If you are a feminist, you believe that women should be paid just as much as men for doing the same work. If you are a vegetarian, you probably order a Caesar salad instead of a prime rib when you go to a steakhouse. And if Zayn was your favorite member of One Direction, you probably bought his solo album instead of Harry's. (Don't ask "why not just buy both?" We're living in dark times. You know damn well you have to pick a side.)
Our ideals are ideals for a reason; they serve as a flashlight to guide us through not just the thorny, labyrinthine darkness of contemporary American politics, but through our entire lives. When we fail to live according to our deeply held ideals, they don't become ideals so much as they become what Louis C.K. once called "little believies": beliefs that make you feel good about yourself, even though you never act on them.
It stands to reason that if you are pro-life, you probably shouldn't support legislation that endangers the lives of mothers and babies. And yet, following the passage of the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives last Thursday, that is exactly what pro-life Republicans are doing. Because if you are pro-life and support the AHCA, your stance on abortion is not an actual stance, but a "little believie": an ideal you're not willing to act upon, especially when the political winds blow the other way.
There are many reasons not to support the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a steaming garbage pile of a bill that passed the House of Representatives by a slim margin last Thursday. The American Health Care Act decimates funding for Medicaid, which provides elderly and disabled people with such luxuries as access to personal attendants and nursing home care, so they can walk, eat and, in the case of severely disabled people, breathe. Further, an amendment in the bill overturns an Obamacare provision that prevented states from giving insurance companies the right to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions. While it's unclear what the specific preexisting conditions under the bill will be, there is a pre-Obamacare precedent for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors being denied insurance coverage, leading many to conclude that women will likely be hurt the most under the bill.
The bill would essentially force women to pay extra for the luxury of not dying or having their babies die in childbirth.
Yet perhaps the worst thing about the American Health Care Act is the fact that it would likely punish women or charge them higher premiums for having the gall to get pregnant, or, worse, having the gall to experience complications during pregnancy. Under the AHCA, not only could pregnant women be charged an extra $17,000 for having a baby, according to the Center for American Progress, but they could also be charged extra for having a c-section, a procedure that an estimated 33 percent of women in the United States undergo. Considering that the vast majority of c-sections are medically indicated, meaning they are performed to save the life of the mother or baby, it is not a stretch to conclude that the bill would essentially force women to pay extra for the luxury of not dying or having their babies die in childbirth.
One would think that a piece of legislation with such a cavalier attitude toward women's health would be unpopular among even the most rabidly conservative anti-abortion advocates. One would be wrong. The AHCA has been applauded by anti-choice organizations, in part because it would strip Planned Parenthood of much of its funding. “The March for Life congratulates the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the American Healthcare Act and for reaffirming their commitment to life. Abortion is not healthcare," a statement from the anti-choice March for Life read.
Let's put aside, for a moment, that abortions comprise a relatively small percentage of Planned Parenthood's services. Let's also briefly table the fact that abortion rates have been proven to decrease the more women have access to affordable birth control and reproductive health care, both of which Planned Parenthood provide. And let's not even get into the fact that for the estimated 1 in 3 women who terminate an unplanned pregnancy, abortion isn't just healthcare, it's life-saving healthcare.
Putting aside all these very true and very salient facts, the anti-choice right's support of the American Health Care Act is a breathtaking show of hypocrisy — not just because the bill proves how flagrantly the current administration disregards the health and safety of mothers, but of babies as well.
If you are pro-life, you are, presumably, pro-women having affordable access to prenatal care services like ultrasounds, which can potentially screen for conditions that could prove fatal to mother and baby. The American Health Care Act would likely make such services prohibitively expensive, if available at all.
If you are pro-life, you are, presumably, pro-women having access to postnatal care like screening for newborn congenital heart defects, a life-saving experience that late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel tearfully recounted on his show. Under the American Health Care Act, families might not be able to afford such services. If you are pro-life, you are, presumably, pro-babies having access to Medicaid, which helps to pay for regular checkups, which have contributed to this country's falling infant mortality rate. Under the American Health Care Act, Medicaid would be slashed significantly.
If you are pro-life, you are, presumably, pro-all human life. If you are pro-life, you would, presumably, not support a bill that makes clear, in no uncertain terms, that the current administration views women and babies as expendable.
If you are pro-life, you are, presumably, pro-all human life: the lives of mothers with debilitating postpartum depression, which might be considered a preexisting condition under the American Health Care Act; the lives of cancer patients, who might be forced to pay additional charges of more than $140,000; and the lives of women who want to be able to pay for their birth control, because they don't feel equipped to take care of children at all and would like to take every possible measure to avoid an unplanned pregnancy in the first place.
If you are pro-life, you would, presumably, not support a bill that makes clear, in no uncertain terms, that the current administration views women and babies as expendable. If you are pro-life, you would not support a bill that makes clear, in no uncertain terms, that the lives of women and babies do not matter.
Regardless of whether you are anti-choice or pro-choice, liberal or conservative, a Harry stan or a Zayn stan, your ideals are important, and your actions in service of these ideals matter. We no longer live in a nation where we can afford to have little believies. We need our ideals to help guide us through the darkness before we emerge from the other side, because if we don't, your hypocrisy is gonna have a body count.