For a party that champions a “pro-life” agenda, the GOP routinely turns its back on children once they leave the womb. The question isn’t just about abortion rights; it’s about making sure that all children have access to a quality life, growing up safe, healthy and well-educated.
On Sept. 30, the Republican-controlled House and Senate allowed funding to expire for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, which provided coverage for 8.9 million kids across the country whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.
Regardless of how anyone judges adults for their employment and financial-management choices, no child should be made to suffer just to make a political point. The parents of CHIP-eligible kids are not welfare bums, as some portray them. They are hard-working individuals whose jobs don’t pay them enough to afford private health coverage.
Until now, states have been able to sustain CHIP by dipping into reserve funds. But by the end of this month, 16 states—including California, Texas and Florida—will run out. Another 21 states’ funds will be exhausted between February and March, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Missouri’s funding is expected to last through the year.
Congressional Democrats now are drawing a hard line in negotiations with Republicans over funding to keep the federal government running past Jan. 19, when the current spending authority expires. Unless GOP leaders agree to long-term funding for CHIP, Democrats are threatening to shut down the government. The Democrats, in this case, are the ones fighting for kids’ lives.
Likewise, Democrats are demanding an end to GOP delays regarding the 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. An estimated 14,000 have lost their protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and now face a threat of deportation within the next few months.
Most of these youths came from Mexico and Central America, where gangs and drug cartels dominate street life. The threat of kidnapping, rape, human trafficking and forced participation in drug smuggling is constant—a major reason why many parents opted to cross the border illegally.
Many of the youths who registered with the government under DACA have studied in American public schools and universities, speak minimal Spanish and know little of the countries their parents left behind. Deportation would be tantamount to throwing these youths to the wolves.
It takes a particularly hard heart to turn a blind eye to their plight, or to threaten youths with deportation as a way of punishing their parents. If this isn’t at the root of the GOP agenda, then what is? The leadership has done a lousy job of matching arguments for protecting the sanctity of life with those that condemn children to hardship and suffering. Pro-life means all life, not just that of the unborn.
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch