Thursday, September 06, 2007

NFP Challenges 'the Pro-Life Lie' in Nebraska Politics

by Kyle Michaelis
Paul Olson writes in this month's Nebraskans for Peace newsletter [excerpts with emphasis added]:

My state has three representatives who say that they are pro-life. Adrian Smith is a "Christian," Lee Terry a Methodist, and Jeff Fortenberry a Catholic. They are not hearing from one religious authority, but they have one "life" message.

When I go to churches, I hear homilies that tell me that I would have committed a mortal sin had I voted for anyone not pro-life. Local and national religious authorities call for a "consistent ethic of life": anti-abortion, anti-capital punishment and anti-assisted suicide. Fundamentalists on the religious right call for similar goals, especially on abortion.

In the case of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, a life-ethic meant more: a condemning of the idea of nuclear deterrence. But when Nebraska votes, it means nothing about war or most forms of death ....

To take the House of Representatives as an example, the "consistent ethic of life,"the "reverence for life" that our representatives, Smith, Fortenberry and Terry, profess means opposing abortion (mostly this) and perhaps assisted suicide. They appear to accept the death penalty through inaction. They do not oppose nuclear deterrence. They do not question "shock and awe" bombs or surge raids that abort mothers in Iraq. They are, to all intents and purposes, silent when mothers in Darfur have to birth babies destined for bloated bellies and flies in their eyes as they eke out their few days before dying. They do not testify loudly enough to be heard about children in the U.S., Africa, Asia and South America starving or dying from war, AIDS, malnutrition or multi-national corporate indifference.

If we, as peace people, value an ethic of life, we may well ask, "Do our representatives represent the same ethic?" If so, why, in the 109th Congress, did all of our representatives - including Tom Osborne - vote for funding the continued occupation of Iraq with its murder of civilians? Why have they all continued to justify the initial illegal invasion of Iraq and the ouster and execution of Saddam Hussein as aspects of the "War on Terror"? Why did they vote against prohibiting military action against Iran? Why did they oppose cutting funds for the so-called "missile defense program" that is destabilizing the international nuclear situation and prompting a new arms race? Were they 'life-people' when they voted to share nuclear technology with India, a non-signatory to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty? Did life-reverence tell them to oppose increased humanitarian aid for refugees? ....

Why did Terry, Fortenberry and Smith vote against the crucial "Fairness in Farm and Food Policy" Farm Bill amendment ... ? ... Our guys know that our subsidized corn, beans, rice and cotton, regularly dumped on the international markets, drive small farmers in other lands off their farms - increasing hunger, dependent urban ghettoes and the likelihood of civil strife and terrorism. They know that we - and the Europeans - have been the primary causes of the breakdowns in the Doha Round WTO trade talks designed to prevent such dumping. Do they know that there is no reverence for life in such a vote? Do they know that 798 million people in the world suffer from chronic hunger because of poverty?....

Why did Terry, Smith and Fortenberry vote against the Children's Health Care Bill extending health insurance to six million unserved U.S. children ... Where is the "consistent ethic of life" in that vote? Or in their votes on Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, military spending, world hunger, hunger in America and world poverty? They did not get their positions from the Pope's statements on the Iraq war, poverty, and hunger. Or from any mainline Protestant leaders'. Or from Sojourner's evangelicals.

We Nebraskans can toot our horns until hell freezes over about how we revere[] life. But we do not do so as voters in any meaningful way. We do not care when we send representatives like these to Washington. We do not care.

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