It’s always more fun to be on the winning side, and in the US right now there is no question that the pro-life side is – well, “killing it” seems like the wrong term, so let’s say it’s enjoying some triumphs. Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio have banned abortion from six to eight weeks into a pregnancy – before many women even know they’re pregnant – and last week, 25 men passed a law in Alabama banning nearly all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, which was then signed by the state’s female governor, Kay Ivey. I encourage all of you to look at a photo of these men and say their names out loud: Jabo Waggoner. Garlan Gudger. Shay Shelnutt. If Martin Amis were writing a book about a bunch of woman-hating morons, he would reject these as just too on the nose.

It must be a real bummer to the smug bros (and Susan Sarandon) who insisted in the run-up to the 2016 election that there was no real difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Well, no difference to them, perhaps. But to millions of vulnerable women in the US, things are a little different. President Trump has effected a rightwing judicial wave across the US, filling the federal court system at all levels with deeply conservative judges. This includes, of course, the supreme court, with the appointments of justices Neil Gorsuch and the famously charming Brett Kavanaugh; “pro-life” law-makers are hoping to take advantage of this and overturn Roe v Wade.

As I said, it’s definitely more fun to be on the winning team. But before anyone gets out the bunting, I do think the “pro-life” side might have erred a little, because banning abortion isn’t the most effective place to start. In fact, it is demonstrably anti-life. Nicolae Ceausescu banned access to contraception and abortion in Romania in 1966, and by 1989 10,000 women, at a very conservative estimate, had died from illegal abortions; 170,000 children were abandoned in filthy orphanages. Not so much “pro-life” as “pro-state sanctioned murder and abuse”, then.

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But there are many other great causes for the “pro-life” people to get behind – genuinely life-positive ones. And seeing how much this lobby professes to care for the rights of babies, let’s start there. They could:

Improve maternal healthcare In a totally not shocking turn of events, it seems that the most “pro-life” US states have some of the worst rates of maternal and infant mortality in the country. Maternal mortality across the US, especially among black women, is higher than in any other wealthy country, and Alabama has the fourth highest infant mortality rate in the country. It is also one of the very few states that allows church-affiliated childcare centres to be exempt from safety inspections, which has led to injuries and even deaths. And what have local politicians done about this? Diddly squat. Instead, as one local paper put it last year, they concentrate on “fringe issues and oddball causes that don’t improve Alabamians’ lives and health”. Doesn’t sound very pro-life, does it?

While we’re at it, let’s campaign for universal healthcare The rest of the developed world has accepted that affordable healthcare is a good thing, but the American right still treats the concept of going to the doctor and not ending up in crippling debt as some kind of nefarious communist plot. Which is strange, because making it almost impossible for people to get medical help seems kinda anti-life, doesn’t it?

Just ban guns already Even more than the national passion for Everybody Loves Raymond, nothing baffles me more about my fellow Americans than the gun obsession. US politicians talk proudly about how they are anti-abortion because “every life is filled with potential” (Carly Fiorina) and then in the next breath refuse to admit that maybe the reason 30,000 Americans are killed by guns every year is because of all the goddamn guns. Maybe those 30,000 lives aren’t filled with potential? Or would abortions be fine if the woman did it with a gun?

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Vaccinations According to the World Health Organisation, 10 million lives were saved by vaccinations between 2010 and 2015. Hard to get more pro-life than that! For Christmas this year, I’m going to get those pro-lifers cushions embroidered with the slogan “anti-vaxxers are anti-life”.

Sort out the climate crisis You know what’s pro-life? Living happily in a world with a functioning ecosystem and enough clean water for all. You know what’s anti-life? Everyone being wiped out by a terrible ball of fire. So I’m sure Jabo Waggoner, Garlan Gudger and the rest will join me in campaigning for a greener world and all the rest of the above.

Because if not, their “pro-life” stance would look less like it’s actually about life, and more about controlling and punishing women. And that couldn’t possibly be it, could it?



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