A week ago, we gathered at the corner of 12th and Constitution in Washington, D.C. to march for life with some of our dearest friends. Rehumanize International organized the meetup, which brought together members of Secular Pro-Life, Rainbow Pro-Life Alliance, Rehumanize DMV, Feminists Choosing Life of New York, Reprotection, Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, and more. Secular Pro-Life executive director Monica Snyder and founder/board president Kelsey Hazzard each addressed the group. You can watch and read their speeches below.
Monica: How many of you have debated or discussed abortion with people who did not agree with you? And of all the people who’ve done that, how many of you have ever had someone tell you to stop pushing your religion on them? And of all the people who’ve had that happen, how many of you had it happen when you did not bring up religion? [Audience laughter.] We can relate! Our group is run by atheists, and we get told to stop pushing our religion on people. And when we tell them, “Well actually, we’re atheists,” they don’t pivot to some affirmative defense of abortion; they just further accuse us of being liars and secretly Christian. [Audience laughter.] I mean, they will grasp at any straw. A couple weeks ago our Board President, Kelsey, sang a lovely spoof of the Christmas carol 12 Days of Christmas, a pro-life spoof, and we had people across social media say “I KNEW IT!” [Audience laughter.] “You brought up Christmas! You are not an atheist! HA!” That is how desperately they rely on the “don’t push your religion” thing.
But I’m here today to tell you that opposing abortion has nothing to do with pushing your religion on people. Because I’m not a Christian. I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in an afterlife or reincarnation. I don’t think the Bible is the inerrant word of God because I don’t believe in God. But I oppose abortion — LOUDLY and FOREVER [audience cheering] — because abortion kills humans!
So when we say “life begins at conception,” which we do say, we don’t mean a soul enters the earth. We mean the first stage of an individual human organism’s life cycle is the zygote. And that is not a religious belief. [Audience cheering.] That is a biological fact. You do not have to be religious to recognize biological facts.
Now it is a belief to say that human organisms are valuable right from the very beginning. That’s a belief. I’ll grant you that. It’s also a belief to say they’re not, and to say they are so irrelevant, you can kill them for any reason. That’s a belief. And it is a belief to say that abortion should be legal at any stage in pregnancy for any reason; that even viable fetuses should be legal to poison and dismember — that’s a belief.
And if you don’t think abortion should be legal at any stage for any reason — just some stages for some reasons — that’s a belief. And you’re still fighting for a legal infrastructure that reflects your beliefs.
Now, when I say all that, the pro-choice person will say “Okay, well, if there’s a bunch of different beliefs, then we should get the law out of it and let everyone decide for themselves.” No. No, that is not good enough. If someone believed that a newborn infant was okay to kill, I very much doubt you would say “Well, I don’t believe that, but we should let everyone decide for themselves.” No.
I believe in separation of church and state; I believe in pluralism, I believe in religious freedom. But that has nothing to do with the abortion debate, because religious freedom doesn’t justify human rights violations. [Audience cheering.] Abortion kills humans. It’s a human rights violation. Freedom of religion doesn’t justify it. And anyone can oppose human rights violations — and everyone should oppose abortion — whether you are religious or not.
Kelsey: I’d like you all to meditate for a moment — and you can close your eyes if you wish — and think about someone who you know very well. It could be someone you live with, a significant other, a close friend. Think about that person’s smile… think about their quirks… how they spend their time… the things they do that annoy you to no end… and the things they do that make you laugh. Think about what makes that human being unique and how different your life would be without them.
Now I’d like you to shift gears and think about someone who you don’t know well at all. Maybe you just met this person today at the meetup. Maybe you only know his name, or where she’s from. Hold onto whatever detail you can. Meditate and realize that this stranger is just as complex and imperfect and amazing as the person who is close to you.
You can open your eyes.
There is someone who I think about frequently, whom I’ve never met. I only know of them from a news article. I do not know their name or their gender. I do know that they have 3 older siblings, that their mother is Texan, and that they were due to be born last March. So by now, they are probably eating solid foods, crawling, and babbling. And I also know that this child came dangerously close to dying in an abortion. The title of that news article was “67 abortions in 17 hours: inside a Texas clinic’s race to beat the new six-week abortion ban.” One child made it out alive that day, because the pregnancy was just a few days too far along.
The difference between a full human lifetime and a tiny broken body thrown out as “medical waste” came down to years of dedication of pro-life lawmakers in Texas, and a couple of days.
I am glad that child was so lucky. But living long enough to be born shouldn’t be a matter of luck. It should be a HUMAN RIGHT. [Audience cheering.]
You are asked to march for people you do not know and will most likely never meet. You are asked to keep doing it year after year after year, from 1974 to 2023. That’s a huge ask. But we do it because it makes the difference for thousands of special someones. Thank you.