There’s something pretty tone-deaf about hosting a “Life is Winning” event when you have presided over 310,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States.
And yet that is just what the Trump administration did. Vice President Mike Pence hosted a “Life is Winning” event on Wednesday, Dec. 16, an anti-abortion rally to “celebrate the accomplishments” of supposedly defending life. In his speech, Pence declared: “Every person is worth protecting. Every human life, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of Almighty God.”
The irony is palpable. The seemingly never-ending surge of COVID-19 deaths has made for some of the deadliest days in U.S. history. For instance, there were 2,879 deaths reported from COVID-19 on Dec. 3. That made it the fifth deadliest day in American history, with the toll fewer than 100 people behind the horrific tragedy of Sept. 11 while exceeding the casualties on Pearl Harbor by more than 500.
And yet, to the Trump administration — and to the Christian Right that it courts — life is only worth defending when it involves the subjugation of women’s bodies. What it considers a triumph is, in fact, a tragedy. The Trump administration’s ire for comprehensive reproductive health care has resulted in:
- More than 1,000 health care clinics across the country losing federal funding, including over 400 Planned Parenthood affiliates.
- A cut of $200 million-plus in health care funds to California because the state requires insurance providers to cover abortions.
- A reinstatement of the draconian Global Gag Rule that prohibits U.S. funding to any foreign nongovernmental organization that so much as mentions “abortion.”
- A proposal to extend the restrictions of the Global Gag Rule to government contracts, roughly 40 percent of U.S. global health funding.
- Packing the courts at all levels with anti-abortion judges, including the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who once wrote that “abortion is always immoral.”
Abortion restrictions like these result in higher maternal mortality rates and delay critical care. Approximately 7 million women are admitted to hospitals every year in developing countries because abortion care is illegal and more than one in 10 maternal deaths can be attributed to clandestine abortions, according to the World Health Organization. That is one of the reasons that abortion restrictions are not supported by the medical profession. In fact, the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest physician group, has asked the Supreme Court to strike down a rule that prohibits taxpayer-funded clinics from referring women for abortions.And yet these abortion restrictions persist because Christian Nationalism seeks to impose its worldview on a secular nation. It is this same religious motivation that has made COVID-19 impossible to contain. As early as July, more than 650 COVID-19 cases were linked to church attendance. Yet Religious Right leaders continue to disregard the lives they claim to champion. For example, a Michigan pastor recently encouraged his congregation to get infected and “get it over with.” In Wisconsin, a Milwaukee archbishop warned that those who “deliberately fail to attend Sunday mass commit a grave sin.” Much as the Trump Administration packed the courts, these churches are packing the pews. And people keep dying.
In his concluding remarks, Pence stated “And with your help and God’s help, life will keep on winning in the United States of America.” If this is considered winning, I’m content being a loser.