The Republican Party has claimed to be “pro-life” since it established its alliance with the Christian Right in the 1980 election cycle. The GOP billionaire donor class has used abortion and other wedge identity issues to convince millions in the middle class to vote against their economic interests. Since the inception of this alliance, the top 1% have gotten their tax cuts and been deregulated. Abortion is still legal.
The GOP billionaires have been playing the Christian Right for chumps for forty years. In interviews when they were running for president, George H.W. Bush and Herman Cain gave the game away. When asked what would happen if one of their close family members had an unwanted pregnancy, they said it was their choice as to whether or not they got an abortion. Anybody who believes that the billionaire donor class that runs the GOP really cares about abortion is very naive.
One of the many problems with the radical right’s big government, anti-choice laws is that they have been attempted — and failed — in many other countries. Between 1966–89, the Communist regime in Romania attempted to ban abortion. The results were disastrous. Many Romanian women had no choice but to seek out so-called back alley abortions. It has been conservatively estimated that approximately 10,000 women died as a result of unsafe abortions. As a matter of fact, maternal mortality doubled between 1966 and 1989.
A study by the Guttmacher Institute confirmed that the Romanian experience was no outlier. According to this study: “Countries with the most restrictive abortion laws also have the highest rates of abortion. Easier access to birth control drives down abortion rates, the report also finds.” This study found that the highest abortion rates are found in Latin America and the Caribbean — which have some of the strictest abortion laws in the world.
It’s obvious that the radical right’s plan to reduce abortion has been attempted many times outside of the U.S. and has proven to be a failure. Perhaps it would be better if we attempted a different approach such as providing reality based sex education and better access to birth control. As State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh said: “If we really truly care about reducing abortion in the state, we need to do more investment in preventative, not restrictive. And I don’t hear that conversation happening in this Legislature, or any Legislature. Restricting abortions isn’t the way to reduce them, because women who are desperate are still going to get them, and it’s just not going to be safe.”
Senator Cavanaugh’s alternative has been vindicated by a 2012 study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. This report found the most effective way to reduce the abortion rate is to provide women with free birth control. According to this report: “When more than 9,000 women ages 14 to 45 in the St. Louis area were given no-cost contraception for three years, abortion rates dropped from two-thirds to three-quarters lower than the national rate.”
The reality is that the radical right’s failed anti-choice policies have actually increased the number of abortions — not reduced them. And those aren’t the only policies of the GOP that are the antithesis of being pro-life.
The Republicans’ policies on health care are the exact opposite of pro-life. Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010, the GOP has done everything in its power to sabotage or even wreck the ACA. Ben Sasse, Deb Fischer, Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith have all voted over sixty times to repeal the ACA without a replacement plan. If they had gotten their way, 20 million Americans would have lost insurance and pre-existing condition protections would have been eliminated.
In 2018, Pete Ricketts joined 17 other red states in a lawsuit aimed at throwing out the ACA by judicial fiat in the middle of a pandemic. Jeff Fortenberry, Don Bacon and Adrian Smith have all voted for this case. If Trump and the Nebraska Republicans “ win” this case, over 20 million Americans would lose insurance coverage and pre-existing condition protections would be gone.
A “victory” in this reckless case filed by the GOP would result in the deaths of thousands of Americans. A study conducted by the Harvard Medical School has found that approximately 45,000 annual deaths are associated with a lack of health insurance. Another study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded that the Medicaid expansion “saved the lives of at least 19,200 adults aged 55 to 64 over the four-year period from 2014 to 2017.” Finally, a study from the Department of Health Human Services during the Obama Administration found that the ACA was a major reason why the U.S. has experienced 50,000 fewer preventable deaths in hospitals.
The reality is that the GOP isn’t pro-life and never was pro-life. Instead, they are merely pro-birth. The GOP only cares about life after birth is if somebody is rich. It is the Democratic Party that is genuinely pro-life.
I would recommend that you commit your time and/or money to good legislative candidates. We need a check and balance on Ricketts and his pro-life phonies in the unicameral.
I would urge all Democrats to help Alisha Shelton, Kate Bolz and Kara Eastman. Our candidates will fight for our values — Nebraska values — in Washington. Now let’s get it done!