When Pro-Life Leaders Defend Fetuses, But Not Grown Children

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Republicans currently control the House and the Senate, but that authority hardly seems to be enough for lawmakers. Our elected officials don’t want power over the law, per se — they want power over people.

Thus, when one considers the overarching Republican approach to abortion, one cannot help but assume that this pro-life stance actually comes from a position based on malice, not benevolence. These leaders claim they are dedicated to protecting the unborn, but judging by their response to the rampant gun violence in America, they’re willing to stand idly by while grown children die — a stance that runs counter to their supposed platform, as wanting to preserve life shouldn’t apply solely to fetuses in the womb.

According to GOP’s rationale, women are nothing more than vessels for future life. Despite the progress we’ve made toward achieving gender equality, we are still treated like second-class citizens in the eyes of lawmakers, who think they can control our medical decisions even though none of the lives involved are their own. Perhaps they don’t understand that being part of this governing body does not mean they have the authority to govern bodies.

But now, as those children who’ve been directly impacted by gun violence — more specifically, those who saw 17 students and faculty members at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., die — begin to speak out and protest America’s current gun laws, Republicans seem to believe that these kids no longer have the right to life because, to ensure safety, they might need to take a hit of their own, right where it hurts most: their wallets.

By grabbing the reins on abortion, Republicans demonstrate cowardice because they are merely speaking on behalf of those who have no voice. The only ones who can oppose the pro-life agenda are mothers, and leaders have already done their best to silence them. However, once those children emerge, their first cry leaves them vulnerable to the same oppression as everyone else. And we’ve seen in action, full force, this past week, in particular.

Despite the vigor and determination driving the teenagers of Parkland, the Republican officials in Congress continue to disregard their cries for change because, now that these children have minds of their own, they have the capacity to oppose the GOP agenda. They have the power to influence change — the change that Republican leaders are too stingy to embrace — and that scares those who rely on National Rifle Association donations. These kids can see where these leaders have gone wrong and they’re not afraid to highlight these flaws.

Much like how the GOP tries to undermine women by calling their credibility into question as they fight to govern their own bodies, these officials insist the children will inevitably lose steam and abandon their fight for gun reform because they’re superficial and will become distracted by the prom or some fashion trend. But this time, it’s easy to tell that these students will continue to transform their grief into action.

Democrats — and late-night talk show hosts — condemn the wrongs of the world at every turn, but only Republicans have the majority power to make change happen. However, it’s in their inaction that they reiterate what their actions have already expressed: aside from their pro-life stance with regard to reproduction, American lives are the least of their concerns.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)


Thoughts And Prayers Mean Nothing Without Common Sense Gun Control Laws

Source: Resonant Muse/Facebook

Like archived stock footage, we’ve seen this happen time and time again.

Breaking news alerts flood social media as reporters broadcast live footage from the scene on every major TV network. It’s slow at first, but soon information begins to flow alongside images of students and teachers as they evacuate the school to escape the armed individual wreaking havoc inside. Everyone scatters as they rush to safety, their arms raised to prove they’re not the threat. Practice drills could never have prepared them for the terror and carnage they’ve just witnessed.

But well before the survivors have found refuge in the arms of loved ones, and long before the casualties have been counted, lawmakers take to Twitter and Facebook to offer their thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families when, in reality, they should be apologizing for their inaction and their greed.

Mass school shootings have become almost routine in the US. We’re so desensitized now, in fact, that these tragedies often fade from the national spotlight mere days after lives are irreparably shattered. Congress and news outlets might be able to allow the memory of the given massacre to fade, but for the residents of Parkland, Fla., in this case, the wound may never fully heal.

On February 14—Valentine’s Day—Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when he ambushed students and administrators with a semi-automatic assault rifle. Despite being a day dedicated to love, this southern town will forever remember this date as one filled with death and destruction.

Now, as residents grieve those taken too soon, survivors and supporters are calling upon Congress to turn their half-hearted thoughts and prayers into common sense gun control laws in order to prevent this sort of killing spree from happening again once and for all.

Within the first 45 days of 2018 alone, the US has seen 18 school shootings — that’s an average of one attack every 60 hours, and that’s beyond unacceptable when you pause to consider that every single death or injury could’ve been avoided if only Congress valued innocent lives more than the almighty dollar. After all, we elect these lawmakers under the assumption that they’ll always have our best interests at heart, even though their personal interests are all that inevitably come into play.

Despite the public outpouring of thoughts and prayers, many GOP representatives and Congressional leaders are beholden to the National Rifle Association (NRA) because they’ve accepted millions in donations from the controversial organization over the years. Thus, while they are doling out their condolences online, they’re only thinking about how they can spin public perceptions and praying that gun control debates calm down in the coming days so they, too, can emerge from this atrocity unscathed.

Bess Kalb, writer for “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” spent the aftermath of the Parkland shooting responding to GOP tweets with the amount they’ve accepted from the NRA to date. Donations indicate the given official’s likelihood to favor less strict gun laws, as they profit from the money made off these unstable murderers. Every dollar that crosses their palm represents the blood on their hands, for every time they avoid enacting the common sense gun laws citizens so desperately desire, they become an accomplice in the murder of another innocent victim.

As Everytown’s latest commercial states: “It’s not too soon to talk about policy change. It’s too late.” Lawmakers believe pouncing on the topic of gun control so soon after a mass shooting politicizes the tragedy, but the fact that such attacks continue to happen with such frequency because of the lax laws these officials condone makes each instance inherently political. By not acting in the heat of the moment, officials allow the outrage to simmer so other issues may consume the national conversation, enabling them to dodge the issue — until the next mass shooting occurs, of course. By ignoring the huge death toll, these supposed leaders prove that they’re, in fact, being pulled around by their purse strings.

When Donald Trump took to the podium to address the Parkland massacre Thursday, he assured: “We are here for you — whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain.” He emphasized that he would work to enhance school safety and improve mental health care in America.

However, nearly one year ago this month, Trump quietly signed a bill rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun. That’s right! One of his first orders as president was to essentially put guns in the hands of the mentally unstable because he, too, was swayed by the NRA. In the moment, he says one thing in an effort to placate the public, but like his colleagues, his words rarely lead to action.

Promises mean nothing if they’re empty. Thoughts and prayers are worthless when there are ways to prevent tragedies without the need for divine intervention. GOP members cannot claim they’ll be there for these survivors when they’ve proven that they don’t truly care in the past. If they did, they would have enacted stricter gun control laws after the 2012 killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. If the deaths of 20 small children couldn’t coax these supposed leaders into action, nothing ever will.

Source: Elizabeth Banks/Twitter

Our elected officials clearly don’t care that our nation’s children have become collateral damage in their support of the NRA. Thankfully, many of these survivors will be able to vote in the next presidential election. If Congress won’t act on their behalf to prevent future deaths, they can express their disgust at the polls, thereby dealing the blow that finally (hopefully) takes these reprehensible gun laws down for good.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Dear Republicans, Define “Pro-Life”

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Middle-aged white men love to tell women what to do.

Sure, that statement sounds like an exaggeration, but when you consider the age and race of your average Republican official, it’s not unfounded or untrue—especially when the U.S. House passes legislation that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy mere days after 58 concertgoers were gunned down during the country’s largest mass shooting in history.

Despite the fact that most Republicans run for office atop their pro-life soapbox, their post-election actions toward anyone existing outside some woman’s womb convey an entirely different narrative.

From healthcare and disaster relief, to immigration and gun control, Republican policy only seems to prioritize white, male lives (and the lives of those who have yet to pass through the birth canal, of course). Skin color and circumstance don’t matter until you’re born. After that? The law can’t (read: probably won’t) save you. Lawmakers will dictate what you can or cannot do, but they will not enact measures that serve anyone but themselves.

Since Donald Trump took office, for instance, Republicans have made multiple, albeit futile, attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act—the ultimate pipe dream in the GOP’s ongoing war against everyone. Authors of the bill have made it their primary mission to ensure that each version eliminates mandatory coverage for preventative care, including prenatal care, which contradicts every pro-life speech they’ve ever spewed throughout their careers.

Caring for the fetus must mean you care about the mother, too, right? Apparently not.

(A Hippocratic oath for the hypocrites might be in order.)

Source: Tim Bish/Unsplash

But, dear child, if you do emerge with your health intact, your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will likely perish the moment you crown, especially if you’re not male, white, or wealthy.

Because black lives don’t matter unless you can distort their peaceful protests into fodder for the white nationalist pyromaniacs among us. Immigrant lives don’t matter, either, unless you can ship their children off to homes unknown and pretend it’s for the economic benefit of those who are descendants of immigrants themselves. And Puerto Rican lives certainly don’t matter unless you can tweet insults at their capitol’s mayor while she wades through waist-deep waters to save the people of her city.

Judging from GOP rationale, women are nothing more than vessels for future life. Despite the progress we’ve made toward achieving gender equality, we are still treated like second-class citizens in the eyes of lawmakers who think they can control our medical decisions even though none of the lives involved are their own. Perhaps they don’t understand that being part of this governing body does not mean they have the authority to govern bodies.

But you cannot force us to bear children when you won’t protect them from the unstable psychopaths that steal their innocence and their lives as they learn the ABCs.

You cannot tell us what to do with our bodies as those of our fellow brothers and sisters fall lifeless at the venue where they were once living life to its fullest.

You cannot make us adhere to your religious justifications while you dole out “thoughts and prayers” in lieu of laws that could save countless lives.

When domestic terrorists can amass an arsenal without raising eyebrows, but innocent citizens cannot access life-saving medical treatment, you can’t help but wonder where the root of this “pure evil” lies. Perhaps it lies in Republicans’ continued refusal to label Stephen Paddock—and Adam Lanza, and Dylann Roof, etc.—as terrorists. Perhaps it lies within the inherent “white privilege” these killers maintain even in the aftermath. Or maybe it lies in the simple fact that GOP leaders consistently fail to admit that white men, themselves included, represent the greatest threat to our nation’s safety to date.

Source: Antonio Grosz/Unsplash

Data from Mother Jones demonstrates that, since 1982, white men were responsible for 54 percent of the mass shootings on record. Couple that with the seemingly white nationalist measures enacted or proposed since Trump’s inauguration and you have a nation in crisis.

While there are exceptions to every rule, most modern Republicans appear to have little to no regard for life whatsoever. The fact that people are probably nodding in agreement as they read that sentence should embarrass the GOP to no end. But instead of proving the public wrong, those at fault will continue to transfer the blame to the helpless and hopeless.

After all, it’s increasingly difficult to believe that any member of the GOP operates with their constituents’ best interests at heart. Not when they sit idly by while the antagonizer-in-chief pokes and prods North Korea to the brink of nuclear war.

Sticks and stones might break some bones, but words could lead to mass destruction.

Yet Republicans do nothing.

Democrats—and late-night talk show hosts—condemn the wrongs of the world at every turn, but only Republicans have the majority power make change happen. However, it’s in their inaction that they reiterate what their actions have already expressed: aside from their pro-life stance with regard to reproduction, American lives are the least of the concerns.

Trump’s War on Women Includes Mother Nature

Women’s bodies are always under public scrutiny. We’re on display from the moment we’re born. Why do you think so many of the naked babies featured in films and advertisements are clearly girls? Even before we learn to command our own bodily functions, our bodies are not our own.

And ever since Trump and his cohorts came to town, it seems almost illegal to inhabit the female form.

Sexual assault victims, as it stands, will soon be treated as accomplices of their own attack if the GOP has anything to say. Under Trumpcare, victims will no longer have access to safe abortion services, should the need arise, leading them to take matters into their own hands or carry the child to term—an alternative to the traditional life sentence. Because rape will soon count as a pre-existing condition, victims likely won’t be able to afford maternity care and mental health services either, forcing them to pay—both monetarily and emotionally—for the sins trespassed against them.

Of course, while women are nothing more than “second-class” citizens whose only crime was being born, Trump has chosen to tackle an even greater foe of the female variety—Mother Nature. By pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Trump has stripped Mother Nature of her rights. And she will not remain silent.

Source: kellybdc/Flickr

While women continue to speak out against the injustices we face, it’s easy for the predominantly white, male Republican Party to brush us off as nothing more than noise. But Mother Nature? No, she will never go quietly into the night. No matter how deep their denial flows, lawmakers cannot and will not put an end to climate change by pretending it doesn’t exist.

Because it does exist. Anyone with common sense and an eighth grade education will agree. We’ve failed our planet and, in response, our planet has begun to fail us. Why do you think the massive crack in Antarctica’s ice shelf grew 11 miles in only six days? Why do you think the once-vibrant Great Barrier Reef now suffers from coral bleaching and imminent death? Why do you think koalas, polar bears and countless other animal species are struggling to survive in their evolving habitats?

It’s downright preposterous that the political party that so closely associates with the pro-life movement continues to pursue policies that imperil the lives of those who are and those who will be. They might not live to experience the repercussions of their decisions, but their children and grandchildren certainly will. Even great wealth won’t save them from what’s to come.

Remember when Cal, played by Billy Zane, tries to bribe his way onto a lifeboat in Titanic? While Mr. Murdoch takes the money initially, he ultimately throws the stack back in Cal’s face as he says, “Your money can’t save you anymore than it can save me.” No amount of money will ever be able to reverse the damage Trump’s decision will inflict.

We are all in the same boat and everyone’s the captain—if the U.S. proves to be the iceberg that destroys the world’s environmental efforts, we’re all going to go down with the ship.

Government officials and their law enforcement lackeys can continue to treat women like one collective menace to society, but they cannot punish Mother Nature without being punished in return. Climate change will persist no matter how fervently the GOP resists. We might not be able to leave this planet in a better state than it was when we arrived, but we can do everything within our power to make the future brighter for those who don’t yet have a say.

In this instance, Trump shouldn’t be concerned with the people of Pittsburgh or Paris. When it comes to Mother Nature, he should focus solely on the children of tomorrow. He has an 11-year-old son, after all. Such disregard for science should be considered some form of negligence, if you think about it. In fact, it’s downright criminal.



(This post originally appeared on the Ms. Magazine Blog.)