Friday, May 18, 2018

A Nun Who Needs To Educate The "Little Sisters of the Poor" About Being Pro-Life

What is the pro-life position?  What defines it? Is it truly pro-life without qualification or only up to birth? And if resources are denied after birth, is that still pro-life or only pro-life to birth, hence only pro birth?
In previous posts I've not held back from criticizing the Little Sisters of the Poor for their backward and myopic stance on artificial contraception as part of the ACA - which they have mightily protested having to accommodate.  I've pointed out, for example, that logically, the Little Sisters "can't have it both ways".   You cannot proclaim you're against abortion but then protest the best means to reduce abortions, which is artificial birth control
The Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious zealots have argued constantly and vocally that their precious "pro life" beliefs are being "disrespected" by being forced to pay for contraception for their employees. This is even after President Obama loosened the rules, i.e. so the religious institutions didn't have to pay for the contraceptives directly (their insurance companies did), and they still squawked.
But given that artificial contraception is the optimal way to family plan, and hence  avoid unnecessary abortions, if you cut out affordable access to  the first you will have to expect the second. You can't have it both ways: No contraception and no abortion. To me and many others, if abortion is the last thing we want then we permit control of family planning via artificial contraception. It is deliriously unrealistic to expect poor or even moderate income families to simply make 'baby roulette' bets with their lives. Yet that is what these Catholic false dogmatists expect.
Now, an outspoken nun - Sister Joan Chittister-  has added critical insight to the abortion issue by exposing - as I have in previous posts - that being pro- life means a hell of a lot more than protecting it up to birth.  What she has done is exposed the total hypocrisy in much of the  pro life babble of the Right  as when she pointedly states (in recent quotes from assorted media, e.g. Daily Kos):
"I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion that makes you pro-life. In fact, in many cases your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born and not a child fed, not a child educated or a child housed.   Why would I think you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life, that's pro-birth."
But see, pro birth doesn't cut it, if subsequently feeding,  housing, educating kids is not on the horizon.  But that is the M.O. of the repukes who even now are pushing a farm bill that includes cutting food stamps. And this cutting will largely affect families with kids. So those repugs who are pushing it cannot really be pro -life even if they might pass a smell test for being pro -birth. 
Sister Joan's zeroing in on spending tax money cuts to the chase. Because now we can further generalize by asserting all those in favor of cutting taxes are absolutely not pro-life, and maybe even not pro-birth. Why not pro-birth? Because prospective mothers - who might fancy having a kid or two - will now think twice realizing after parsing the tax cut bill and seeing  that there won't be anything to support the family later: no child care, no food stamps - or not enough - if they are needed, no relief to do with student loans, and even cuts to their parents' Medicare support. 
Indeed, given taxes are critical for support of an expanding population, to maintain any quality of life over multiple dimensions, then tax cutting is anti-life to the core. It effectively says: "We don't give a crap how many people there are in need, how many more have been born and need medical and other services, we aren't providing them."
For example, take the cruel and austere stance of Walter E. Williams, the deranged libertarian prof at George Mason University who recently scribbled in one of his syndicated op-eds:
Before the massive growth of our welfare state, private charity was the sole option for an individual or family facing insurmountable financial difficulties or other challenges. How do we know that? There is no history of Americans dying on the streets because they could not find food or basic medical assistance...During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, charities started playing a major role.
Of course, any sensible person with an IQ over room temperature would know this is errant twaddle. First of all, in Williams' bygone era of charity support the U.S. population was only around 100 million, compared to 330 million today. With a vastly greater number of people to support, and also factoring in inflation, there is no way that charity alone would provide for all the families in need today.
The housing shortage alone, with supply outstripping demand, is creating enormous hardship. Many families in the Denver area must lodge at cheap motels or in public shelters - like the family below. This is through no fault of their own.
Michael Lee, 38, looks at a water bottle his daughter Kayah Lee, 6, brought back as her mom, Cristal Olko, 32, and sister, Kemani Lee, 3, look on at the
Trulia recently estimated that only 29 percent of homes listed on the metro Denver market are affordable, and that was to those workers earning at least $70, 790 in 2015.  This from The Denver Post, April, 8, p. 10B.   The median listing price for homes on the Denver market now is:   $529,000
The average teacher and cop wages are significantly less than the $70-k figure, and with median  rents now running nearly $2,100  a month for a typical Denver area apartment. Hence, it doesn't take a math genius or Mensa member to run the numbers to see that after accounting for a domicile (whether rent or mortgage) and utilities, food - say to feed a family of 4 - there will be scant disposable income left. Hence, the need to supplement via food stamps.
But despite these facts and stats, Williams has the chutzpah to insist there is "no material poverty" in the U.S. Rolling out the hackneyed trope that most poor families still have stoves, bathrooms,  TV sets and maybe even a/c  for a room or two - or at least a fan. To which I retort: So what? You'd prefer they give up what few "luxuries" they have, build mud huts and live like swamp rats? WTF are you, a useful idiot - out to appease your libertarian masters at George Mason U.?

But Williams points up the very core issue Sister Joan Chittister is all about.  That if you are going to adopt an austerity position concerning social benefits then you can in no way be pro-life. No matter how long and hard you proclaim to be such.  Clearly, since Williams is adamant he wants no federal taxes increased to support what he calls a "welfare state" we can conclude he is emphatically not pro- life. The very fact he'd invoke private charity to cover people's needs indicates he's smitten - like most libbie academics - with the easy cop out.

At the core Sister Joan's moral stance against pro-life hypocrisy is based on the realist POV that population increase beyond resource availability leads to destitution.  We call such a condition  "overshoot" and it is illustrated in the diagram below in the radical divergence between population and resources by 2030. Even conservative UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, then by the 2030s we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us.  This is shown in the following graph:
Factoring into this is that  every energy conversion pollutes and degrades the natural environment we depend upon. Hence, the more people, the more energy conversions and the more rapidly we descend into a high entropic, high waste world. Classic pro-lifers like the Little Sisters, the Pope and others fail to appreciate that every energy conversion process has as an accompaniment entropy, or disorder. In most cases this appears as waste heat, as well as pollutants.  Worse, they're willing to welcome millions more births but then bemoan spending on cancer treatments, needed drug , treating water fouled from lead poisoning or other health needs when the waste factor comes home to bite.  They deliriously want the extra babies, the burden of more and more human life - but refuse to take responsibility for paying (via taxes) the inevitable extra costs. 

This is what Sister Joan is all about and she deserves to be applauded for it:  One of the few moral realists amidst an amoral or pre-moral culture wedded to illusion.

Update:  Title X, our nation’s family planning program, which began in 1971, provides funding for a wide range of birth control and preventive health services to clinics or public and nonprofit entities serving poor women, many of whom are women of color, uninsured women and/or adolescents. 
Now, Title X is under attack by the Trump administration—which has announced that it intends to impose a gag rule preventing doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers at these clinics from providing any information about abortion to their patients or referring them to abortion providers.  This again confirms the Trumpies and their lackeys in the GOOP party are not pro-life, they are pro-birth. They don't give two craps about post - birth  life given the tax cut they passed at the end of last year will now require enormous cuts to everything from food stamps to Medicaid and health care for kids.

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