GOGEL: Pro-life inconsistency

Even though the election is over, I am still alarmed by the inconsistencies of the far-right’s supposedly “pro-life” platform.

Despite the deceptive terminology for positions on abortion, conservative politicians in this election cycle touted pro-life policies that claimed to respect the sanctity of life. Yet many of their policies seem to actually disregard the sanctity of life after birth — or at least ignore the lives they were once determined to protect.

Many Republicans intend to preserve the sanctity of life by banning abortion. For some, this debate hinges on religious belief that defies debate. But still, some pro-life politicians decline to continue government support for the supposedly sacred lives. To me, it seems as though some on the right arbitrarily narrow the definition of who deserves our help. This is certainly inconsistent, and it undermines their pro-life position.

A few weeks ago, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman made a powerful case for how inappropriate the Republican moniker of pro-life is — it misrepresents larger attitudes and beliefs of the right, differentiating Republican and Democratic principles into overly polarized categories. Friedman argued that the most pro-life politician in the United States is Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He respects a woman’s right to choose but promotes several policies that improve the quality of life from beginning to end. Many other pro-life politicians, he said, are against abortion, but also against gun control, the Environmental Protection Agency and other policies that are likely to enhance the quality of American lives. These stances are contradictory.

What I admire about Bloomberg is his consistency. He is willing to make unpopular decisions — such as the New York City soda ban — but he can defend them since each is a smaller component of his larger plan. There is coherence, and thus there is rationality and reason.

Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, meanwhile, were not consistent in the rationale they gave for their so-called pro-life arguments. According to the Romney campaign website, “Americans have a moral duty to uphold the sanctity of life and protect the weakest, most vulnerable and most innocent among us.” If that is truly the case, then why did they promote specific reductions in federal aid to struggling school districts, children and low-income women?

As a prime example, Chicago serves as the third largest school district in America, and the city receives 24 percent of its revenue ($1.2 billion) from federally funded government programs. Under Ryan’s plan, Chicago would have lost $224 million. This loss would have adversely affected many of the low-income students in Chicago, like those on the Free and Reduced Price Meals (FARM) program, which helps students from low-income families in school districts across the country.

Gov. Romney also promised to cut federal funding for programs like Planned Parenthood, and though it provides abortion services, Planned Parenthood also serves low-income populations with education programs and health care services not related to abortion, offering family planning, HIV counseling, cancer screening and STD treatments. These services all sustain and improve the quality of human life.

Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, the debate about the sanctity of life should not end at conception. As someone who supports an individual’s right to choose, I would more easily respect the pro-life position if it reflected a consistent and concerted effort to actually protect the lives they fight to defend before birth.

With another four years in the White House, political leaders on the left have the opportunity to protect a woman’s right to choose — a right I believe should be free from idiosyncrasies of political debate. They also have the opportunity to reaffirm their support for government assistance to those who need it, defying the logic that pro-choice is not pro-life.

If political leaders can accept a woman’s right to choose, we can instead focus our energy on supporting “the weakest, most vulnerable and most innocent among us.”

Brooke Gogel is a junior in Saybrook College. Contact her at brooke.gogel@yale.edu .


  • paulp

    Clearly most, leaders in congress that do not support a completely pro-life position. This is clear in the Republican, Democrat and all other parties. To be pro-life, one must protect life at ALL stages no matter what the circumstances are. This means someone who is truly pro-life must be against abortion in ALL cases. You cannot consider yourself pro-life if you are willing to kill an unborn child for any reason. The old saying of “the end never justifies the means” comes to mind. So, if a mother’s life is at risk in a pregnancy, everything must be done to save both lives, but the intentional killing of one of the two innocent persons cannot be an option to save one of them, not the mother, nor the child. With that being said, a mother may choose to have her doctors save her child at any cost even if it means that she will die, but they cannot take her life and then deliver the baby, not that I am aware of any case like that. It is basically the opposite of what many pro-choice supporters advocate for a mother’s need to be able to have an abortion in a crisis pregnancy, they want to kill the child, an act that directly takes her child’s life, to save her own. This is a very backward way of thinking and parenting. Mothers and fathers have traditionally throughout history done everything to protect their children and now they are more concerned with protecting and saving themselves.

    **Another very important aspect of being pro-life is to be against the death penalty in all cases in which imprisonment can prevent them from killing others. In the United States, that is pretty much every case, as I cannot find one example where a person in prison must be killed to protect society. I would advocate for life in prison for ALL on death row and for those families whom they have taken a loved one from to consider forgiving them and not try to use the death penalty as revenge. While I do not see a murderer as an innocent person, it still doesn’t mean that they should be killed, we must protect all life even those we hate, despise or do not like.**

    The issue you raised about gun laws is not really a pro-life issue. Sure people use guns to kill people, but in most cases those guns are stolen or have been purchased illegally and no new gun law will stop that or get those guns out of criminals hands. Obviously there are some guns that should not be available to anyone outside of the military; automatic weapons, assault rifles and grenade launchers to name some, but it is still not a pro-life issue because having a gun doesn’t mean you will kill or that someone will be killed with it, and there are so many ways to kill someone that people will always have other options, like burning, knives, poison, nearly anything can be a weapon. With that being said, I clearly believe that some gun laws are just common sense, but not all of the laws that are proposed, and being against them has nothing to do with a position on life.
    To be continued…

  • paulp

    **As for the EPA, there are obviously some policies that can help improve the quality of life, but once again, no one is directly killed by most of these things. Now some of them are needed. No one should be able to dump toxic waste in a water supply or pollute a city with toxic fumes to the extent that people die. Some toxic fumes cannot be prevented without going back to the dark ages, and that is not an option, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do a better job of cleaning up our world, but some aspects that a congressman may not agree with that would take away thousands of real jobs to make a minor impact on air quality that cannot be distinguished from any before because it was done to politically look a certain way has nothing to do with pro-life issues unless it is directly killing people. By killing people, I do not mean over a 50 year period, because smokers are doing the same thing to people they are around while smoking.**

    Other important issues are euthanasia and assisted suicide. The only pro-life view on it is that it is wrong to take a life, even if they want it done or their family does. It is not about quality of life, it is about life. You do not take a life for any reason if it is not absolutely necessary and suffering does not make it necessary.

    **As for education, I see it as a real pro-life issue. It is important for us to educate our young people and help them to take care of themselves to make good choices with regard to life and to live their lives well and support themselves and their families. It is one instance where our children must be supported because they cannot care for themselves in the way adults can so it is up to us to take care of them as a community and instill good values that will lead them in their lives. Voting against some education bills does not make a person against life however, but it is in societies best interest to take care of our children, make sure they have food, medicine, shelter, education and love no matter where they are from. We must care for our young as a society or we fail them, the most important part of our future, but we must have congressmen who are willing to work with each other on these issues and come to middle ground to make things happen, but throwing money at a problem never solves it and it certainly hasn’t with education.**

    I hope this gives you a better view of what being Pro-Life really means, because your understanding seems flawed in many ways, but thus is society. God Bless!

  • Gobias

    > New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman made a powerful case

    Still comprehending that this sequence of letters exists in the world.

  • Excelsior

    This article unfortunately attempts to twist blatant liberal hypocrisy and pin it on conservatives. Liberals pride themselves in their advocacy of aid to the poor, the less fortunate, the less vulnerable. Unfortunately, they fail to advocate any policies whatsoever that would protect the MOST vulnerable and helpless members of society: the unborn. Just as this author claims that she would respect the pro-life position if we cared for the sanctity of all life, so too would I respect the liberal call for social justice if it consistently applied said justice to the unborn. You say conservative thought excludes “pro-life” for those who have been born, yet pro-choice ideology inherently excludes “pro-life” for the unborn, those MORE vulnerable and in need of protection; the latter, therefore, is the greater evil.

    Second of all, just because conservatives do not advocate giving excessive federal aid to those in need does not at all mean that we do not care for those less fortunate. As a Catholic, and thus as a Christian, I find it one of God’s callings to help those in need. I, however, like many conservatives, do not think that the best and most efficient way to do this is through pure federal government aid, since this inevitably involves a bureaucracy caught up in red tape, such that these aid programs stifle flexibility and innovation at the local level. Further, it is simple logic that reliance on government tends to dissuade individuals from self-sufficiency, which merely maintains one’s quality of life, rather than opening doors to the improved quality of life that this author advocates.