‘Pro-Life’ is a powerful slogan, but it doesn’t describe Conservatism

On the occasion of today’s Conservative #marchforlife in Washington D.C., here’s a full-chapter excerpt from my book, Beyond Reason — Debunking Conservative Lies, Delusions, and Falsehoods, which thoroughly demonstrates why “pro-life” is the last thing that Conservatives should be able to get away with calling themselves.

THE G.O.P. IS NOT THE “PRO-LIFE” PARTY

I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person, and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.

— W. A. Criswell, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, responding to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

— Republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953 [i]

CONSERVATIVES CLAIM…

Conservatives are the defenders of life in the midst of a liberal “culture of death.” Liberal support of women’s right to abortion is immoral and indicative of the fact that they value “innocent life” less than conservatives do. When it comes to the sanctity and value of human life, conservatives are more serious, more committed, and more moral than liberals.

THE REALITY

On issue after issue, conservatives favor policies that fail to protect human life and often lead directly and inevitably to the deaths of many human beings who would otherwise have lived. A majority of conservatives support foreign military intervention (i.e., war), the death penalty, and unregulated access to firearms, while opposing gun safety regulations, environmental protection, affordable healthcare for all citizens, and social programs, such as food stamps, designed to alleviate poverty, which is in itself a cause of poor-health and premature death.

Conservatives do, however, oppose abortion. Insofar as “pro-life” is a slogan that means no more and no less than “anti-abortion”, there’s certainly no question that the Republican Party is the “pro-life” party. But beyond that very particular meaning, the “pro-life” moniker does not represent a set of principles that affirm the value of human life or promote the quality of life for the maximum number of human beings in general.

The Death Penalty

Conservatives’ pro-death position on the question of capital punishment distinguishes them not only from liberals, but from the citizens of most other advanced nations on Earth. The United States is one of only two developed nations that executes its own citizens, the other being Japan. It is the only country in the Americas with an active death penalty. It consistently ranks among the top five nations in terms of the total number of prisoners it executes, along with China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq.[ii] The only European country with an active death penalty is Belarus. Russia has not executed a citizen in more than ten years.[iii]

Capital punishment has been consistently supported by a majority of Americans, but has always been most strongly supported by conservatives. Most Democrats actually oppose the death penalty (this has been true since 2010), whereas more than three quarters of Republicans continue to support it.[iv]

This conservative enthusiasm for putting guilty human beings to death is not only born out in national opinion polls, but put into lethal effect in actual policy at the state level. Of the twenty-seven states with an active death penalty, twenty are “red states” — i.e., they voted for the Republican candidate in the most recent presidential election (2012).

As of August 2015, 1,413 executions had been carried out in the United States since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court. 1,148 of these — 81 percent of the total — have occurred in the nation’s most conservative region, the South. 528 executions — 46 percent of the total — have occurred in a single state: deep-red Texas. During the same period, the total number of executions that have taken place in the nation’s most liberal region, the Northeast, is four — less than one half of one percent of the total. [v]

Conservatives are not merely supportive of capital punishment, they are positively eager to execute people. Consider the great lengths that conservatives around the country are going to in order to preserve the death penalty at a time when overall support is declining and drugs required to carry out executions by lethal-injection are increasingly hard to obtain.

Florida (a purple state where Republicans control both legislative houses and the governorship), argued before the Supreme Court in 2014 that the state should be allowed to execute intellectually disabled prisoners. The Court rejected Florida’s argument in a five to four decision. The four dissenting justices were all conservatives.[vi]

The Republican governor of Nebraska has vowed to execute all inmates currently on death-row, in defiance of the legislature’s bipartisan repeal of the death penalty in April of 2015. He has also sought to import banned lethal-injection drugs from a dealer in India, in contravention of U.S. federal law.[vii]

In response to the decreasing availability of lethal-injection drugs, Utah has reinstated the use of firing squads,[viii] Oklahoma has passed legislation authorizing the use of poison gas, and Tennessee has brought back the electric chair.[ix]

There is no evidence that the death penalty deters violent crime and plenty of evidence to the contrary. 90 percent of law enforcement professionals consider it to be an ineffective deterrent. Crime rates in death penalty states are much higher on average than in those without the death penalty. Where the death penalty has been eliminated, violent crime rates have not risen; where it has been adopted, crime rates have not fallen. (These issues are covered extensively in Part 6, Chapter 5 “The Death Penalty Deters violent Crime.”)

What’s more, it is actually less expensive to imprison a person for life than to put him to death.[x] This may sound counterintuitive at first, but once you consider the special facilities and procedures required to house condemned prisoners, as well as the legal fees and judicial expenses associated with numerous appeals in the courts protracted over ten or more years, it is easy to see how the total cost of executing a person can be up to ten times as expensive as simply housing him within the maximum security prison system for the rest of his life. A study conducted by a senior judge and a law professor in California concluded that eliminating the death penalty would immediately save the state $170 million a year, and $5 billion over the next 20 years.[xi]

If capital punishment doesn’t deter crime or save money, why are conservatives so committed to condemning prisoners to death and executing them? Whatever their reasons, their position involves going to great lengths and expense to kill human beings who have ceased to pose any further threat to society. This is not in any sense a “pro-life” position.

Gun Rights vs. Public Safety

Conservatives consistently oppose any limitations on the right of citizens to acquire, carry, and use firearms. At the national level they have successfully prevented all efforts to enhance gun safety regulations, such as mandatory background checks for purchasers, which a large majority of Americans support. As a result, the United States has by far the highest rate of gun ownership in the world and the highest rate of murder by firearms among developed nations. The chance of being killed by gunfire in the U.S. is more than four times greater than in any other developed country on Earth.[xii]

Study after study has demonstrated the correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher levels of death by gunshot.[xiii] More guns mean more homicide.[xiv] More guns mean more suicide.[xv] In a nutshell, more guns mean more death, and conservatives are all for more guns.

In the U.S. about 30,000 people die from firearms every year. In the European Union, which has far stricter gun laws and much lower levels of gun ownership, the annual number of gun-related deaths is about 6,700.[xvi] Europe, of course, has a much larger population — 742 million, roughly two-and-one-third times that of the U.S. If Europe had America’s gun laws and gun culture, about 69,000 people would be dying annually from gunshots wounds. If the U.S. had Europe’s gun laws and gun culture, the annual number of deaths would drop by a factor of ten, from 30,000 to about 3,000.

Within the U.S. the risk of death from gun violence is not evenly distributed. Firearms-related deaths occur most frequently in conservative states, which tend to have loose gun regulations and high levels of gun ownership. Firearms-related deaths occur most rarely in relatively liberal states, which tend to have the tightest regulation and lowest levels of gun ownership.

The five states with the greatest per capita rates of death by gunshot — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana — are all red states in which more than 45 percent of households own guns. The five states with the lowest per capita rates of death by gunshot — Rhode Island, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey — are all blue states with levels of household gun ownership below 6 percent.[xvii]

Every time a horrific mass shooting occurs in America, liberals renew their efforts to reform gun laws and conservatives rationalize and resist and ensure that nothing gets done. Indeed, they tend to push so hard against reforms that their fervor carries them in the opposite direction. Throughout the country, conservative states have demonstrated contempt for the idea of gun safety by making it easier to obtain, carry, and use firearms.

Indiana, for instance, passed a “stand your ground” law in 2012, which makes it legal for a person to use deadly force, with no duty to retreat, if he feels his life to be threatened. To be clear: the law merely requires that a person feel threatened; the person doesn’t actually have to be threatened in any objective sense.

At least twenty-one states have enacted similar laws (also known as “castle doctrine” laws) since 2000. Eighteen of them were red states, including every state in the Deep South; the other three — Florida, Ohio, and Michigan — were purple states under G.O.P. control when the laws were passed. There is no evidence that these laws enhance public safety — indeed there is strong evidence that they have just the opposite effect. A major study by researchers at Texas A & M University concluded that “stand your ground” laws have had no deterrent effect on the rate of violent crime but have actually increased the rate of gun-related death by 8 percent, accounting for additional 600 deaths per year.[xviii]

In a single year (2012), Utah, Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Virginia (a purple state fully controlled by the G.O.P. at the time) all passed laws that made it easier to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. West Virginia repealed a law that required applicants for concealed weapons permits to undergo background checks. Utah even made it possible for convicted felons to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. In 2013 Arkansas and Kansas each passed laws allowing employees to carry concealed weapons in schools.[xix]

Every one of the states mentioned in the previous paragraph had a gun-death rate above the national average at the time the legislation was passed. Needless to say, they still do.[xx]

When it comes to the rights of citizens to own, carry, and use firearms, conservatives support policies that result in exceptionally high rates of lethal violence for a developed nation. Whatever the merits of their arguments regarding second amendment rights (which are exhaustively debunked in Part 6, Chapter 3 “Gun Control Laws Are Unconstitutional”), conservatives can’t credibly deny that their values prioritize a particular idea of “freedom” over life. To put it another way, conservatives are willing to tolerate thousands of avoidable deaths as the price of their desire to exercise their supposed liberties to the fullest possible extent. This is not in any sense a “pro-life” position.

War

War is an uncertain, unpredictable business which always entails unintended consequences. But there is actually one consequence of war that can be reliably predicted: death on a large scale. No matter how sound your reasons and motives may be, it is not possible to go to war without killing many, many people. We all know this. Any decision to go to war, however tactically limited and competently executed, will result in the deaths of many human beings. Soldiers, even enemy soldiers — even “enemy combatants” — are human beings, whatever else they may be to you. What’s more, war always — always and inevitably — causes the deaths of non-combatants, which is to say human beings who have not taken up arms but just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Among the many horrors of modern warfare is that it kills and injures many times more civilians than combatants.

Even the most conservative assessments conclude that well over 100,000 innocent human beings have died as a direct result of the Iraq War, which was launched by a Republican administration, not reluctantly, but eagerly, and which still enjoys majority support among conservatives.[xxi]

Plenty of Democrats supported the war in 2003, but about half of the Democratic members of the House and Senate voted against it (126 out of 209 in the House; 21 out of 50 in the Senate). Republican support was all but unanimous (215 out of 223 in the House; 48 out of 49 in the Senate).

In 2013, on the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a Gallup poll found that a majority of self-identified Republicans still supported the Iraq War, whereas a majority of all Americans, and an even greater majority of Democrats, considered it to have been a mistake.[xxii]

Enthusiastic support for a war — any war, regardless of your reasons — inevitably involves supporting the deaths of many innocent human beings. This is not in any sense a “pro-life” position.

Healthcare

Conservative opposition to “Obamacare” (officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) was militant, often hysterical (talk of “death panels”), and monolithic (not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted in favor of the bill). From the beginning, conservatives did everything in their power to prevent the law from passing. Since its passage, they have done everything in their power to hinder its implementation, including voting more than fifty times in the House of Representatives to repeal it.

Before the implementation of “Obamacare,” about forty-five million Americans lacked health insurance of any kind. The law was designed precisely to address this problem and has already managed to reduce the number of uninsured citizens by almost seventeen million (as of August 2015, a year-and-a-half after implementation).[xxiii]

Lack of access to health insurance means lack of access to healthcare, which leads, unsurprisingly, to increased risk of illness and avoidable death. The exact number of deaths from lack of insurance is unknown, largely because nobody has conducted a thorough study of the matter in more than twenty years. The most widely cited study (from 1993) found that lack of insurance increases the likelihood of premature death by about 25 percent. A Harvard study in 2009 used the same methodologies and came up with an even higher rate of 40 percent.[xxiv] In terms of actual numbers, the best pre-“Obamacare” estimates of annual deaths from lack of insurance range from about 20,000 to 45,000 per year — comparable to the rates of death from motor vehicle accidents (about 35,000) and suicide (41,000), and considerably greater than the murder rate (16,000).[xxv]

Regardless of the precise numbers, what cannot be denied is that many thousands of Americans have been dying every year because they lack access to affordable healthcare. “Obamacare” has so far extended health coverage to nearly seventeen million Americans who lacked it. This has, of course, happened over the strident objections and strenuous opposition of Republicans — that is, where it has actually been implemented. There are twenty-two states that have refused to expand Medicaid under “Obamacare,” which would have made health insurance available to their poorest citizens — all of these states have Republican majorities in their state legislatures; twenty have Republican governors.[xxvi]

As of August 2015, 57 percent of self-identified Republicans still favor repealing the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.[xxvii]

It would be one thing if poor Americans happened to be thriving; but the opposite is true. Healthcare outcomes in the U.S. lag behind those of other developed nations, almost all of which provide their citizens with genuinely universal health coverage. The U.S. has fewer physicians and fewer hospital beds per capita than the average among the thirty-four advanced nations of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). Infant mortality is higher in the U.S. than the OECD average; indeed, it’s higher than that of every OECD country except for Turkey and Mexico. Meanwhile, average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.8 years, a year-and-a-half lower than the OECD average of 80.4 years. Eighteen countries, all of which provide universal health coverage to their citizens, have an average life expectancy of more than eighty years.[xxviii]

Conservative opposition to programs that make affordable healthcare more available to citizens is a major reason for these inferior public health outcomes. It is not in any sense a “pro-life” position.

Climate Change

The G.O.P. is the only major political party among developed nations that routinely denies climate change and opposes any measures to address it. In the rest of the world, the reality of global warming is a matter of consensus; even where there is little commitment to addressing the problem, there is at least general agreement that it is in fact a problem and that something ought to be done about it. Not so with America’s conservatives, who are unified in denial and committed to maintaining the policies and practices that are warming the planet. As of January 2015, only 15 percent of Republicans felt that addressing global warming was a top priority, which was down from an already low 23 percent in 2003.[xxix]

Climate change is already a deadly problem (this issue is covered extensively in Part 4, Chapter 5 “The Evidence for Climate Change is Inconclusive”). Thousands are dying every year from conditions that are caused or aggravated by global warming. The World Health Organization has declared that climate change will cause millions of additional deaths in the coming decades from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress.[xxx] A recent report from the DARA International Foundation concludes that the damage is already far more severe once hunger and environmental factors such as pollution are taken into account. DARA estimates that climate change is already responsible for an additional five million deaths per year, and that by the year 2030, annual deaths attributable to climate change will have risen to six million.[xxxi]

Conservative refusal to acknowledge the consensus of more than 97 percent of the world’s scientists who specialize in climate-related subjects is not just willfully ignorant, it is immoral. It represents, at best, severe negligence and, at worst, depraved indifference to human life, present and future. And it most certainly is not in any sense a “pro-life” position.

Anti-Environmentalism

Conservatives generally oppose laws designed to protect the environment. Indeed, in 2011, Senate Republicans actually introduced legislation to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. This anti-environmentalism isn’t motivated by any explicit hostility to the natural world or to the plants and creatures, including but not limited to human beings, who inhabit it. If environmental protection didn’t involve regulating business practices it’s unlikely conservatives would care very much about opposing it. Unfortunately for us, along with more or less all non-bacterial life forms on planet Earth, environmentalism does involve regulating business practices — and there’s the rub.

Two-thirds of Americans support stricter limits on power-plant emissions, including more than three-quarters of Democrats. About half of Republicans oppose them. Among Tea Party republicans — i.e., the most conservative ones — opposition stands at 71 percent.[xxxii]

Conservatives justify their anti-environmentalism on economic grounds — they argue that the need to comply with tougher regulations increases expenses, which decreases profits, which leads to less hiring and therefore fewer jobs (except, presumably, for compliance officers). The evidence doesn’t actually bear this out, especially when one considers that the clean energy sector is one of the fastest growing parts of the U.S. economy. Between 2004 and 2014, total wind generating capacity in the U.S. increased by 1,000 percent,[xxxiii] while total installed solar capacity increased by 8,500 percent.[xxxiv]

Nevertheless, the conservative position isn’t entirely illogical. Compliance with regulations is a hassle, and it certainly is very inconvenient and expensive to reduce harmful emissions or to dispose of toxic waste in a manner that doesn’t endanger public health. Regardless of the debatable merits of this thinking, people who think this way can’t credibly deny that they are willing to tolerate higher levels of pollution than would occur with more regulations in place. And the thing about pollution is: it kills people.

A team of researchers at MIT has determined that air pollution causes 200,000 premature deaths in the U.S. every year, including 52,000 from power plant emissions, and 53,000 from road vehicle exhaust.[xxxv] A 2010 report by the Clean Air Task Force demonstrated that between 2004 and 2010, premature deaths from power plant emissions had been reduced from roughly 24,000 to 13,000 per year owing specifically to increased regulation. Their report concluded: “Strong regulations that require stringent emission controls can have a dramatic impact in reducing air pollution across the country, saving lives, and avoiding a host of other adverse health impacts.”[xxxvi]

Conservatives can’t credibly deny that they favor the interests of corporations over public health. Even if they are genuinely blind to the economic benefits of clean energy and believe sincerely that their policies are better for the economy, they are prioritizing economic prosperity over the well-being and even the lives of many thousands of human beings, not to mention animals. This is not in any sense a “pro-life” position.

The Battle to Defund Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization that provides reproductive health services to 2.7 million Americans every year. It is the largest provider of abortions in the United States, but abortion accounts for only 3 percent of its activities. 97 percent of its activities are not related to abortion. Every year, Planned Parenthood provides hundreds of thousands of Pap tests, HIV/AIDS tests, and breast cancer screenings, as well as a range of family planning services.

The organization receives roughly half of its funding from federal and state governments, mostly in the form of reimbursements for medical services covered by Medicaid and Medicare. None of these funds are used for abortion, since federal law forbids any tax dollars to be allocated for that purpose. Numerous investigations and audits have confirmed that Planned Parenthood abides by the law and has not used any tax-payer dollars to fund abortions. Nevertheless, Republicans at the state and federal levels have been seeking to cut off all government funding to Planned Parenthood, in hopes that the lack of funds will put the organization out of business altogether.

In August of 2015, Republicans in the U.S. Senate introduced “A bill to prohibit Federal funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.” The measure was supported by 51 of 54 Senate Republicans and opposed by 44 of 46 Senate Democrats, including the two independents who caucus with the Democrats. It did not obtain enough votes to overcome a filibuster.[xxxvii] One month later, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015”. As with the Senate measure, the House bill received almost unanimous support from Republicans (239 of 246 in favor) and almost unanimous opposition from Democrats (184 of 188 opposed).[xxxviii]

At the state level, Republican-dominated legislatures in Indiana, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kansas have passed legislation to block funding for Planned Parenthood. These measures have all been stopped in the courts, since federal law protects the right of Medicaid recipients to seek care from any qualified provider.[xxxix]

If government support for Planned Parenthood were withdrawn, it would have no effect on the number of abortions the organization provides, since government funds aren’t used for abortion. It would, however, have a severe negative effect on the ability of the organization to provide women’s health services, including cancer screenings and preventive care, which would cause direct harm to the health of women in America; particularly that of poor women, many of whom rely on Planned Parenthood as their sole source of medical care.[xl] Without access to affordable testing and early intervention, women will find themselves at greater risk of dying from breast cancer and AIDS.

What’s more, by driving Planned Parenthood out of business and thus eliminating a primary source of family planning services for millions of American women, conservatives would cause hundreds of thousands of unintended pregnancies, about half of which would result in abortions. This is worth emphasizing: family planning services, which include access to affordable contraception, prevent unintended pregnancies and thus prevent abortions.

Approximately half of all abortions are obtained by women who did not want to become pregnant, but failed to use contraception. In 2010, for example, the number of abortions reported to the Center for Disease Control was 765,651,[xli] which means that more than 350,000 abortions could have been prevented in that year alone if family planning services, including contraception, had been universally available and accessed.[xlii] In a 2009 report, the Guttmacher Institute estimated that publicly-funded family planning services prevent more than 1.9 million unintended pregnancies and more than 800,000 abortions annually in the U.S. If these services were eliminated, the rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion would increase by hundreds of thousands every year.[xliii]

Planned Parenthood may be the largest abortion provider in America, but it is also the largest abortion preventer. If “pro-life” conservatives manage to put it out of business, they will not only eliminate vital health services for millions of women throughout the U.S., but they will actually bring about tens of thousands — perhaps even hundreds of thousands — of abortions which would otherwise not have occurred. An agenda that deliberately places hundreds of thousands of women at greater risk of dying while actually increasing the number of abortions due to unintended pregnancy can hardly claim to be either reasonable or moral. And it is not, except in the narrowest possible sense, a “pro-life” position.

REASONS FOR THE DISCONNECT?

Propaganda

There is no question that the G.O.P. is the party that affixes the “pro-life” label to itself. But what does this label actually mean? “Pro-life” is not a coherent system of values. It’s a slogan that stands for a single principle: opposition to abortion. If we take “pro-life” to be a precise synonym for “anti-abortion” then of course the G.O.P. is the “pro-life” party.

About 75 percent of Americans, and even a majority of Republicans, support women’s right to abortion in at least some circumstances (e.g., in cases of rape, incest, and/or when the life of the mother is endangered). Yet almost half of Americans consider themselves “pro-life.”[xliv] Who, after all, wants to declare, even if only by implication, that they’re not on the side of “life?”

“Pro-life” is a perfect slogan. It instantly polarizes the issue into a “pro” and an “anti.” By characterizing their opposition to abortion in terms of life itself, conservatives place themselves on the “pro” side, automatically placing those who disagree with them on the “anti” side, without any possibility of complexity or middle ground. Simple logic dictates, after all, that anyone who’s not “pro-life” must be “anti-life” or even “pro-death.” It’s an effective rhetorical trick.

Piousness

Conservatives’ focus on eradicating abortion allows them to present themselves as defenders of human life, while somehow overlooking the impact of other policies which are anything but pro-life and even in some cases literally pro-death (death penalty, war, gun “rights”).

There’s something more here, though. As was pointed out above, G.O.P. attempts to put Planned Parenthood out of business would inevitably lead to more, not fewer, abortions. You’d think that if “innocent human lives” were genuinely important to conservatives, they would at least pause to consider the actual impact of the legislation and policies they support. But their commitment to ideology blinds them to the real-world consequences of the policies they support. To put it another way, their ideology is more important to them than actual human beings, whether born or unborn.

Conservatives want to think of themselves as virtuous and life-affirming even though they promote a variety of policies that are aggressive, vengeful, stingy, and neglectful of actual suffering. The “pro-life” moniker is a fig leaf — it allows them to pretend to themselves and to others that their agenda is benevolent, virtuous, and respectful of life when it is, in many respects, the opposite.

NOTES:

[i] Dwight Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace” address, delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16th, 1953 — http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/all_about_ike/speeches/chance_for_peace.pdf

[ii] Source: Death Penalty Information Center — http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/death-penalty-international-perspective#interexec

[iii] Source: Death Penalty Information Center, chart: “Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries” — http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/abolitionist-and-retentionist-countries

[iv] Source: Pew Research Center survey conducted March 25–29, 2015, http://www.people-press.org/2015/04/16/less-support-for-death-penalty-especially-among-democrats/

[v] Source: Death Penalty Information Center, table: “Number of Executions by State and Region Since 1976” — http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/number-executions-state-and-region-1976

[vi] Adam Liptak, “Court Extends Curbs on the Death Penalty in a Florida Ruling”, New York Times, May 27, 2014 — http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/28/us/court-rules-against-florida-iq-rule-in-death-cases.html

[vii] Garrett Epps, “Out of Spite: The Governor of Nebraska’s Threat to Execute Prisoners”, theatlantic.com, June 6, 2015 — http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/a-governor-threatens-to-execute-prisoners-out-of-spite/394949/

[viii] “It’s official: Firing squads in Utah allowed,” Associated Press, March 24, 2015 — http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/03/24/official-firing-squads-utah-allowed/70366174/

[ix] Source: Death Penalty Information Center, “State By State Lethal Injection” — http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/state-lethal-injection

[x] Source: Death Penalty Information Center, “Financial Facts About the Death Penalty” — http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty

[xi] Judge Arthur L. Alarcón and Paula M. Mitchell, “Costs of Capital Punishment in California: Will Voters Choose Reform this November?”, Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, vol. 46, S1 (2012). Available at: http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/llr/vol46/iss0/1

[xii] Source: Small Arms Survey and UNODC (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime) date, via The Washington Post, “Gun homicides and gun ownership by country” — http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/nation/gun-homicides-ownership/table/

[xiii] Source: Harvard Injury Control Research Center, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/

[xiv] Matthew Miller, David Hemenway, and Deborah Azrael, “State-level homicide victimization rates in the US in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership, 2001–2003”, Social Science & Medicine, Volume 64, Issue 3, February 2007, Pages 656–664 — http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953606004898

[xv] Matthew Miller, Deborah Azrael, and Catherine Barber, Suicide Mortality in the United States: The Importance of Attending to Method in Understanding Population-Level Disparities in the Burden of Suicide, Annual Review of Public Health Vol. 33: 393–408 (Volume publication date April 2012) — http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031811-124636

[xvi] Nils Duquet & Maarten Van Alstein, “Firearms and Violent Deaths in Europe”, Flemish Peace Institute, http://www.vlaamsvredesinstituut.eu/sites/vlaamsvredesinstituut.eu/files/files/reports/firearms_and_violent_deaths_in_europe_web.pdf

[xvii] Source: Violence Policy Center, chart “State Firearm Death Rates, Ranked by Rate, 2011” (based on statistics from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Control and Prevention ) — http://www.vpc.org/fadeathchart14.htm

[xviii] from the study “Does Strengthening Self-Defense Law Deter Crime or Escalate Violence? Evidence from Expansions to Castle Doctrine” by Cheng Cheng and Mark Hoekstra, both of Texas A & M university, Journal of Human Resources, Summer 2013 vol. 48 no. 3 821–854 — http://jhr.uwpress.org/content/48/3/821.short

[xix] Source: Children’s Defense Fund report, “Protect Children Not Guns 2013” — http://www.childrensdefense.org/library/protect-children-not-guns/protect-children-not-guns-2013.html

[xx] Source: Violence Policy Center, chart “State Firearm Death Rates, Ranked by Rate, 2011” (based on statistics from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Control and Prevention ) — http://www.vpc.org/fadeathchart14.htm

[xxi] Source: Iraq Body Count Project — https://www.iraqbodycount.org/

[xxii] Andrew Dugan, “On 10th Anniversary, 53% percent in U.S. See Iraq War as Mistake — Republicans most likely to say conflict was not a mistake” Gallup, March 18, 2013, http://www.gallup.com/poll/161399/10th-anniversary-iraq-war-mistake.aspx

[xxiii] John Tozzi, “Under Obamacare, 17 Million People Have Gained Health Insurance, RAND Finds”, BloombergBusiness, May 6, 2015 — http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-06/health-how-17-million-people-got-insurance-under-obamacare

[xxiv] “Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults” by Andrew P. Wilper, MD, MPH, Steffie Woolhandler, MD, Karen E. Lasser, MD, MPH, Danny McCormick, MD, MPH, David H. Bor, MD, and David U. Himmelstein, MD, in American Journal of Public Health, December 2009, Vol 99, №12 — http://www.ncpa.org/pdfs/2009_harvard_health_study.pdf

[xxv] “Deaths: Final Data for 2013 — Table 10. Number of deaths from 113 selected causes”, National Vital Statistics Reports Volume 64, Number 2, February 16, 2016, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_02.pdf

[xxvi] Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, table: “Status of State Action on the Medicaid Expansion Decision” — http://kff.org/health-reform/state-indicator/state-activity-around-expanding-medicaid-under-the-affordable-care-act/

[xxvii] Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, Health Tracking poll August 2015 — http://kff.org/health-costs/poll-finding/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-august-2015/

[xxviii] Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — “OECD Health Data 2014 — Frequently Requested Data” (accessed May 16, 2016), http://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/oecd-health-statistics-2014-frequently-requested-data.htm

[xxix] “Public’s Policy Priorities Reflect Changing Conditions at Home and Abroad”, Pew Research Center, January 15, 2015, http://www.people-press.org/2015/01/15/publics-policy-priorities-reflect-changing-conditions-at-home-and-abroad/#views-of-importance-of-environmental-protection-global-warming

[xxx] Source: World Health Organization, Fact sheet N°266: Climate change and health — http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs266/en/

[xxxi] DARA International Foundation report: Climate Vulnerability Monitor, 2nd edition — A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet — http://daraint.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CVM2ndEd-FrontMatter.pdf

[xxxii] Pew Research Center survey conducted November 6–9, 2014 — http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/08/03/partisans-differ-sharply-on-power-plant-emissions-limits-climate-change/

[xxxiii] Source: U.S. Department of Energy, annual data on installed wind capacity available at: http://apps2.eere.energy.gov/wind/windexchange/wind_installed_capacity.asp

[xxxiv] Source: Solar Energy industries Association, Solar Market Insight Report 2014 Q4 — http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-market-insight-report-2014-q4

[xxxv] “Air pollution causes 200,000 early deaths each year in the U.S.” MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment, http://lae.mit.edu/air-pollution-causes-200000-early-deaths-each-year-in-the-u-s/

[xxxvi] “The Toll From Coal — An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America’s Dirtiest Energy Source”, Clean Air Task Force, September 2010, http://www.catf.us/fossil/problems/power_plants/

[xxxvii] Senate Vote #262 in 2015, Cloture on S. 1881: “A bill to prohibit Federal funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America” — https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/114-2015/s262

[xxxviii] House Vote #505 in 2015, H.R. 3134: “Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015” — https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/114-2015/h505

[xxxix] Rebecca Kaplan, “Can Congress defund Planned Parenhood?”, cbsnews.com, posted July 30, 2015 — http://www.cbsnews.com/news/can-congress-defund-planned-parenthood/

[xl] Source: Planned Parenthood 2013–2014 Annual Report — http://plannedparenthood.org/about-us/annual-report

[xli] Karen Pazol, PhD; Andreea A. Creanga, MD; PhD, Suzanne B. Zane, DVM; Kim D. Burley; Denise J. Jamieson, MD “Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2009”, Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, November 23, 2012, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6108a1.htm?s_cid=ss6108a1_w

[xlii] National Center for Biotechnology Information report: “Abortion surveillance — United States, 2010” by Pazol K, Creanga AA, Burley KD, Hayes B, Jamieson DJ — Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24280963

[xliii] Gold RB, Sonfield A, Richards CL and Frost JJ, “Next Steps for America’s Family Planning Program: Leveraging the Potential of Medicaid and Title X in an Evolving Health Care System”, Guttmacher Institute, 2009, http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/NextSteps.pdf

[xliv] Source: Gallup, Historical Trends: Abortion — http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx