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“The GOP Anti-Life Syndrome”: Are Politicians Who Cut Food Stamps And Deny Health Access Truly “Pro-Life”?

When Wendy Davis proclaimed that she is “pro-life” – a description long since appropriated by conservatives opposed to abortion rights – the right-wing media practically exploded with indignation. How could she dare to say that? But having won national fame when she filibustered nearly 12 hours against a law designed to shutter Lone Star State abortion clinics, the Texas state senator with the pink shoes doesn’t hesitate to provoke outrage among the righteous.

Speaking to a crowd at the University of Texas in Brownsville last Tuesday, Davis, now running for governor as a Democrat, made a deceptively simple but profound declaration: “I am pro-life. I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry their children’s future and their ability to provide for that.”

Her argument directly pierced to the contradiction within the right’s “pro-life” sloganeering. So far the feeble answer from the right is that Davis must be “lying” because nobody who supports a woman’s right to choose is pro-life.

But that response is merely a repetition that seeks to evade her deeper philosophical thrust. Whatever anyone may think about abortion, the persistent question for self-styled pro-lifers is why they tend to insist on making life so much more difficult for so many children who have entered the world. The same Republicans – and they are nearly all Republicans – most vocally opposed to reproductive rights are also most likely to cut assistance to poor families, infants and children at every opportunity, from the moment of birth long into adolescence and beyond.

The imperiled Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is only the latest instance of this drearily familiar anti-life syndrome. This week, more than 48 million Americans, including 22 million children, saw their food stamp benefits cut as a temporary enhancement of the program expired. That was worse than bad enough. But next year if the Republicans have their way, the government would cut $40 billion from the program over the next 10 years – immediately depriving four million people of food assistance and then another three million every year.

Supposedly the excuse for this cruel scheme is to encourage able-bodied adults to work, even though jobs continue to be scarce. But what about the children who will go hungry, thanks to the budget advanced by the “pro-life” House leadership?

Incidentally, these are the same “pro-lifers” who will do almost anything to frustrate the long-sought national objective of universal health insurance. On that issue, one of their favorite complaints is that expanding health care to all will increase the availability of family planning, including abortion. But what of the tens of thousands of Americans who die every year because they lack insurance? Saving their lives is evidently not a “pro-life” priority.

Wendy Davis is right, but perhaps she didn’t go far enough. You see, the other self-serving sobriquet appropriated by the right is “pro-family,” a code term for opponents of reproductive rights, marriage equality, and other progressive policies that actually empower families of all kinds. Again, these same politicians tend to disparage not only Obamacare, but extended unemployment insurance, Social Security’s old age and disability assistance, Medicaid, Medicare, student loans, tuition assistance, family leave, the earned income tax credit, and the entire panoply of successful government programs that help to keep real working families from disintegrating under economic, social, and medical stress.

In fact, Davis might reasonably question whether the minions of the religious right and the Tea Party are even truly “anti-abortion,” although they have long since tried to escape that category.  It is true that right-wingers have tried incessantly (and unsuccessfully) to outlaw abortion. But today they often seek to restrict contraception and effective sex education as well, even though preventing unwanted pregnancies is the most obvious way to reduce the number of abortions.

How would conservatives behave if they honestly wanted to save the family – as House Republicans will now claim when they kill the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, banning workplace bias against lesbians and gays? They might begin by reconsidering their ideological project of dismantling federal programs, long supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, that help families maintain stability, care for each other, maintain healthy children, and advance in each generation.

The real enemies of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for American families are those who seek to polarize incomes, destroy the social safety net, and impose misery on women and children in the name of religious morality.


By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, November 7, 2013

November 9, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Pro-Choice | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Pro-Life With An Asterisk”: GOP Ignores Children Once They’re Outside The Womb

A recent road trip took me into the precincts of rural Georgia and Florida, far away from the traffic jams, boutique coffeehouses and National Public Radio signals that frame my familiar landscape. Along the way, billboards reminded me that I was outside my natural habitat: anti-abortion declarations appeared every 40 or 50 miles.

“Pregnant? Your baby’s heart is already beating!” “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. — God.” And, with a photo of an adorable smiling baby, “My heart beat 18 days from conception.”

The slogans suggest a stirring compassion for women struggling with an unplanned pregnancy and a deep-seated moral aversion to pregnancy termination. But the morality and compassion have remarkably short attention spans, losing interest in those children once they are outside the womb.

These same stretches of Georgia and Florida, like conservative landscapes all over the country that want to roll back reproductive freedoms, are thick with voters who fight the social safety net that would assist children from less-affluent homes. Head Start, Medicaid and even food stamps are unpopular with those voters.

Through more than 25 years of writing about Roe vs. Wade and the politics that it spawned, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around the huge gap between anti-abortionists’ supposed devotion to fetuses and their animosity toward poor children once they are born. (Catholic theology at least embraces a “whole-life” ethic that works against both abortion and poverty, but Catholic bishops have seemed more upset lately about contraceptives than about the poor.) While many conservative voters explain their anti-abortion views as Bible-based, their Bibles seem to have edited out Jesus’ charity toward the less fortunate.

That brain-busting cognitive dissonance is also on full display in Washington, where just last week the GOP-dominated House of Representatives passed a bill that would outlaw all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. After the bill was amended to make exceptions for a woman’s health or rape — if the victim reports the assault within 48 hours — U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) withdrew his support. The exceptions made the bill too liberal for his politics.

Meanwhile, this same Republican Congress has insisted on cutting one of the nation’s premier food-assistance programs: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. GOP hardliners amended the farm bill wending its way through the legislative process to cut $2 billion from food stamps because, they believe, it now feeds too many people. Subsidies to big-farming operations, meanwhile, remained largely intact.

The proposed food stamp cuts are only one assault on the programs that assist less-fortunate children once they are born. Republicans have also trained their sights on Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s relentless budget-cutter, wants to turn Medicaid into a block grant to the states, which almost certainly means that fewer people would be served. About half of Medicaid’s beneficiaries are children.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Protection Act, whose name implies more medical knowledge than its proponents actually have, has no chance of becoming law since it won’t pass the Senate. Its ban on abortion after 20 weeks, passed by the House along partisan lines, was merely another gratuitous provocation designed to satisfy a conservative base that never tires of attacks on women’s reproductive freedom.

Outside Washington, however, attempts to limit access to abortion are gaining ground. From Alaska to Alabama, GOP-dominated legislatures are doing everything they can think of to curtail a woman’s right to choose. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, 14 states have enacted new restrictions on abortion this year.

That re-energized activism around reproductive rights slams the door on recent advice from Republican strategists who want their party to highlight issues that might draw a broader array of voters. Among other things, they have gently — or stridently, depending on the setting — advised Republican elected officials to downplay contentious social issues and focus on job creation, broad economic revival and income inequality. Clearly, those Republican lawmakers haven’t gotten the message.

Still, GOP bigwigs get furious when they are accused of conducting a war on women. But what else is it? It’s clearly not a great moral crusade to save children.


By: Cynthia Tucker, The National Memo, June 22, 2013

June 23, 2013 Posted by | Abortion, GOP | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Winking With A Blind Eye”: Where Are The Pro-Life Reactions To The Romney-Stericycle Story?

Yesterday, David Corn reported in Mother Jones that Mitt Romney may have played an active role Bain Capital’s $75 million investment in Stericycle, a company that disposes of medical waste from abortion clinics. According to Corn, Bain had previously claimed that Romney left the firm in February 1999 and that Romney probably had nothing to do with the deal.

Since this could potentially lose Romney some enthusiasm among social conservatives, I initially thought I would write a post about reactions to the story in the pro-life blogosphere.

Except… I couldn’t find any. Guys, I looked, but as of Tuesday afternoon, here’s where it stands:

Lila Rose’s Twitter feed? No mention as of this writing.

National Right to Life? Top headline as of July 3, 3:57 central time was “Supreme Court Decision Means Americans Must Elect Mitt Romney and a Pro-Life Congress Committed to Repealing ObamaCare.”

Susan B. Anthony List? Its president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, wrote a column for National Review Online yesterday titled “Pro-Lifers Must Unite Behind Romney.” (The discussion in the comments thread did make its way around to the Stericycle story, with folks chiming in both to support and criticize Romney.)

Americans United for Life? Again, as of 4 p.m. central, their online media center made no mention of it.

LifeSiteNews, which previously reported on a Romney fundraiser at the home of a pharmaceutical executive whose company makes the morning after pill, and which published a piece in January calling Stericycle a “medical waste giant allied with the abortion industry” didn’t turn up anything when I did a search for “Romney” and “Stericycle,” and the story wasn’t in their top headlines.

Jill Stanek? Again, no mention in the top headlines and a site search turned up nothing.

World Magazine, which is currently taking a critical stance toward the National Association of Evangelicals over the latter’s acceptance of a grant from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy? Again, my site search turned up nothing.

It could be that nobody’s gotten around to writing about it yet, I guess. Or, it could be that the pro-life blogosphere isn’t thrilled to learn about Romney’s possible role in the Stericycle investment; but, particularly on the heels of the Supreme Court decision, cares most about defeating Obama. In any case, the question will be whether it has any effect on voter enthusiasm. If no likely Romney supporters hear about it, I rather imagine it won’t.


By: Sarah Morice-Brubaker, Religion Dispatches, July 3, 2012

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The GOP Health Care Assault On Planned Parenthood Exposes The Hypocrisy Of The Pro-Life Movement

I tend not to get involved in discussions on abortion because I have never been able to resolve the conflict which comes from understanding both sides of this difficult issue. I understand those who believe in the pro-choice approach. Certainly, a woman wants, needs and deserves to be in control of her own body and make the decisions that she believes are best.

But I also get the pro-life movement. If an individual believes that a life is ‘in being’ at the moment of conception, I can well appreciate the distress such a person would feel over such a life being terminated.

What I cannot understand is how the very people who are so profoundly committed to the pro-life movement seem to lose all care, concern and compassion for that life once the child is born into the world.

Nowhere is this hypocrisy more prominently on display than in the current war being waged by the GOP on Planned Parenthood – the organization that spends 97% of their efforts and money providing millions of impoverished American women with critical front-line health care, essential medical testing to discover disease before it is too late to successfully treat a patient, and the very family planning and sex education services that might help women avoid an unwanted pregnancy and thus moot the question of abortion.

Yes, the remaining 3% of the Planned Parenthood budget is dedicated to providing abortion services but, contrary to what the anti-abortion forces would have you believe, not one cent of taxpayer money – federal or state – pays for so much as an IV needle used in an abortion procedure. The legal prohibition against taxpayer money being spent on abortions is as clearly enforced as the Roe v. Wade decision that confirms a woman’s right to choose in the United States.

Despite the important work done by Planned Parenthood – and the lives they save – the GOP has made it a cornerstone of their social agenda to put this vital service to the working and non-working poor out of business.

Should you doubt that the organization does, in fact, save lives, take a look at this letter written by Maggie Davis of Saratoga Springs in response to her Congressman’s voting to defund Planned Parenthood.

I am writing this in answer to Congressman Gibson’s vote against the funding for Planned Parenthood. I have no idea why he did this. Regardless of the pro and con of Planned Parenthood, they do save lives. I speak from experience.In the early ’70s I went to Planned Parenthood here for a checkup and they found something that was wrong and advised me to see my doctor right away. I did and within one month I had to have surgery to save my life. I would not be here today writing this letter. If it were not for Planned Parenthood and Dr. Streit of Saratoga, I would be dead. I will always be thankful to Planned Parenthood for discovering something and telling me to go to my doctor.

Mr. Gibson, I think you should take another look at how many lives Planned Parenthood does save. When we voted for you, we expected you to work for the taxpayers who pay you.

Maggie Davis, Saratoga Springs

Via The Saratogian

So, how do the pro-life forces defend their position that Planned Parenthood must go because, on occasion, they perform medical procedures that end what these folks perceive to be lives in being while fully understanding that closing the organization’s doors will result in the loss of lives of women we know are in being?

How did the 240 Members of the House of Representatives (a total which included 10 Democrats) justify their votes when they passed a bill in February to defund Planned Parenthood knowing that while their vote may or may not have resulted in a few less abortions had the Senate agreed (they did not), that same vote would also take the lives of people like Maggie Davis as a result of the legislation?

Had the House had their way, how many additional abortions would result – under conditions one shudders to contemplate – due to the loss of the counseling services designed to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies?

Now, as we watch the GOP assault on Medicaid – the federal and state funded health program relied on by over 40% of women who visit Planned Parenthood – one is left to wonder just how much of this drive to destroy the state-based medical safety net is based on actual budgetary concerns or whether budget difficulties are simply a cover for the effort to win the battle against legal abortion.

And while we are looking at the questions, maybe someone can answer how the eleven states that have either passed or introduced legislation this year designed to ban groups like Planned Parenthood from receiving family-planning funding or prevent them from contracting with the state for payment for services provided by these organizations, justify their own actions?

The simple truth is that there is no rational way to conclude that these alleged pro-life forces are, in fact, pro-life as it is difficult to fathom how one can desire to protect the life of the unborn by sacrificing the life of the already born. If you believe in protecting the unborn, does it not necessarily follow that you are equally as concerned about protecting the lives of those already here in the flesh.

What I can work out is how pro-life politicians are, in reality, ‘pro’ their political careers and are more than willing to sacrifice the lives of the poor who rely on the services of Planned Parenthood to burnish their anti-abortion credentials.

Seriously, does it get any worse than that? Making the matter even more despicable is the reliance upon religion as the basis for the pro-life consciousness. I fully understand and respect that religions teach that taking the lives of the unborn is morally wrong just as I understand and respect that it is up to each individual to hear those teachings or not. This is the way we roll in America.

Yet, I am aware of nothing in any of the competing religious tomes suggesting that while is it essential to protect the unborn so that they may have life, protecting those currently here so that they might continue life is no big deal. I’m also pretty sure that the Bible does not endorse allowing people to get sick and die because ‘we can’t afford it.’

Here’s a thought for those dedicated GOP ‘fighters for life’ – show a little consistency and maybe you’ll have more success in convincing the public that your closely held religious beliefs are something more than just the worst kind of cynical and despicable politics.

Show you are as concerned for the lives and health of those already walking the planet as you profess to be for those who have not yet arrived. Then, and only then, can any one willing to scrutinize your motives view you as the God fearing, compassionate human beings you pretend to be.

Failing the same, even the most religious and zealous among us should not, in good conscious, avoid the fact that our elected officials are picking and choosing between the lives they save and the lives they sacrifice in the name of good politics.

If your beliefs lie with the pro-life side of the abortion issue, I respect that. I encourage you to continue your fight just as I heartily support both your right and need to do so.

But don’t effectuate that fight by requiring the taking of the lives and health of others because you have not yet won your battle.

While you may be right that compassion for life must begin with conception, there is no logical or emotional basis that suggests that the same compassion should end with birth.

Tell your elected representatives to back off on Planned Parenthood. Then, and only then can you truly be among those who are pro-life.

By: Rick Ungar, The Policy Page, Forbes, June 13, 2011

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Abortion, Anti-Choice, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, Equal Rights, GOP, Government, Health Care, Human Rights, Ideology, Lawmakers, Medicaid, Planned Parenthood, Politics, Pro-Choice, Public Health, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Women, Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Return Of Back-Alley Abortions

Underground abortions have returned to the United States, just as pro-choice activists have warned for years. And women have started going to jail for the crime of ending their own pregnancies, or trying to.

This week Jennie L. McCormack, a 32-year-old mother of three from eastern Idaho, was arrested for self-inducing an abortion. According to the Associated Press, McCormack couldn’t afford a legal procedure, and so took pills that her sister had ordered online. For some reason, she kept the fetus, which police found after they were called by a disapproving acquaintance. She now faces up to five years in prison, as well as a $5,000 fine.

Idaho recently banned abortions after 20 weeks, and McCormack’s fetus was reportedly between five and six months old. But according to Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a staff attorney for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, under Idaho law, McCormack could have been arrested even if she’d been in her first trimester because self-induced abortion is illegal in all circumstances. “It doesn’t matter if it’s an 8- or 10- or 12-week abortion,” says Kolbi-Molinas. “If you do what you could get lawfully in a doctor’s office—what you have a constitutional right to access in a doctor’s office—they can throw you in jail and make you a convicted felon.”

While horrific, McCormack’s case is not unique. In recent years, several women have been arrested on suspicion of causing their own abortions, or attempting to. Most have come from conservative rural states with few clinics and numerous restrictions on abortion. In America’s urban centers and liberal enclaves, the idea of women being prosecuted for taking desperate measures to end their pregnancies might seem inconceivable, a never-again remnant of the era before Roe v. Wade. In fact, it’s a slowly encroaching reality.

Even more, these cases demonstrate that criminalizing abortion means turning women who have abortions into criminals.

In 2005, Gabriela Flores, a 22-year-old Mexican migrant worker, was arrested in South Carolina. Like McCormack, she had three children and said she couldn’t afford a fourth, and so she turned to clandestinely acquired pills. (The drug she took, Misoprostol, is an ulcer medicine that also works as an abortifacient and is widely used in Latin American countries where abortion is illegal.) Initially facing two years in prison, she ended up being sentenced to 90 days.

In 2009, a 17-year-old Utah girl known in court filings as J.M.S. found herself pregnant by an older man who is now facing charges of using her in child pornography. J.M.S. lived in house without electricity or running water in a remote part of the state, several hours’ drive from the nearest clinic, which was in Salt Lake City. Getting there would have required not just a car—her area had no public transportation—but money for a hotel in order to comply with Utah’s 24-hour-waiting period, as well as for the cost of the abortion itself.

According to prosecutors, when J.M.S. was in her third trimester, she paid a man $150 to beat her in the hopes of inducing a miscarriage. The fetus survived, but she was charged with criminal solicitation to commit murder. When her case was thrown out on the grounds that her actions weren’t illegal under the state’s definition of abortion, legislators changed the law so they would be able to punish women like her in the future.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have appealed J.M.S.’ case to the Supreme Court, and observers expect it to rule against her. She could still face a trial and prison time.

A woman doesn’t even have to be trying to abort to find herself under arrest. Last year, a pregnant 22-year-old in Iowa named Christine Taylor ended up in the hospital after falling down a flight of stairs. A mother of two, she told a nurse she’d tripped after an upsetting phone conversation with her estranged husband. Though she’d gone to the hospital to make sure her fetus was OK, she confessed that she’d been ambivalent about the pregnancy and unsure whether she was ready to become a single mother of three.

Suspecting Taylor had hurled herself down the stairs on purpose, the nurse called a doctor, and at some point the police were brought in. Taylor was arrested on charges of attempted feticide. She spent two days in jail before the charges were dropped because she was in her second trimester, and Iowa’s feticide laws don’t kick in until the third.

These cases are a harbinger of what’s to come as abortion laws become increasingly strict and abortion clinics harder to access in the more conservative parts of the country. They demonstrate the lengths to which women will go to end unwanted pregnancies. But even more, they demonstrate that criminalizing abortion means turning women who have abortions into criminals.

The antiabortion movement likes to see itself as pro-woman. Most of its spokespeople talk about protecting women from abortion, insisting they’re not interested in seeing them punished. “It’s tragic that this young woman felt that this was her only way out,” National Right to Life President Carol Tobias said in a statement in response to questions about the McCormack case. “The pro-life movement has never supported jail sentences for women who are victims of the abortion culture and abortion industry.”

Tobias said her group calls on Idaho officials “to engage in more publicity about the network of pregnancy resource centers and about the existence of Idaho’s safe haven law—either of which would have helped this young mother and saved her child.” But she didn’t call on them to release McCormack or to change the laws under which she’s being charged. If these sorts of prosecutions aren’t what the antiabortion movement had in mind when it pushed wave after wave of state-level legislation, now might be a good time to speak up.


By: Michelle Goldberg, Contributing Writer, The Daily Beast, June 3, 2011



June 5, 2011 Posted by | Abortion, Anti-Choice, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Constitution, Education, Equal Rights, GOP, Government, Governors, Health Care, Human Rights, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Planned Parenthood, Politics, Privacy, Pro-Choice, Public Health, Republicans, Right Wing, Sex Abuse, State Legislatures, States, Uninsured, Women, Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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