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How Can Politicians Claim to Be 'Pro-Life' and Support a Deadly Healthcare Bill?

In a searing op-ed, a representative from NARAL Pro-Choice America lays bare the fundamental hypocrisy of Republican Congressmen and extreme groups who claim to be 'pro-life' while working to pass a healthcare bill that would cause countless Americans...

Hannah Groch-Begley

Photo by the Washington Post via Getty

Yesterday, Congressional Republicans gave Americans a shocking glimpse into the real values driving their agenda. Their obsession with repealing our nation's landmark healthcare law and defunding Planned Parenthood, regardless of how many lives are lost or destroyed in the process, makes it very easy to pull back their layers of rhetoric. We can now see through phrases like individual liberty, government regulation, and protecting "life" to the cruelty, bigotry, and hypocrisy at their agenda's core.

With their vote to take away healthcare from 24 million Americans, the Republican politicians and groups who supported this plan have betrayed the people and values they claim to represent. Americans across the country will find it more difficult and expensive to access vital healthcare services that make it possible to raise strong and healthy families, including birth control and maternity care, unless the Senate stops this travesty. By gutting protections for people with pre-existing conditions, Republicans are giving insurers permission to deny coverage to a broad swath of Americans, including rape survivors, women who have had C-sections (one third of all US births), and babies born with birth defects through no fault of their own.

Read more: Rape Could Become a 'Pre-Existing Condition' Again Under Trumpcare

They have left many Americans quite literally to die—or to go bankrupt in a desperate attempt not to. No person who voted for this bill can claim they are "pro-life." They have supported a policy that is intrinsically anti-life, denying the sickest, oldest, and lowest income Americans from living the full, healthy lives the richest of us are granted. But the so-called "pro-life" movement is the exact coalition of lawmakers and political organizations who are celebrating this betrayal of the American people as a "victory."

Extreme anti-choice organizations like Susan B. Anthony List, Americans United for Life, Students for Life, and Operation Rescue developed a convenient case of tunnel vision in their fervent support for anti-choice Congressional Republicans' plan. They rallied around its provision to defund Planned Parenthood while turning a blind eye to the fact that this will lead mothers and their children, people with disabilities, and many more towards death or devastation. Other anti-choice groups that attempt to brand themselves as more "mainstream," such as Feminists for Life, appear to have remained largely silent in this particular fight—perhaps hoping it will just go away.

The anti-choice movement's willingness to lay down the lives of Americans in pursuit of their single-minded mission to destroy Planned Parenthood lays bare the true motivations driving their cause. This is not and has not ever been about abortion for them. If it were, opponents of abortion would join hands with us to expand access to healthcare so women could get the birth control we need to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the healthcare we need to carry healthy pregnancies to term. They would join hands with us to expand access to paid family leave so parents could take care of their families without risking financial ruin. They would certainly not seek to punish women who give birth through cesarean section by limiting their future health care access.

No person who voted for this bill can claim they are "pro-life." They have supported a policy that is intrinsically anti-life.

In reality, this is about controlling women and damning us for daring to take control of our own lives. This is about denying us the basic healthcare services we need to be full partners in society and to raise healthy families. This is about a toxic worldview fueled by hypocrisy and hatred in which mantras of "personal responsibility" and "market forces" allow a blind dismissal of need and hardship.

The good news is that Americans who believe in equality, freedom, and justice are rising up to say enough is enough. While the GOP was attacking healthcare, Americans flooded congressional phone lines, signed up to support reproductive freedom with organizations like NARAL, and started organizing action parties to discuss why it's important to fight back against this dangerous agenda. In states across the country, we're working not only to keep Trump and Congressional Republicans from rolling back the clock on our basic rights, but to expand them and give us true reproductive freedom.

States from coast to coast are working on legislation that will keep birth control affordable and accessible, requiring insurers to cover all unique types of contraception, and in some cases making it possible for women to pick up 12 months of birth control at once. In states like Nevada, pro-choice supporters have joined feminist road trips and testified on the floor of their state legislatures to tell their leaders how important it is to pass laws like these. The result: Elected leaders are reaching across the aisle to get these bills through because they know that in order to be truly equal, cis-women and our fellow trans and nonbinary Americans must have access to the same opportunities as men—and that includes the ability to control our bodies and make our own healthcare decisions.

This "proactive resistance" shows that we don't have to settle for holding the line: We can and will keep demanding progress on the road toward reproductive freedom and gender equality. We will not let a movement fueled by cruelty, bigotry, and hypocrisy shame us into silence and fear.