An Appalling Double Standard
A few days ago, in New York City, two black pro-life women were arrested on the sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood facility. Planned Parenthood had called the police to report the women. When the police arrived, they ordered Bevelyn Beatty and Edmee Chavannes to disperse, saying that they were violating Mayor Bill de Blasio’s social distancing orders. When they refused to leave, the women were arrested.
The night before Beatty’s and Chavanne’s arrest, New York City had been convulsed by yet another night of protesting, marred by widespread violence and looting. Thousands of people participated in these protests, congregating in tight spaces, often with absolutely no effort at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
Rather than pointing out the health dangers posed by these protests, however, many public health experts, media commentators, and politicians instead defended them, often turning a blind eye to, or even justifying the violence and looting. One letter, signed by some 1,300 public health experts, argued that the national protests should be allowed to continue despite the pandemic, because they are “vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States.”
Ending racism most certainly is among the most pressing social issues in the world. Furthermore, what happened to George Floyd is among the most despicable things I have ever seen. In the video footage of his death, Floyd’s basic human dignity is denied, the officer kneeling on his neck seemingly oblivious to Floyd’s humanity, blatantly ignoring his intrinsic worth as a human being. As well, the majority of those protesting his death certainly wanted nothing to do with the violence, but were only demanding justice.
Yet, I am far from the only person appalled at the naked double standard.
We may certainly hope and pray that the protests will, in the long term, result in lives saved, and secure greater justice for minorities (for all people). However, in the short term, all we know for certain is that at least 17 people have been killed, and many times this injured, and enormous property damage caused, often – in a sad irony – targeting black business owners. We will also soon know whether the protests have caused a spike in Covid-19 cases – which seems highly likely, given the size of the crowds.
Meanwhile, it is entirely possible that Beatty and Chavannes would have saved human lives from a premature death that very day. It happens all the time. Untold thousands of babies have narrowly escaped abortion, only because their mothers were met at the doors of the abortion clinic by some dedicated pro-life activist who showed them another way.
And yet, even as crowds of protesters stormed the city with impunity, two women on an empty sidewalk were deemed so serious a public health threat that they were arrested.
Unborn Lives Matter
Such a double standard makes me angry. Understandably, it made the two women angry, too.
In comments to Fox News, Beatty and Chavannes highlighted the hypocrisy involved in their arrest, especially in light of the fact that abortion kills more African-Americans every day than any other cause. Those babies’ lives matter, too.
“We’re black women but we do not support Black Lives Matter because they’re hand-in-hand with Planned Parenthood that kills African-American babies,” Beatty told Fox News. “They’re fraudulent hypocrites…and I believe all lives matter because God created them. There are thousands of George Floyds that die every day in their mother’s womb and it’s just as unjust as when he died at the hands of that police officer.”
“How is abortion essential?” she asked. “How are stores closing and we can’t have Red Lobster and we can’t go to church or fellowship, but you can still go and kill a baby?”
Someone shared a story with me about how they recently stopped to speak to a group of people participating in a protest in their city, saying, “I agree that all black lives matter, but what about babies in the womb? Do not all lives matter?” The response was “that’s not the same thing.”
But, it is the same thing. Every single abortion kills a unique, living human being – a human being whose right to life is just as absolute as Floyd’s, or anybody else’s. And, the tragic reality is that abortion is devastating the African-American community. In New York City, for instance, more black babies are aborted every year than are born – a far higher ratio than in any other ethnic group.
Nationally, abortions on black women amount to 36% of all abortions, even though black women make up just 13% of the female population. As pro-lifers have noted for years, abortion providers like Planned Parenthood deliberately place their clinics in minority neighborhoods. This is a hidden violence, but a real violence nonetheless, and its effects on black Americans are incalculable.
How many African-American mothers – indeed mothers of all races – have been psychologically and physically scarred by undergoing abortions; how many African-American children have been robbed of siblings; and how many African-American men have been trained to use and abuse the women in their lives, knowing that if sating their appetites should result in pregnancy, they can always push their pregnant partners to the nearest clinic?
Of course, we know, tragically, that these same realities do not impact the African-American community alone, but also affect people across other demographics and cultures of our global society.
Abortion Breeds Violence
If in America we do not address this endemic form of violence perpetrated against the most innocent of our society, then how can we ever hope to successfully address any form of violence? I am reminded of a quote from St. Teresa of Calcutta. “What is taking place in America,” she said at the 1997 prayer breakfast, “is a war against the child. And if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”
In her speech upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa reiterated this powerful message, saying:
But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? … By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So, abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.
In re-reading Mother Teresa’s comments, I could not help but wonder: how much of the violence that we have seen across the country in recent days is, in some way, traceable to the violence of abortion? If we have trained our young people to kill even their own offspring in order to pursue their appetites without any consequences, should we be surprised that some see nothing wrong in using an ostensibly good cause – justice for a murdered man, and the end of racism – as an excuse to wreak wanton violence, and theft?
The injustice perpetrated against Mr. Floyd is a serious offense, an offense against the inalienable and inviolable dignity of the human person, and we should be outraged by such a heinous act. We must admit that the wounds of discrimination run deep in this nation, and continue to set one individual against another – drawing distinctions between classes and race.
We agree that no one has the right to intentionally harm or kill an innocent human being; it is morally wrong. However, we cannot ignore, in the midst of an honest evaluation and exposé on racism and exploitation, that the principle of non-contradiction still holds true. Black lives matter, not because they are black but because they are human beings of incomparable value. And if Floyd’s life mattered, then the life of every unborn child also matters.
As a society we need to defend the value of every life if we are going to transform and heal our cultures. If we wish to end the violence of racism and injustice, then every life from conception until natural death must be defended, without exception. If there remains an arbitrary approach toward human life – some have value, others do not – then we will never remove the scourge of racism and injustice.