From Michigan to Maryland and Ohio to Texas, protesters calling for America to reopen have been flooding the streets, blocking access to hospitals and threatening the lives of journalists. They carry Trump and MAGA signs, and claim they are fighting for “freedom” and the “right” to go back to work. Their stance defies every disease expert’s recommendation to stay home in order to prevent the further spread of coronavirus and an accompanying sky-rocketing fatality rate. Yet, based on their vocal support for Trump and his administration, it’s fair to assume that these protesters not only vote for anti-abortion politicians, but also identify as “pro-life.”
According to every medical graph and chart — and plain common sense — reopening our country too soon and not carefully enough will only prolong this pandemic by potentially infecting more people. It’s not hard to be empathetic to people who want to go back to work and are feeling financially insecure, but there won’t be any work to go back to if more people — including them — fall gravely ill or die. If that happens, there will be no economy to worry about, no future in which to be free.
This clownery has already led to additional outbreaks of coronavirus in states like Kentucky, which is unfortunately not unexpected given that that’s how the virus works — the more people cluster together in smaller spaces, the more the likelihood of infection.
While these protesters are ultimately just a sideshow, a tiny minority whose patent absurdity has led to their amplification in the media, the scary fact is that only 55% of Republicans (compared to 88% of Democrats) want to continue to shelter in place. It also makes it unsurprising that in many states, like Georgia, it has been party leaders and Trump allies who have promoted the supposedly pro-economy protests.
This means the president — who is now at least paying lip service to staying at home, recently expressing dissatisfaction with the Georgia governor’s decision to partially reopen — is tacitly supporting this mayhem. And at times not so tacitly, like when he tweeted to “LIBERATE” the states.
The same party whose leader is casually telling people to inject Lysol into their bodies is largely aligned with the interests of evangelical and other conservative Christians, whose goal it is to overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion inaccessible in this country. Anti-abortion protesters, too, are going out during stay-at-home orders and shouting in front of abortion clinics under the guise of promoting life, thereby endangering patients. This is apparently where “freedom” ends: when it’s time for a woman to make a decision that concerns her own body.
Republicans have been exploiting the pandemic to restrict reproductive rights in states like Texas and Ohio, places where clinics and access are already scarce, categorizing abortion procedures as “non-essential.” Restricting abortion in a pandemic is deadly, because it will result in more women attempting dangerous DIY procedures, and suffering complications. This doesn’t seem to concern the “pro-life” movement.
Many of the people who preach “pro-life” values are the same ones who vote for politicians who have no interest in the lives of millions of Americans beyond the womb. They would rather give Boeing billions than help people pay their rent, they cut spending for programs that help kids not go hungry, they refuse to engage in any meaningful discussion with the opposition when it comes to solving crises like the lack of viable paid family leave and childcare that are even more pressing now. They are crushing public education, voting rights, and the rights of immigrants. But take away the right to go to Target just to wander the aisles? We riot at dawn.
It would be nice if these people came clean and told us it’s not about the sanctity of life for them at all — it’s about controlling and demeaning people whose lives they don’t value.