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I’m a Pro-Life Conservative and For the Second Time, I Won’t Be Supporting Donald J. Trump

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Even the crucial issue of abortion isn’t enough

Each election cycle, a large contingent of the electorate is driven to vote on a single issue. For some, it’s gun control, education, healthcare, or national security.

For others, it’s the polarizing issue of abortion.

During the last presidential campaign, pro-life members of the Republican Party insisted Donald J. Trump must be supported at the polls. Though in previous years he was vocal about his pro-choice leanings, his candidacy revealed a newfound pro-life, though somewhat infantile, take on the subject.

In March 2016, Trump mentioned his desire to see post-abortive women punished for their involvement in choosing the procedure. Later, he backed away from the statements after a bipartisan uproar. Still, the incident was a reminder that declaring oneself “pro-life” does not always mean a thoughtful approach to the subject. Most of all, his heartless words damaged a cause that requires a measure of compassion for women who face unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.

Trump was the last ambassador the community needed or wanted.

But in the years since his surprising election win, President Trump made several strides on the pro-life front.

In January 2017, Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy rescinded by President Obama, which keeps foreign non-governmental organizations from receiving federal funds if they provide services that encourage abortion as a form of birth control and/or family planning. That same year, the Trump administration announced cuts to the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), a program that had been linked to population control in China.

More recently, the administration imposed a new rule relating to Title X funding. “The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final regulation Feb. 22 that bars the use of Title X money ‘to perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning.’ The rule requires ‘clear financial and physical separation’ between Title X programs and non-Title X programs in which abortion is promoted as a method of family planning.” More than 20 states and Planned Parenthood have filed suit as a result.

Last but certainly not least, President Trump nominated and successfully seated two conservative justices on the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. The pro-life community approved of both, and some see Justice Kavanaugh as the legal linchpin on abortion. However, he recently voted against hearing two cases that would allow states to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid payments, showing that we can’t assume what his decisions will be on abortion-related cases. Whether one or both justices affect Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey enough to change our current reality remains to be seen.

As a passionate pro-life individual, I applaud these reinstatements, regulations, and nominations. I will continue to do so any time a similar reaction is warranted. But no matter how promising the gains are in this arena, I am still unable to support Donald J. Trump with my vote for president.

I will not vote Democrat either, but some claim a non-vote or third-party vote only serves to undermine the pro-life movement. We get called “traitors” and told anything but a vote for Donald J. Trump is one for the abortion industry and its allies.

However, the world as conservatives know it did not magically began with Donald Trump’s inauguration. Standing in awe of the 45th president has a way of reducing others to nothingness, but previous Republicans made plenty of gains on the pro-life front.

Many Trump supporters have a narrow-minded view not only of the work done by previous Republican administrations, but also the current work getting done in the trenches — i.e., states and localities — by pro-life individuals and organizations without large public profiles. Legislative change is important, and we want more of that, but there is nothing like grassroots change that meets women and their children where they are, in the midst of turmoil and fear.

The pro-life issue, while extremely important, is not enough for me to support Trump in 2020 (as I did not in 2016). There are simply too many other factors that shine a light on both Trump’s policies and his worth as a human to keep me from casting that vote.

As a concerned citizen, I value morality and decency that extends far beyond any single issue. I expect the president of the United States to treat others, from individuals he/she knows to entire groups, with respect.

I have no interest in supporting a man who has a history of treating women as sexual objects he can do with and pay off as he pleases. Even if he’s a celebrity and, as he infamously said in the Access Hollywood tape, women “let you do it.”

I do not want the leader of our nation to treat ruthless dictators as friends (see: Kim Jong-un) nor to give them a pass for their cruelty (see: Otto Warmbier).

As a fiscal conservative, I can’t support someone whose interest in spending and driving up the deficit rivals that of the opposition.

I am unable to support a president who views the media as “the enemy of the people” while real enemies lie in wait elsewhere.

I want a president who tells the truth. Trump lies routinely. This is well-documented and easily verifiable. It is also indefensible.

I don’t accept that you must support the Republican on the ballot if you reside on the right side of the aisle. I’ve never subscribed to the “binary choice” obsession that dominates our discourse and turned too many voters into uncritical tribalists. I also don’t accept that to promote the pro-life cause you must blindly follow the party leader. This holds true despite what Democrats do.

If Republicans can’t make decency, coherency, morality, and veracity priorities along with the pro-life cause, then they deserve to lose and (hopefully?) learn a lesson.

Maybe one day, when Trump is off the national stage, his stain will finally be rinsed off the GOP for good. As of now, they’re knee-deep in the mire and wondering why I won’t step in it too.

I am pro-life. I am a conservative. Neither of these makes me a Trump voter.

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Thanks !

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