The Party of Life Must Vote for Life: All Eyes on Obamacare

The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw moral connections between real lives and public policy.

I have never liked the pro-choice vs. pro-life framing of the abortion debate. No one is really pro-abortion. Often times a more accurate framing would be pro-birth since that seems to be the reality in the Grand Old Party these days. Once a life passes through the birth canal its value, at least by social welfare policy measures, decreases dramatically.

The mother is often blamed with no regard to the horrors of rape or incest. Little is said of the lack of accessible and affordable birth control options – and no this is not the public paying for others promiscuity – this is women’s healthcare and birth control is used for far more than pregnancy prevention. Less is said about age appropriate sex education, which is badly needed, especially for some men in Congress who not only think a woman’s body can prevent pregnancy by rape but also that a uterine exam is possible by swallowing a camera. Yes, we need basic biology well beyond pubescence years. And when it comes to policy we need to stop having ill-informed men making decisions for well-informed women.

It is time for the party of life to live up to their convictions and stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and continue to fund the life affirming services provided by Planned Parenthood such as cancer screenings, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and providing birth control.

Perhaps Congressional Republicans need a reminder that not every person in the world is born with a golden or silver spoon in their mouth and that not every family always makes the best choices because too often there are no best choices only bad and worse. Personal responsibility as the party often likes to tout will never be enough to overcome social structural and systemic systems like poverty and racism. And the best decisions cannot be made when access to affordable healthcare is geographically impossible.

It is perhaps beyond obvious to anyone whose has been to the clinic, hospital, or pharmacy that discount coupons don’t come in the Sunday paper. But somehow this idea that healthcare is a good that can be shopped around for like clothes or a car persists. Well, there is medial tourism, but I doubt that one who can barely afford groceries and rent is going to be able to fly to India to save money on hip surgery.

The party that claims to value human life at every stage, well at least every stage from conception to birth, must realize that voting away some 30 million people’s health insurance will result in premature death for many and cost the healthcare system more in emergency room care and more expensive treatment of conditions the could have been identified in routine clinic visits but now require more extensive treatment.

Additionally, simply the stress placed on individuals and families because they have lost access to healthcare including doctor visits, hospitalization, and medicine will take its toll in worsening health and lost productivity. In short, everyone loses.

Some years ago one of the late night comedians did a street walk and asked if people liked Obamacare. The answer was nearly a universal no and all the GOP talking points were citied. However, when these same people were asked if they liked the Affordable Care Act and its many popular provisions the same people who said they did not like Obamacare were ecstatic about the Affordable Care Act.

It would seem then that the dislike for Obamacare is more about the public believing the messaging of the Republicans, whose goal has been to delegitimize the entire presidency of Barack Obama than it is about the major provisions of the bill.

All would agree improvements need to be made, but the passage of the Affordable Care Act was a testament of the perfect not impeding the start of something good.

Even after seven years of decrying the Affordable Care Act, Congressional Republicans still have no alternative plan of their own. And now the party of “fiscal responsibility” seeks to hide from the public the increased costs to taxpayers of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, while whatever replacement remains uncertain in both provisions and effective date.

It is time the party who fights so hard for life and despite the racist sentiment still shouts, “all lives matter” start living up to these words. Or we can confidently say only rich lobbied interest lives matter. Even the expectant mother will begin wonder how much the party of life cares for the life growing in her.