OPINION: Our Republican leaders choose to ignore ‘real’ issues | PostIndependent.com

OPINION: Our Republican leaders choose to ignore ‘real’ issues

Robyn Parker

My first encounter with Colo. State Rep. Ray Scott’s policies came from a candidates’ forum last year in which Scott, who typically absents himself from community events, was represented by Kevin McCarney. At one point, McCarney slammed his fist down, proclaiming Scott had done everything he could to make abortion murder.

He was referring to the attempts of Colorado Republicans to pass “personhood” legislation, which places fetal rights above maternal rights. Several states have recently passed such laws with devastating ramifications for women and families. Women have been arrested and forced to carry their unborn babies in lockdown so the state could provide the maternal care desired by bureaucrats, and others have been strapped down and forced to undergo unwanted cesarean sections. In Arizona, legislators have defined “life” as beginning two weeks before conception.

Spontaneous abortions, or miscarriages, occur naturally with 10 to 15 percent of all pregnancies, yet there have been several instances recently in which women have been charged with murder after a miscarriage. Things get sticky for people obsessed with uterine regulation when a spontaneous abortion occurs because elected officials pander to special interest groups, such as the oil and gas industry, while ignoring serious issues around them.

Take this case, for example: “The air pollution problem in Utah needs to be addressed, and soon. We had three babies in Oregon before moving here to Utah, where we lost three babies in miscarriages… We did our research, and this last year, when I was pregnant again and the inversion arrived, we sealed our house, bought powerful NASA air purifiers, and became hermits. Now we have a beautiful, healthy 2-month-old who made it through.” (Letter to the Editor, The Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 29, 2013)

The results of this family’s inadvertent experiment have been replicated all over the world. Most commonly cited is the study by Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo, which proves that the rate of spontaneous abortion doubles during months when air pollution is highest. Women are encouraged to plan their pregnancies so that fetuses are at least 2 months old before pollution reaches its highest annual levels.

If Republican politicians had their way, the Utah woman, so desperate for another baby that she kept trying despite repeated miscarriages, could be charged with murder. Most likely, however, this family lost three babies because of the refusal of their elected “leaders” to address serious health and safety issues in their community.

With its own inversion and frequent days of record-breaking pollution, Mesa County is similar to Salt Lake City. So far this year, Mesa County has violated federal clean air standards 11 times and decreed a record of 47 countywide no-burn days. It’s not unusual for pollution in our valley to obscure our views of the Bookcliffs, the Grand Mesa, and Colorado National Monument, sometimes making these behemoth beauties invisible from the other side of the valley. With 15 times the population of Mesa County, the Denver metro area has less air pollution than we do.

Besides doubling the rate of spontaneous abortions, air pollution kills 64,000 people in the United States annually. The life expectancy of elderly people residing in polluted areas can be reduced by two years. Athletes and children absorb more of the toxins in polluted air and suffer from asthma attacks as well as heart and lung disease. Pollution retards children’s lung development, and some kids show signs of lung disease in their teenage years (Source NRDC: “Our Children at Risk”). It’s particularly ironic that the people to which our community caters the most, including retirees, bicyclists, JUCO players, and young families, are also those most harmed by being here.

Our state senator, state representatives, county commissioners, and most city council members call themselves “pro-life,” yet they all ignore laws designed to protect the health and well-being of the born and unborn. Mesa County is dangerously close to violating the Clean Air Act frequently enough to require federal intervention. Every day that these Republican “leaders” choose to ignore the real issues, they bring us one step closer to outside intervention and regulation. I guess that’s what it takes to save lives in our “conservative” environment.

A fourth generation Coloradan, Robyn is the former host of the progressive community radio show, Grand Valley Live. She is a stay-at-home mom, active community volunteer and board member for local environmental and social justice organizations. Robyn may be reached at gjrobyn@gmail.com.

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