumstances of their conception and that their mothers are equally precious and deserving of compassion.

Donald Trump is the exact opposite of this view, of this mindset of being for life in every way, of fighting for human life across the board. Instead of seeing the inherent value of human beings created in the image of God, Trump sees life as a Darwinian struggle of the strongest.

Where a pro-lifer sees a person deserving of compassion because of her vulnerability, Trump sees a weakling, whether it be a soldier captured as a POW, a veteran considering suicide, or the innocent family of an enemy. He sees no value in treating even the worst of humanity with humanity.

Where a pro-lifer sees women (as well as men) as fully, beautifully human in all complexities and circumstances, Trump reduces them to mere sexual objects.

Where a pro-lifer sees a disabled person worthy of assistance in achieving his fullest potential and worth as a human being, Trump sees an object of mockery.

Where a pro-lifer sees people of all races as holding within themselves inherent dignity, Trump joins with the likes of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, in hints of eugencisim.

He denigrates people by race, African-Americans, Hispanics, and whole swaths of the Middle East.

Donald Trump is not pro-life. He does not hold all people, and all peoples, as inherently dignified. In addition, besides his Supreme Court talking point, he does not champion the issue, did not raise it at the debate, and uses it only to his own ends.

The pro-Trump argument, of course, is that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi's archbishop calls for Communion to be withheld from public figures supporting abortion rights Hillary Clinton: Biden less 'constrained' than Clinton and Obama due to prior administration Biden's unavoidable foreign policy crisis MORE is objectively and completely pro-abortion. This is true. Clinton is an old-school feminist that sees abortion as a good and necessary thing and will fight for abortion in all ways.

And yet even Clinton does not make her argument in Darwinian terms, but in mistaken appeals to human dignity and compassion. This feminist argument happens within the same parameters as the pro-life one, recognizing the dignity of the woman to make choices about her life, but failing to recognize the dignity of the child.

Trump’s worldview is outside this framework: The strong dominating the weak, the powerful conquering the powerless. This worldview has no use for disabled, for prisoners, for the sick, for unwanted babies. It is a seamless garment of death and violence.

Clinton is a known quantity that the pro-life movement has fought and will continue to fight. A Congress with pro-life leaders can continue to bring this fight to her, on the issue of Supreme Court, on other issues, and keep doing what they have always done. With Trump, all pro-lifers have are promises from a man who prides himself on breaking promises and whose behavior betrays the very thing pro-lifers fight for.

With Trump the titular head of the pro-life movement, all bets are off. Instead of being rooted in human dignity, it becomes another quest for power. Instead of being a voice for the powerless, all the powerless ones, it becomes another brutality.

You cannot separate out abortion from Trump’s rejection of humanity in other settings: in war, in disability, in racist ideas of one gene pool being inherently better than another.

In short, under Trump, the movement loses its soul.

Rebecca Cusey is a writer based in Washington DC. She writes about movies, TV, pop culture, politics and faith. Follow her on Twitter @Rebecca_Cusey.
The views of Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.