Republicans' Fake Concern for Fetuses: Flint Edition

So here we are, once again, looking at Republican policies that result in deaths and damage. We already knew that the disastrous decision to switch the water source for Flint, Michigan, which was done by emergency managers appointed by Republican governor Rick Snyder in order to save money, led to elevated lead in the water, elevated lead in the kids, and undrinkable, unusable water. Hell, we know now that a handful of people died of Legionnaire's disease because of bacterial contamination in the water, too.

Now we get the gut-churning news that the water caused the pregnancy rate to plunge and fetal deaths to skyrocket in Flint during the 18 months the contaminated water was running through the faucets and fountains there. That's not hyperbole. That's from a report by Kansas University researchers, which saw a 12% drop in the pregnancy rate and a 58% rise in the fetal death rate, a number the scientists called "horrifyingly large."

Need a graphic representation of this? Here ya go:

The top line is the fertility rate in 15 other cities in Michigan, which is fairly consistent. The line that takes a dive is Flint. (Also of note: In general, the fertility rate in Michigan improved once the Affordable Care Act was passed.)

That's as clear evidence as you could ask that Republicans' concern about fetuses stops once abortion politics are taken out of the equation. And let's not deny the racist implications here of making a majority African American community essentially guinea pigs in a budget-cutting experiment. We used to say that conservatives only care about children before they are born. But the truth of the matter is that they only care about fetuses when they can use that "care" to whip up their ignorant base.

There is something I keep coming back to whenever I read or hear about Flint, something I wrote back in January 2016: "Michigan has a $700 million surplus in its state budget. It would have cost perhaps $100 a day to put phosphates into the water when the supply was first switched to prevent the water from corroding the pipes" and leaching lead into the water. It was foreseeable and preventable. An ounce of prevention, man, just the tiniest bit. I wonder how much funding was spent on things like the militarization of the police instead of making people's homes safe at a fundamental level.

The authors of the study conclude, "Our results suggest that a more lax regulatory environment in the context of drinking water may have substantial unforeseen effects on maternal and infant health, including large reductions in the number of births." They call for greater spending on the EPA and more regulations to protect essential things like, you know, water.

Which just makes me realize how deeply screwed we are from womb to grave right now.