On January 26, AM Radio host and Texas Lt Governor celebrated Republicans’ successful effort to quash Trump’s impeachment by reminding Republican voters of their reason for supporting him:
President Trump declared January 22 as National Sanctity of Life Day and also became the first president in U.S. history to speak at the March for Life Rally this week. We must never stop praying and fighting for life. Thank you, President Trump, for your work to protect the unborn and for affirming our principled belief that all human life is sacred.
“All human life is sacred.” That’s why evangelical Christians have to vote for a president who makes a mockery of their supposed values. Trump apologist, Marc Thiessen, in a particularly sycophantic column in the Washington Post, declared on January 23 that Trump is a “pro-life hero” who should be hailed because “an American president is finally marching in defense of human life.”
Surprised that the most sanctimonious people you know are backing the most vulgar public figure in modern history? Well, he’s “marching in defense of human life.” They are serving a higher set of values, right?
A Republican abortion stance premised around their supposed passion for “life” always seemed awkward. If someone genuinely wanted to see fewer abortions, wouldn’t they enthusiastically back measures that reduce the likelihood of an unwanted pregnancy? Wouldn’t they be begging for fact-based sex education, eliminating obstacles to contraceptive use, and insisting that governments provide paid leave for mothers?
Why would a movement premised on the “sanctity of life” also be so hysterically enthusiastic about gun ownership? Wouldn’t they be concerned about police violence? Wouldn’t political activists committed to protecting babies be clogging the gates of immigrant detention centers where infants are being torn from their mothers to punish them for seeking asylum? States run by “pro-life” Republicans would have model foster care systems, flush with funding, a system of universal health care to cover mothers and children, and the finest maternity survival rates to be seen in the world. They don’t. They never do. What’s going on here?
Just a few weeks after Dan Patrick gushed over Trump’s pro-life credentials and insisted that “all human life is sacred,” that position became mildly inconvenient for him, so he abandoned it on live TV. Other Republicans would quickly follow. Here’s what Patrick said to Tucker Carlson on Fox News on March 23.
Patrick: I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me — I have six grandchildren – that what we all care about and what we love more than anything are those children. And I want to live smart and see through this, but I don’t want the whole country to be sacrificed, and that’s what I see.
Carlson: You’re basically saying that this disease could take your life, but that’s not the scariest thing to you? There’s something that would be worse than dying?
Patrick: I want them to have a shot at the American Dream but right now this virus which all the experts say that 98% of all people will survive is killing our country in another way. It could bring about a total economic collapse and potentially a collapse of our society. So I say let’s give this a few more days or weeks but after that, let’s go back to work and go back to living.
To quote one of America’s most strident “pro-life” politicians, “all human life is sacred” except for the 2% or so we need to kill to avoid any economic impact. According to Patrick, women who are raped should be forced by the government to give birth because the cells growing inside them are human beings, and as such they are “sacred.” But if it costs millions of deaths of real live human beings to keep business healthy, that’s just a pragmatic compromise.
Naturally, pro-life organizations all over the country rushed to denounce Patrick’s statement. Just kidding. They don’t mind. Go searching for a prominent statement from pro-life groups denouncing Patrick’s position.
That’s not all. Operation Rescue, the group so passionate about the sanctity of human life that they helped murder Dr. George Tiller, is backing Patrick’s position. America’s most strident voice for “life” is publicly supporting a position that would kill millions of Americans. Why? Because they feel the quarantine is inspiring more abortions. What, you might ask, does the term “pro-life” mean in our politics? Pro-life means you have to kill millions of Americans to make sure every last pregnant woman is forced by the government into childbirth.
Patrick is not a lonely voice. His is now the mainstream Republican stance on the pandemic. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, stood on the steps of the US Supreme Court building on March 4, announcing to a gathering of pro-life protestors that “The undeniable truth is that we have a solemn duty to protect all lives, all souls, especially the most innocent and vulnerable among us.”
Just a month later that same Senator went on Fox News to join Patrick, calling for lives to be sacrificed to save businesses. Here’s Senator Kennedy summarizing America’s pro-life movement:
We’ve got to open this economy. If we don’t, it’s going to collapse. When we end the shutdown, the virus is going to spread faster. That’s just a fact. And the American people understand that.
According to Kennedy’s logic, A college student who gets pregnant, or a single mother struggling to support her two kids, should be forced by the government to upend her life and bear alone the economic and physical burden of her pregnancy because every life is sacred. However, if there is some risk of economic damage that might extend to him or his donors, we should sacrifice millions of lives as our patriotic duty to protect business.
Pro-life Senator Ron Johnson, one of America’s ten richest Senators, further outlined the pro-life position on how many Americans we should kill to protect businesses:
We don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It’s a risk we accept so we can move about. We don’t shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu. Getting coronavirus is not a death sentence except for maybe no more than 3.4 percent of our population (and) I think probably far less.
Johnson is comfortable killing a little over 11 million Americans to keep his business interests healthy and successful. Thank god the Senate is controlled by pro-life Republicans, or surely that number would be higher.
We really should have known that pro-life politicians don’t care about lives, because they’ve been saying it more or less out loud for years. When pro-life Senator Ted Cruz decided to pander to the voters at the March for Life back in January, he felt comfortable saying the quiet part out loud. Here’s the pro-life political formula straight from Cruz’s mouth:
Every life is a precious gift from God, a unique and precious gift that deserves to be protected from the moment of conception to the moment of natural birth.
Notice he finally embraced what we’ve all observed for years. The pro-life movement is only concerned about notional people, people who might someday exist. That’s as far as their commitment to “life” extends.
Among pro-life politicians, all concern for human life and dignity is reserved for the mythical twilight prior to existence. Once you’re out in the world, living and breathing and taking up resources, you’re nothing more than a problem to be solved. Real live people are dirty, complicated, troublesome entities with no real value to the pro-life movement until they can take their place in the workforce. If they can’t find “productive” work, they might as well be dead. For the pro-life movement, there are no living people who matter.
What would a real pro-life government do in a pandemic? On the same day Patrick was fawning over Trump’s commitment to the sanctity of human life, Taiwan announced its fourth COVID-19 case. Their first case was detected on January 21. Three days later the Taiwanese government had already secured a massive new supply of personal protective gear for health care professionals and banned their export.
On December 31, while our President was hosting a taxpayer funded party that fed the coffers of his Mar-a-Lago resort, Taiwan started screening airline passengers from Wuhan. Health professionals boarded all arriving flights, checking temperatures and health status of every passenger before they deplaned.
Taiwan responded immediately and competently, using a generations’ old global playbook for pandemic response. To date they’ve suffered a total of 6 COVID-19 deaths. Last week they opened their baseball season. Life there is returning to normal, safely. By the way, abortion in Taiwan is legal and readily available there under only minor constraints. That’s what a pro-life government looks like.
There has never been a coherent, morally consistent pro-life movement in this country of any real size or influence. Authentic pro-life politics has never been more than a niche enthusiasm among a small corner of Catholic intellectuals, lacking any political resonance. To gain any power, pro-life advocates had to ditch all the inconvenient and expensive consistencies in their philosophy, selling their souls to gain donors and influence. Now they peddle death for uncounted millions just to fulfill their dream of complete state control over women’s sexuality.
Pro-life politics was never about life. It was always about the deep-seated fear of women and sex. Pro-life advocates who spend Sunday screaming about the sanctity of human life will cheerfully kill millions to force one more pregnancy to full term. For modern Republicans, the only lives that matter are the ones that cost them nothing.