A sudden flurry of twitter activity around the #StandForLife trend, took my interest yesterday. The trend is in support of Texas House Bill 2, the Abortion Regulations Bill. I searched long and hard for any sign of anyone actually standing up for the life of a child once he or she had been born. Imagine my surprise when I failed to notice any mention of promoting universal healthcare, or well funded child care, or an emphasis on fighting child poverty, or a campaign to end the death penalty, or increased spending on education rather than weapons, or restrictions of guns. It would appear that #StandForLife simply means, protect a fetus; but when it’s born, it’s on its own, and should probably get a gun.
In a wonderful fit of ironic “freedom“, some were suggesting a fetus should have Constitutional rights, but then lose those rights, if they grow up to be gay:
Others didn’t understand why discarding cells from a womb and protecting a woman’s health, isn’t treated the same as a word that has around 300 years of violent slave related, human rights abusing context behind it:
For those calling themselves ‘pro-life’ or insisting that they’re standing in protection of human life, they would do themselves great credit to note that universal healthcare, in every country it is permitted, works. And it tends to work far better, for far cheaper, for the majority of the population. Pro-lifers first big battle should be a system of healthcare that works for all. If we take the examples of the US with its private healthcare system, and the UK with its national healthcare system, we note some key differences, according to the World Health Organisation:
UK Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 79/82
US Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 76/81
UK Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 5
US Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 8
UK Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 91/57
US Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 131/77
UK obesity rates (2013): 23%
UK obesity rates (2013): 30.6%
UK Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2011): 3,322
US Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2011): 8,608
UK Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2011): 9.3
US Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2011): 17.9
We should also note that the 9.3% of GDP the UK spends on healthcare, is enough to cover 100% of the people. By contrast, the 17.9% of GDP the US spends on healthcare, covers around 30% of the people. So, as of 2011, the US healthcare market was far less efficient than the UKs socialised healthcare system. It costs the government more, it costs people more, whilst life expectancy is lower, and there’s a higher risk of your child dying early, under the US system. It helps that that UK also has much stronger primary care, which is known to reduce healthcare costs overall. The US is especially good at late stage intervention. 13.7% of Americans were uninsured when Clinton left office in 2000; compared with 15.4% when Bush left office.
If you were to #StandForLife in the US, you would be advocating a universal healthcare system, opposing all Republican suggestions.
Republicans create poverty. Especially among children. Child poverty in the US is getting worse. The percentage of children living in a household earning less than 50% of the national average, was at 21.4% as of 2011. The lowest, is Denmark, at 2.4%. The UK is at 16.2%. In fact, from 2001, to 2009, the Bush years, child poverty rose by almost 6% in the US. Republicans care about life, before it is born. The moment it is born, they plunge you into poverty. That of course isn’t too much of a shock, given that Bush’s wealthy tax breaks resulted in the median income falling from $52,500 in 2000 (inflation adjusted) to $50,303 in 2008. In 2000, 31.6 million Americans were living in poverty. When Bush left office, 39.8 million were in poverty.
During the 2012 ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations, the House Republicans passed 39.8 million DOA Plan B 215-209-1. This Bill didn’t make it to the Senate, but its interesting to note that the proposal from Boehner, included throwing 300,000 children off of food stamps, whilst the Tax Policy Center found that the same proposal offered an average $108,000 tax cut for millionaires, in a typical Republican move to redistribute wealth upwards, whilst endangering and impoverishing the lives of children. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted that the Republican plan results in:
“…a mother with two children who works full time at the minimum wage of $7.25 and earns $14,500 a year would lose $1,560 of her Child Tax Credit, which would plummet from $1,725 to $165.”
Republicans in the House, we know, are pushing forward attempts at deep and harmful cuts to education funding, to help protect spending on defence. In May, House Republicans proposed a 6% rise in Department of Defence spending, whilst proposing a cap for Labour, Education, and HHS at $121.8; about $28bn lower than expected. Children hit again by a Republican obsession with spending cuts for those who need it the most, whilst proposing tax breaks for those who need it least.
In Tennessee, Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield introduced a bill in January that would limit welfare payments to families, based on a child’s performance at school. Essentially, do your homework, or we rich people are going to starve you. Interestingly, Senators and Representatives monthly wage isn’t dependent on their performance in government. They will eat whether they succeed in anything of any substance, or not.
If those on welfare in Tennessee have a child who skips school, they already get 20% of their welfare cut. Campfield wishes to add an extra 30% if the child isn’t performing to his standard.
Republicans dominate the State of Mississippi, they hold the Senate seats, and three of the four US House seats. And yet, voting a pro-life Party has done nothing but keep Mississippi at the very bottom of the list of worst possible States for children to live, according to Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Index. It has remained at the bottom for 24 years. Though this year, it was overtaken by another red State; New Mexico. In fact, the bottom five States for child wellbeing in the US, are Republican controlled. All five States, coincidentally, passed ‘Right to Work’ anti-union laws, pushing poverty up horrendously, whilst enriching the wealthiest. It isn’t a war on poverty, it is a war on the poor.
In Mississippi, child poverty rates are at a shocking 32%, one child or teenager is shot and killed every single week, and infant mortality is higher than anywhere in the country. This, as well as around 60,000 uninsured people living in Mississippi, and yet, Republicans in the State have decided to tackle all of these problems…….. by harshly regulating abortion inducing pills, whilst attempting to make it easier to carry a gun in public. Let’s also not forget that Mississippians still pay their tax dollars toward State murder, through the death penalty.
According to Gallup, in 2009, Mississippi was the most Christian State in America (Vermont is the least religious State, and also, has one of the lowest poverty rates. It is a Democrat State), whilst also being the worst State to raise a child for 24 years. Which renders tweets like this, rather ironic:
– Ironic on several counts. Firstly, for the reference to Christianity, at a time when the most Christian States tend to have the highest rates of child poverty. But also, because it’s coming from Ted Cruz. A US Senator from Texas, who voted against affordable University education for students, with the Student Loan Affordability Act, against regulations for assault weapons, against background checks for guns, against limiting firearm magazine capacity, sponsored limiting funds for people with pre-existing conditions, against the Violence against Women Act (so your child is a ‘gift from God and deserves to be protected’, until she is born), and against the Sandy relief fund and disaster relief. It is almost impossible for one man to be more anti-women, and anti-life than Senator Cruz.
#StandForLife is a soundbite. It sounds far more attractive, loving, and respectable than the truth, which is simply Republicans, under the banner of “individual Liberty”, wishing to control as many people (mainly women) as they possibly can, whilst enriching themselves in the process.
If you were to truly #StandForLife in the US, you would never vote Republican again.