While conservatives are against abortion, he said, “the babies who are here and alive, they don’t want to take care of. It makes no damn sense.”
This disconnect — some call it hypocrisy — has long been part of the abortion debate.
Abortion-rights advocates ask why many Republicans who talk about saving fetuses also advocate cuts to safety-net programs that help low-income children and their families.
For their part, many antiabortion advocates say that their stance of protecting life at all costs outweighs any other considerations.
A main argument: “To save the life of" a child is more basic, more important than “to ensure the welfare of” a child after birth, according to Matthew Petrusek, a professor of theological ethics at Loyola Marymount University, writing in the Federalist.
Anti-poverty programs that are part of the “nanny state,” he continued, may not work. Opposing specific government programs is not inconsistent with being "pro-life,” nor is it evidence that people opposed to abortion don’t care about children’s welfare, Petrusek concluded.
Abortion-rights people say they see things differently, pointing to what they call unacceptably high child-poverty rates.
Throughout America, one in five children lives in poverty, according to the Children’s Defense Fund, a national nonprofit child advocacy group. In Philadelphia, child-poverty rates sit at about one in three, U.S. census figures show. And in recent years, childhood hunger tripled in North Philadelphia alone, according to research by Drexel University’s School of Public Health.
As it happens, the child-poverty rates for states that have passed or are considering passing strict anti-abortion legislation are among the highest in the nation, including Alabama (24.6 percent), Georgia (21 percent), and Louisiana (28 percent), federal figures show. The rates are 17 percent and 13 percent in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, respectively.
What riles anti-poverty advocates is what they perceive as an inconsistency in the intellectual underpinning of antiabortion advocates.
“If we truly had a national commitment to the sanctity of human life,” said national anti-hunger activist Joel Berg, “you would think it would start with people having adequate health and nutrition.”
But suggestions to cut funding to federal programs such as WIC (the Women, Infants and Children program), credited with keeping hundreds of thousands of children alive with pre- and post-natal nutrition care, “are like Republicans saying they’re pro-life but against a program that keeps kids from dying,” Berg said.
In his proposed 2020 budget, President Donald Trump is suggesting several cuts to programs that help children and their families, Vox.com reported.
— $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over 10 years, implementing work requirements and eliminating Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
— $220 billion in cuts to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) over 10 years, also implementing work requirements. SNAP, according to the New Yorker, is “the single biggest reason why malnutrition has largely vanished from the United States.” Trump would replace much of SNAP with so-called Harvest Boxes of food sent to people, an idea widely denounced as impractical.
— $207 billion in cuts to the student loan program, as well as nearly $4 billion taken from Pell Grants, federal money given to college students in need.
— Overall cuts of 9 percent to programs such as WIC, subsidized housing vouchers, and Head Start.
Assessing the proposed cuts, St. Joseph’s University sociologist Maria Kefalas said, “The same policy makers who are so determined to end abortion as an option appear to lack empathy for poor mothers once the child is born."
She believes the thinking is “not about helping families but about restricting the power women have over their lives. If you want a patriarchal, regressive society like Saudi Arabia, controlling women’s fertility is the oldest play in the book."
To be sure, said Kefalas, Berg, and others, there are plenty of people who are against abortion but in favor of helping children and families in poverty. Former Ohio Democratic Congressman Tony Hall is an antiabortion evangelical Christian who has worked tirelessly against childhood hunger, Berg said.
And Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey is another example of a man who has problems with abortion but not with helping low-income children, said Judith Levine, a Temple University sociologist.
Kefalas added that many religious people sincerely believe that abortion is wrong, but that all children need our help.
Overall, Levine said, many Americans presume that giving low-income people a handout is “covering for someone who is not being responsible.”
And, she added, a large number of U.S. taxpayers don’t see children the same way citizens do in Scandinavian countries, for example, where national money goes toward helping low-income kids as an investment to assure the next generation is supplied with good teachers, doctors, and government officials.
“We just don’t have that philosophy,” Levine said.
Still, even if antiabortion advocates don’t support government poverty relief, it’s “ridiculous” to criticize them, wrote Louisiana State University researcher Stephen Wolfe on the Christian website Mere Orthodoxy.
“Many have concluded that governmental action for poverty relief generally does more harm than good,” he wrote.
Regardless of what you think about abortions, Kefalas said, there’s one thing nearly all people agree on: