In her hit piece against the Pro-Life Movement Ms. Elizabeth Jahr, a senior at Marymount University in Arlington, Va., pens a missive about the perceived colossal waste of money spent by pro-lifers in our annual March on Washington, D.C. Read her article here. My response to Ms. Jahr…
Dear Ms. Jahr,
First, allow me to congratulate you on having had an article accepted for publication in a major and widely respected outlet such as the Christian Science Monitor. Such publication is always an immense source of pride and validation when one is still a student, so heartfelt congratulations!
In your article you stake out some extremely caustic assertions regarding the wisdom and prudential judgement, efficacy and vision of the leadership and membership of the Pro-Life Movement. Inasmuch as you didn’t sugarcoat your critique of us, I will pay you the sincere compliment of addressing you less as a student, and more as a peer. It would do neither the pro-life cause, nor you any justice were I to approach your assertions with kid gloves. So here goes.
On the whole, as arguments go yours was rather hackneyed. It resembeled in tone and substance the assertions that all the money spent on the U.S. space programs could have been better spent on the poor. Of course, such arguments never take into consideration all of the many derivative benefits that satellite technology has brought to developing nations, but I digress.
Your claims that the money spent on travel to the Annual March on Washington could be better spent by serving the actual needs of women in crisis pregnancies is so far beyond the pale that you should blush for having said so. Certainly in your scholarly research for the article you looked at the 3,000+ pregnancy centers in this nation whose daily work includes getting housing, prenatal care, delivery services, food, clothing, diapers, supplies, employment, etc for women in crisis pregnancies.
In the ’80’s I worked for five years with homeless teen mothers at Covenant House in Times Square, NY doing just that. It was there that I met my friend, Chris Bell, who was so appalled that most girls in crisis pregnancies gave their babies up for adoption (for want of life skills training and the resources to keep their children) that he began Good Counsel Homes. At Good Counsel Homes, women may stay for the duration of their pregnancy, and for a year afterward. During that time they take daily life skills training in money management, nutrition, cooking, and every aspect of managing a home, as well as parenting classes and finishing a GED or Community College.
After their stay at Good Counsel, they enter into the Exodus program where their mentor visits their home twice monthly for two years to assure that their growth is secure. Chris runs five of close to five hundred such homes in the U.S. It costs some $600,000 annually per house. Were you aware of the scope of maternity homes and pregnancy centers? In your political science studies, had you been made aware of the efforts afoot in New York City to shut down the pregnancy centers here, and how their fate hangs in the balance in the Court of Appeals? It takes money to fight those battles.
It takes money to keep the maternity homes and pregnancy centers open. Millions and millions of dollars are needed.
The March each year continues to grow, and with that growth comes the great entusiasm, the great fervor that drives the raising of far more money than is spent on the March. Beyond that utilitarian analysis there is something more fundamental that you missed in your hit piece.
Published so close to the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington and “I have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, your article misses the fact that sometimes it just doesn’t matter the cost of calling attention to fundamental injustice and inhumanity. There have been some 57 million babies slaughtered in my lifetime in this country. You would have 600,000 marchers stay home? Really?
You also fail as a political scientist to acknowledge the amount of U.S. taxpayer dollars that already go to supporting women, children and families. Allow me, then, to link to some government data that dwarfs the few million pro-life dollars you place such a premium on.
The tens of millions of dollars donated to pro-life activities is given over and above the trillions of dollars spent annually by the government with the confiscatory taxes taken from pro-lifers and pro-aborts alike.
The first data table comes from the U.S. Department of Agricultire. Expenditures are in $Millions. So take the totals and multiply by $ 1,000,000. I’ll summarize Fiscal Year 2012 here.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program $78.445 Billion
National School Lunch Program $11.578 Billion
School Breakfast Program $3.277 Billion
Special Milk Program $12 Million
Child/Adult Care Food Program $2.855 Billion
Summer Food Service Program $398 Million
Child Nutrition State Administration $203 Million
WIC (Women Infants and Children Supplemental Food) $6.799 Billion
Commodity Supplemental Food $209 Million
Food Distribution on Indian Reservations $97 Million
TEFAP (Emergency Food Assistance) $444 Million
Grand Total: $104.3 BILLION
Then, according to USDA, we spent $78.445 Billion on Food Stamps in 2012.
If that seems like impressive numbers, your weak and anemic argument collapses under the weight of the following numbers whose source is linked here. Based on Fiscal Year 2012, the U.S. Government (not including state and local expenditures) is spending the following:
Welfare $405 Billion (Including $54 Billion for housing and $107 Billion for families and children).
Education $118 Billion
Healthcare $920 Billion
The pregnancy centers never, EVER, turn a woman away and use their funding to help plug women in crisis into these government sources of assistance. So your argument that somehow babies are not being saved for want of resources falls flat. In truth, Planned Parenthhod receives over a third of a billion dollars annually from the Federal Government to keep them afloat. Would that Planned Parenthood did the counseling with that money that pregnancy centers do daily.
No, Ms. Jahr. the issue is not whether we all need to stay home and shut up in January. The issue is not that women are being turned away at pregnancy centers for want of funding. The issue is that our marching has not yet effected the change in law that King’s marching accomplished. But then, it took hundreds of years to end slavery, and over 80 more to end segregation. At age 40, the pro-life movement is only in its adolescence.
The movement is much larger than you might know, very diverse, and quite sophisticated. All on just tens of millions of dollars annually. More marchers attract even more marchers and more money for these groups. I’d be happy to introduce you to several leaders at the national level if you’re truly interested in learning more.
There is no more consequential issue or movement in our time, and your article has placed you on the wrong side of history. We already spend more than enough in tax money to aid women in crisis. We need more centers to reach more women, and fewer abortion clinics to prey on them.
I’m looking forward to your critique of Planned Parenthood and how they spend a billion dollars annually with regard to women in crisis. With so much more money in play, your analysis and proposals should be rather lengthy.