This is not a column about abortion. It is a column about life. I’m writing it because on Wednesday, I read a tweet from the governor of this state that said, “In Alabama, we stand for life. Always will. Say a prayer for life today.”
That tweet from Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey was, obviously, in reference to the oral arguments taking place in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. It appears as if — to the utter dismay, no doubt, of Maine Sen. Susan Collins — the conservative justices are poised to uphold a very restrictive abortion law from Mississippi, if not do away with the Roe precedent altogether.
Like everyone, I have my own thoughts on abortion. Unlike the majority of the people most deeply involved in the abortion debate, my views don’t fit neatly on a bumper sticker.
I believe there are nuances and details that must be discussed on this issue. I don’t think it’s fair to impose healthcare decisions on women, certainly not with a broad sweep that unfairly and inhumanely takes medical decisions out of their hands. But I don’t oppose some limitations, with broad exceptions.
Cute catchphrases and manipulative marketing, though, have killed all rational debate about abortions — up to and including the one that was held Wednesday at the Supreme Court. A few minutes into the oral arguments, it became clear that the conservative justices have no basis in science or law to do what they’re about to do, but will instead overturn decades of precedent and case law for purely political and ideological reasons.
Now, the end result might appeal to you in this particular case. But be warned: Once the door is opened to such political-based rulings, it won’t close easily.
However, as bad as that will most assuredly be, it will still not be the worst thing about the abortion debate in America. Because the top spot there will forever be held by the hypocrisy of the “pro life” crowd.
And Ivey’s tweet is a perfect example.
Kay Ivey has been governor of our state for more than four years now. Plenty of time to alter the path of the state, to send us down a better, more life-valuing path. You know, since we “stand for life” and all.
Here’s the reality: Alabama is third nationally in infant mortality. We have the highest child poverty rate in America. We have the second highest maternal mortality rate, with our mothers dying at a rate more than twice the national average. We rank fifth in gun deaths per capita. We rank second in COVID deaths per capita. And we rank ninth in prison deaths.
Last year, more Alabamians died than were born. First time that’s ever happened.
So what lives are we standing for, exactly?
Because if we actually stood for life, we should have done a few things by now, starting with the expansion of Medicaid.
We could have saved thousands of lives, including the lives of many children. Doctors around this state and across the country have told us this over and over again.
But we haven’t expanded. And why not? Because of politics. Plain and simple.
Did you know that nearly one in every four children in Alabama struggles with food insecurity? That means they don’t have access to enough food to sustain a normal, healthy life.
Such insecurity is the gateway to all sorts of health issues and death.
Yet, at every turn, Alabama Republicans — seeking to appease the base of Fox News watchers who are convinced one minority group or another is getting assistance — have cut social services and welfare programs to the bone.
It never matters to them that the people hurt most by such cuts and new restrictions aren’t the fictional welfare queens but hungry and hopeless children.
Oh, they know this is true. They simply don’t care.
Which is why the words of Kay Ivey and so many other conservatives ring so hollow when they proclaim their unyielding defense of the sanctity of life.
Just look at our COVID crisis. Hundreds of thousands of deaths across our country, tens of thousands dead in Alabama. And already we have anti-vaccine and anti-mask bills prefiled for the 2022 legislative session.
Because life doesn’t matter to them.
What they care about is an emotional ploy that they can use to drive people to the polls. If that means exposing gran-gran to a deadly virus or helping board up another rural hospital or pretending to care about a fetus, that’s fine.
Just so long as no one expects them to also care about feeding, educating, training, providing medical care for or otherwise giving a damn about that fetus once it emerges from a womb.
Because when they say they’re standing up for life, they mean their political lives. And they never mean anything else.