Dear Donald –
Another week, and another march. The annual March for Life came to D.C. today, as it has every year since 1974. Today’s march, though, was radically different than Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington. Unlike last week, today’s protesters were marching to restrict rights, not maintain or expand them. They were marching to enshrine their religious beliefs in the law, not separate the two. They said they were marching for life, but their agenda seems woefully inadequate to promote life – a good, quality life for all children – in our country. According to the organizers, they have four main priorities:
- Have you appoint an antiabortion judge to the Supreme Court
- Make the Hyde Anendment permanent law
- Make all abortions after 20 weeks illegal under Federal law
- Defund Planned parenthood
On the first issue, let’s be clear that an antiabortion justice is an anti-Constitution justice. A woman’s right to choose a safe, elective medical procedure in consultation with her physician has been constitutionally protected for 43 years, which is why I was baffled when you said that you thought Obergefell was settled law, but Roe v Wade was not. Keep in mind that constitutional rights are not whisked away simply because a vocal minority doesn’t want them to be rights anymore. The only thing that should be unsettled about Roe is that it is a right still denied to too many women. A Supreme Court justice should never be chosen on the basis of his intent to deny rights and protections to people.
As for the Hyde Amendemnt, banning the use of Federal funds for abortions, it’s been passed every year since 1976. You’d be hard pressed to find any provision of law with that many up votes in its favor. It’s clearly not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s basically permanent law already.
Even at the State level, 20 week bans are wildly misguided and impractical. At the Federal level, it’s ridiculous, and you’d burn trough a ton of political capital for something that would go nowhere. 57% of the American people believe that abortions should be legal in all or most cases. You’d likely lose the fight in Congress, or you’d relegate your party to the trash heap for years to come. Just say it’s not a Federal issue and move on.
And defunding Planned Parenthood is truly a bad idea. If nothing else, the organization helps women reduce the likelihood of unplanned pregnancies, actually dropping the number of abortions nationwide. Defunding it would likely increase the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions, as well as increasing the number of deaths from various cancers. It is a truly bad and ideologically driven agenda item that has no basis in the reality of the work that Planned Parenthood does every day.
With all that being said, what would a real pro-life agenda look like? Maybe something like this:
- Free healthcare for expectant mothers
- A stipend for low-income expectant mothers or those who plan to put their children up for adoption to help offset costs
- Bolstering the foster care system to ensure quality homes for as many children as possible
- Removing adoption restrictions (e.g., gay bans) for otherwise qualified families
- Increase the availability of affordable child care options
- Universal healthcare
- Ensuring that the minimum wage is a living wage
- Expanding food assistance programs to ensure that no child (or adult) goes hungry
- Ensuring high quality schools in low income communities
- Increase the value of Pell Grants to cover the cost of tuition at 4 year colleges
- Promoting competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities
- Criminal justice reform
- Increasing the number of SROs and transitional housing programs to reduce homelessness
- Reducing the availability of guns
- Increasing the availability and reducing the cost of drug treatment programs
- Reducing prescription drug costs for seniors (and all people)
- Ensuring that no senior receiving Social Security lives in poverty
- Promoting and protecting death with dignity laws
To me, that’s much more of a pro-life agenda than anyone was talking about today.