In recent weeks, two issues concerning the lives of America’s children have been launched to the forefront of our national conversation.
The first concerns the right of America’s women to receive an abortion. After an unprecedented leak from the Supreme Court, it appears that the 6-3 conservative court is poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade which enshrined the federal right to an abortion nearly 50 years ago. For social conservatives, the prospect of overturning Roe is seen as a monumental legal victory for the pro-life movement. Other pro-choice citizens have seen this as a disastrous blow to women’s rights and legal precedent.
The second issue comes in the wake of a horrific mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that took the lives of 19 children between the ages of nine and ten. Like the fallout from other mass shootings like Sandy Hook, politicians and media pundits have bombarded the public with “thoughts and prayers” – one side calling for stricter gun control laws and the other opting for more policing.
While these issues are different on the surface, the two are bound together by those who are ultimately affected by them: our children. So, I ask, which child’s life is worth protecting? Some may see this as a rhetorical question, but if Americans were to consider these facts, it wouldn’t sound sarcastic.
Let’s start with the prospect of overturning Roe vs. Wade. A 2021 article in the U.S. News & World Report found that since the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, states have enacted more than 1,300 laws placing pregnancy termination limits on abortions after a specific gestational period. Proponents of such laws argue that allowing the controversial decision to stand, facilitates the murder of innocent unborn children. In their pursuit to protect unborn children, Republican legislatures have added waiting periods before an abortion can be performed, parental consent if the woman seeking an abortion is a minor, making it mandatory for pregnant women to view a sonogram of their unborn child before an abortion can be performed, and making it a crime to help anyone seeking an abortion, among other rules.
Conservative politicians maintain they had to place such restrictions into law because the unborn children have no voice. And in their pursuit to protect unborn children, legislators have pressed on Senate rules to appoint more conservative justices who are in support of such restrictions. All these actions were taken with the expressed mission of protecting the sanctity of life.
In contrast, since the horrific events of Columbine, The Washington Post reports that more than 554 children have been victims of school shootings – 185 have been killed and another 369 were severely injured. The Post also highlighted another alarming figure: more than 311,000 school-aged children have been impacted by gun violence while at school. Equally disturbing is the fact that a Florida Atlantic University, Schmidt College of Medicine study concluded that 38,942 children ranging from ages 5-18 were killed by gun violence during the years of 1999 to 2017. Of note, this number does not include the scores of children who have been killed after that time period, such as the 19 beautiful souls lost in Uvalde, Texas.
To me, the argument that restrictive abortion laws are about protecting the sanctity of life rings very hollowly because, in the next breath, lawmakers find every excuse to argue why they can’t pass laws to minimize the likelihood of our children being slaughtered at school. Ladies and gentlemen, murder is murder, and valuing life needs to be applied across the board.
As a retired 26-year Marine veteran and pro-second amendment gun owner, I believe it is asinine to suggest that it’s okay for any and everyone to have unfettered access to a weapon capable of causing the destruction of those babies we witnessed in Uvalde, Texas. My fellow Americans, we must open our eyes and see just how backward this is.
Some states literally outlawed masks mandates during a global health crisis by arguing, in part, that they were harmful to our children, even though none had died from wearing them. Can only offer thoughts and prayers after our babies are mowed down by a gunman?
There’s a reason why our military, police academies, and federal law enforcement agencies don’t allow any and everyone to handle a firearm. It’s not because they’re out to take away someone’s freedom or Second Amendment rights. I challenge all of us including our local, state, and federal leaders to answer the question honestly, “Which child’s life is worth protecting: the one that’s still in its mother’s womb or the one still in elementary school?”
Carey Jones is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant and combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom / Operation Enduring Freedom. He served as the Communications Chief for Headquarters Battalion in Camp Lejeune, NC until his retirement in September of 2019. Carey held various billets throughout his career. His most notable tours include drill instructor at officer candidate school and for enlisted personnel at Parris Island, SC.; senior enlisted advisor for 2d Marine Division G6; ethics instructor for Headquarters Bn and 2d Marine Division’s Corporals course. His overseas tours span from the Asian pacific to Middle East.