I voted for Pro Life candidates in this last election, following my conscious and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and the social justice stance of the Catholic Church. Being Pro Life means we should respect and support human life from “womb to tomb,” to quote the term used in Great Britain after WW II when they enacted national health care. Let me add that I do not limit my life affirming beliefs to the mission of ensuring that all pregnancies result in the birth of a baby, but instead I embrace what Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B. describes as truly being for life, with your political beliefs and actions supporting life in all its stages and in all circumstances.
Sadly my candidates did not win and from the information spewing out of Washington every day, it is obvious that the winning party is anything but Pro Life. The quality of life for most Americans will be greatly reduced by the policies, legislation and budget cuts proposed by this president and the Republicans who support him. Therefore I do not consider President Trump, his Administration and the Republican Senators and Representatives, who are now in office, to be Pro Life in any way. In fact, everything they stand for and want to do is anti-life.
Defunding the Affordable Health Care Act , then saying “it is imploding on it’s own” is misleading and dishonest. According to the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Republican’s American Health Care Act two of the biggest tax cuts with the repeal of Obamacare would deliver roughly $144 billion over the next ten years to those with annual incomes of $1 million dollars or more. And the plan would insure 14 million less people than the current law in 2018 and 24 million fewer by 2026. Premiums will be higher for most people who now have insurance through Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act since the elderly will get less in tax credits and those with pre-existing conditions will be penalized with 30% higher premiums if they allow their coverage to lapse. They will also be forced to pay premiums for a full year before coverage of their pre-existing condition kicks in. The Medicaid expansion, which took place under Obamacare in most states, will be rolled back, leaving more than 11 million vulnerable working poor without coverage. This Federally funded expansion has been the single most beneficial aspect of the ACA and without it the working poor will have nothing, because the tax credits offered by the Republican bill do not help those who don’t earn enough to pay taxes.
The craziest part of this bill, is that no one will be forced to buy insurance. So the concept of healthy younger people paying premiums to help cover the cost of those who are older or sicker seems to be lost on the authors of the American Health Care Act. By law we must buy insurance for our cars and homes. And we continue to pay premiums whether we use the coverage or not. We are paying for the houses that do burn and the cars that are wrecked. This is a socialist system, designed to spread the cost of coverage to all in the system. So it should be the same with health insurance. What don’t they get?
How can Paul Ryan, a supposedly devout Catholic, keep a straight face and lie about what he and his cohorts plan to do to the health care of millions of Americans. He and most of the Republicans who are now lolling in “hog heaven” with their newfound power, are not Pro Life politicians by any stretch of the imagination. A Pro Life lawmaker would vow to make Obamacare work, or better yet begin the process of creating National Health care for all as my favorite candidate, Bernie Sanders, proposed.
My litmus test for a candidate to be Pro Life is that he or she supports and promotes legislation and policy that upholds the ethical treatment of all human beings, in all stages of life and in all circumstances. They believe all persons have a right to affordable health care, that whatever a person’s sexual orientation they have the same legal rights and protection under the law as heterosexual persons, and they also have the right to pursue happiness in marriage. Pro Life means that people of color, especially African Americans, and the poor, are treated the same as whites and those higher on the economic scale by our justice system. Pro Life means you welcome immigrants, refuges and foreigners, no matter their faith or country of origin or skin color. (This is one of the criteria Jesus gave for those who wished to be part of his Kingdom. “I was a stranger and you invited me in” [Matthew 25:34].)
A Pro Life politician does not want to build walls to keep others out and he/she would never enforce laws that split families apart because the parents came to this country years ago in hopes of a better life. They would fight to abolish the death penalty, as no one has the right or need to execute anyone else. Life in prison without parole is cheaper, protects society while ensuring that a person who is not guilty of the crime for which they have been convicted, may have a chance to be exonerated. Furthermore, a man or woman who claims to support life would never help enact laws that would cut food stamps, health care, housing and financial support for the sick, the elderly and the poorest among us. No person should ever live in hunger or have to sleep under newspapers in an alley.
And lastly being Pro Life is not about making all abortions illegal, but passing laws to ensure all women have access to health care, which includes free contraception and screenings for breast cancer and reproductive diseases. With this kind of comprehensive health care, abortion will not have to be an option for so many women in crisis. It is a fact that since the Affordable Care Act has been in place, and contraception has been made readily available, and free to many, abortions are down 14% according to Jenna Jerman, a public health researcher at the Guttmacher Institute.
I know few politicians pass all these criteria, but I do judge on a sliding scale.
To keep my sanity, I have become a political activist. I actually attended my first protest march this year and I take time out each week to send emails, and/or to make phone calls to my two US Senators, Mitch McConnel and Rand Paul and my congressman Thomas Massie, voicing my opinion and concerns about what is going on and urging them to do the right thing for all Americans.
If you feel the need to get your voice heard, you can find your US Senators at this link; Senate.gov. Once there, enter your state and follow the link to their Contact page to send an email. To find your US Represntative go to House.gov. If you chose to call your Senators or Representatves in Washington, someone will usually answer (unless it’s Mitch McConnell) and they will ask you for your comments. Keeping your comments short and to the point, one issue per phone call or email, will ensure that your message gets noted and possibly heard.
I do get discouraged and sometimes it feels like trying to move a mountain one spoonful at a time. So I also spend time in prayer and try to meditate as often as I can, knowing that “This too shall pass.”