An American Editor

February 25, 2011

The Forked Tongue Dialogues: The Budget and Abortion

It seems that the Republican antiabortion wing is in a celebratory mood, having cut off funding for Planned Parenthood in the House budget legislation and tightening abortion restrictions. I’m not getting into the morality of abortion vs. no abortion; rather, I want to think about the forked tongue approach that the Republicans and antiabortion crowd take.

The problem is this: At the same time that abortion funding and family planning funds were cut, so were the funds that would provide medical care and food and education for all of the “saved children.” How hypocritical can one be! Save a life so that it can starve, suffer from illness, live in poverty, be uneducated. There is something wrong with this type of thinking.

What I see wrong is that the fight to prevent abortion isn’t really a fight to save lives; rather, it is a fight to save money gussied up in a moral argument. I’m waiting for one of the congresspersons who are antiabortion to come forward and offer to underwrite from their personal funds the costs for feeding, housing, and educating, as well as for medical needs, of the next saved child. They don’t come forward and make such an offer because the argument is not one of morality but one of money.

It seems to me that if you are going to insist that I adhere to your vision of morality, you should at minimum provide me with the tools necessary to do so, which is more than spouting words. You don’t want me to abort a fetus but you also don’t want me to be educated about family planning. You don’t want me to abort but you don’t think it necessary to provide me with a minimum, barebones way of feeding, housing, or educating the child. You don’t want me to abort yet you do not want to give me access to the medical care necessary to carry the fetus to term or take care of it after its birth.

Is there something missing in this dialog?

Common sense is missing. For every action there is a reaction is applicable not only to the dynamic of physics but to the dynamic of life. Every child born needs food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education. Unfortunately, under the current Republican view, the dynamic stops at “every child born” in the fantastical belief that every parent can adequately provide for their child on their own. Republicans used to boast that they were grounded in reality and that it was the Democrats who believed in fantasy, yet here they are disproving that self-assertion.

I agree that the federal deficit is a problem and that it must be addressed. I also agree that government is not the answer to every social ill. But if government is going to be the cause of the social ill, it has the responsibility to alleviate that ill or not create the ill in the first place — and that is what is at the heart of the abortion dilemma and why Republicans act in a forked-tongue manner.

Republicans claim to want government out of citizens’ personal lives. Wasn’t that the argument in the Second Amendment cases? Isn’t that the argument as regards Obamacare and mandatory participation? Yet the Republican tongue forks when it comes to keeping government out of the abortion muddle — one fork bans or restricts abortions, the other takes away the support system for those who don’t abort.

One can’t prevent all unwanted pregnancies by simply declaring unwanted pregnancy to be illegal, undesirable, antisocial, not worthy of funding. Nor can one prevent unwanted pregnancies simply by education. And we all know that although abstinence is the most effective method of preventing unwanted pregnancy, universal abstinence just doesn’t work. With all the dalliances outside marriage in which congresspersons seem to indulge, one would think that would be self-evident to congress, but apparently it is the typical story: do as I say, not as I do!

Consequently, if Republicans are going to ban or make abortion so restricted that it is in essence unavailable (except, of course, to politicians and the wealthy for whom abortion has always been available), then there is a corresponding duty to make available to the newborn and to children all of those services that are needed to ensure that the child grows healthily and receives the education needed to be a productive citizen.

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