That is a well- used term, but what does it really mean?

Pro-life is generally associated with being against abortion. When I think of being pro-life, I see a much broader definition. If you are against terminating a pregnancy, should not the term be pro-birth?

Life is more than birth; life is what comes after, for a long time. Like being supportive of efforts to keep people fed and healthy, enhancing child development, and programs that support the elderly with medical care, nutrition and maintaining their safety and dignity. Life is not just about the unborn, it is very much about the living.

I believe abortion to be a personal issue. I am not pro-abortion; I fall into the pro-choice category. I believe we need better education, available birth control, and reality-centered discussion. In states where these are the public policy, unplanned pregnancies rates, as well as communicable disease rates, are lower than the norm.

If you feel differently on abortion, that is fine. Laws prohibiting abortion will only drive it underground, and will not prevent unplanned pregnancies. If your aim is to reduce unintended pregnancies, work the front end of the issue. We are an intelligent country, but fear sex education and more readily available birth control.  Let’s have an “adult conversation” as the ultra conservatives used to say.  This is a very deep issue, so I will leave it at that.

Recently, Congress voted to tighten requirements for SNAP participation. Whenever conservatives want to flex muscle and convince their followers they are fiscally responsible, guidelines for assistance programs get tweaked. These conservatives are concerned about cheaters and work-able adults milking the programs, but have no problem with reducing corporate income tax rates are reduced and bolstering farm support programs. SNAP is a fancy name for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which used to be Food Stamps.  Almost 43M people were participating in the program in April of this year, an increase of 5.5M people over April of last year.  Thankfully, the Pandemic EBT program provides vouchers for children who would have received meals at their schools.

Interestingly, McDonalds and Walmart have the most employees drawing SNAP and Medicaid benefits. Since the pandemic, four out of ten food bank recipients are first-timers. Food banks help 35M people every year. People literally camp out the night before to secure a place in line. The food bank down the street from my office has cars stretching a mile during weekly distributions.

Healthcare in this country is great for those who can afford it. For millions of people, overpriced insurance provides insufficient and expensive coverage. Millions more have no coverage. Does not Medicaid provide medical care for the needy? Only if you meet the income requirements, which many do not; they make too little to purchase insurance on the market and too much to qualify for Medicaid.

States have an option under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid eligibility. Most have, but my own state, Kansas, has failed to do so. Pro-life conservatives have refused.  As a result, many needy people cannot access the program and rural hospitals are on the edge of closure or have done so.

If healthcare was not challenging enough, during the pandemic, adults were more likely to delay seeking care or expending already tight resources. The chart above shows the cost of insurance premiums over two decades, with costs essentially doubling.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and has been at that level since 2009. Eight states have a $15 per hour minimum wage currently or are phasing it in.

For a full-time employee that is $15,080 per year, before taxes. Try living on that. Insurance? Forget about it. If you have kids, you are likely receiving SNAP and perhaps Medicaid. Your quality of life at that income level is a harsh reality. For children, the challenges can be significant, lacking resources and opportunities their schoolmates may take for granted.

Pro-life is sometimes associated with those against the death penalty, which is ironic because most anti-abortion people I know are in favor of the death penalty.  I am not judging, but life is life, and it appears hypocritical to stand on both sides of the line.

Speaking of quality of life, what level of quality comes with locking kids in cages who came across the border with their parents. Many children, separated from their parents,  will never be reunited, because the federal government no longer knows the whereabouts of the parents. Additionally, an untold number of young children were set back to their country of origin, without a parent. While in custody at these third-party operated detention facilities, children often did not receive proper healthcare, nutrition or safety.  Sexual abuse and reproductive surgery on women are reported. Pro-life? Some of these stories sound like Nazi Germany.

Life in a pandemic: wear a mask and save lives.  Wait.  Is asking someone to wear a mask violating his or her constitutional rights? A mask is an assault on freedom, something a fascist society would do, right? No, appealing to citizens to take personal responsibility is not a fascist action. It is a caring request, but when many refuse to be responsible and put others at risk, then formal action must be taken. Trying to keep others alive and healthy should be a no-brainer for pro-life advocates. Instead, it is an attack on science, discrediting public health officials, threatening elected officials, and engaging in super-spreader events.

In my old age, I am seeing a more pronounced disconnect between Christian values and actual behavior. Advocating for no abortion, while turning your back on the health of pregnant women, and the quality of life of children, is lacking in rationale and decency.

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