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Late in June, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Mary Miller (R-Ill.), publicly praised the end of the federal constitutional right to abortion as “a victory for white life.”

At a celebratory rally held by former president Donald Trump in downstate Illinois the day after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Miller’s mention of “white life”  — as Trump stood over her shoulder — was met with applause and cheers from spectators

A spokesperson reached by reporters later claimed that Miller had meant to say “the right to life.” Miller is no stranger to controversy; in January 2021, she walked back a startling comment made at a rally outside the U.S. Capitol that “Hitler was right on one thing … ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’”  

Miller’s “white life” comment echoes white nationalists and extremists who assert that immigration and birth-rate disparities are leading to the “replacement” of white people — to whom they refer as “our people.” For a telling example, see this tweet by former U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), once one of the most strident anti-abortion politicians in Congress, which mentions far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders:

Rep. King’s remarks — like those by other anti-abortion politicians, such as Rep. Miller and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the third-ranking Republican in the House — demonstrate sympathy for a conspiracy theory known as “the great replacement,” which New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo described in 2019 as “a racist and misogynistic [notion] that holds that white people face existential decline, even extinction, because of rising immigration in the West and falling birth rates among white women (caused, of course, by feminism).” 

Far-right extremists — like those responsible for the 2022 grocery-store shooting in Buffalo, the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, the 2018 synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, and the apparent shooter in a 2019 massacre in El Paso — have invoked this conspiracy theory while claiming responsibility for deadly violence.

Proponents of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory favor abortion bans on the speculative basis that banning abortion would lead to the birth of more white children. In practice, however, anti-abortion policies most affect Black, Latino, and Indigenous people who, due to systemic racism and discrimination, face the greatest barriers to health care.

Politicians who embrace the “great replacement” theory, or who flirt with “great replacement” language as a way to appeal to people with racist views, have hailed abortion bans. Florida State Sen. Dennis Baxley said on a 2019 radio show — in reaction to a then-unconstitutional Alabama abortion ban passed that year — that “when you get a birth rate less than 2% [as seen across most of western Europe], that society is disappearing … [and] being replaced by folks that come behind them and immigrate.”

Matt Schlapp, an ally of former President Donald Trump who leads the high profile right-wing CPAC conference, expressed similar views after the leak of a draft of the Supreme Court decision in the case that overturned Roe:

Pictured at top: Incoming U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.), left, speaking at a December 2020 conference in Florida while seated next to incoming U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.). Photgraph by Gage Skidmore.

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Tags: abortion opponents, white nationalism

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