What If Conservatives Were Pro-Life Instead of Simply Anti-Abortion?

The argument conservatives make is that they aren’t simply anti-abortion when it comes to women’s reproductive freedom. Instead, they claim that their position is based on being pro-life. But that seems to apply only to embryos still in the mother’s womb and people facing their own mortality who would chose assisted suicide. The same concern for life isn’t usually extended in between those two extremes.

Based on a report published in the journal Health Affairs, there is a test that could be applied to how much conservatives are actually taking a position on the value of life as opposed to an attempt to control women’s bodies.

A child born in the United States has a 70 percent greater chance of dying before adulthood than kids born into other wealthy, democratic countries, a new study has found.

The research, published in the journal Health Affairs on Monday, shows that the United States lags far behind peer countries on child health outcomes. It estimates that, since 1961, America’s poor performance accounts for more than 600,000 excess child deaths — deaths that wouldn’t have happened if these kids were born into other wealthy countries.

“In all the wealthy, democratic countries we studied children are dying less often then they were 50 years ago,” Ashish Thakrar, the study’s lead author, said. “But we found that children are dying more often in the United States than in any similar country.”

There are two groups of children most affected by this: infants and teenagers.

Between 2001 and 2010, researchers found that the risk of death in the United States was 76 percent higher for infants than in peer countries. In addition, the US has an infant death rate from extreme prematurity three times that of its peer countries…

…children between the ages of 15 and 19 are 82 times more likely to die from gun homicide in the United States than in peer countries.

And US teenagers are twice as likely to die in car accidents than their peers abroad.

When it comes to politicians of all stripes, a common refrain is a commitment to support our children. It would seem then, that there would be a platform for bipartisanship when it comes to addressing this shameful record.

Many of these deaths could be prevented by a seamless health care system and common sense gun safety laws. We need more information on the factors involved in car accidents, but the fact this issue hasn’t even been discussed in mainstream circles is a testament to our complacency about the lives of children.

The moral questions about abortion (i.e., when does life begin?) are probably going to keep us from ever coming to a consensus on that issue. But liberals should challenge conservatives on the question of whether or not they’re actually pro-life after a child is born. If they answer in the affirmative, it is time to get busy doing something about the actual lives that are being lost.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.