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Civil Rights

Pick a Side, Any Side: Pro-Life or Pro-Birth?

— August 5, 2016

Right now, an estimated 15.5 million children in America live in poverty, with 15.3 million of those children going hungry on a daily basis because they live in food-insecure households. This typically means these kids eat 1-2 meals per day, which are often provided through free breakfast and lunch programs available in public schools. This doesn’t account for weekends, holiday breaks and summer vacation. Most parents of these children receive some form of governmental assistance through either the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). They may also receive monetary help through their (gasp!) state’s social welfare system. My question, then, is how can anyone who asserts a pro-life position justify a fervent anti-welfare stance? Doesn’t the desire to eliminate governmental aid for low-income families negate the entire pro-life argument, thus becoming a pro-BIRTH one instead? Here’s the thing: you are either pro-life and pro-welfare, or you are a hypocrite. Pick a side, any side: pro-life or pro-birth, but you can’t have it both ways.

Let me be clear: this is not a discussion about being pro-choice or pro-life, or which side you support and why. Maybe another time, but not today. Instead, this is about those who state they are pro-life, then fight so hard to make access to safe, affordable healthcare for women less available (or even obsolete), vehemently oppose a minimum wage increase, and who believe all welfare programs should be eliminated because they are funded through their “hard-earned” tax dollars. There is a gaping disconnect here; one that just doesn’t make sense.

If the government believes it should be allowed to mandate choice, such as the deeply personal one a woman faces upon learning she is pregnant, it can’t be tailored like an Armani suit. Insisting she must have the child regardless of her willingness, financial means, marital status, age or situation that led to her pregnancy, then turning a blind eye once the child is born by denying her a livable wage, affordable child and healthcare, and supplemental means to help support that child is not only disingenuous, it’s just plain cruel.

SNAP logo; image courtesy of United States Department of Agriculture –

Some argue, “If she didn’t want a baby, why did she get pregnant in the first place?” or “We all know how babies are made,” with former Republican house member Todd Akin, in 2012, going so far as to claim women who have been “legitimately raped” hardly ever get pregnant. (The absurdity of that statement alone is worth a separate post.) The fact is, why she got pregnant is not the issue, though it is worth noting a woman can’t reproduce asexually. Claiming we all know how babies are made is obviously not true, as evidenced by the statement made by Akin. So which is it? A healthy life or obligatory birth? If you firmly support the pro-life movement, that’s absolutely your right. But if doing so means you simply want all children born, but nothing to do with them once they are, you don’t get to bask in self-righteous glory.

The adoption argument doesn’t work here, either. If so many people are actively adopting the countless children in this country in need of a stable, loving, permanent home, why are 15.5 million of them still living in extreme poverty and 15.3 million of them hungry? Are the (predominantly male) politicians who are trying so desperately to police women and their bodies sitting in the delivery rooms with open arms and open doors for these children? Are they pledging their commitment to ensuring they have access to all of the resources necessary in order to live a happy, productive life? Are they adopting them?

Not everyone with wealth has worked hard to achieve it and not every person who sits below the poverty line is lazy. Period.

Much as some people would like it to be true, moral opinions cannot become law. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, you must acknowledge the results of your beliefs. You must also acknowledge the difference between pro-life and pro-birth; you don’t get to complain about money from your taxes going toward the maintenance of a child’s health and well-being if you also believe every child conceived should be born. It just doesn’t work that way.

Sources: Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics Todd Akin On Abortion: ‘Legitimate Rape’ Victims Have ‘Ways To Try To Shut That Whole Thing Down’

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