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Tom Zirpoli: Why is caring for the unborn more important than caring for living, breathing children? | COMMENTARY

Dave Barnhart has a doctorate from Vanderbilt University and is an ordained elder in the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is frequently quoted on many social topics, but his thinking and statements about abortion are, in my opinion, right on the mark.

He wrote, “The unborn are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you … unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor … unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or child care.”

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It certainly is easy to advocate for the unborn. You don’t even have to wear a mask. Nothing, however, is easy about caring for those who are alive and in need. As someone who has spent my adult life taking care of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, I can tell you the work brings me purpose, but takes a toll on the body and mind. The direct care of the disabled, elderly, and sick is never-ending and can wear you out. Anyone caring for a chronically ill child or an elderly parent understands what I mean.

Barnhart wrote, “When they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. It’s almost as if, by being born, they have died to you. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege. …”

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How one can say that they are pro-life and not want to do all that is possible to protect the life of living, breathing children? We know that masks reduce the likelihood of catching COVID-19. Yet, some state governors and school boards refuse to mandate them. Why do some politicians gladly use their authority to tell women what to do about their pregnancies, but refuse to use their authority to protect children already born? They feel compelled to demand a high school girl deliver the baby of her rapist, but are not inclined to mandate that she wear a mask to protect herself and her classmates from a deadly virus.

I’m tired of politicians pretending to care about the unborn child with significant disabilities, and then repeatedly voting to cut funding for the care of children born with disabilities.

How can you say you are pro-life without advocating for vaccines that actually save the lives of children? According to The New York Times, “States with the highest vaccination rates in the country have seen relatively flat pediatric hospital admissions for COVID-19 so far, while states with the lowest vaccine coverage have child admissions that are around four times as high.” How is it that these states with the most restrictive abortion laws are typically the same states refusing to mandate COVID-19 protections for children after birth?

Why is caring for the unborn more important than caring for the born? Is it, as Barnhart writes, just easier? Barnhart wrote, “Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.”

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According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as of Sept. 2, more than 5 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S. with more than 750,000 new cases added just between Aug. 5 and Sept. 2. These numbers are growing fast, even before many children return to school.

Why are the states — mostly Republican led — with the strictest abortion laws also the states with the lowest vaccine rates and highest number of COVID-19 cases? Why are the top 22 states with the highest vaccine rates, listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all Democratic states? Which major political party in America is doing a better job of protecting life during this pandemic, and which party just talks about protecting life?

What role does gender play in these decisions? In Texas, where we now find the nation’s most restrictive and harsh anti-abortion laws, only 179 women have served in the state legislature in its 175-year history, compared to 5,444 men. Men currently hold 73% of the seats there and White men hold 61% of the seats even though they represent just 41% of the Texas population, according to the Texas Tribune.

This year, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, only 31% of the state legislators in the United States are women even while women make up more than 50% of the U.S. population.

Interestingly, according to the center, the top-10 states in the U.S. with the most female legislators (Nevada with 60%, Rhode Island, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Maine, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington, and Maryland) all voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. The 10 states with the fewest number of female legislators (West Virginia with only 12%, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Wyoming, Louisiana, Oklahoma North Dakota, and Arkansas) all voted for Donald Trump.

I think I found the problem.

Tom Zirpoli is a professor and is the program coordinator of the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster. His column appears on Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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