A Case for Pro-Life Progressivism
I am a Democrat. And I am pro-life. I see no contradiction between these two statements. In fact, I consider sanctity of life as a foundation to the progressive vision of the Democratic Party. Progressives have long fought for workers' rights, seniors' rights, women's rights and minority rights. Is it not only a logical extension that progressives should then advocate justice for the unborn infants?
I know there are many Democrats who believe in "zero-sum" logic; that for enhancement of women's right to privacy, the right of the fetus has to be denied. However, I question how this logic coincides with the progressives' belief that society works best when individuals work together for the common good, rather than exclusively for personal gains. For decades progressives passed legislation to put limits on individuals' behavior, not because they wanted to stifle individual happiness, but because they opposed a person's right to willfully harm others; the individual's well-being is tied to the well-being of other members in the society.
There's no question that millions of unwanted pregnancies occur in the United States today. Simple termination of human fetuses is of course the "easiest solution," but I always believed progressives go for the "just solution." Rather than sacrificing many human lives for the benefits of others, I believe the progressives should advocate "win-win" solutions that harmonize the two conflicting interests.
Progressives believe society should provide a helping hand to those of us in need because there are many things individuals cannot do by themselves. Childbearing is a tough challenge for millions of women in the United States. As advocates for social justice, progressives should provide these women with means to raise their children. Progressives should challenge the public to provide more healthcare for pregnant women, to support daycare centers for single working mothers, to fund programs that would reduce unintended pregnancy and to sponsor adoption as an alternative for unwanted pregnancy. Finally, the progressives should guarantee every infant born in this country an opportunity to live a successful life. If one is truly pro-life, then it's hypocritical to abandon a child as soon as it's born.
Last week, hundreds of thousands marched in a rally to protest the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Pro-choice Democrats may be correct to say that there can never be an enforceable ban on abortion in the United States. However, the fact that so many abortions have happened in this country since Roe v. Wade demonstrates shortcomings of progressive vision in this country. Respect for human dignity is one of the fundamental essences to American progressivism. The fact that this society currently lacks programs to protect the lives of millions of infants is a terrible social injustice that must be addressed by the progressives, just as they have addressed poverty and racism.
For once, I agree with President Bush in hope for a day when no more abortions are performed in the United States. However, like most social issues, abortion is not merely an individual's issue; it is an issue that can only be resolved through efforts at the societal level. To promote a "culture of life," the American society has a responsibility to promote compassionate solutions that eliminate a need for abortion. If many conservatives engage in ways to ban women from having an abortion, progressives should go beyond; they should be engaging in ways to persuade a woman to choose life, so that abortion never becomes a necessary choice for any American woman.
Jong Eun Lee is a sophomore in the
College of Arts and Sciences and a Democratic columnist for The Eagle.