Letter from the editor: Words really do matter


Chris Estrada

Gabrielle Abdelmessih is the editor-in-chief of The Oakland Post for the 2022-2023 academic year. She is a senior majoring in biomedical sciences and minoring in journalism.

As a student journalist and as someone aspiring to become a physician, I’ve come to the conclusion that words really do matter.

For example, stop means “don’t go.” Tall means “not short.” Big means “not small.” Losing means “not winning.” 

But does “pro-life” really mean pro-life? Or does it mean something else entirely?

If it is possible to remove oneself from this both emotionally and politically charged topic, and empirically look at what “pro-life” advocates are really advocating for, one can only come to the conclusion that “pro-life,” in the way the term is used in the United States today, really just means “pro-birth.”

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are listed in the Declaration of Independence as unalienable rights. 

While I may not be a historical scholar or anything remotely close to it, I suspect that the founding fathers, however flawed they may have personally been, chose these three attributes with intention. 

They are intertwined. Life without freedom and the ability to pursue one’s contentedness is slavery. Liberty without the ability to survive interactions with government officials — traffic stops, no-knock warrants, excessive force — and/or the inability to pursue one’s own definition of happiness, isn’t liberty at all.  Pursuing happiness without the freedom to do so, or possessing the foundational elements necessary for life (clean water, access to healthcare, food security, housing, etc.) is hollow at best. 

It is this same interconnectedness that I believe is lacking in “pro-life” advocacy today. How can one possibly consider themselves “pro-life” without the holistic approach outlined?

In essence, if one is to advocate for birth, one must also advocate for quality life— not life burdened by a lack of healthcare resources (mental health, dental health, physical health, access to affordable, life saving medications, etc.), a cavernous gap in education equity, gender inequality, systemic racism—yes, it is a thing—food insecurity, poor water quality, poor air quality, the list goes on and on….

My point is this: If you are “pro-life,” put up or shut up.  

Advocate for affordable healthcare. Advocate for gun safety laws. Advocate for universal access to a quality education in a safe environment. Advocate for racial and gender equity. Advocate for safe housing. Advocate for universal access to fresh, healthy, affordable foods. Advocate for universal internet and technology access. Advocate for public transportation. Advocate for the arts. Advocate for public libraries. Advocate for policies that curb climate change. Advocate for police reform. Advocate for criminal justice reform. Advocate for living wages. Advocate for tax reform that holds large corporations accountable. Advocate for science.

Advocate for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — not just birth. 

If you are truly “pro-life,” and you advocate for these things, and see them come to fruition, my suspicion is that you will reduce the number of abortions drastically without taking away personal autonomy.