The Republican Party platform includes support for the "Human Life Amendment," also known as HR 212. It gives a fertilized egg inside the womb the same rights as a person outside the womb. It's designed to ban all abortions.
Now, we all know how deeply the issue of abortion hits people -- in both parties. It's hard. It's sensitive and personal, and there are no easy answers. But even if we are divided over the question of when life begins, one thing we should agree on is this: Vulnerable children outside the womb deserve at least as much focus and care as those not yet born. Shouldn't those concerned about the lives of the unborn be equally concerned about the lives of the recently born?
I'm honestly perplexed about the distinction represented by the cervical wall. On one side, people should be prosecuted if they do anything to harm the fetus, but once on the outside, sorry kid, whatever happens happens. You're on your own.
A 71-year-old viewer wrote to me this weekend and got me thinking about the terms we use in the debate: "pro-life" vs. "pro-choice." Democrats have allowed the Republicans to frame the issue and have ceded the territory of "life."
Republicans are definitely pro-birth (they'll do everything they can to make sure that that baby comes out, regardless of how it got in), but are they pro-life?
Can you be pro-life and vote to cut funding that supports the life of a child? Paul Ryan's cut-at-all-costs budget and philosophy, which 100 percent of the pro-life Republicans voted for, would gut the funding that supports at-risk babies and children: food stamps, temporary assistance to needy families, day care, Head Start, early childhood education, children's health care.
At the state level GOP governors are cutting the child protection workers who handle child abuse and neglect cases -- you know, those awful public employees who must have caused the financial crisis. Programs that would benefit at-risk children outside the womb are all on the chopping block.
For example, Republicans have introduced HR 3803, a bill called the "Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act." And the bill to protect born children from pain is...?
Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, had this to say on Bill Moyers' show in November of 2004:
I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.
So true, Sister Joan. I say Democrats should not be afraid to talk about the morality of life, of caring for children who are born. It seems the Republican obsession with being pro-life lasts about nine months. After that, it's each baby for herself. So Democrats, let's be clear and strong: Being pro-birth is not automatically the same thing as being pro-life.
Originally aired on The War Room with Jennifer Granholm. The War Room airs weeknights at 9 p.m. EST on Current TV. Follow Jennifer Granholm on Facebook and Twitter, and The War Room on Facebook and Twitter.