By Dave Palmer
Discussion surrounding abortion, birth control, and women’s rights have reached a fever pitch in this election. Most Americans are familiar with the pro-life argument that life starts at conception, and the pro-choice argument that a women has the right to choose whether she carries a pregnancy to term. The part that may be confusing is the difference between being pro-life and pro-birth. The concepts sound like they are the same, but in reality are fundamentally different.
Pro-life supporters of course believe that abortion is wrong. Some of them believe that exceptions should be made in cases of rape, incest, or danger to a woman’s health. Others believe that there should be no exceptions for rape or incest in any law that would outlaw abortion, and go as far as declare that women should not have ready access to birth control.
The great divide between pro-life and pro-birth truly occurs after birth. It can be measured by the level of care after the child is born the pro-lifer in question is willing to provide to that baby once it is out of the womb.
True pro-lifers want to help the mother stay healthy throughout her pregnancy. They seek to preserve programs that might help poor and underprivileged mothers. They want to allow Planned Parenthood to continue to provide low-cost prenatal care and low-cost well-baby care. They want new mothers to pay a fair price for health insurance so they won’t have to rely on Planned Parenthood. They want to protect women’s jobs so they have a place to earn money after their pregnancy, or provide social safety net programs to help a temporarily unemployed mother feed and clothe her baby.
The pro-birth faction of the pro-life movement is an entirely different animal. Like pro-lifers, they believe that life starts at conception. Like the more extreme pro-lifers, they believe that abortion should be banned with no exceptions for rape, incest, or danger to the woman’s health.
Where the pro-birth movement really breaks off is pregnancy prevention and the care for children after they leave the womb.
The pro-birth movement wants to amend the Constitution to include a personhood amendment, which would state that as soon as an egg is fertilized inside a woman, it takes on all the rights of a normal person which would make abortion equal to murder. They are in favor of preventing easy and low-cost access to prescription birth control. They favor the inevitable outcome of the personhood amendment making IUD and the morning after pill illegal. They want to dismantle Planned Parenthood entirely because one small portion of it deals with abortions.
The pro-birth movement completely breaks with what I would call pro-life in their treatment of babies outside the womb. Those who are pro-birth don’t care that Planned Parenthood provides low-cost pre-natal care and well-baby care to poor mothers who have the misfortune to not be able to afford prescription birth control. They want to dismantle the entire program regardless of the pro-life services they provide.
The pro-birth movement wants to eliminate programs like WIC, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, and other programs that would help poor and single moms raise the kids the pro-birth movement wants to force them to have regardless of their ability to afford to feed that child.
The pro-birth movement wants to eliminate Medicaid so poor mothers can’t afford to take their babies to the doctor, they want to eliminate Social Security so that unless that child grows up to get a job that provides a pension or at least a 401(k) option (good luck with that) they will be forced to work until they die, and they want to eliminate virtually every social safety net program so all these babies have nothing to fall back on in hard times unless they are fabulously wealthy like manyt people who are pro-birth. They also want to cut education budgets and get rid of government grants to provide underprivileged people a way to go to college and do better for themselves.
Basically, people who are truly pro-life want to make sure that babies in the womb are born. Some are against using birth control to prevent babies from being made in the first place. But in both cases, they also support the social safety net programs to make sure that the mother has access to health care. They want any baby born an American to have access to food, shelter, and low cost but high-quality health care. They want to make sure that even a baby born to the poorest parent can be educated and find their way to a new future where they can do well enough for themselves to exit the social safety net and provide enough for their family.
People who are pro-birth are simply concerned with what happens to you within the nine months you are in the womb. They don’t even want people to have the option of preventing a pregnancy if they calculate they cannot afford it.
Once all these babies are born, they will look the new mothers in the eyes and say “Oh, you had a baby you can’t afford? I’m sorry he’s hungry and sick, but you should have thought about that before you got pregnant. Now you have to figure out how to provide for this kid. Guess you shouldn’t have been such a slut.”
Pro-life, therefore, is in favor of preserving life inside and outside the womb.
Pro-birth simply wants women to have every baby that is ever conceived in their lifetime, and undergo criminal investigation if they have a miscarriage to make sure the expectant mother didn’t cause the miscarriage. They want all babies born to be entirely the responsibility of the mother whether she wanted to have that child or not, whether she wanted to prevent it or not. To top it all off, they don’t even want less well-off mothers to have affordable health care during their pregnancy.
Pro-lifers should distance themselves from the pro-birth movement lestthe causes be inextricably linked.