After Dobbs, the Republican Party promised to give new meaning to “pro-life.” How does that work?

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After Dobbs, the Republican Party promised to give new meaning to “pro-life.” How does that work?

On Ed

Jackie Calmes

February 26, 2024

It’s not spring yet, but think ahead to June. Children are out of school and we are celebrating the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision


ends guaranteed access to abortion nationwide.

Those two facts of kids on vacation and post-Dobbs reality may seem unrelated. But there is a connection, and it’s an unfortunate one. Let me explain.

First a little about Dobbs. Births have increased in every state that rushed to ban most abortions after the judge gave the green light. Republicans in those predominantly red states told us not to worry because they had a new pro-life cause: They would provide better health care, nutrition and other support to


women forced to give birth and for their children.

We must show that being pro-life is not just a matter of being anti-abortion, Mississippi’s governor said. Tate Reeves said this on national television.

And now about children on school holidays: children in poor households face a so-called summer hunger gap. For about three months, they don’t get the free daily lunch they would get at school, and their families don’t or can’t fill the void. That’s why President Biden and Congress created a program to give eligible children a total of $40 per month, $120 in debit cards that households can use to buy groceries. It begins in June and is the first new federal food program on this scale in nearly 50 years.

More than 30 million children could benefit from this. Yet about a third of them don’t want that. Republican governors in 15 states have rejected $2.5

billion-dollar program, even though the only cost to their states would be half the relatively small cost of paying for the benefits.

That decision by the governor leaves up to 10 million children without access to the extra food that $40 a month could buy, at a time when hunger is on the rise, according to federal data. Meanwhile, many of those 15 governors are loudly blaming Biden for grocery prices that remain stubbornly high even as overall inflation has cooled.

As you can probably guess, almost all fifteen anti-free lunches are


also, and apparently unconcerned,

like so many Republican politicians,

that they demonstrate that their beliefs only apply until the birth of a child. Hungry second graders? Fuhgeddaboudit.

And almost all of them


represent notoriously stingy states when the time comes


assisting their poorest residents, especially women with children. The 15 are Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont And Wyoming.


Half of the seven states are among the dozens of U.S. states with the highest rates of children in poverty. Reeves Mississippi is at No. 1. 1, and Louisiana is second, with Alabama, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia and Texas close behind. And seven is not exactly the same seven, but close to the ten states that have declined to expand Medicaid access to low-income individuals and families, at largely federal cost, as the Affordable Care Act of 2010 stipulates.

Several states among the summer lunch naysayers, Nebraska, Texas, Georgia and Louisiana, have the highest percentage of children facing food insecurity, according to the Department of Agriculture. About

1 in 5, one in five

children in those states routinely do not receive sufficient, healthy food. They are starving.

I don’t believe in welfare, said the governor of No. 1 Nebraska, Jim Pillen, explaining his decision to reject the Feds program. When a bipartisan group of state lawmakers proposed forcing the state to accept the $18 million in benefits for about 150,000 children, Pillen doubled down: handing out money isn’t enough to meet children’s needs. [sic] needs, he wrote. They need much more. A hand up, no handout.”

Understood? Because FBI support won’t solve all the problems of poor children, Nebraska doesn’t want a little lunch money. Illogical pills remind me of House Republicans’ nonsensical rejection of the Senate’s bipartisan border legislation this month: It didn’t solve everything, so they decided to do nothing. Let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds offered her own unpleasant take on the summer program when the state announced it would not participate. It does nothing to promote nutrition at a time when childhood obesity has become an epidemic, she said.

Because of course you can’t trust anyone who qualifies for a government food program be responsible enough to do that buy fruits, eggs, vegetables and whole wheat bread.

Reynolds and other governors noted that their states already have and don’t have private food banks

profit groups that, as it were, focus on the poor. It doesn’t matter that these charities are chronically understaffed and desperate for local, state or federal help.

So anti-hunger advocates

to have

long pushed for what the program offers, a summer option that provides food assistance directly to low-income families so they don’t always have to go to remote locations to get food and meals. One study found that six out of seven needy children skip meals because distribution points are difficult to reach.

The FBI offers only a partial cure for malnutrition, and certainly no solution for hunger. But state leaders who are unwilling to accept this are failing their most vulnerable ingredients.

And once again, Republicans are making a mockery of their post-Dobbs promise


a new meaning.



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