On 11 December 2015, Representative Mike Moon (R- Ash Grove) pre-filed a bill which would establish the “All Lives Matter Act”, defining that human life begins at conception, opening up the path for harsher and more restrictive anti-choice legislation from the Missouri Legislature.
The legislature heard the first and second readings of this bill on 6 and 7 January 2016, respectively. This is not the first time I’ve seen the Black Lives Matter concept twisted and spun to support anti-choice action.
Back in December 2015, the Genocide Awareness Project came to the University of Missouri’s campus in Columbia to display a rolling billboard trying to explain how Black Lives Matter should be against abortion. I would suggest NOT looking up the images of that billboard up because they are very graphic in their depiction of violence against Black people and aborted fetuses and fetal tissue.
From what I could gather on the display, the GAP tries to co-opt the momentum and messages of progressive movements and tries to twist them to support conservative values. Here is one example: “(All) Black Lives Matter: Born and Unborn!”. The Republican congresspeople who are introducing anti-choice bills in the Missouri Legislature are trying to do the same thing.
I can already see the sly smile on someone’s face. Finally the liberal hypocrisy is revealed! How will they be able to reconcile that? he thinks to himself. (I purposefully chose to use he/him pronouns.)
Here is the thing about that: It is not hypocritical to support Black Lives Matter (and the removal of the oppression of Black People and People of Color in general) and to be Pro-Choice. In fact, the Genocide Awareness Project is hypocritical to support Black Lives Matter and be anti-abortion. And the Missouri legislators who are introducing anti-choice legislation under the guise of fairness and justice are just as hypocritical.
Black Lives Matter is a movement/organization dedicated to removing the systemic racism that constantly oppresses non-white people, specifically removing anti-Black racism and oppression.
Being anti-choice means supporting the sexist and patriarchal system that currently exists and oppresses women and other people with vaginas.
And this is important to note too: those two systems are the same.
It is the same society that we all live in that is founded in both racist and sexist principles. Let me bring in the idea of Intersectionality: the idea that all our identities co-exist at the same time and influence each other. For example, my whiteness is affected by and affects my manhood; both my whiteness and manhood affect and are affected by role as a student, and a student of higher education at that. My experiences are not the same as other men because I have other different identities which affect my being a man. My experiences are not the same as other white people because I have other different identities which affect my being white.
Basically, what I want you to understand is that our different identities cannot be thought of in a vacuum; in other words, by themselves. They are all connected.
So there is no “getting rid of the racist parts of the system” while “keeping the anti-choice parts of the system”. The two are interconnected; so locked together that getting rid of one means getting rid of the other, and keeping one means keeping the other.
That is why it is hypocritical to be pro-Black Lives Matter and anti-choice. If you support Black Lives Matter, you support overthrowing the system because it is racist. If you are anti-choice, you support maintaining the system which is sexist and patriarchal. And you cannot have both, because in the same breath you are advocating for the removal and maintenance of the same system.
Allison Dreith, interim director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, wrote in the St. Louis American an op-ed in which she revealed the hypocrisy of Representative Moon’s using “All Lives Matter” in the title of his bill:
Rep. Moon also cosponsored legislation for 2016 requiring all public restrooms, other than single-occupancy restrooms, to be gender-divided – an attack on transgender persons. So, trans lives do not matter to him. Moon also called for a special legislative session on the Syrian Refugee crisis to halt “the potential Islamization of Missouri.” So, Muslim and refugee lives also do not matter to him. And those examples are just from the past month.
Finally, black women have had very little reproductive choice, historically. During slavery, they wereforced into childbirth. Then, they were forced into methods for sterilization. Since then, black women have had to bear the burden of the“welfare mom” stereotype. This bill continues the trend in Missouri, that women should not make their own decisions. Again, the lives of women – and especially black women – do not matter to this legislator.
It is clear that HB 1794 is a bill targeted to end abortion services. And now what is clear is that the use of “All Lives Matter” to defend these services not only mocks the Black Lives Matter movement, but is hypocritical in its own right.
This bill should meet the same end as HB 1743, the bill which would have revoked scholarships to athletes who participated in social activism that caused them to refuse to play their sport. I wrote about HB 1743 here. That bill was withdrawn after a huge uproar from the community. The “All Lives Matter Act” deserves that same fate.
-Brian (Twitter: @iambriam)