Bruell column: Caring for our kids and calling out hypocrisy |

Bruell column: Caring for our kids and calling out hypocrisy

Debbie Bruell

The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that if someone we love needs an abortion someday, we want them to be treated with compassion and receive the care they need. Whatever color we are, whether we are rich or poor, the majority of us believe that women deserve the freedom to decide when and if we grow our families.

The majority of us understand that making abortion illegal does not actually decrease the number of abortions that occur (World Health Organization). When a woman is desperate for an abortion, she will seek one out whether or not it is legal. What removing safe and legal abortion access does do is increase the number of women who undergo harmful and deadly abortion procedures.

It’s easy to forget that Americans share so much common ground around the issue of safe and legal abortion care because certain politicians intentionally fan the flames of division among us. These politicians benefit when we direct our anger at each other rather than all the ways that they, as our public servants, are failing to serve us and our children.

We need to call out the hypocrisy of lawmakers who claim to be concerned about babies, but then vote over and over against policies that provide concrete benefits for babies, children and families.

The same right-wing lawmakers calling for total abortion bans voted against permanently authorizing the Child Tax Credit, which successfully reduced hunger among families with children by 24%. In the first month after politicians failed to renew this popular benefit, child poverty spiked by 41%. 

These same politicians consistently vote against even the most modest family leave benefits. How can lawmakers who claim to be concerned about babies vote down legislation that would allow mothers to take even a short break from work to care for their own newborns? Every developed nation in the world — except the U.S. — guarantees some paid family leave for new mothers.

During the height of the baby formula shortage, Rep. Lauren Boebert, who claims that her zeal for anti-abortion legislation stems from her deep Christian values, voted against a bill to help low-income women access baby formula — a position only nine of the 435 legislators in Congress had the gall to take.

There’s also the blatant hypocrisy of politicians who supposedly want to eliminate abortions while they also push to decrease access to birth control — the number one way to prevent unwanted pregnancies. In overturning Roe v. Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas stated that the Supreme Court should reconsider the landmark ruling that gave couples the right to access contraception.

Thomas also wrote that the Supreme Court should reconsider their rulings that protect same-sex marriage and relationships. Thomas is in step with the hypocrisy of extreme right-wing lawmakers who shout about “freedom” at the same time that they want to take away people’s very freedom to choose whom they love.

Supporting access to birth control, same-sex relationships and marriage, and safe and accessible abortion care are not radical positions. They are basic civil liberties supported by Americans across the ideological spectrum — except the extreme right.

As the majority, we need to let our voices be heard. We did that on a local scale in 2015 in response to County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky convincing his fellow commissioners to pull a grant for the local Planned Parenthood Center. Anti-abortion activists across the nation were targetting Planned Parenthood centers, despite the wide range of critical health services these centers provide, especially for low-income women and men. The grant that the county commissioners voted down would have paid for cervical cancer prevention services.

Outraged about this political posturing, one community member started a crowdfunding campaign that raised over 16 times the amount of the grant that the commissioners had eliminated. The commissioners backed down and renewed their future funding of Planned Parenthood.

Once again, it’s time to exercise the power of our collective voices, including attending rallies, supporting organizations fighting for abortion access, and voting. We’ll have our ballots in hand in just three months.

We need to vote out lawmakers who make hollow promises about caring for children — then vote consistently against policies to help children. We need to vote out lawmakers who wave the flag of “freedom” — then push draconian measures to insert the government into the most intimate aspects of our lives.

We need lawmakers who will truly fight for the values so many of us share — the freedom to make the best health-care choices for ourselves and our families, the freedom to love whomever we choose to love, and the urgency of taking concrete actions to improve the lives of the 11.9 million children and 6.5 million families that live in poverty in our nation.

Debbie Bruell of Carbondale chairs the Garfield County Democrats.

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