The Hypocrisy of “Pro-Life” and the GOP


“The Republican Party must continue to uphold the principle that every human being, born and unborn, young and old, healthy and disabled, has a fundamental, individual right to life.”

Republican National Committee for Life

A cartoon showing hypocratical Republican and Democratic positions.

Hypocrisy. Credit: CreativeCommons / Bearman2007.

Ever since the historic Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, in 1973, the National Republican Party Presidential Platform has consistently taken a so-called “pro-life” position. For example, its 2012 platform proclaims: “Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”
Though the Republican Party might have an interest in bringing pregnancies to term in nearly all situations – even in instances of rape and incest, and regardless of the wishes of the women involved — even a cursory investigation of the Party’s stands and actions on the major issues of the day, proposed and in many cases acted upon by current Republican legislators and executives on the national, state, and local levels, gives us a picture of a Party that is anything but “pro-life” for the living. In actuality, the GOP conducts itself as a Party that stands for life until birth; then one is left to fend for oneself.
The Republican Party plants itself on the political philosophy that has come to be known as “neoliberalism,” which centers on a market-driven approach to economic and social policy. Such tenets include reducing the size of the national government and ceding more control to state and local governments; severely reducing or ending governmental regulation over the private sector; privatization of governmental services, industries, and institutions including education, health care, and social welfare; permanent incorporation of across-the-board non-progressive marginal federal and state tax rates; and possibly most importantly, unfettered market driven (“free market”) economics.
These precepts taken together, claim those who favor neoliberalist ideals, will ensure the individual’s autonomy, liberty, and, of course, freedom. Neoliberalism disputes the notion of general responsibility for others and for a collective cooperative society, which many in the Party label as “socialistic” or “communistic.” Neoliberalism rewrites the old African proverb of “It takes a village to raise a child,” to “It takes only the parents, composed of one man and one woman, to raise a child.”
Under its understanding of being “pro-life,” in its policies and accumulated legislative actions, the GOP fights for the lives of the upper 10 percent of our population who control approximately 80-90 percent of the accumulated wealth and 85 percent of the stocks and bonds. It works to keep corporative and executive tax rates lower than the rates of the secretaries who work in these corporations.
The GOP adheres to its philosophy of an unrestricted “free” market system, even though it increases the size and magnitude of mega global corporations that gobble up small and emerging entrepreneurs.
Under its understanding of being “pro-life,” in its policies and accumulated legislative actions, the GOP, time and time again, has attempted to rescind and reverse the historic Affordable Care Act, which would return an estimated 50 million people in our country to the ranks of the uninsured where their only option of health care is the hospital emergency room that the remainder of the population must pay since the GOP adamantly refuses to provide a single-payer government health care system. Instead, Republicans force us to accept the exorbitant profit-motive insurance premium rates of private health care providers.
The GOP votes against raising government student assistance programs, even as college and university tuition increases, resulting in the exclusion of deserving students from middle and working class backgrounds from attending institutions of higher learning.
The GOP has consistently tried, and in many instances succeeded, in circumscribing the basic rights of citizens to participate in the electoral process following the conservative-controlled Supreme Court’s decision to strike down sections of the 1965 “Voting Rights Act.”
Under its understanding of being “pro-life,” in its policies and accumulated legislative actions, the GOP has consistently cut governmental entitlement programs, thereby eliminating the safety net support systems from our elders, our young people, people with disabilities, people who have suffered hard times, and others struggling to provide life’s basics?
The GOP fights at every turn to pass legislation restricting immigration as well as social and educational services from young people.
It attacks the rights of women to control their bodies, as doctors and others are intimidated, and even shot and killed at family planning clinics? I suppose that since these women have already been born, the GOP has lost its concern for them.
The GOP attempts to deny basic human and civil rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, rights that are routinely accorded to heterosexual people on a daily basis. So when the Party argues it will fight for the rights guaranteed in the Fourteenth Amendment for embryos and fetuses to “equal protection under the law,” it is not interested in, or actually opposes, extending these right to LGBT people, as evidenced by its staunch opposition to marriage equality and its push to pass the current plethora of so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration” acts, which grant people the right to discriminate on “religious” grounds.
Under its understanding of being “pro-life,” in its policies and accumulated legislative actions, the GOP fights to abolish affirmative action programs branding these as nothing more than “reverse discrimination,” even though such programs have improved the lives of people of color and women by providing them with increased assess to educational and employment opportunities previously long denied to them.
The GOP drives to privatize our national parks, and loosen environmental and consumer protections of all kinds, and advocates for mining, petroleum, natural gas, and lumber companies to exploit the land, while simultaneously working to continue to hand over enormous tax breaks and subsidies to these industries.
The GOP backs deregulation of environmental standards and termination of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Protection Agency, even as residents of the U.S., who represent approximately 5 percent of the world’s population, consume 40 percent of the world’s resources, and contribute 40 percent to worldwide pollution.
The GOP battles for school vouchers to funnel money into parochial institutions at the expense of public education, and lobbies to reintroduce prayer into the public schools. Essentially, the GOP has not merely attempted to blur the lines as much as they have worked to abolish the already tenuous lines between religion and government.
Under its understanding of being “pro-life,” in its policies and accumulated legislative actions, the GOP opposes and works to abolish multicultural education, and specifically, the highly successful and productive Latina/o Studies programs in the state of Arizona, a program that increased graduation rates of students from less than 50 percent to 92 percent before primarily Republican politicians axed it.
The GOP self-righteously pushes for legislation, like that passed in Iowa, which mandate English as the “official” language, thereby threatening bilingual education and stigmatizing non-English language speakers.
The GOP, using the draconian actions of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at its model, attempt to co-opt and decertify labor unions and eliminate workers’ collective bargaining rights.
The GOP rejects the possibilities of negotiated settlements with other countries to work toward a more peaceful world, for example, the on-going talks with Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
The GOP works for people to own and use assault rifles, and to carry concealed guns into bars, political rallies, and college and university campuses. It long ago placed itself in the pocket of the National Rifle Association, which claims in its literature that “GUNS SAVE LIVES,” as it fights to dismantle governmental regulations on gun ownership and use. So I guess that “guns don’t kill people,” but instead, guns held by people in a country that only barely gives lip serve to gun control do.
In this regard, the GOP still claims a “pro-life” trademark when more times than not, Republican leaders favor the death penalty rather than life imprisonment as punishment for committing certain crimes.
And I could go on in this way virtually forever.
The neoliberal battle cry of “liberty” and “freedom” through “personal responsibility” sounds wonderful on the surface, but we have to ask ourselves as individuals and as a collective nation, what are the costs of this alleged “liberty” and “freedom.” How “pro-life” is the GOP; or more accurately, for whose lives do the GOP actually fight?
Do we as individuals and as a nation have any responsibility and obligation to protect and support people from falling off the ledge of circumstance to their harm or death because they simply cannot “pull themselves up by their boot straps”? Have you actually ever tried to pull yourself up by your boot straps? If you have, you will know that by doing this, you literally fall on your face!
Can we begin, for example, to view health care not as a privilege for those who can afford it, but rather, see it as a human right? Can we begin to perceive the actual crack in this beautiful notion but unmet reality of meritocracy, and respond in common purpose and sense of community to help lift those who are in need of support?
In the final analysis, the GOP’s “pro-life” rhetoric and its small and limited government philosophy stand in stark contradiction: Republicans want to get the government “off our backs” while imposing massive governmental restrictions at the expense of women’s reproductive freedoms.
So, for women, and also for LGBT people, middle class, working class, and poor people, people of color, non-documented residents and “dreamers,” people concerned with the health of our planet, people interested in living in a safer and less violent society and world, people who see health care as a right and not as a privilege for those who can afford it, how much real “freedom” and “liberty” do these people actually have in the Republican hallucination of “pro-life”?

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

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