"Pro-Life" Now Has an Age Limit

Republicans' new approach: Save the fetus, lose the grandparents

Photo by Todd Cravens on Unsplash

Get Ready for the GOP Death Panels.

For years, Republicans have warned us that giving everybody healthcare would usher in an age of government “Death Panels.”

America could never, ever accept a system in which care had to be rationed, they told us. And it would be especially terrible, of course, if Obama did it.

As Sarah Palin put it in 2009:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents… will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society.’”

Fast-forward to 2020. In the age of Trump, “Death Panels” are suddenly as cool among GOP politicians and right-wing pundits as deficit-spending and exploding the national debt.

The new “Death Panel” movement got a boost when Donald “This Is Their New Hoax” Trump made the case for letting the virus just run it course on the Sean Hannity show on March 4:

If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.

The idea Trump was promoting here was “herd immunity”—which in the case of COVID-19 could be developed fastest by letting everyone catch it all at once. Trump also told Hannity that his “hunch” was that the death rate would be much lower than what the WHO was saying, so the U.S. death toll wouldn’t be much worse than a few bad flu seasons all crammed together into a couple of months (or words to that effect).

Rick Santelli took that idea and ran with it on CNBC the very next day:

Maybe we’d be just better off if we gave it to everybody, and then in a month it would be over because the mortality rate of this probably isn’t going to be any different if we did it that way than the long-term picture, but the difference is we’re wreaking havoc on global and domestic economies.

Things changed temporarily when the White House was jarred by an Imperial College of London report indicating 2.2 million Americans would die if nothing were done. At which point Trump quickly launched his 15-day plan to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

For a few days Donald Trump tried really hard to listen to the experts and assume the role of a “Wartime President” on TV. Crucial to his performance were: a) selling America on the need to make YUGE sacrifices such as staying home and sitting on the couch; and b) pretending he wasn’t the one who had allowed the invasion to happen in the first place.

Right-wing nutjobs, of course, were not convinced. By March 20, former Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore was telling Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business that letting the virus run its course was a better idea “than putting 100 million or 200 million people on lockdown.”

By Monday, March 23, Trump was already fed up with his half-finished “slowing the spread” idea, especially when he realized it had shut down his six most successful sources of emoluments.

As Wonkette put it:

Trump is considering shutting down the shutdowns so his re-election campaign can focus on how great the economy is after millions of Americans have died in three months. The campaign ads film themselves. This might seem like a shocking disregard for human life — even from Trump — but he reassured everyone during his daily stock-market tanking presser that he totally gives AF whether we live or die.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick immediately embraced the idea on Fox News the same night:

No one reached out to me and said, “As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?” If that’s the exchange, I'm all in.

Glenn Beck quickly jumped on the “Die for the Dow” bandwagon:

I would rather have my children stay home and all of us who are over 50 go in and keep this economy going and working even if we all get sick. I’d rather die than kill the country. ’Cause it’s not the economy that’s dying, it’s the country. 

Fox News’ Brit Hume also leaned into the idea that it was “entirely reasonable” to sacrifice a couple of million grandparents to keep the stock market humming along.

What Would Jesus Do?

Sometimes it’s hard to understand where “pro-life” Republicans get their ideas. It’s certainly not in the Bible I read. That book clearly says we should stone adulters (sorry Donald, Newt and Rudy), avoid shellfish and never get a tattoo.

There must be another book that explains why it’s OK for Trump’s spiritual adviser to pray for women to have miscarriages while the GOP pushes for laws that deny women the right to terminate pregnancies.

I couldn’t find any mention of abortion in the Bible. I was, however, able to dig up a host of entreaties to respect and care for the elderly. A sampling:

  • Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you—Exodus 20:12

  • Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged—Leviticus 19:32

  • Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever—Timothy 5:8

I’m not sure Jesus would want us to let even one person die simply to help re-elect an unrepentant, Commandment-shredding adulterer like Donald Trump.

However, self-proclaimed “pro-life” Republicans seem suddenly—and worryingly—eager to ignore the Holy Bible. They stand ready to sacrifice millions of old people in service of Dear Leader and their one true god: The Almighty Dollar.

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