In the Christian right’s war against mainstream American values, low-income women and men are collateral damage.
In a move designed to reward his base and punish low-income Americans, the Trump administration released Feb. 22 the final version of an abortion gag rule rule that would strip Planned Parenthood of federal family planning funds.
First proposed last year, the so-called domestic gag rule bars organizations that perform abortions or offer abortion referrals from receiving funding under Title X.
‘Gag’ Rule Comes Home
More than 4 million Americans rely on Title X funding, which provides potentially life-saving services for low-income men and women, including:
- Birth Control
- Contraceptive education
- Cervical and breast cancer screenings
- Testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections
The domestic gag rule won’t prevent abortions. At least not directly.
Planned Parenthood is already barred from using Title X funds for abortion, while the Hyde Amendment blocks Medicaid funding for abortion services, except in the case of rape, incest, or threats to the woman’s life.
Most people would agree these are reasonable exceptions. The Christian right is not reasonable.
Nearly 70% of abortions are performed before the fetus is 8-weeks-old, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
I probably wouldn’t be reasonable either if I truly believed an 8-week old fetus, which is about the size of a raspberry, is a fully developed human being with the same thoughts, feelings, and rights as its mother.
Anti-abortion advocates argue that Title X funding frees up non-federal money for abortion. Hence the ruled designed to bring Planned Parenthood, and the poor, to its knees.
God Is Wealth
The Christian right, which overwhelmingly supports Donald Trump, has reason to celebrate after a series of victories, including:
- The confirmation hearing of accused sexual predator Brett Kavanaugh.
- Immigrant children separated from their parents in chain-link pens.
- An emergency declaration to fund a border wall more appropriate to a medieval fort than a modern nation.
They want to live in a Christian theocracy where spiritual truth is dictated by white men, preferably rich—because God rewards the righteous with spiritual blessings and earthly treasures.
A controversial but commonplace belief in the U.S. and around the world, prosperity gospel teaches that health and wealth are the will of God, and God blesses the faithful, particularly when they think happy thoughts and donate to their favorite church.
It’s like The Secret—a movie turned best-selling book that preaches the Law of Attraction, your thoughts can change the world and make you rich—but for religion.
Both gospels demand blind faith, and plenty of it.
Still poor, sick, and unhappy? You must not believe hard enough.
After Planned Parenthood
Prosperity gospel offers easy solutions that ignore structural inequalities that lead to poverty, such as limited access to family planning services.
Planned Parenthood is a vital part of the social safety net. If it’s defunded, there simply aren’t enough reproductive health centers to pick up the slack. In some places, it’s the sole provider of contraceptive care.
I’ll be fine. If I need a pap smear, or an abortion, I can pay for it. If I don’t have the money, my parents would help.
Most people aren’t that lucky. Nearly half of Americans can’t even cover the cost of a $400 emergency.
What will they do if the Christian right wins?