Republican Policies Show The Party Doesn't Care About Children

During the Republican debates, Cruz, Huckabee and Rubio made the case for defunding Planned Parenthood, even though the organization did not break any laws and doesn't receive any federal money towards providing abortions. Fetal tissue research was supported by GOP lawmakers up until recently. Mike Huckabee, whose small government vision includes using the National Guard to prevent women from having abortions, said that as a nation, we must protect children by banning abortion.

Republican politicians claim that as the party that advocates for children, it's alright for them to terminate crucial health services for millions of women. We shouldn't believe though that the Republican party actually cares about children. If they did, they wouldn't have spent months trying to prevent the unaccompanied minors on the border--as Rubio referred to them during the debates--from entering the country.

Conservatives make pro-child claims as one of their central points against gay marriage. While arguing against same sex marriage in Missouri, the conservative defendant argued that all children would experience "substantial risks" if gays could marry because it would diminish the value of heterosexual marriage, supposedly resulting in a grave decline in straight couples marrying. Never mind the children who will benefit from their gay parents marrying, or all those adopted by same-sex couples, as Justice Kagan pointed out during the Supreme Court hearing Obergefell v. Hodges, conservatives claim the right to discriminate for the sake of all children.

How can anyone earnestly believe that gay marriage will keep any straight couples from marrying, beyond that one Australian couple? But many opponents have argued in court that the heterosexual union will be so greatly de-sanctifying by gay marriage that fewer straight couples will bother having children anymore either, and conservatives need to think about birthrates in their states! This will also lead to an increase in single parenthood, and the resulting influx of single parenthood will cause parents to become selfish, which will not only burden their offspring but also the state!

In the Supreme Court case, conservative John Bursch even went so far as to incredulously claim that same sex-marriage, not failed abstinence-only policies, leads to teenage pregnancy. If only gay marriage were banned, this would reverse the national rise in out-of-wedlock births! Gay marriage is clearly what is causing teenage pregnancy as opposed to abstinence-only education, another signature GOP platform. In 2011, 80,000, or 40 per cent, of babies born in Florida were born to unmarried mothers. This must be because of gay marriage, which wasn't even legal there until 2015, and not because of statewide poverty rates or because Jeb Bush gutted Planned Parenthood in the state. (As a result, 20 per cent of Floridian women now lack access to a doctor.)

Or take Texas, where conservatives took funding from HIV prevention to put even more money towards abstinence-only education, an approach that has been demonstrated time and time again increase teen pregnancy rates and that children born to teenage mothers are more likely to live in poverty and to experience abuse and neglect. But it seems like Planned Parenthood harms children, instead of the party whose presidential contenders think that 11-year-old rape victims should be forced to give birth and who will not prevent young people from catching HPV and other preventable communicable diseases. And who cares about HIV infection in the state with the nation's third highest transmission rate per capita, right?

Because no party is a greater champion for children than the GOP. While raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would help 14 million children living in poverty, Republicans Senators blocked a minimum wage hike. The party has better ideas for bringing millions of low-income American children and their families out of poverty. The official GOP website considers that these families would be better off without health insurance, despite Obamacare having increased coverage for millions of Americans, including 17 million children with preexisting conditions who can no longer be denied coverage. Because what could be better than their families experiencing medical bankruptcy?

Another of the website's suggestions for families living in poverty? Marrying someone with a job. After all, who needs a living wage when maybe you can marry someone with a (hopefully living wage) job? Just like the Koch brothers claiming they are pro-poor by trying to prevent an increase in the minimum wage and access to healthcare, the GOP renouncing Obamacare and keeping wages at standstill poverty levels is decidedly the opposite of pro-child.

Speaking of a champion for children, George W. Bush made Iraq one of the worst countries in the Middle East for children, including for hunger. The party does not mind increasing the number of hungry children in the U.S. either. In 2013, Republican Senators defunded SNAP food assistance by $5 billion, which impacted 48 million children, elderly, and low-income people. What if Republicans had any idea about how toxic the stress of living in poverty is on children's brains, posing the risk of lifelong physical and mental health problems? Despite the research on children and malnutrition in the U.S., conservative guru Bill Kristol deemed vulnerable Americans losing nutritional assistance during the 2013 GOP-led government shutdown as "not the end of the world."

During the Republican debate, Marco Rubio alleged, "This is the most generous country in the world when it comes to immigration...There are a million people a year who legally immigrate to the United States, and people feel like we're being taken advantage of. We feel like despite our generosity, we're being taken advantage of." Similarly, Donald Trump posted on his website about immigration, "We will not be taken advantage of anymore." Yes, the United States, and more specifically, the Republican party, is so generous, that GOP Senators tried to get the children deported even more quickly.

President Obama has not been commendable on this issue either, but nothing pales in comparison to the wretched cold heartedness displayed by the GOP. The party has withheld funds for the minors to receive legal representation, making it much more likely that they be returned to the country they fled. They did this under the guise of being humane, despite evidence that children were killed after the U.S. government deported them back to their country of origin.

Marco Rubio doesn't want to help children fleeing for their lives. The type of immigrant Rubio generously thinks should be in the U.S. are, "Who never gets talked about in these debates... They've paid their fees, and they hired a lawyer, and they can't get in." Why should children fleeing the violent societies our government established be let into the U.S. when Rubio has rich foreign-born constituents who can pay for an attorney?

If the Republican party actually cared about protecting children, it would not have refused to help the undocumented minors that fled by the hundreds of thousands to the U.S. Last summer, instead of passing legislation to address the deteriorating situation in Central America and the humanitarian crisis on the border, Republicans in Congress left D.C. for their vacations. Rather than help the unaccompanied minors, the GOP blamed President Obama for the hundreds of thousands of children fleeing for their lives. But President Obama did not create the unaccompanied minor migration influx; Republican Party hero Ronald Reagan did.

The Nation recently demonstrated how U.S. involvement in El Salvador set the stage for the incredible violence that many of the unaccompanied minors are fleeing. In the 1980s, the Reagan Administration gave El Salvador's then president José Duarte a billion dollars to buy weapons, propelling 12 years of civil war. Ronald Reagan sent no fewer than 55 U.S. officials to train the Salvadorian military and turned a blind eye to widespread allegations that the government was torturing and murdering civilians.To prevent El Salvador from "becoming another Cuba", Reagan supported a government that killed 75,000 of its civilians.

The vast majority of the unaccompanied minors, some who are as young as 5 years old, are from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Honduras is currently the most dangerous country in the world. El Salvador falls second and Guatemala is also one of the most violent. In Guatemala, President Reagan and U.S. conservative Christians supported General Efraín Ríos Montt, whose troops murdered, raped and tortured Mayan Indians and maintained rule through death squads, torture and "disappearing" political opponents. Even today the U.S. is supporting a brutal police force in Honduras; this is merely a continuation of U.S. sanctioned state violence that has lasted for for several decades.

If the Republicans really care about children, it should stop trying to defund Planned Parenthood and focus on how its policies hard them. The party would support anti-gun legislation so that children can go to school and movie theaters and be at home without being executed, instead of letting 9 U.S. youths be gunned down per day.

Instead, it is a party whose platforms regarding children range from indifference, to cluelessness, and to actively cruel. Given this record, Republican lawmakers have a lot more to worry about in terms of child welfare than highly fabricated Planned Parenthood tapes.