© Josh Sager – November 2013
Abortion is one of the most controversial and divisive topics in the American political environment. Despite the long-standing status of abortion as a constitutionally protected right (under Roe v. Wade and more recent Supreme Court decisions), a large and entirely committed contingent of American voters have done everything in their power to obstruct and prevent abortions from happening.
For the most part, the anti-abortion (AKA “”pro-life”) movement has found a home within the right wing, working in concert with the Christian right. Many “pro-life” absolutists are “single issue voters,” who tunnel vision in on abortion as the only issue that they pay attention to—in effect, it doesn’t matter to them if the candidate who they are voting for supports war or denying sick Americans healthcare, just as long as they do everything in their power to ban abortions.
The American right wing establishment has utilized these single issue voters as a captive voting base through making it the party orthodoxy to oppose abortion. They draw in the anti-abortion voters by loudly opposing abortion, but then use the support of these “pro-life” voters to pass extremely anti-life policies.
The following letter is aimed at “pro-life” voters who are not simply anti-women or religious zealots. Anybody who knows, is friends with, or is related to such a person should feel free to copy and send this letter to their acquaintance.
Dear “Pro-Life” American,
I am sending you this letter in order to point out how your desire to ban abortion has led you to support a political ideology which uses you for political support, then goes off and implements anti-life policies. While I am staunchly pro-choice, this letter will not argue the morality of abortion or the legality of attempts to ban it.
The American right wing may call itself “pro-life” in regard to abortion politics, but the rest of its platform is the anti-thesis of a “pro-life” agenda—just remember, just last year, the right wing had people cheering the death penalty and saying that sick people should be left to die if they can’t pay for care.
It is certainly true that the right wing’s attachment to Christian extremism leads them to support your efforts to ban legal abortions, but that is no reason why you should support the GOP at the polls. By voting only on abortion—more specifically, who is most vociferous in opposing abortion rights—you are led into supporting the right wing and unintentionally facilitating the implementation of policies that contribute to the deaths of millions and threaten to cause more in the future.
Pro-Death Penalty: The right wing is the single largest supporter of the death penalty in our political environment—virtually all death sentences are carried out in red states, the worst offender being Texas. While the death sentence claims relatively few lives a year, its prevelance in right wing states represents just how hypocritical the right wing is in claiming to be “pro-life.”
Pro-gun: The right wing supports gun anarchy, thus they oppose virtually every gun control law that is proposed. Every year, over 10,000 Americans are killed in gun crimes and nearly double that take their own lives. While it is wrong to assume that a lack of gun control accounts for all of these deaths, it certainly deserves credit for a significant portion of them—our gun death rates are statistically far higher than other developed countries and the key reason for this difference is our easy access to weapons.
Pro-war: The modern American right has supported increased military involvement abroad and the indiscriminate use of drone technology to kill people abroad—during Bush’s wars alone, some estimates put the death tolls at over 1 million people. It is certainly true that the Obama administration has very dirty hands in this regard, but the right wing has consistently supported even more destructive policies. In just the last few years, prominent right winger voices have supported attacking Iran, Syria, Libya and Egypt. If the right were in power today, it is highly likely that at least one of these attacks would be commencing right now leading to the deaths of thousands on the ground.
Against Universal Healthcare: The right wing has always opposed any form of universal healthcare (ex. Single-payer or government healthcare), even the center-right ObamaCare plan which preserves the market’s role in the system. Because of this, the United States experiences approximately 45,000 deaths every year because of people unable to get health care. These deaths are entirely avoidable, as we don’t see any such deaths in the European countries which have actually passed a universally accessible healthcare program (ex. France).
Against Addressing Climate Change: According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report from 2004, global climate change causes over 140,000 avoidable deaths every year (via famine, heat, or other warming-related phenomena); this number is one that will only rise, as the effects of global warming will rapidly increase unless something is done about it. Unfortunately, the right wing not only prevents anything to address climate change, but also rejects its existence in the face of consensus by 97% of the scientific community.
Against Contraception and Sex Ed: The right wing tends to oppose both sex education and contraception in favor of a policy of abstinence. Put simply, abstinence policies don’t work and the result is that right wing controlled states tend to have the highest unplanned pregnancy rates—these unplanned pregnancies are the most likely to be aborted. If the right wing didn’t oppose these efforts to reduce unplanned pregnancies, then the numbers of abortions would decrease. Because of this, the right wing is partially culpable for the sheer number of abortions sought within the United States.
If you support the right wing, you may very well prevent some of the nearly 1 million abortions that happen every year. That said, your support for the right wing will result in the avoidable deaths of huge numbers of people who are already born. Your focus on preserving the life of the unborn has blinded you to the fact that the policies of your allies are causing the deaths of innumerable people who have already been born.
Put simply, the right wing isn’t the home for anybody who is pro-life, as their ideology only cares about life before it is born; once a person is born, the right wing has no interest in keeping it alive and is perfectly content to end its life through wars, denial of healthcare, starvation, or simply the consequences of unregulated capitalism.
Rather than support the right wing, I would suggest that you shift your attention to independent or left-leaning groups. By doing so, you won’t be able to ban abortion, but you could work to dramatically reduce it through increasing social programs (making it more possible for poor mothers to take care of their children) and promoting sex education (reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies). Best of all, if you do this, you will avoid inadvertently becoming a major reason why the right wing is able to implement policies that kill hundreds of thousands of fully grown people across the world.