I have an old fashioned idea that to be “pro-life” means just that. A person proudly making that announcement about themselves should be supportive of those proposals which seek to better the chances for children to be born healthy, stay that way, and be as well cared for and educated as the family can manage.
Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) the Democratic candidate for the Nevada Senate seat in this election fits my definition of Pro-Life. Her voting record is consistent with respect to supporting children’s health programs, and with regard to legislation which makes it easier for families to provide for their children, as in support for equal pay for women wage earners, and support for women’s health.
By contrast, I have some difficulty classifying Senator Dean Heller as “pro-life.” While he’s definitely “pro-birth,” the remainder of his record doesn’t indicate a person all that concerned with what happens after the Blessed Event arrives on this planet.
Senator Heller’s not met too many corporate subsidies or defense contractor related appropriations he doesn’t love, but when asked to vote to fund support programs related to the health and well being of children he’s all too ready to pronounce that we can’t spend the money because there’s This Big Fat Deficit. We’d be asking the kids and grandkids to pay for the federal debt — in their own interest, as it were, because they’re the ones who get the benefit of these programs.
Children need to be born healthy. Programs such as Planned Parenthood offer wellness programs for women and pre- and post- natal care. What could be more pro-life than that? That Senator Heller obsesses about the 3% of Planned Parenthood funding which supports abortion procedures is highly unfortunate because most of what the clinics provide is care for wives and mothers. Representative Berkley has been supportive of medical care for women, and by extension their children.
Children need to be fed. When the House of Representatives voted to shred the social safety net on March 23, 2012 and shave $134 billion from SNAP funding Representative Berkley voted NO. Her Republican colleagues Amodei and Heck voted “yes.” The youngster coming into the world didn’t get to select his or her parents, nor get any choice as to their income bracket. If we truly value children (beyond the embryonic stage) then we should do all we can to feed them adequately. If the parents are struggling, then a civil society requires we chip in and help put some basic food items in the bottles or on the table.
Children need to stay healthy. One of the nicer features about children is that they are remarkably durable. Most need some basic vaccinations, and beyond that there’s the typical trajectory of abrasions, sprains, and a few fractures. In an advanced country such as our own there is no excuse for having any child un-vaccinated for common diseases. The Affordable Care Act, which Representative Berkley supported, requires health insurance plans marketed as “basic” to cover immunizations. Senator Heller continues to disparage Obamacare in general terms while not speaking to the requirements in the law which specify basic coverage for children and their medical needs. Indeed, Senator Heller was consistent and vociferous in his opposition to the Children’s Health Insurance Program which sought to ease the burden of serious childhood injuries and illnesses for middling income families. Being pro-life means never telling a family they have to chose between the best health care for their seriously ill or injured child and bankruptcy.
Children need to be nurtured. The current flap over Big Bird illustrates a larger question. Should we support educational programs for pre-school children which seek to improve their levels of school-readiness and school skill sets — without regard to the family’s income? Again, in a civilized society the answer would be yes. If the family cannot afford cable programming for children then there should be educational programming available to every household via the old antenna. A pro-life stance would be one wherein ALL children, regardless of socioeconomic status, can benefit from pre-school and primary educational programs. Representative Berkley supports PBS programming, Senator Heller doesn’t.
Children need access to as many forms of educational experiences as we can provide. They need wildlife parks, they need museums, they need libraries, they need playgrounds, and votes to curtail funds for these institutions suggests that we believe that only those children who are fortunate enough to get born into a family of means can experience these institutions. Rich families might take the kids on safari — the rest of the families need the wildlife park. Wealthy families might amass private libraries — the rest of the families need the local library. Wealthy families can visit historical sites — the rest of the families and their children need the museums. And so it goes.
Children need parents who can support them. This means supporting legislation which helps parents provide the most income they can manage. When wives are earning only 75% of what their husbands can earn in comparable employment then it is the whole family that suffers financially. Each time a person votes against equal pay for equal work, or votes against employment discrimination legislation, that’s a vote which makes it just that much more difficult for families to meet their children’s needs. Senator Heller has not been all that supportive of these families, Representative Berkley has.
Being pro-life means, or should mean, more than merely being pro-birth. It means more than just caring for a fetus for 9 months — it’s really a matter of caring for — and about — the child for the next 18 years. In this instance, Senator Heller’s record indicates a pro-birth stance, Representative Berkley is the pro-life candidate in the race.