What’s pro-life about defunding programs that literally save lives?
Only a few days after the largest protest in US history, which centered around reproductive rights (among other feminist issues), a very different march is taking place on the streets of Washington, DC. On Friday, thousands of people will rally around Washington with anti-abortion posters for the March for Life. The contrast between those two crowds should give anyone a sense of how divided the country is (if anyone is still unclear on that).
The March for Life comes on the heels of the inauguration of a president who campaigned on punishing women who have abortions (but only for a hot minute, until he changed his mind, and then changed it again). While he spent the first few days in office signing an executive order restricting family planning and abortion access for disenfranchised women in poor countries (without a single woman in the room), there’s still no word on how he plans to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In other words, there is no plan for the millions of Americans who depend on this policy for life-saving health care.
So if pro-lifers are so committed to defending life, perhaps their protest could include fighting for uninsured lives, too? According to data by the New England Journal of Medicine, if 20 million people lose their coverage — which is possible if the law is repealed without a replacement — nearly 44,000 people could die in the first year.
It’s people like Jeff Jeans who are affect, a cancer survivor who made headlines when he told Paul Ryan at a CNN town hall event on January 13 in New York City that he would be dead without health care access from the ACA. And look, if life-altering disease survivors aren’t your thing, you could rally for the lives of the poor and elderly, since they will be the ones most impacted by the cuts to Medicaid and Medicare President Trump is proposing.
And let’s not forget about people with disabilities. There are millions of people who depend on Medicaid as a source of health insurance for things like oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, and health aides. With cuts to Medicaid, recipients may face no other choice but living in nursing homes — or worse, mass hospitalization.
And although most of the signs and speeches at the March for Life focus on unborn children, maybe protesters can give some attention to the children who are already living. Like the 8 million low-income children and pregnant mothers who might lose access to CHIP, a life-saving federal health insurance program that provides access to health care, which this Republican-led Senate just casually voted to defund.
Thanks to the Trump White House, there appears to be quite a bit of life to fight for this year. So, pro-life protesters, don’t forget to pace yourself, drink lots of water, and wear comfortable shoes during the march. Given the number of people whose lives may be in jeopardy as a result of this administration’s policies, you might be out there for a while.