For many people in the South, especially in religious contexts, there seems to be little thoughtful decision to be made about political candidates. Only a few issues are important, and the pinnacle of these issues is whether a candidate claims to be “pro-life.”
The candidates who have claimed the moral high ground on this issue have traditionally been Republican, because their policies call for fewer abortions, whether by making them illegal or very difficult to receive.
Unfortunately, the recent actions of Republican politicians suggest they have forgotten life continues past the stage of a fetus, in foreigners, refugees and all other humans.
Perhaps the most widely supported disregard for life may be that destroyed by the negligence of our own military activities. While the military does a great deal of good worldwide through humanitarian aid and governmental stabilization, there are certainly reasons for concern.
Over the past years, the use of drone strikes has risen significantly, as have innocent people killed by them. Some attempts to estimate how many are killed without reason by our drone strikes result in counts in the hundreds or even thousands. It is true that both parties hold some blame in this inconsistency, but Republican politicians and citizens are less concerned with the consequences of such reckless strikes.
Similarly strange about the “pro-life” party is its support of refusing refugee entry into the country. Many of these refugees will die without a country to grant them safety, and though there is no evidence of such immigrants harming us, they remain outcasts by the hands of Republicans.
The cries of the religious right ring out against abortion, but for those refugees who Jesus himself commanded compassion, there is little response.
Another issue of concern is the manner in which Republicans have been handling the healthcare system. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement poses serious concerns for those who would lose coverage. Well-respected studies found that upwards of 35,000 people could die by such rash actions. Unfortunately, there is little outrage on the right about these lives.
The death penalty, another cause championed by Republicans in recent years, has yielded its share of innocent victims. A study from the National Academy of Sciences estimated that one in 25 people executed was innocent. Though the number is small, it is surprising that the party that has branded itself as “pro-life” supports so ardently a policy with these consequences.
Even without all these considerations, the evidence that the Republican party saves lives by preventing abortions is scarce. The rate of abortions in the U.S. is dependent upon many factors, none of which include the party in power. Many states that increased access to abortions had fewer than the national average. The rhetoric that Republican lawmakers reduce abortions is plainly false.
While neither party perfectly defends life in all forms, there is one party that champions the title “pro-life.” Unfortunately, this branding doesn’t correlate to lives lost in the real world.
As voters, we should be aware of not only the philosophies but also the outcomes of their policies.
Daniel Payne is a freshman integrated marketing communications major from Collierville, Tennessee.