Betsy DeVos might very well be the most “not-pro-life” person in the nation’s capital.
“It goes back to what I mentioned, the concept of really being active in the Shephelah of our culture — to impact our culture in ways that are not the traditional funding-the-Christian-organization route, but that really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run by changing the way we approach things — in this case, the system of education in the country.” – Betsy DeVos, 2001 (http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/betsy-devos-education-trump-religion-232150).
For Betsy Devos, this new Shephalah (an area in Israel known for its Biblical battled between the Israelites and Philistines), is the national public school system. And for a woman whose family has donated untold millions to movements against LGBT rights and abortion rights all while promoting “choice” in schools, DeVos has perfectly shown that her agenda is really not “pro-life” at all.
Just look what she has done to key guidelines to Individual with Disabilities Education Act this past week. As reported in the Washington Post by Moriah Balingit,
The Education Department has rescinded 72 policy documents that outline the rights of students with disabilities as part of the Trump administration’s effort to eliminate regulations it deems superfluous.
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services wrote in a newsletter Friday that it had “a total of 72 guidance documents that have been rescinded due to being outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective — 63 from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and 9 from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).” The documents, which fleshed out students’ rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act, were rescinded Oct. 2 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2017/10/21/devos-rescinds-72-guidance-documents-outlining-rights-for-disabled-students/?tid=sm_fb&utm_term=.d83a2dd43914).
This is after other rather discriminatory actions this past year. Again Balingit:
This is not the first time DeVos has rolled back Education Department guidance, moves that have raised the ire of civil rights groups. The secretary in February signed off on Trump’s rescinding of guidance that directed schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms in accordance with their gender identity, saying that those matters should be left up to state and local school officials. In September, she scrapped rules that outlined how schools should investigate allegations of sexual assault, arguing that the Obama-era guidance did not sufficiently take into account the rights of the accused.
What DeVos has done in her short and turbulent tenure is in no way “pro-life.” It’s discrimination.
It is easy to confine the labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice” to the arena of unborn children. But the issue of abortion is not really the subject of this post.
Why? Abortion is too big of an issue to tackle in a personal essay and I am certainly not convinced that declaring yourself “pro-choice” automatically means that you condone abortion in any situation. Life throws too many qualifications into its equations to make all choices an either/or choice.
When my wife and I received a pre-natal diagnosis that our son had Down Syndrome, we were fortunate enough to be able to talk to a genetic counselor at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. The state of North Carolina had at the time in its laws stated that an abortion could not be performed after a certain date in a woman’s pregnancy. If we had chosen to have an abortion, we would have had to make that decision in a rather small amount of time.
We did not seek an abortion; it was not an option for us, but it was rather surreal to receive phone calls from health providers talking about that option because they had to legally inform us of our rights/options/legal restrictions. You might be shocked to know the percentage of people/couples who choose to abort with the information we had. I was. And I am not about to judge those who did choose what is legally their right in the eyes of the law. There are too many variables in lives that I do not live to run around and make judgement calls.
I also will never carry a child in a womb. Neither will Donald Trump, Mike Pence, or all of the other “men” who stand to gain from their positions of power.
We had Malcolm and I would not trade anything for the experience of being his parent. Anyone who knows me and my family can testify to that. But he is no longer “unborn.” He is now in our world among others who need help to lead fulfilling lives. He actually needs the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and its guidelines.
I do get rather irritated when the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are used in a polarizing fashion, especially for political gain (which applies to DeVos). And when I review quotes, interviews, and witness current actions by our secretary of education, I do not necessarily sense a “pro-life” message as much as I sense an “anti-those who don’t think my way” message.
Because “pro-life” means so much more than that.
Why are we not protecting the lives of those who are already born? I feel that being “pro-life” is not a matter reserved for the issue of abortion and the unborn, but should include those who are living and need help.
Hubert Humphrey once said in 1977, “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
If you are “pro-life” then it would make sense that you would look to the welfare of those who cannot necessarily defend themselves without help like the “children, the elderly, and the sick.”
Is it not ironic that many who promote a strict “pro-life” platform seem to be in favor of privatizing or redefining the very services that help sustain the lives of those whom they claim to champion.
Think of Medicaid that my own son has been on the waiting list for because he will need its services earlier than most people. If it becomes privatized, it may jeopardize his chances of getting the help he needs when he gets older. Within the state of North Carolina, not expanding Medicaid affects many “children, the elderly, and the sick.”
Nationally speaking, think of Obamacare that insures many who would not be eligible if such a plan was not in place. While it is anything from perfect, it has insured many people who were never insured before. And have the parties in charge of the government offered anything else except “free-market?”
Think of the use of tax payer money to fund vouchers and charter schools that are actually privatizing public schools all in the name of “choice” when there should be a push to fully fund all public schools and provide for their resources because public education is a public service and not a private entity.
It seems that many of the politicians and policy makers like DeVos who claim to be hardline “pro-lifers” are helping to privatize the very institutions that are giving “life” to many individuals. And they are doing it in the name of free-markets, where people are supposed to be able to choose what they want hoping that the “market” controls prices and quality.
How ironic that many politicians who proclaim to be “pro-life” become “pro-choice” when it pertains to those who are already born.
I would have a hard time thinking that Jesus would call himself “pro-life” and allow for big banks (look at what Wells Fargo did) and pharmaceutical companies (think of EpiPens) to literally control prices and the market without a fight.
I would have a hard time thinking that Jesus would have been willing to allow public money to fund private entities without input from the public itself.
I would have a hard time thinking that Jesus would not confront politicians and call them out for their hypocrisy in not defending or helping take care of those who needed aid.
The Jesus I know called out the Sadducees and the Pharisees for their self-righteous ways.
The Jesus I know did not canvas for votes. He came to help all of us no matter race, gender, or physical ailment.
The Jesus I know preached and practiced the Golden Rule.
When you become an elected official (or a barely confirmed one like DeVos), then your business is all of humankind. Is that not being “pro-life.”
Back to the Shephalah.
Malcolm Gladwell talks of the same area in a TED Talk about his book David & Goliath. It is the place where supposedly David killed the large Philistine with a stone and a sling. Goliath was adorned with armor and weapons of the highest quality and attended by many servants. David seemed to be from very modest beginnings, but capable of so much.
When I think of the dynamics of people like DeVos and other “reformers” who preach their brand of “pro-life,” I don’t see the youngest son of Jesse who was a shepherd like David. I see the glitz and glamor of the golden armor of a giant who wears a shield of big money like Goliath. I see that God could use the gifts of anyone who did not come from a well-known family to help others.
Even if that person was gay or even had developmental delay.