Last June, the Supreme Court reversed decades of settled precedent and ruled that the constitutional right to an abortion no longer exists in America. As I said at the time, this decision was a blow to all who believe in limited government encroachment in our personal lives. Women should have the right to make decisions about their bodies and reproductive health, not politicians — and certainly not men.
For the anti-abortion movement, the definition of life is at the center of this debate, following their belief that life begins immediately upon conception. I respect the deeply held beliefs and values behind this view, but I do not believe one's religious beliefs should impose upon another's freedom.
The inexplicable thing about the anti-abortion movement, however, has been its refusal to rally around policies that support life after birth. To be authentically pro-life, one must value the lives not only of newborns, but of all children, parents, families and their caregivers, too. If there is no debate over the value of life after birth, why then are policies to support families widely opposed by anti-abortion members of Congress and their peers at the state and local levels?
This is especially confounding given the broad, bipartisan support these policies enjoy among the American public. In a national survey conducted by Morning Consult in July, for example, 74% of adults surveyed — including 85% of Democrats and 66% of Republicans — said they support policies to ensure access to paid family leave. A similar percentage — 73% overall, including 86% of Democrats and 61% of Republicans — support federal funding to both increase access to, and lower the cost of, child care. And despite its impact being limited to parents of children aged 18 or younger, a solid 59% of those surveyed support renewing the previously expanded child tax credit of up to $300 a month per child.
These policies, along with others to bolster maternal health and expand early learning opportunities for our youngest learners, represent a pro-life, pro-family agenda that enjoys broad support from the American public, and I believe Congress should seize on such rare consensus through legislative action.
To that end, I recently introduced the Providing Real Opportunity and Lifelong Investments for Everyone (PRO LIFE) Act in the U.S. House, legislation that would save lives, lower costs and improve the quality of life for children and families everywhere.
I am under no illusion that a Republican majority in Congress would pursue any of these initiatives, however. My Republican opponent called the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade a "victory." Kevin McCarthy, the man he would make Speaker of the House, supports a nationwide abortion ban. That means that choice is on the ballot, and the choice between me and my opponent is clear: He wants to impose his views on women and restrict their rights; I stand for freedom and liberty.
Of course, it's not just freedom and liberty on the ballot this year. Democracy itself is at risk from far-right extremists and the self-interested politicians who empower them. These grifters and con men (and women) — from Donald Trump to Kevin McCarthy and too many more — seek to undermine our democracy in the naked pursuit of power, money and status. If it's not confronted head-on, I fear Jan. 6, 2021, may have been just the beginning — yet my opponent, and scores more, remain silent in the face of this clear and present danger.
Those who know me know that I'm an eternal optimist. Despite the serious challenges our nation faces, I believe that our best days are still ahead — if we're willing to move forward together. If we do not, we will be the generation that oversaw the erosion of fundamental rights and freedoms — not to mention democracy itself.
As the most bipartisan member of Congress according to the Common Ground Committee, the vice chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, and the most productive member of the Minnesota delegation according to the Center for Effective Lawmaking, I am already walking the walk. I can't do it alone, however, so I call on principled Republicans, independents and Democrats alike to join me in my mission to restore faith in government and protect our inalienable rights. Everyone's invited!
Dean Phillips represents Minnesota's Third Congressional District in the U.S. House.