Take State Rep. Paul Stam, for instance.
Stam has been in the General Assembly for a long time. Prior to his current series of half a dozen terms, the Wake County Republican also served during the 1989-90 legislative session. It was during that initial term that Stam first made his name as a crusader for right-wing social causes and, specifically, a passionate opposition to abortion.
Now, flash forward to 2013 and see that things aren’t much different. Stam is still leading the anti-choice charge (and the anti-gay rights charge and the pro-death penalty charge). Along with many of his conservative colleagues, Stam is doing everything he can to make abortion more inaccessible, prevent LGBT equality and revive the death penalty.
Here’s one important difference, however, between the Stam of two decades ago and, by all appearances, the one who is leading the General Assembly’s social conservatives today: In 1989, Stam was anti-choice, but he was also willing to strongly support public programs that helped low income pregnant women have safe and healthy pregnancies. Indeed, it was during this very period that Republicans — led by Gov. Jim Martin — helped push through a program to expand eligibility for low-income pregnant women to those with incomes below 185% of the federal poverty line. The change has helped reduce infant mortality dramatically.
Today, however, that old, semi-consistent Paul Stam is, as best as can be determined, completely AWOL.
If he weren’t, it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t be speaking out loudly and proudly against the Senate’s budget plan to slash Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women back down to 133% of the poverty line. Thus far, however, there hasn’t been so much as a public peep from conservative “pro-life” legislators in opposition to this blatantly “anti-life” proposal.
All of which only serves to confirm what a lot of Stam critics have long suspected down through the years: namely, that his passionate opposition to abortion (and LGBT rights and death penalty abolition) have much more to do with a commitment to imposing a right-wing religious patriarchy than they do with any genuine concern about “life.”