The state of our unions

Tony Perkins President, Family Research Council
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On Wednesday night the president discussed his perspective on the state of the Union. If you were looking for inspiration and innovation, you were likely very disappointed, as you heard the same message as last year — throwing federal money at our problems. The spending proposals were offered under the guise of job creation. However, any worthy economist will tell you that the best way for government to create jobs is to get out of the way of the American spirit.

As we use this time to consider our country’s future, we must also recognize that the state of our Union is directly connected to the state of our unions. Where do the pre-governmental institutions of marriage and family, church and synagogue, the building-blocks of any healthy society, stand today?

Without question the state of the family has become perilous. Only 45 percent of American teenagers have spent their childhood with an intact family. Only 17 percent of African-American youth — less than one in five — live with both married parents.

As tragic as these statistics are, these children are the fortunate ones. At least they were given an opportunity to live. In New York, for example, there are nearly 1,500 African-American abortions for every 1,000 live African-American births. Nationwide, more than one-fifth of all pregnancies end in abortion.

The recent indictment of abortionist Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia for the murder of live-born infants serves as a ghastly reminder of the moral toll abortion has taken on America’s sense of justice. The abortionist Gosnell is not an aberration of the abortion industry. He is a natural outgrowth from it.

Abortion is not just a matter of moral outrage, but also a matter of economic concern: For example, using the estimated contribution of individuals to our gross domestic product, one calculation indicates that abortion has cost our economy roughly $35 trillion over the past 40 years. According to the Social Security Administration, we will see near-flat economic growth in coming decades: “This slowdown is primarily due to slower projected growth in total employment.” This, in turn, is “based on the (lower) projected total civilian labor force and unemployment rates.”

Simply put: fewer people, less economic growth.

Sadly, Mr. Obama is not helping. Even before becoming president, Mr. Obama was a hardcore opponent of any restrictions on abortion — even restrictions that might have halted the tragedy in Philadelphia. Instead of commenting on the most recent tragedy, President Obama has instead reiterated his stance that the underlying factor in Philadelphia, abortion on demand, is a “right” that he will always defend. His attitude towards marriage is similar to his one on life. His Department of Justice has argued that “responsible procreation and child rearing” is not at the heart of marriage.

Despite the administration’s messages and actions, which are devaluing life and marriage, there are glimmers of hope. Last November, the voters spoke and elected a strong pro-family, pro-life majority to the House of Representatives and to state legislatures around the country.

State efforts to protect life and marriage are already underway. On the federal level, Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Dan Lipinski (D-NJ) have introduced legislation to get taxpayers out of the abortion business, while Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) is working to prevent federal funding for abortion giant Planned Parenthood. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) have introduced legislation to cut federal spending that is directed to subsidize liberal activist groups, and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) — himself a Marine veteran of three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan — has introduced a measure that seeks to protect soldiers from President Obama’s measure to allow open homosexuality in the military.

Churches and religious institutions have to step up and provide not only the guidance but the active, compassionate intervention families and children need. And, of course, state governments and educational institutions that serve, rather than fragment, family values are essential. Our places of worship were once seen as the center of any community. To churches, which are already doing so much, I say we need to do more to remind people of what is important in life. Most people understand something very basic: Families — families with both a mother and a father — are at the core of a flourishing culture. It is part of what the Bible calls “the law written on the heart.”

For the Union to be strong, so must our unions.

Tony Perkins is President of the Family Research Council.