Real and Fake Pro-Life Pledges

Real and Fake Pro-Life Pledges June 23, 2011

I discovered recently that one of the so-called pro-life groups is seeking to line up Republican politicians behind a so-called pro-life pledge. Let me reproduce it in full:

FIRST, to nominate to the U.S. federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, not legislating from the bench;

SECOND, to select only pro-life appointees for relevant Cabinet and Executive Branch positions, in particular the head of National Institutes of Health, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health & Human Services;

THIRD, to advance pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion in all domestic and international spending programs, and defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions;

FOURTH, advance and sign into law a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.”

This is flawed on so many different levels. For a start, it is incredibly limited in what it regards as pro-life. By that, I don’t just mean that it focuses on a very limited subset of pro-life issues (which it does), but that the particular pledges themselves don’t actually anything to help the unborn. Appointing a “pro-life” person to a cabinet position – what will that achieve exactly? And look at the first pledge – with this listed as the primary priority, is it any wonder that large business and financial interests are so willing to encourage “social conservatives” in their coalition? For the main result of such an outcome would surely to shift the balance of power further toward business and monied interests, and away from unions and consumer groups. The unborn, as always, are an afterthought. The third pledge is interesting. It is the strongest, and yet I doubt it will do anything about the incidence of abortion. Of course, what this really means is ending the huge subsidy of employer-based insurance through the tax system, until the federal government is certain that none of the plans offered through employers fund abortion in any way. But I doubt the authors of this pledge intended something so drastic. But that just proves my point – this is about optics, not the unborn. It is about culture wars, not respect for life. It  is about driving false wedges, not solving real problems. There is very little pro-life about this pledge. It is a sham, a mirage, a charade.

So what would a real pro-life pledge look like? How about something like this 7-point plan (and I welcome comments on how this might be improved):

I pledge to seek legal protection for the life of the unborn child.

I pledge to oppose any legal framework that supports euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.

I pledge to seek an end to the death penalty.

I pledge to oppose all forms of torture, whatever euphemisms might be used.

I pledge to oppose all war, unless there is a direct invasion, or the war is supported by the United Nations for the sole purpose of humanitarian relief.

I pledge to support robust social safety nets to end poverty, cognizant of the concentration of abortion among the poor and minorities.

I pledge to support universal health care that includes maternity costs as part of the basic package of benefits.

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