What Does "Pro-Life" Mean?

  • By: Joni Eareckson Tada
  • Oct. 14, 2011
  • In the Media

joni eareckson tadaJoni and Friends is always looking for ways to promote a biblical worldview on disability, especially in the national marketplace of secular ideas. That’s why we’re pleased that the Huffington Post is highlighting an op-ed piece written by our own Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni consulted with our Joni and Friends' Christian Institute on Disability and came up with what we think is a challenging pro-life perspective on critical issues currently affecting the elderly and disabled. If you find her article worthy, please do share it with your Facebook friends!


Elections 2012: Who is Really 'Pro-Life?'

As the 2012 presidential campaign gets into full swing, we often hear the candidates questioned about their views on abortion or embryonic stem cell research, as if one or two issues determine whether they are "pro-life."

Although these are important issues, I want to encourage voters to look at the bigger picture. If you truly believe in the value of life, you care about all of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.

In these days of economic turmoil, it's easy to look at programs for the elderly, disabled and others with special needs as line items in a budget. But the effects of cutting them can be far-reaching and sometimes just shift the expense from one column on a spreadsheet to another.

Virtually every state is cutting services for special-needs families and with regulations currently being written for the new health care law, the federal government is headed in the same direction. The Super Committee Senators and Congressmen also are looking at cutting funds for Medicaid as a way of reducing the federal debt.

Unless society holds accountable those who are defining "waste-reduction measures," the disabled and elderly will lose services and in-home support that are critical to their basic needs.

I applaud the stricter measures being taken to ensure that fraudulent claims aren't being paid -- this is saving hundreds of millions of dollars. However, I am concerned that some of those who are working on the language for the health care law will decide that waste-reduction measures include doing away with life-sustaining programs for individuals with profound disabilities. No one but God can determine whether or not keeping someone alive is "worth it."

This will definitely come into play over the next decade, as advances in medical technology will enable more people to survive injuries and illnesses and the senior population will continue to grow in number and age. Because more and more people will need Medicaid, we should be investing in cost-saving services like home and community-based supports and not just engage in slash-and-burn cuts that will cost more in the long run.

Most states have already made significant cuts to Medicaid, reducing or eliminating vital home-care services and forcing seniors and people with disabilities into nursing facilities. Unfortunately, we have seen time and time again that these facilities become a much larger drain on Medicaid with average daily care costs much higher than in-home care.

The 2010 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Adult Day Services and Home Care Costs showed that Nursing Home and Assisted Living rates continue to rise and cost many times more than Home Care or Adult Day Services, where costs have remained steady.

Doesn't it make more sense to continue funding the more economical option, rather than slash that budget and require those with special needs to turn to the more expensive facilities? Especially when Medicaid has to pick up the tab?

Like all good citizens, the elderly and people with disabilities want to eradicate waste and fraud from government, but helping people with special needs meet their basic needs doesn't fit this description. The hallmark of a healthy society has always been measured by how it cares for the disadvantaged.

As people investigate the candidates on all issues, they should remember that being pro-life also means protecting the elderly and medically fragile people - it's not a litmus test issue. If candidates believe that savings can be secured through undercutting basic services for the elderly and disabled, it can't help but tarnish their stand as pro-life candidates.

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Joni ~ My 3 precious nieces died of Batten Disease. We lived an 18 year era of watching these BEAUTIFUL, SUNSHINE girls go from laughing and calling our names to little girls fed through stomach tubes. I know that many in our world would have deemed them 'not fit' to bring into the world. They were such gifts of JOY and touched so many lives! (Your "Joni and Friends" helped my brother buy a lift for his van to help in their care..for which you are forever endeared to my heart). Now, I am disabled, at 52, after having 2 failed low back surgeries. I live with constant sciatic and back pain. I live on 800/mo., and they say that I make 106.00 too much for full medical help, so I have to pay 636.00 every 6 months before they'll cover anything. If my church had not helped me, I'd be living without my meds..which is a torturous way to live. So, I appreciate your words very much. I am so thankful for the body of CHRIST, but many do not know HIM or belong to a church, and are struggling with pain and disability.
  • Dec. 19, 2011
  • 11:11 a.m.
  • Cherie Vance
Amen! Amen and again I say Amen! You have an amazing way of putting your thoughts on paper. Thank you.
  • Oct. 18, 2011
  • 2:06 p.m.
  • Dianne
Great article, Joni! So important to be looking at the whole pictures. On a slight side trail, I think as well as having strict rules to ensure people aren't mis-using the SSI system, they need to do something to make it possible for people who really do need aid be able to get it. I'm disabled and have been fighting for good medical care and financial aid for a long time. By the time I get a hearing with a disability judge it'll be almost two years since I applied, with more of a wait after the hearing. Many of my friends have had to wait even longer and are in dire financial straights. I wish they could figure out how to weed out the fakers without nearly killing the rest of us in the process.
  • Oct. 17, 2011
  • 12:46 a.m.
  • Amy Wiley
My granddaughter has CP and her mother quit work to be able to take her to therapies, etc. Because my son has a good paying job, they do not qualify for aid, so when she has surgeries; they pay much for deductibles and copays, which means they can't enjoy my son's "good" pay but are often in debt. Thank you, Joni, for your constant work to help others.
  • Oct. 15, 2011
  • 8:27 a.m.
  • Barbara Jones
You have been such an inspiration to me even though I haven't had any physical disabilities. Now that I am 63 and on social security I guess I do fit in the elderly. Just wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday and pray that you have many to come. Bless you Always
  • Oct. 15, 2011
  • 6:55 a.m.
  • Terry Westfall
Well said. Definitely passing this information on to others. Thank you for your true pro-life stand.
  • Oct. 14, 2011
  • 8:12 p.m.
  • Kathy Roeth
Love everything you do. We watched your movie on your life story. It was very touching. We saw your testimony on Billy Graham when he came on television. We are against abortion. It is going against the Word of God.
  • Oct. 14, 2011
  • 2:54 p.m.
  • Diane Wellman
Unfortunately the term "prolife" really means "pro-birth" saddly once a child is here many "pro-life" candidates stop caring about their needs. The hallmark of a healthy society has always been measured by how it cares for the disadvantaged. This is the most telling comment here. Lately we haven't been doing very well as a society.
  • Oct. 14, 2011
  • 12:50 p.m.
  • Kim Quinn
Thank you, thank you, thank you! You nailed it, Joni! Can you run, er, wheel for president? :)
  • Oct. 14, 2011
  • 12:33 p.m.
  • Nick Nordberg
As a parent of a child on SSI with Medicaid, I am living these cut backs and "cost reductions" every day. I see the toll it is taking on my daughter to not have the care that she needs. While the bureaucrats claim that there are adequate measures to meet the needs of my special needs child....I know the reality and it is not pretty. I pray that a Godly leader will be put into place that will weigh the needs vs the means, and make wise decisions for our nation. May God help us!
  • Oct. 14, 2011
  • 12:23 p.m.
  • Rebecca Young
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