For a country that rallies behind pro-life, we seem to not know what that really means. The atrocious act of terror that happened in Vegas demonstrates the lack of respect people have for human life; however, Republicans in Congress are now pushing for bill HR36 which will criminalize abortions after 20 weeks with the argument that it will “save lives.” If we really look at our politics, we’re more interested in people being born than actually protecting the life of a child.
The United States is the only developed country where abortion is a political issue. This is because other nations understand the idea behind body autonomy. A reddit user described this concept quite well:
Body autonomy means that a person has control over who or what uses their body, for what, and for how long. It’s why you can’t be forced to donate blood, tissue, or organs. Even if you’re dead. Even if you’d save or improve 20 lives. It’s why someone can’t touch you, have sex with you, or use your body in any way without your continuous consent. A fetus is using someone’s body part. Therefore, under body autonomy, it is by their permission, not their right. It needs a person’s continuous consent. If they deny or withdraw consent, the pregnant person has the right to remove them from that moment. A fetus is equal in this regard because if I need someone else’s body parts to live, they also can legally deny me their use. By saying a fetus has a right to someone’s body before it’s born, despite that person’s wishes, you’re doing two things: you are granting a fetus more rights to a person’s body than any born person and you’re awarding a pregnant person less rights to their body than a corpse.
Guns and Healthcare
The United States is a country where the Las Vegas terrorist had a right to own 15 firearms, but the healthcare for the people he injured is a privilege. Reading the Constitution, Americans do have the right to own a gun, but we also need to stop interpreting 18th century laws as if they were written in the 21st century. When the second amendment was written, it took a full minute to reload a gun; automatic weapons didn’t exist. People use guns for many reason: hunting, protection, recreation; and there are many places people can go to learn how to use a gun and be a responsible gun owner. But there is no reason for 42 states to not ban or regulate magazines based on capacity. There’s no reason for civilians to have access to militarized weapons. The 270 mass shootings in America in 2017 have demonstrated that. History has shown us that after mass shootings the NRA tends to get more donations because gun owners are worried that their guns rights may be at risk. The NRA has no reason to do anything after a mass shooting because they profit off of the lost lives of others.
While gun rights seem to be a top priority for some in this country, healthcare is not. The Republican healthcare bills previously proposed this year were less than friendly for those living with mental illness. They would have cut Medicaid, the single largest payer of mental healthcare services in the country, by nearly a trillion dollars. The bills also did not protect those with pre-exsiting conditions, including mental illness. Those who could get treatment may no longer have been able to because of the increased costs associated with these bills.
The Congresspeople who tweeted out that their “thoughts and prayers” were with the victims and families of yesterday’s massacre were the same ones who met with insurance company lobbyist on Capitol Hill before the healthcare vote. In fact, Paul Ryan was the top receiver of campaign contributions receiving $285,625 from insurance lobbyists. The next top four receivers of insurance lobbying contributions were also all Republican Representatives. That’s not to say that democrats are innocent in all of this. In fact, the average campaign contributions to Democrats in 2016 from health insurance companies was ~$50,000 in the House and ~$82,000 in the Senate. In 2016, the average contribution to Republicans was ~$72,000 in the House and ~$142,000 in the Senate. Thoughts and prayers don’t help victims of gun violence; health insurance does.
What Happens After a Fetus is Born?
Considering the Children’s Health Care Program’s funding expired last Saturday, it seems that Republican leaders care little about the actual life of a child. The discussion of this program, as well as the continued stabilization of Obamacare, was tabled to focus on the failed Graham-Cassidy bill. The slashing of Medicaid funding that would have occurred in this bill would have threatened the health insurance of 30 million children. The Children’s Hospital Association estimated that the bill would have reduced funding for children’s healthcare by $40 billion over the next 10 years, affecting children who haven’t even been born yet. The Republican healthcare bills proposed this year eliminated the 10 essential healthcare benefits that Obamacare provides, two of those being pediatric and maternity care.
Healthcare for Pregnant Women
All Republican healthcare bills proposed this year eliminated mandatory maternity care and defunding Planned Parenthood, making it more difficult for pregnant women, especially low income pregnant women, to get the care they need. Prior to 2014, only 12% of plans sold in the individual market included maternity care. Pregnancy was also considered a pre-existing condition. Maternity services covered by health plans include outpatient services, such as prenatal and postnatal doctor visits, gestational diabetes screenings, lab studies, medications, etc.; inpatient services, such as hospitalization, physician fees, etc.; newborn baby care; and lactation counseling and breast pump rental. The average total price of pregnancy and new born care without insurance is $30,000 through vaginal delivery and $50,000 for a C-section. To care about the lives of babies and mothers is to care about getting them affordable health insurance.
Saving Lives Through Legal Abortion, Contraception, and Sex Education
Many people forget, or don’t know about, what it was before abortions became legal. Women would risk their lives with back-alley abortions or try at home methods such as punching themselves, using coat hangers, or intentionally falling down the stairs. Making abortion illegal is not going to stop abortion, it’s going to stop safe abortion. In 1997, when South Africa legalized abortion, abortion related deaths plummeted by 90%. In order to decrease abortions, countries need to increase access to birth control and sex education. In 2011, the abortion rate was the lowest it has been in the US since 1973. Much of this is attributed to increased ability to obtain contraception. The rate of teen pregnancy in the US is still the highest among the most developed countries. The lower rates of teen pregnancy in these countries are contributed to mandatory, medically accurate sexuality education programs that provide comprehensive information and encourage teens to make informed decisions; access to contraception and other forms of reproductive health care, including abortion; social acceptance of adolescent sexual expression as normal and healthy; straightforward public health media campaigns; and government support for the right of teens to accurate information and confidential services.
It seems like “pro-life” is a political misnomer for pro-birth. Anyone who does not believe in abortion absolutely has the right to make that decision for themselves, but that does not allow them to make that decision for anyone else, especially when there is little chance the child will be supported once it is born. It’s important to call out hypocrisy and make elected officials explain what they mean when they say they’re “pro-life.”