The Whole Life Democrat is proud to present a series of interviews with Pro-Life Democrats from all walks of life.
Sophie Trist is totally blind from birth and a loud and proud Louisiana native. She graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with a B.A. in English Writing in May of 2020 and has volunteered as DFLA’s messaging director since July. Sophie also works as a freelance staff writer for Rehumanize International, where she has covered abortion, torture, and capital punishment.
Why are you a Democrat?
I lean Democrat (although I’m technically a registered independent) because I believe that in the long run, the Democratic Party will come closest to the idea of equality and justice for all. I support Democratic policies like a living wage, paid family leave, and a social safety net, because I believe that’s the best way to create thriving families and communities. I lean Democrat because I support Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ rights, and I believe that climate change is real. While I have a healthy respect for capitalism and private enterprise, I don’t think they’re the end-all be-all.
What does being a Democrat mean?
I think being a Democrat means challenging the idea that America is a country meant only for certain types of people. Being a Democrat means supporting policies that redistribute the wealth and power that has for far too long been concentrated in the hands of a few straight, rich white people in such a way that BIPOC, low-income communities, women, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities can participate on equal footing in American society. Being a Democrat means creating true equality of opportunity for marginalized people.
Why are you pro-life?
I was raised Catholic and pro-life, but I only became active in the pro-life movement in college, when my best friend asked me to help found a pro-life student group at our university and I jumped in without giving it much thought. This is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m pro-life because biology tells me that the human in the womb is just as human as I am. I’m pro-life because I think saying some humans are more human than others and only some humans have the right to life is a very dangerous and slippery path to go down. Science, morality, reason, and faith point to being pro-life for the whole life as the only consistent, logical, and ethical philosophy.
What does being pro-life mean?
This is a huge debate in the pro-life/consistent-life movement. Some say that being pro-life strictly means being anti-abortion, and I certainly wouldn’t exclude those folks from the pro-life movement. But for me, being pro-life means being against every single system that attacks human life: abortion, mass incarceration and capital punishment, euthanasia, torture, unjust war, abusive immigration policies, climate change, systemic racism and poverty. I believe that at the root, all attacks on human life are connected because they all stem from dehumanization, the belief that some people don’t have human dignity, and I just don’t buy that. So in order to fight abortion, you have to legally protect the unborn, but you also have to square off against the poverty that forces so many people to choose abortion, the systemic racism that holds BIPOC families back, the ableism that says a child is better off not living at all than living with a disability.
What is the biggest challenge facing the pro-life movement?
Definitely the biggest challenge facing the pro-life movement is its hijacking by, and growing association with, the Right, especially the Far Right. Recent polling data shows that fewer people are identifying as pro-life. I believe this is less about rising support for abortion than embarrassment, because unfortunately being pro-life is associated with being a Trump supporter. When many people think of pro-lifers, they think of white nationalists or lawmakers who want to give post-abortive women the death penalty or people storming the Capitol. This is very inaccurate, and I’m working with DFLA to both shatter those stereotypes and to push the movement beyond the partisan divide. No human rights movement can be confined to one political party.
What is the goal of the pro-life movement?
Again, it depends who you ask. Some say the buck stops at making abortion illegal, and a few others will add “unthinkable.” I’m all about that, but I think ultimately the goal of the pro-life movement should be a society that affirms the human dignity of every person from conception to natural death, a society that never rewards aggressive violence against anyone.
What concrete policies do you want to see at the national level?
I want Roe v. Wade and Gregg v. Georgia (the case that reinstated the death penalty in 1976) overturned. I want meaningful action on police reform, racial justice, and climate change. I want guaranteed paid family leave for everyone, economic support for struggling families and children before, during, and after birth, an expansion of government healthcare (though not necessarily the elimination of all private options), a living wage. I want people with disabilities to not be forced to live in poverty, to be able to get married and start families without risking the loss of their healthcare. I want a criminal justice system that focuses on rehabilitation and restorative justice, treating offenders like human beings instead of diseases: drug treatment instead of prison for many nonviolent offenders, an end to mandatory minimums, an examination of racial bias in all aspects of criminal justice, programs to help and empower people after they leave prison.
Are you “out” in your circles as a pro-life Democrat?
I’m as out as out can be. In addition to working for DFLA and being a staff writer for Rehumanize International, I frequently share my CLE views on social media. The only place I’m not out is in my graduate school applications (my resume doesn’t mention any of my pro-life work), but once I’m accepted into a program, all shall be revealed.
What do you bring to the pro-life movement?
This isn’t unique to the pro-life movement, but we suffer from a lack of disabled voices. I believe that disability justice is intersectional and should be a part of every human rights movement, so I bring that perspective to the whole-life movement. I also bring a considerable talent for writing, genuine affection for the people I’m working with, a whole boatload of passion, and a sense of humor.
What do you want to see in your lifetime?
This may be ambitious, but I want to see a society that puts human dignity—not profit, convenience, or status—at the center of our national discourse. I want to see a society where both abortion and capital punishment are seen as inhuman atrocities, where a person of any sexual orientation or gender identity can come out without fearing violence or discrimination, where we take care of our planet, where disabled lives are seen as valuable and worth fighting for, where we come just a little bit closer to seeing other human beings as our family.