People in the prolife movement are fond of saying they respect all life from womb to tomb. But I’m wondering if their talk is nothing but Christian confections like the sweet, gritty nothingness of cotton candy . I’m wondering about this because between saying and doing, there is an ocean of difference. Saying you’re prolife in polls, on blogs, on bumper stickers and in a house of worship is easy. Talk, as the saying goes, is cheap. But let’s face the possibility that being prolife is just code for being anti abortion. It is surely not about respecting all of life from womb to tomb. Recall the early presidential debates when prolife Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) made quite a show of being a conservative Christian. Yet under his watch he executed 234 prisoners, thus, raising questions about the big disconnect within conservative Christians and small government Tea Party libertarians in the Republican Party. Let’s consider other examples of this questionable disconnect in the prolife movement.
First, let’s look at those mostly Republican legislators who promote cuts to WIC (education and nutrition supplements for women, infants and children). Their efforts give new meaning to putting women and children first as they place the nation’s fiscal concerns on the shoulders of babies. Economic analysis from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget has shown that every $1 spent on WIC results in a savings of $1.77 to $3.13 in health care costs, primarily attributed to reduced rates of low birth weight and improved rates of immunizations. Rather than saving money, cutting WIC services may ultimately result in increased health care costs due to low birth weight, iron deficiency and undernutrition. Again, it seems that the prolife moniker only means anti abortion.
As with WIC, there are cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP is a lifeline for those in need, which includes children and senior citizens. Rather than respect all life from womb to tomb, and contrary to the very values we hold as Americans to treat those most in need, our prolife legislators have elected to slash SNAP funding. This funding cut will increase hunger for our most vulnerable and eliminate thousands of jobs, particularly in the food-related industries. According to current statistics 16.2 million children live in households that struggle to put food on the table while prolifers worry about fetuses being aborted. The Food Research and Action Center claim that the “most prolific and compelling research shows that the effects of food insecurity on children impact their health, development, learning and mental health.” I would argue that feeding children and those adults in need, ensuring that they have adequate nutrition, aligns more thoughtfully and authentically to the meaning about prolife than fretting about abortion.
Second, let’s ponder how those in the prolife movement claim that abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, target minorities by locating their clinics in their minority neighborhoods as a means for eliminating undesirables from society. But the fly in the ointment is the Guttmacher factoid that 63% of abortion providers are in predominantly non-Hispanic white neighborhoods. That hardly looks like targeting. Further, prolifers also argue that African Americans account for higher rates of abortion, a fact provided by the CDC. Disingenuously, prolifers fail to mention that numerous factors such as poverty, lack of health care, cultural practices, family size and lack of reliable birth control can contribute to higher abortion rates. More to the point is the fact that while the prolifers are wringing their hands about targeting minorities, they conveniently ignore the minorities who are being targeted by police and the judicial system and executed in our prison systems. In fact, despite a clear majority of voters (61%) who would choose a punishment other than execution, our nation retains the death penalty, a fact shared by difficult countries such as Libya, Chad, and Sierra Leone. So the hypocrisy of Governors Rick Perry (R-TX) and Phil Bryant (R-MS), both conservative Christians who claim the prolife label, but take the lead on the number of executions, is quite remarkable. On a related note, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the homicide victimization rate for blacks (19.6 homicides per 100,000) was 6 times higher than the rate for whites (3.3 homicides per 100,000). Making outrageous claims about Planned Parenthood targeting black women is an absurd waste of time particularly with respect to the genuine, far larger, more life-threatening issues that impact blacks in our nation.
A final example of the big disconnect among prolifers is drawn from the synergistic impact of the government, the military and corporatism. Corporatism— whether through direct handouts, corporate bailouts, eminent domain, licensing laws, antitrust regulations, or environmental edicts — inflicts a measurable degree of harm on Americans. For example, measurable levels of hundreds of corporate manufactured chemicals are routinely found in the bodies of all Americans, including newborns. Many of the toxins found in baby bottles and toys have been linked to developmental and reproductive disorders. Even Presidents Bush and Obama aggressively supported harmful genetically modified food policies from corporations like Monsanto while they plant organic gardens in the White House and have organic kitchen policies. And while our nation’s poorest are subjected to harmful environmental contaminants, nearby industries are afforded lenient policies to protect their bottom line. But these contaminants create the perfect health storm for mostly African American children living nearby. For black children, one out of every six (CDC) has asthma due to pollution, poverty, and being people of color. So, worrying about abortion seems rather petty in comparison to the misery that children and adults endure.
During wartime, the politically connected corporations derive high profits and cushy contracts. But war has its share of collateral damage. Where was the moral outcry for approximately 90,000 civilians who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by our “freedom loving” military forced into service by George W. Bush? Where was the moral outrage when prolife, Christian conservative Republican President George W. Bush along with Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia and found guilty of war crimes for torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment? While many patriotic types believe in American capitalism and our mighty military as a good for humanity, most are blind to the inherent savage, destructive nihilism of our country’s actions. Wringing hands and waving cardboard “End Abortion” signs seem frivolous compared to the tens of thousands who die, who are maimed or who are chronically ill because of policies and actions of the government, the military and corporatism.
While prolifers are forever worrying about the vast sums of money doctors earn from providing abortions, they’re not concerned at all about the vast sums of money that orthopedic surgeons or orthodontists earn. It can’t be about the money because many of them file frivolous lawsuits for handsome sums of compensation. And it surely isn’t their claim to respect all life at all ages because they’re apparently not concerned at all about their votes for candidates who support military actions that kill civilians. And while funding cuts to nutrition programs are touted as necessary to reduce the deficit and as important to ensure that we don’t create a welfare state, prolifers seem little concerned with the politicians’ decisions. In truth, they’re not prolife in any meaningful way. They’re just against abortion. And that, dear readers, is what I see as a Big Disconnect.