• Nicole Roussell

‘Pro-life’ apparently means forced birth but cuts to child tax credits and postpartum Medicaid cover


The following is a lightly edited transcription from In the News, the weekly Tuesday show on The Socialist Program. Subscribe here.


Nicole:

People have been in the streets throughout the country protesting the draft opinion to overturn Roe v Wade. Just this weekend, from Friday to Monday, over 30 cities had protests, including places that you might not expect, including Anchorage, Alaska, five cities in Indiana, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, Ohio, and multiple cities in Texas, where Senate Bill 8 was passed. That is the notorious bill that really kicked off this most recent round of protests before the opinion was leaked.


These protests reflect a majority opinion. Recent polling shows that at least 72% of Americans support Roe v Wade, which came from the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago.


Esther:

Absolutely. I think that the outrage is because it's showing the hypocrisy of not only the Supreme Court, but also all these elected officials in Washington. They are basically forcing women to give birth at the same time these same legislatures, these corporate-bought politicians, are not extending the child tax credit, which is designed as a government support to help cover the necessary expenses of raising a child.


The Texas governor is even trying to end funding of public education for noncitizens. So in his ideal world, the state wouldn't even be responsible for educating your child — but they want to force you to have a child.


In the economic crisis that many of us find ourselves in, the idea that the government, egged on by right-wing religious fanatics, is going to force women to have a child has fueled the outrage you're hearing and that you're seeing.


Nicole:

What you're highlighting is really important: the same government is saying, “If you're pregnant, you don't have a right to decide not only what happens with your body, but the course of your own life, what your future is going to look like, or the future of your family, your partner, your current children or your possible future children. You don't have the right to decide any of that.”


And then the same government is making policies like not extending the child tax credit. The same government is making decisions to send billions of dollars of weapons to kill other people's children and to kill other people in a war that's not even on this continent, a U.S. proxy war in Ukraine.


They're making decisions to send money there instead of funding COVID care for people who are uninsured here in this country during a pandemic, even just for COVID testing. This is the same government, under Child Protective Services or human services departments, that is taking people's children rather than providing people with resources that they need, like housing, food on the table, or even a job.


During the pandemic, so many people lost their jobs, and now the moratorium on evictions is gone, so many people are still without homes, and dealing with back rent. When you put all of these things together, it says so much.


Esther:

The Supreme Court has over the course of the centuries made all kinds of decisions that we know are anti-democratic in terms of upholding slavery and Jim Crow laws.


When it comes to this issue of forced birth, in upholding slavery, the court in that period upheld that Black women who were enslaved did not have control of their bodies and their children. Their babies were often taken from them, snatched from them and sold off like they were like a herd of cattle.


A significant part of this country being built on slavery and genocide is precisely this process of forcing Black women to give birth to the child of her rapist. Her womb was taken away as a commodity to create more enslaved people to be worked often to their death.


Now look at this adoption theme, which is a consistent theme and talking point on the far right. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves was on CNN on Sunday really hammering this point home.


“The next phase of the pro-life movement is about what are we doing to help those babies that maybe are, they do go to full term, that the moms do have. And what we're trying to do is focus on making adoption easier in Mississippi. We're focusing on improving our foster care system. We've had challenges in the past, and we recognize that and we admit that.”

  • Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves on CNN, May 8, 2022


“Pro-life” for them only means when a fetus is inside the uterus. When the child is born, Mississippi has some of the worst outcomes and life statistics for people, being first or close to first in infant mortality, poverty, education, and other indicators. Their legislators just passed a bill that would actually ban Medicaid for postpartum care. So once you have a child in Mississippi, if you're a poor working class or on Medicaid, your life doesn’t matter.


Walter:

These same right-wing, anti-choice, anti-women bigots are also the ones who are putting kids in cages at the border and subjecting immigrants and refugees to such horrible conditions that death is so common along the US-Mexico border, and suffering and death is so common in ICE and CBP detention facilities. It’s yet another reason why it's so ridiculous and such a crime that the right wing has the nerve to try to adopt the label “pro-life.”


Esther:

And taking the children of those seeking asylum. We can't forget that. They were going to try to provide some compensation for this terrible crime, someone taking your child away, that you can't really be compensated for, but they were going to try to compensate families. And I think that the Biden administration even dropped that small concession.


Nicole:

We could go on listing these these very clear ways in which the U.S. government is not pro-life, that the right wing is not pro-life (and this includes a lot of Democrats, too). There are just so many. I just want to give one more that is so egregious. A speaker brought up at a protest this weekend in front of the Supreme Court. The U.S. government killed half a million Iraqi children. The fact that the U.S. government has sanctions and embargoes and sends people overseas to kill other people in other countries, essentially for financial or political reasons — none of those things are pro-life. All of those are very much anti-life.


It just makes it so painfully clear what this government, what these “politicians” actually want and what they're actually here to fight for. And it's not for us.