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

Source: RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images

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.)

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Dear Republicans, Define “Pro-Life”

Source: Suhyeon Choi/Unsplash

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.

Playground Politics for the Trump Era

We should’ve seen it coming.

The moment Senate Republicans refused to hear Judge Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination—screaming “La La La” with their fingers jammed inside their ears, no doubt—our democracy transformed into the middle-aged, predominantly male version of Mean Girls.

“You can’t sit with us!”

Republicans were determined to attain ‘Queen Bee’ status no matter who got burned in their wake. Most didn’t seem to care how such actions might undermine democratic tradition, as they were merely out for revenge against President Obama. Garland’s credentials were hardly relevant—his bid floundered before it even had the chance to flourish.

But now, as Senate Republicans once again work to subvert our country’s founding principles by stealing health care from 22 million of Americas most vulnerable citizens behind closed doors, it’s clear to see that these behaviors weren’t the exception, but instead, the new rule.

Melodramatic as it may sound, Donald J. Trump’s fledgling presidency, and the contentious campaign on which it was built, exacerbates this trend toward infantile impulsivity. After all, those drafting the latest version of the health care bill essentially established an offshoot of the boys’ club we all know D.C. to be. At this point, it’s not even far fetched to imagine these 13 men congregating in some makeshift treehouse with a “No Girls Allowed” sign tacked to the door.

For modern Republicans, party “trumps” people, so to speak. Despite the fact that these elected officials were chosen to represent their constituents long before Trump moved into the neighborhood, they seem desperate to remain in the good graces of the curmudgeon-in-chief. Few have had the backbone thus far to speak out against Trump’s polarizing policies, not because they agree with his views necessarily, but because they don’t want to lose their seat at the lunch table.

Most Republicans are so unprepared to defend their actions, in fact, that they’ve actually tried (and failed) to curtail press freedoms within the halls of Congress. Let’s just say, these so-called leaders never would’ve survived my eighth grade history class. Our teacher, Mr. Finn, warned us that, if we crossed paths in the hallway outside our designated class time, we might still be subject to an on-site pop quiz. No one enjoys being caught off guard, but when your grade’s on the line, you’ve got to use any opportunity you can to excel.

Of course, we are talking about the party that used the national debate stage to argue about the implications of male hand size, so perhaps shining in the spotlight isn’t their strong suit.

But at the end of the day, the bell tolls for those who’ve compromised their dignity to appease the man who, judging by the true results of the 2016 election, wasn’t actually the most popular candidate in America. Delaying the vote on a bill that’s more reminiscent of a death sentence cannot and will not absolve this group of the guilt associated with their methods, either. Their colleagues—on both sides of the aisle—must hold them accountable for its content and its creation.

Trump himself deemed the bill “mean” in a private meeting with Senate Republicans—and he’s the Regina George of this entire mess, so that speaks volumes. Yet, even if the bill still isn’t as “kind” as he’d prefer, there’s no doubt that he’d sign it into law if it manages to pass. Like the rest of his cohorts, he’s determined to destroy Obama’s legacy by any means possible.

From climate change to Cuban relations, Trump will scribble his name on any executive order or piece of legislation that undoes Obama’s landmark achievements, even if it means compromising America’s future in the process. He’s all about spectacle, not substance. “Getting things done” means nothing if, in the end, everything’s come undone.

Maybe, if we promise to stick a gold star at the top of each document that crosses his desk, Trump will finally sign something that benefits the greater good.

 

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.

 

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