Pro-life? Or just anti-woman?

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Mike Pence meeting with pro-life leaders (photo from Office of the Vice President [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Mike Pence meeting with pro-life leaders (photo from Office of the Vice President [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve been mulling over my colleague Berry Craig’s excellent piece, “Republicans win on the Three Gs — plus an L for ‘Lying’,” which ran last month. A centerpiece of the Republican strategy that has made inroads in the rural parts of the state is to swear their allegiance to the so-called pro-life cause. Republicans vie to outdo each other in a contest to see who can devise more draconian anti-abortion laws.

Now Democrats have long pointed out that concern for life seems to end at birth. The same folks who can’t bear the thought of killing “pre-born babies” don’t seem to have a problem with depriving them of medical care, enough to eat, or living wages for their parents once they’re born. But the truth is that, for most of these die-hard “pro-lifers,” their interest in even fetal life depends on who’s making the decision.

For most die-hard “pro-lifers,” their interest in fetal life depends on who’s making the decision.Click To Tweet

Clean water is apparently not a pro-life position

Take a look at clean-water policies. Politicians who flinch at the thought that a woman should decide for herself whether or not she wants to become a mother have no problem with allowing polluters to pour toxins into waterways that will increase miscarriages.

Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has slow-walked fixing the regulation on lead, chloroform and disinfectant byproducts that allowed Flint’s water to become so toxic with lead that it caused miscarriages and brain damage in children. So is that pro-life? Apparently, the pro-lifers think it’s OK for polluters to terminate pregnancies.

Smoking must be good for pregnancy

For years, Republicans—on both the state and national levels—have waged the same type of war on smoking curbs as they currently now are on climate change. Yet, maternal smoking increases the odds of miscarriage by 1 percent for each cigarette smoked per day. That means a woman who smokes a pack a day increases her odds of a miscarriage by a whopping 20 percent. Even paternal smoking increases the odds of miscarriage. Which is why Right to Life plays such a central role in the anti-smoking movement.

Just kidding! Right to Life clearly doesn’t care about “preborn babies” when cigarette companies are profiting.

And pregnant women don’t need safe food

Food-safety regulations were too lax under the Obama Administration; however, the Trump Administration would like to relax inspections even more — even though listeria is 20 times more likely to infect pregnant women than non-pregnant adults and, obviously, salmonella affects fetuses adversely. Food-borne pathogens increase the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirths, and complications.

So what’s pro-life about letting Big Ag decide that an increase in miscarriages and stillbirths is OK if the corner-cutting pads their bottom line?

And what about health care?

Also, take a look at Pharisee Governor Matt Bevin’s stance on health care and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). His draconian policies would strip health care and food stamps from quite a few expectant mothers.

And, on a national level, allegedly pro-life Republicans have done everything they can to sabotage the restriction on insurance companies’ dropping coverage or exploding premiums on pre-existing conditions – including pregnancy.

Indeed, the House’s 2017 health-care bill included the MacArthur amendment; the amendment allowed states to kill outright the Obamacare ban on insurers’ jacking up rates based on pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy.

So, while the GOP might blanch at the thought of a woman deciding to terminate a pregnancy, they have no problem with insurance giants endangering pregnancies and pre-natal care. And that includes holier-than-thou Bevin.

The real issue is who gets to decide

It’s incumbent on progressives to point out that many of the people who claim to be “pro-life” don’t have a problem with big corporations terminating pregnancies. Apparently, everyone except the woman gets to terminate pregnancies if they can make a buck. That’s not pro-life; that’s just anti-woman.

Many of so-called 'pro-lifers' don’t have a problem with big corporations terminating pregnancies. Apparently, everyone except the woman gets to terminate pregnancies if they can make a buck. That’s not pro-life; that’s just anti-woman.Click To Tweet

So the next time some Republican politician champions ending the Medicaid expansion, cutting SNAP benefits, weakening clean-water protections or the like, we should call them out: “Hey, I thought you were pro-life?”

And, for those of us who support common-sense gun restrictions, tell them why we do it: because we’re pro-life. Because concern for life shouldn’t end at birth.

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Ivonne Rovira
Ivonne Rovira, a teacher and an activist, is the research director for the statewide organization Save Our Schools Kentucky. Ivonne previously worked for The Miami Herald, the now defunct (and greatly lamented) Miami News, and The Associated Press. All three of her children are proud products of Jefferson County Public Schools.