Pro-abortion writer Jill Filipovic wrote an article for Cosmopolitan yesterday taking prolifers in Michigan to task for not getting engaged in the Flint water crisis, because the crisis appears to have led to an increase in miscarriages.
While the Flint water crisis is a useful tool for framing her point, her main point is really just the common refrain that prolife people aren't really concerned about life; our main motivation in her mind is that we're freaked out by working women. That's ridiculous. Right to Life of Michigan has been run by full-time working women longer than Jill Filipovic has been alive.
Rather than just respond to her real argument—that deep down every prolife person is just prolife because they need to repress women—we'll be good sports and engage her on Flint first. Filipovic lives in Nairobi, Kenya, and so she doesn't have the benefit of knowing details about the situation on the ground.
The most important underlying issue in Flint is that several critical trends have left Flint with half of the current population they had in the 1960s. This economic disaster had led to many ongoing calamities. Right to Life of Michigan simply isn't equipped to confront trends like automation in manufacturing or globalization. Most of the groups involved in assisting Flint in the water crisis aren't directly engaged on those foundational causes either. Nor should they be; they should stay in their lanes of expertise.
The water crisis itself came about because Flint switched their water from Detroit's system to their own river in preparation for using a new, cheaper source. Flint's infrastructure in the city wasn't equipped to handle the change-over, causing lead to leech into the water. Following the crisis there's a raft of criminal accusations involving government officials botching their basic duties to their constituents.
Right to Life of Michigan is not involved in civil engineering, environmental quality, urban planning, or any of the many fields involved in the water crisis. We are not Attorney General Bill Schuette or the Environmental Protection Agency, who are charged with sorting out the mess. None of these important issues involve anything we have educational or legislative experience on.
Is Filipovic right, though? Should we be involved in civil engineering, environmental quality, and urban planning, because failures in those areas have led to a situation that has increased the number of miscarriages in Flint? Let's assume the answer is yes. Our question, then, is why is nobody else ever held to this standard Filipovic wants to apply to us?
If every human life has equal value, organizations involved in Flint ought be to devoting at least some of their time to abortion, using Filipovic's logic. In 2015, the MI Dept. of Health and Human Services reported 1,301 abortions in Genesee County, and 1,081 estimated miscarriages. Miscarriages in Flint are tragic, and there are people working to address them. Abortions are even more tragic because it's purposeful, direct taking of human life, so shouldn't more people focus on that? Why does nobody ever demand civil engineers, environmentalists and urban planners speak out about abortion?
Now, you might object, abortion has nothing to do with getting clean water to the people of Flint. That's basically our entire point, isn't it? But there is an indirect connection that goes the other way. Thousands of abortions have exacerbated the very problem that caused the Flint water crisis. The main reason Flint couldn't afford Detroit's water system is because thousands of taxpayers are missing. A shrinking population is robbing the city of future bond money and other economic growth opportunities, leaving a city government with few good options and human capital to solve so many problems.
Why does nobody ever ask other groups what they are doing about abortion? The Michigan Environmental Council currently lists 63 separate member organizations on their website. What are any of these groups doing about abortion? How many advocacy groups in Michigan are involved in ending abortion? The list is quite small.
Why does nobody ever demand soup kitchens get involved with the American Cancer Society? Diet plays a role in cancer. Why does nobody demand Mothers Against Drunk Driving get involved in heart disease? Heart disease is the leading cause of death of mothers. Why aren't gun control groups involved in Flint? Don't they believe the lives of Flint citizens matter? The American Cancer Society has nothing on Flint on their website. Don't they care that lead is a probable carcinogen?
This is silly. Each of those groups have identified a particular set of problems, and they develop expertise and engage people in those problems. A soup kitchen shouldn't be involved in dealing with manufacturing job losses; their job is to feed the hungry people, even if those people went hungry because they lost their manufacturing job. There's a million other people out there fighting over job creation, but none of them are there handing out soup on Main Street.
The fantastical notion that prolife groups need to become political parties and engage on every policy issue only exists because the issue involved is abortion. Filipovic doesn't want to talk about abortion or basic human rights, because that focuses on the uncomfortable reality that abortion kills human beings using brutal violence. She says it herself in her column, "And so the focus on the fetus gets ratcheted up, and the debate turns on
the right to life rather than a woman’s right to her physical self." Abortion is basically indefensible, so the best way to make the case for abortion is to point at someone or something else and hope nobody notices what goes on inside abortion clinics.
Abortion is the number one cause of death in America, if it counted. Abortion has helped to devastate Flint's heavily minority population. In Michigan, Black women have a majority of abortions, 50.5%, even though the state is only 14% Black. More Black lives have been lost to abortions since 1973 than every other cause of death combined. That's appalling. What's Filipovic doing about that? Is she bothered by this racial disparity?
What motivates prolifers? It's no mystery. It's as simple as this: stop killing babies!
Ultimately, nothing we say or do will appease Filipovic or make her write nice things about us, because ultimately we believe every human life has value. Prolifers will never be taken seriously by people who believe unborn children have zero human rights. It's easier for them to picture us as heartless villains than focus on the hearts they stop every day in their own clinics.
Do you remember when prolife presidential candidate Ted Cruz came to Flint to supply the prolife pregnancy centers in town with water to hand out to residents? Pro-abortion groups and media folk savaged Cruz for it. Prolifers are not even allowed to help the very women they claim we want to oppress.
Contrary to the news reported out there in Kenya, Michigan has been absolutely consumed and is still very engaged with the Flint water crisis. That's OK. It's a legitimate public health crisis. Public health groups in Michigan have a duty to be engaged on something that impacts their issues. We'll let more knowledgeable organizations work on their own issues, without demanding they drop their important work on focus on us. As long as abortion remains the number one killer in America, however, can't you agree it deserves at least one group focused on it?
Ultimately this is not about Flint for Filipovic. This is about Filipovic's own mistaken beliefs on what motivates prolife people. If your real argument is that a movement largely run by women really hates women, maybe you are better off talking about something real, like people suffering in Flint because the many organizations and agencies responsible for handling the issue utterly dropped the ball.
Maybe Filipovic should follow Senator Ted Cruz's example and hop on a plane from Kenya, skip New York, and at least do as much for Flint as he did before maligning all prolifers everywhere.