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The Fallacy inherent in the “Pro Life” Movement by Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates

I’m Just Sayin’ Dr. T Column 12/08/21

When someone says they are “pro-life”, what do they really mean? Because from what individual people have said, particularly those representing organizations and institutions who claim to be “pro-life”, in terms of pronouncements, policies and practices, much of what has been said and done over the years, has not appeared to be particularly pro-life at all. From public pronouncement and perception, it is “as if” what the movement” is really about, is a “pro-fetus” or “pro pregnancy” movement. As for being “pro-life” it has always seemed that those who embrace the mission of being “pro-life” are very particular about the type of life they are dedicated to defending. All life doesn’t seem to ignite the same type of fervor or passion for those who are a part of the “pro-life movement”. In fact, life after birth or beyond birth is strangely detached from the rhetoric or focus of “Life” that the “pro-life” proponents proclaim.

Right now, America is intently watching another challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court. This newest challenge to the law comes after almost 50 years of precedent established with the landmark decision that claimed protection of the basic liberty of a pregnant woman to choose to have an abortion (to terminate a pregnancy) without excessive government restriction. The current challenge comes from the state of Mississippi that wants to over-turn the law by continuing to reduce the time frame in which a woman is able to obtain a legal and safe abortion. The last challenge was in 1992 when the Supreme Court revised the time frame of their previous decision from (28 weeks) to 24 weeks in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case. The Court changed what it established as “fetal viability”- the fetus’ ability to survive outside the womb. The Court established 2 very important things in its decision:

  1. The United States Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion.

  2. But the abortion right is not absolute. It must be balanced against the government’s interests in protecting women’s health and prenatal life.

The current Mississippi case before the Court wants to reduce the time frame to 15 weeks instead of the previous 24 weeks. Whereas many people disagree about when “Life” begins, medical professionals agree that “fetal viability” is impossible at 15 weeks and even at 24 weeks the survivability of a fetus outside of the body of a woman is extremely low and not without extreme complications that would severely impact the quality of life and the ability to support that life after birth. Pregnancy and giving birth are extremely dangerous for women in the United States of America. We have a higher rate of mortality for women during pregnancy and delivery than Afghanistan. The US is the only developed country that is seeing a rise in the maternal mortality rate. For Black women it is even higher. What about the lives of women? The state of Mississippi ranks as the worst in the country for infant mortality. There are currently over 400, 000 children in foster care across the United States. They range in age from infants to 21 years old (in some states). On average children remain in foster care for over a year and half and a high percentage languish in the foster care system for over 5 years or more. Mississippi has one of the higher rates of children in the foster care system. And yet, they continue to under fund programs that assist children or organizations that work for children. The conservative government opposes SNAP, Head Start, and other social service programs that focus on the health and well-being of children AFTER birth. All of the focus, resources and engagement appears to be on protecting the “lives and the rights of the un-born” but once these kids are born the so-called “pro-life movement” could care less about supporting the actual lives of those children.

The lack of attention paid to gun violence and sensible gun control is NOT pro-life. Our children are terrorized, victimized and slaughtered in their schools at alarmingly frequent rates. Children suffer the highest rate of poverty and homelessness in the United States than any other group. Hey “Pro-Life” people, ACTIONS speak louder than words! All we see is a group of religious and ideological zealots who care less about the actual lives of children than they do about the control of women’s bodies and reproductive freedom. They are caught up in the ideology and dogma of their own belief systems which have little to do with established law or respect for “LIFE” itself. This is especially evident when considering the lives of innocent children throughout the US and at our borders.

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