Being “Pro-Life” Means Valuing Children Both Before and After They Are Born

6 mins read

For those of us who want to significantly reduce abortions and find the conduct of many traditionally “pro-life” candidates antithetical to our Biblical values, let me suggest a way forward out of the voting conundrum we now face. As a conservative and a Republican for over 40 years, I submit that being pro-life means not only protecting unborn children but protecting and building up the lives of those already born. If we believe in this broader definition, our concern for protecting life should extend beyond reducing abortions to enabling healthy and fruitful lives for all children. Valuing the life of innocent children should therefore include supporting policies that provide all children with health care and quality education; protect from harmful pollutants; keep them with their parents; reduce racial tensions; and lift them out of poverty.

Sadly, many current pro-life incumbents like to tout their appointment of conservative judges but have failed to provide a healthy life for children and have actually rescinded protections for them. For example, with respect to health care, many of my fellow Republicans have done all they can to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They slashed the time period parents can sign up for health insurance by 50%, cut funding for assistance to help with signing up by 95%, and intentionally drove medical insurance premiums up by rescinding the individual mandate for healthy people. Before the pandemic hit, those steps resulted in 1.9 million people losing their health insurance, including 500,000 children. 

Like protecting the life of unborn children, I submit being pro-life ought to mean being concerned about mental health and preventing suicides. In 2018, 1.4 million Americans attempted suicide and 48,344 lost their lives to suicide. Between 2007 and 2017, suicides among 10-to-24-year-olds rose by 56% and are now the second leading cause of death. Roughly 90% of those who took their own life had diagnosable mental health conditions. If we believe being pro-life should include addressing the anguish and torment people considering suicide go through, given that the ACA not only provides mental health care to over 20 million people but requires that all health insurance policies include mental health care, shouldn’t we support candidates working to expand enrollment in the ACA and not those working to dismantle it? One egregious example of undercutting health care for children and teens comes from the Trump administration’s aggressive push to reopen schools during the pandemic. It was tragically clear that his primary motive for reopening schools was to get the economy going and not to encourage school boards to carefully weigh the risks to the children in their community. 

Providing children with a quality education, particularly in their early years, is another form of being pro-life. We all know that a quality education builds self-esteem and provides a meaningful basis for a prosperous life. Yet, I saw serious duplicity in the Trump administration’s claims to be pro-life while endeavoring to cut the 2018 and 2019 federal budget for public schools by 19%. We who hold deep convictions about the sanctity of life should support candidates that prioritize funding the education of children far above tax cuts for those already wealthy.

Protecting the unborn, and those already born, from harmful environmental pollutants should be another element of being pro-life. Sadly, some incumbents refuse to believe we can grow the economy while protecting the air we breathe. As an example, the Trump administration rolled back power plant emission limits for mercury, arsenic and lead. These emissions affect all of us, especially the unborn and young children. 

Lastly, the right of children and parents to be together, one of the most sacrosanct of all rights, should be part of what it means to be pro-life. If that were an accepted truth, then it would not be difficult to agree that the previous administration’s policy of using child separations at our southern border as a deterrent to immigration was a far cry from the care and compassion that underlie being pro-life.   

In these turbulent times perhaps it would be helpful to consider how giants of the Republican Party — like Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln, who used the power of their office to protect the weak and build dignity for all people — would respond to the conduct of many Republicans today. I submit they would steadfastly withhold supporting fellow Republicans who failed to care for those already born. Following in the spirit of their lead, let me suggest we likewise withhold supporting anyone who calls themselves pro-life while putting their own political interests ahead of the needs of children. Let us abandon those who conveniently call themselves pro-life but behave antithetical to our Biblical values, and pour our heart, time and resources into caring for the weak and vulnerable among us.

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George Zadigian graduated from Kenyon College in 1978 and Cornell University in 1982 with an MBA. Since 1980 he has written editorials in The Bergen Record (NJ), The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Columbus Dispatch, The Akron Beacon Journal and The Alliance Review. His editorials focus on ferreting out opportunities to substantially improve the direction of US policies in the areas of foreign policy, economics, energy, the environment, education, health care, and justice.

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