Greg Abbott: The least pro-life governor

When millions of Texans cast their ballots on Nov. 8, Greg Abbott should pray voters don’t look too closely at his “pro-life” label. He touts it endlessly, with empty platitudes such as declaring Jan. 22 to be Sanctity of Human Life Day or using the term “ravages” to describe abortion. He even signed a bill banning abortions six weeks into pregnancy one month before Roe v. Wade was even overturned.

There’s something Abbott cares more about than the sanctity of life though: the gun lobby. When it comes to guns, he will find any reason to kneecap regulation. He’ll point to violence in cities with strict gun regulations like Chicago, tactically avoiding the fact that illegal weapons can come pretty easily from states where such things aren’t illegal. He even opposes regulation so lukewarm it would only make guns as hard to acquire as alcohol.

On the subject of gun control, Abbott and other Republicans tend to point to the right to bear arms enshrined in the Constitution. Indeed, the letter of the Second Amendment, which was written by a bunch of white supremacists who’d only ever seen muskets and other antiquated firearms, does suggest that allowing anybody to own military-grade weapons is a good idea. I, however, don’t care and think it’s a bad idea that is definitely antithetical to upholding the sanctity of life.

My opinion may be contentious, but the numbers support it. The U.S. has more civilian-owned firearms than any other country in the world, which is why the U.S. has a higher rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people than any other nation with a comparable income and population. The U.S. was ranked no. 32 overall in the world by the same measure in 2019. Nonetheless, Abbott will not hear it.

Abbott’s stance even holds strong when he’s confronted with the pleas of the parents whose children were killed in Uvalde by a person who used rifles that he legally purchased in Texas. In fact, not only do Abbott and other Republicans tend to ignore such pleas, but usually, they make it even easier to acquire guns after shootings.

With that in mind, I want to revisit Abbott’s pro-life label. Although I am vehemently in favor of the right to abortion, it’s unfair to say that there are no good-faith reasons to object to it. However, when Abbott not only does nothing in the face of an epidemic of preventable gun deaths but actively makes the epidemic worse through his policies, you begin to see his true colors.

So, if not for the sanctity of life, why does Abbott want to ban abortion? Well, I can’t claim to see inside his head, but a page on his website celebrating Trump’s reversal of a policy ensuring that employers cover contraceptives in their healthcare plans may provide insight. Texas doesn’t have the best track record with access to contraceptives, but this is a rare instance where Abbott publicly celebrated increasing restrictions on birth control access. Abbott claims that the reversal and his support for it are due to employers’ religious freedom, but that argument is flimsy since contraception is vital for people who can’t afford children. I would argue there is a better explanation.

If abortion is illegal and contraception is difficult to access, a pregnant person who is wealthy can bypass the law. A poor person, though, has one option, and that is to give birth and be forced to incur a huge financial burden. This means they will have to work more with less bargaining power and spend more money on things the rich are selling. Since many of those rich people are Abbott’s donors and allies, therein lies his incentive.

In short, Abbott’s interests are likely not in preserving the sanctity of life, but in strengthening his power and the power of his political allies, no matter the cost in human life. His positions are commonplace in the GOP, meaning this is not an issue that can be resolved by just voting. Organization, mutual aid and sharing resources with those who need abortions are all necessary, but voting is still a power many of us have. So, when you’re in line at the polls on Nov. 8, it is pertinent to remember where Greg Abbott’s interests truly lie.