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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Don't Let Pence's Shady Use of Language Fool You. He is Anti-Life.

Tim Kaine (left) and Mike Pence (right) at the vice presidential debate. Image source.
In Tuesday night's vice presidential debate between Tim Kaine (Hillary Clinton's running mate) and Mike Pence (Donald Trump's running mate), Pence used the term "life" in an incredibly shady way. At the 1:55:56 in this video of the debate, he said the words "sanctity of life" and I made this observation on Twitter:
Later, from about 2:00:10 to 2:01:53 in the video [transcript available here], Pence says this about "life":
PENCE: But here’s — there is a choice, and it is a choice on life. I couldn’t be more proud to be standing with Donald Trump, who’s standing for the right to life. It’s a principle that — Senator Kaine — and I’m very gentle about this, because I really do respect you — it’s a principle that you embrace.

And I have appreciated the fact that you’ve supported the Hyde amendment, which bans the use of taxpayer funding for abortion, in the past, but that’s not Hillary Clinton’s view. People need to understand, we can come together as a nation. We can create a culture of life. More and more young people today are embracing life because we know we are — we’re better for it. We can — like Mother Teresa said at that famous national prayer breakfast…

KAINE: This is important —

PENCE: … bring the — let’s welcome the children into our world. There are so many families around the country who can’t have children. We could improve adoption…

KAINE: But, Governor…

PENCE: … so that families that can’t have children can adopt more readily those children from crisis pregnancies.

KAINE: Governor, why don’t you trust women to make this choice for themselves? We can encourage people to support life. Of course we can. But why don’t you trust women? Why doesn’t Donald Trump trust women to make this choice for themselves?

That’s what we ought to be doing in public life. Living our lives of faith or motivation with enthusiasm and excitement, convincing other, dialoguing with each other about important moral issues of the day…

PENCE: Because there are…

KAINE: … but on fundamental issues of morality, we should let women make their own decisions.

PENCE: Because there is — a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable, the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn. I believe it with all my heart. And I couldn’t be more proud to be standing with a pro-life candidate in Donald Trump.
First of all, I love Kaine here- "Why don't you trust women?" But also, holy crap, Pence is being shady as hell. Over and over again, he says the word "life." "Right to life." "Culture of life." "Embracing life." "Pro-life." But he's not actually talking about life. He's not talking about helping people have better lives. He's not talking about policies that improve health and safety and save people's lives. He's not talking about treating every person with respect, advocating for equality, believing that every person has value.

He's not talking about assistance for refugees whose lives are in danger. (Nope, Pence wants to block all Syrian refugees from coming to the US.) He's not talking about taking a stand against hatred and fear of Muslims, which leads to hate crimes where Muslims have been killed.

He's not talking about reducing gun violence by passing gun-control laws. (Pence has an "A" rating from the NRA. Scary.) He's not talking about #blacklivesmatter, about challenging a culture of white supremacy which is quick to blame innocent black victims for their own murders.

He's not talking about LGBT rights. He's not talking about passing anti-discrimination laws, banning reparative therapy, ensuring equal rights- which is literally a matter of life and death; the suicide rate for LGBT people is horrifyingly high. Nope, Pence has worked to oppose LGBT rights for years, even causing an HIV crisis in Indiana by cutting funding to Planned Parenthood.

He's not talking about ensuring that all Americans have access to good health care. He's not talking about helping poor people by raising the minimum wage and protecting workers' rights.

He's not talking about comprehensive sex ed, about giving teenagers the information they need to protect their own health and make safe choices. He's not talking about helping Planned Parenthood provide low-cost contraception and health screenings to people who need it. He's not talking about respecting the bodily autonomy of pregnant people and trusting they know their own situation better than anyone else and they need to have the right to make decisions about abortion and pregnancy.

No, Pence is not talking about any of these issues where there are obvious things the government can do to improve quality of life and literally save lives. No, on all of these issues, Pence takes an anti-life stance.

Then what on earth is he talking about, when he uses the word "life" over and over?

Well I don't know if you can believe this or not, because it's pretty absurd, but when Pence (or any other conservative politician) says "life", what he actually means is he wants to ban abortion.

In other words, Pence is pro-life for fetuses. He is NOT pro-life for refugees. He is anti-life. He is NOT pro-life for Muslims. He is anti-life. He is NOT pro-life for victims of gun violence. He is anti-life. He is NOT pro-life for black people. He is anti-life. He is NOT pro-life for LGBT people. He is anti-life. He is NOT pro-life for people who can't afford health insurance. He is anti-life. He is NOT pro-life for poor working people. He is anti-life. He is NOT pro-life for pregnant people. He is anti-life. (He's certainly not pro-life for Purvi Patel.)

And yet, somehow the anti-abortion movement has so twisted the meaning of the word "life" that Pence feels confident getting on TV in front of millions of people and saying, "I couldn’t be more proud to be standing with Donald Trump, who’s standing for the right to life." WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? When we look at policies that are actually going to help people and save lives, it's clear that Trump and Pence are anti-life.

He even has the audacity to then say "a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable." If that's true ... Pence and Trump better watch out.

But the anti-abortion movement has convinced so many of its supporters that abortion is the only issue that matters. That abortion is the most horrific human-rights violation- it's murder! it's genocide!- that it would be unthinkable to vote for any politician who did not agree that anyone who tries to get an abortion is evil and must be stopped. We're expected to ignore all of Trump/Pence's awful anti-life stances because the other side thinks it's okay to- gasp!- murder babies. In that clip from the debate, Pence is talking as if he holds the moral high ground- he "embraces life" and Clinton's campaign does not. What a bunch of bullshit.

The anti-abortion movement defines "life" as the thing that a fetus has from conception to birth. That definition is shady as hell. Don't let them get away with it.

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Related posts:
This is what abortion politics is for
‘If X is not wrong, then nothing is wrong’
If abortion is murder, then you shouldn’t be a single-issue voter against it
Why I Am Pro-Choice

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