I’ve been a proud, open member of the lapsed Catholic, pro-choice club for about 40 years now, who has worked hard to have a sound moral compass.
Like everyone else, I have been known to fail at times and then try hard to make up for my mistakes.
I have a pretty good idea of knowing if I’m flailing in quicksand or if I’m standing on thousands of feet of bedrock granite on a particular topic.
And I’m pretty sure I’m on very solid granite in my pro-choice ethos.
To that end, I’m going to let the late comic George Carlin explain the TRUE ethos of the alleged “pro-life” movement. During a 1996 HBO special he punched a gaping, hypocritical hole in this allegedly “loving” movement’s guiding philosophy when he described the movement this way:
“No neonatal care, no daycare, no Head Start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re pre-born, you’re fine, if you’re preschool, you’re f—–.”
And in examining the actions of these alleged “pro-lifers” in the weeks following the leak of the much anticipated, hopelessly misogynistic U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down “Roe vs. Wade,” I’d say Carlin had those hateful, empty knuckleheads pegged just about right.
This decision would likely eliminate all access to abortion for up to 36 million women of reproductive age in America. But before this happens, I would like to ask one thing of all those cheering individuals along with the blind and resentful conservative wing of the Supreme Court, which doesn’t seem to care if it drags millions of lower- and middle-class women and their families into a new American Stone Age of fear, repression and economic uncertainty:
What does it really mean to be truly “pro-life?”
Because if they are basing your decision on long-held Judeo-Christian beliefs, then I guess we’ll have to modify the old hymn I grew up listening and singing along with at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Menomonee Falls 50 or so years ago:
“They’ll know we are Christians by our hate, by our hate, yes they’ll know we are Christians by our hate.”
Because there is absolutely no love, no Christian sense of engagement or forgiveness involved in the coarse, fear-inducing, hateful way they are going about dismantling abortion in this country.
I say this, not simply because of the policy of overturning Roe, which has been the major goal of the religious right for close to 50 years, but also because of the way it’s been crudely handled through sledgehammer state policies that have all the nuance of throwing bricks through windows, with no allowance for desperate economic circumstances, abject living conditions, malevolent life partners, poor health care or even the life of the mother.
The overturn of Roe will not end abortion in America. There were many abortions before Roe and there will still be many abortions afterward. What the overturn of Roe will mean is that there will be a lot more dead women and far many more kids growing up in hopeless poverty!
Hardly “pro-life” by any standard!
The policies that red states have instituted (there are 26 of them with the so-called automatic “trigger” laws should Roe be overturned) include criminalizing doctors, restricting access to information and turning neighbors into spies and bounty hunters on one another so they can bypass the courts.
These troglodytes have even deliberately paraded around in front of middle schools seeking to torment kids with graphic pictures of aborted fetuses.
It’s mean-spirited, anti-Christian and misogynistic (I like that word and it’s accurate here) in the extreme. It seeks to drag women back to the day where they aspire to nothing more than being broodmares to their husbands. Think “Handmaid’s Tale” on steroids.
It’s all about raw power, about putting “women in their place,” and it has to be stopped!
I’ll give you a few examples of how corrosive and ugly and Dickensian the “pro-life crowd’s pogrom is in its attitude and intent.
“What we are calling for is a total ban, no exceptions,” Matt Sande, legislative director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, said in a a recent story by the Washington Post regarding how conservative-leaning states are looking to limit the exemptions to save a mother’s life in light of the impending overturn of Roe this summer.
“We don’t think abortion is ever necessary to save the life of the mother.”
Spoken like a true miserable, hateful bag of misplaced testosterone who’s never had to worry about an unwanted pregnancy in his life! And unfortunately, he has many equally ugly allies both men and women across the country who are gleefully looking to take women back into the fearful, pre-Roe world of 1972.
Consider this note from later in the Washington Post piece:
Editors of The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, wrote this week that if the U.S. Supreme Court confirms its draft decision, “women will die” and Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the opinion that was leaked on May 2, “and his supporters will have women’s blood on their hands.”
Furthermore, some states like Missouri want to chase poor desperate women across state lines like something out of a bad gangster movie of the 1930s and 1940s or they want their neighbors to spy on each other and sue them for helping their wives, girlfriends, etc., seek abortions like they’re doing in Texas and Oklahoma (and now Idaho).
“Love thy neighbor” anyone?
And this is happening in America, with the largest per capita spending on health care in the industrialized world and yet with one of the very worst rates of maternal mortality among the major economies.
In a post-Roe world these situations will only get worse.
The truth of the matter is, this Justices Alito and Clarence Thomas-authored screed of a decision will not eliminate abortion, it will only reduce the number of safe abortions and dramatically increase the number of women dying trying to self-induce an abortion, as they did before Roe!
In 2019, NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly spoke with Karissa Haugeberg, assistant professor of history at Tulane University, about this very issue. In the piece, Haugeberg estimated that prior to Roe about 200 women died a year trying to self-induce, ingesting poisons, deliberately falling down stairs or even using instruments on themselves.
Already, about 700 American women die per year during or immediately after childbirth and that would likely increase dramatically when Roe is overturned and the 26 gleeful states enact their myopically written, draconian and sexist trigger laws banning abortion.
As I noted earlier, most of these laws allow for very little in the way of exemptions, a foolhardy device that will only cause doctors and other medical professionals to leave certain states, mostly rural, conservative ones, for fear that providing the most minimal of objective, neonatal care will land them in prison (and, yes, many of these moronic laws allow for that).
Not that rural states don’t have a doctor shortage problem already.
And of course, as it almost always is, the weight of these laws will come down on poor and minority women the worst.
Many women will die or go to prison leaving behind families with young children having been pursued by their bounty hunter neighbors all for simply wanting to control their own destinies.
This hardly sounds “pro-life” or “pro-freedom” to me.
It sounds more like a dystopian nightmare to me. It sounds like what life had to be behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War or to be a citizen in the repressive states of Russia or China right now.
And sadly, most “pro-life” people fall under the same big tent of many other morally questionable conservative belief systems.
These include the following:
***Such as the tragic fact that many of these same “pro-life” people support the senseless, not-grounded-in-science Republican war on the LGBTQ community. Yes, it is so very “Christian,” so very “pro-life” to be picking on poor kids, who are trying to come to terms with who they are and why they are different from their friends, as well as their struggling parents.
So Jesus saying “Do unto others as you would do unto me” doesn’t apply to gays, lesbians, trans, or whomever the conservative “pro-life” movement doesn’t like?
Don’t these alleged “pro-lifers” realize that LGBTQ kids are at a far higher risk of being homeless or attempting suicide?
Apparently not; such nuanced thinking would require the backers of such vindictive and cruel policies to become really “pro-life” and that is probably way too heavy a lift for them.
***Or let’s take into account the fact that many alleged “pro-lifers” are in the anti-science crowd, the same dopes that don’t believe in climate change. It is real, people, it is all around and it is affecting all of us, and you know what’s worse? Our kids and their kids after them and those kids after that are going to bear the worst of it if we fail to act. We are more than likely too late to prevent widespread floods, massive fires, lethal crop failures, etc., but we could mitigate the worst of it if we act in a united way now.
Take a look at what’s happening in New Mexico right now, and remember it’s just mid-May, not even the heart of fire season yet. Already, officials have estimated that about 1,500 square miles of America have been burned out West this year, and it will only get worse.
Tell me, is hiding your head in the sand and pretending global climate change is not real when the proof is all around you, really “pro-life?” Future generations, who are going to have deal with the mess, will likely spit on our graves for our inaction, especially those of the alleged “pro-life” climate deniers.
Let’s ask the great 19-year old environmental activist Greta Thunberg, she of the Time Person of the Year award and a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, what she thinks of climate change deniers and their enablers:
At a United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City in 2019, Thunberg put it plainly:
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
Sounds like she doesn’t like we navel-gazing 50-plus somethings much, does she?
***Let’s also discuss the fact that many “pro-life” people are very likely to be big second amendment advocates, as well, to the point that they would never think of enacting common sense gun legislation, even if it meant making their kids safer in schools!
Which the “pro-life,” Christian right doesn’t seem to give a good God-damn about based on their pathetic second amendment mumbling after this week’s Uvalde, Texas massacre where at latest count 19 beautiful and hopeful 10-year olds and two teachers were slaughtered by a deranged idiot with an assault rifle (I’ll get onto to that topic in a later post)!!!
Think of the senseless stupidity and cruelty of America’s 40,000-gun deaths each year. Seriously, what kind of idiotic country, advanced or otherwise, thinks that it is a good idea to have more than 300 million guns, many of which are absolutely needless, semi-automatic assault rifles, which are only good for killing people and which can be easily fitted with high-capacity magazines, which makes mass murder easier?!?!?
So beholden and so slavish to the gun lobby are these pathetic GOP, pro-life cowards that they can’t even back a basic background check bill, which would close loopholes in current law and make the streets that much safer. The bill passed by the Democratically-led House has overwhelming support from the public, as even a heavy majority of Republican voters back it!!!
But because GOP politicians are drowning in gun-lobby money, they won’t allow it to come to a vote in the 50/50 Senate. I’m sorry, these “pro-death” hypocrites need to rot, or be made to look in the eye of every grieving parent from the 27 school shootings that have occurred in the US this year and be made to explain why they won’t do anything to get the damn lousy guns out of our public sphere!
They would pee in their damn pants if they were made to do that!
Especially when you consider that according to the Brady Center about 1,800 American children (ages 1-17) die each year from gun violence and another 6,300 are wounded and likely traumatized for life. Not to mention the fact that many, many school children have to go through “active shooter” drills in their schools because school shootings are so common and they need to know certain things if they are to survive such a nightmarish situation.
We are raising a fearful generation, where gun violence is an accepted way of life, where kids, especially in urban neighborhoods, but also increasingly in previously thought to be “safe” neighborhoods, have to look over their shoulders.
That’s no way to live, but hey, it’s another bedrock part of the foundation of allegedly being “pro-life!”
The alleged “pro-lifers” lack of action on the slaughter of children by men with assault rifles is pure hypocrisy, nothing but pure political posturing and hatred. These clowns cast their lot with hate the moment their miserable Republican representatives defeated both an assault rifle ban and universal background check proposals in the months following the Sandy Hook massacre back in 2013.
If you recall, that was when a demented gunman with a high-capacity assault rifle slaughtered 20 6- and 7-year-olds and several of their teachers. In the days and months that followed, the so-called “pro-life” crowd did next-to-nothing to help rid the world of these miserable weapons, or to help the distraught families grieve!
These were beautiful, laughing 6- and 7-year-olds who never got a chance to live “LIFE” to its fullest!!!
And every time something like the Buffalo or Uvalde massacres happen, “hearts and prayers” are offered by the gun-money, blood-bathed politicians of the right, many of whom wouldn’t hesitate to put a poor, desperate minority woman on trial for seeking an abortion but who wouldn’t lift a finger to pass something as basic or as commonsense as that aforementioned universal background check bill!
“Pro-life,” my ass! Grow some souls, people!
Look, I was raised Catholic and know many good, religious people who live out all the best tenets of their faith, but have been an agnostic for more than 40 years largely because there are simply far too many who don’t and who use religion as a weapon to cudgel and repress women, minorities and the poor.
And for all of that time I have also been pro-choice. I have always been in the “safe, rare and legal” camp, and I have always believed women have a right to do what they are able to with their own bodies. They should have the same freedoms as men. It makes simple economic, political and social sense.
It creates a fairer, more equitable society, one where opportunity is shared equally.
But it was not an issue taken seriously by the six conservative justices on the Supreme Court during oral arguments. Read this recent New Yorker piece if you doubt me. They didn’t seem to give a damn at all about creating a just, equal and fair society.
Look, by any rational accounting there have been tens of millions of abortions in America since 1973. The rate per 1,000 women has actually fallen from a peak of 29.3 per 1,000 women in 1980 to about 11.2 per 1,000 according to current data.
You can view that as a major tragedy if you like, and many do.
But please tell me, you so-called “pro-lifers,” would you have been willing to do any or all of the following things, all of which would have made the lives of these potential humans easier and more fulfilling?
***Help pay for good schools by voting “yes” on needed referendums.
***Support the Earned Income Tax Credit which has been proven to lift low income kids out of poverty as well as programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which also provides aid to low income individuals. Also, like Carlin said, say “yes” to Headstart, better neonatal care, improved daycares, etc., etc., all of which will give kids a better chance at succeeding.
***Support real sex education in schools at appropriate ages and grades, and not that phony abstinence-only education, which is filled with misinformation and more than likely results in more unwanted pregnancies than anything else. Make sure that kids have correct information so they can make informed, age-appropriate decisions!
***Along those lines, would you please get off the back of Planned Parenthood, a favorite whipping boy of the right for decades! Yes, a small number of their outlets do provide abortions, but what Planned Parenthood really does, is provide health care for low-income people who cannot afford health insurance. Only three percent of its funding (and none of it federal) goes towards abortion services. The agency’s prime mission forever has been reducing the number of unintended pregnancies so that every baby born is a “wanted” child. About 60 percent of the families that use Planned Parenthood are on Medicaid and rely on Planned Parenthood as their primary healthcare source.
***How about also supporting living wages for families? The national minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009 and the federal tipped wage has been frozen at $2.13 an hour for more than 30 years largely because of Republican fidelity to corporations and their big donations. We can argue all day if an increase in the minimum wage will increase or decrease the number of jobs out there, but one thing is certain, there is no way a family of four can live on the salary of one full-time minimum wage breadwinner, and it can hardly get by with two of them!
While you’re at, when in a restaurant always tip heavily because those servers (and their cooks and table bussers) work hard. Most restaurants have been short-staffed since opening back up since the worst of the pandemic let-up, so if you like your server pay them accordingly!
***Support fair housing initiatives (many of these children would have likely grown up in low-income homes and have insecure housing situations).
***Support the passage of a better, broader, more expansive form of the American Cares Act (ACA). Republicans have been trying to kill this Obama initiative, which has been providing medical coverage to poor, working-poor and middle-class people ever since it was passed in 2010 and they have failed. And guess what, for all its problems, and there are more than a few of them, the program is still popular!
And Republicans still have never suggested anything better to replace it!
***Or, if you’re an employer, try helping to provide their parents with well-paying jobs, with good health care benefits (see ACA above). If we do that, these people could send their healthy, well-adjusted kids to the best colleges or vocational schools, and they could grow up to be useful, productive and enlightened citizens?
***Or, you could really put your faith and belief system where your mouth is and adopt one of these kids and give him or her a good home.
If you can’t back all or the majority of these initiatives (and I do), then you’re really not a “pro-life” person, you’re more than likely just an empty, holier-than thou, political hack with a vendetta against women and poor kids, misogynistic in the extreme, and probably a bit racist and homophobic, too.
Maybe you should search your souls and really try to become a more real “pro-life” person.
The world, as if you hadn’t noticed, could use a lot more of them at this point.
A WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE (from a dear and brilliant friend of mine)
My favorite argument: To be equitable, because we know so many of these women are left without men to help them with the responsibilities of raising these unexpected babies, let’s pass a law that says when boys hit puberty all of them have to undergo a vasectomy. This will eliminate the vast majority of unwanted pregnancies, freeing young women to finish their educations, find jobs and establish a life before welcoming children, if they wish. Vasectomies can be reversed when couples are ready to raise children. Many men will find this completely objectionable. What right does the state have to dictate to me what I do with my body? “Exactly,” women across the country say. By doing the vasectomy option, we attempt to even the responsibilities of bringing children into the world, we don’t say to pregnant women, well, you had sex and now there are consequences; we say, you can have sex, but until you are ready for the consequences we aren’t going to let you potentially ruin the lives of the child, mother, and (hopefully) the father.