A letter too long to print from Tom Vitaglione, senior fellow at Action for Children North Carolina:
If you are unaware that the General Assembly has spent a lot of time and energy “protecting the unborn,” I want to welcome you back from wherever you have been. Parenthetically, you may be wondering about job creation activity. Don’t worry – you didn’t miss a thing. In fact, the only thing our leaders did in that regard is to limit or eliminate unemployment insurance benefits.
You may also be unaware that our leaders have been exhibiting an ideological quirk – they will go to great lengths and don’t mind intruding on the family when the unborn are concerned but quickly lose interest in helping children once they are in evidence.
Just one example is a Senate proposal to cut back on Medicaid coverage for pregnant women, which is virtually certain to increase infant mortality. And then there is the House proposal to eliminate the legislature’s own study commission – the Child Fatality Task Force – which has made recommendations over the past two decades that have led to a 40 percent reduction in the child death rate. In addition, there are a host of proposed service reductions, including those in early childhood education, as well as reduced support for our schools.
You may be wondering what happened to the “consistent ethic of life” that has long been a guiding principle for improving the human condition. I simply don’t know what happened. All I know is that even the Catholic Church has been focused on the unborn while simultaneously castigating its own nuns for putting too much emphasis on social outreach to the poor and vulnerable. It makes it harder to persuade our political leaders to value life at all stages when a leading theological voice remains inconsistent.
If you have suggestions on what to do about this, please let me know. And it is urgent. Recent reports indicate that North Carolina is the 15th-worst state to be a child, and the 10th-worst state to be a woman. And those reports came out before the current measures being put in place by the General Assembly.
Perhaps the most important thing for us is to recall the biblical proverb, “Without a vision, the people perish.” It seems clear that our leaders have lost sight of a just society; it is up to “we the people” to raise up the vision of equality and justice and a government that helps attain these goals. And lest we get discouraged, remember that these goals have always won out, whether it be against the Romans, the Huns, the Nazis or the Dixiecrats. It might take a while, but history is on our side if we keep the faith and persevere.
To bolster us during this dire period, keep in mind the passages of Psalm 37: “Be still before God; wait patiently, not envying those who prosper, not fretting at those whose malicious plans bring down the needy and poor. … I have seen oppressors triumph, towering like cedars of Lebanon. When I passed by again, they were gone; I searched, but they could not be found… So look for the honest, and look to the righteous; the future belongs to the peacemakers. God is their help, their deliverer, their refuge in times of distress.” So be it.