John Legend is never shy about calling out hypocrisy and hurtful rhetoric when he sees it. And on Thursday (May 12), he spotted a doozy from Republican U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas. As the U.S. faces a nationwide shortage of baby formula, Nehls posted his response to the serious issue affecting so many parents and their families.
“Baby formula should go to Americans before illegals,” Nehls wrote. “This should not have to be said.”
Legend posted a sharp rejoinder to the comment, apparently inspired by claims on the Right that are part of what the Washington Post called the “faux outrage” over the Biden administration’s adherence to a law that former president Trump also followed.
“These are the ‘pro life’ folks,” Legend wrote in response to Nehls’ tweet. His comment appeared to be a pointed reference to the recent praise from anti-choice conservatives over a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion suggesting that the court is preparing to strike down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that paved the way for abortion rights in the U.S. By juxtaposing a pro-life stance with Nehls’ suggestion that the government should choose which babies deserve to have the scarce commodity, Legend pointed out the seeming hypocrisy in the Right’s position.
As for what is causing the baby formula shortage, according to the Associated Press, it’s a combination of ongoing supply chain disruptions and a recent safety recall, which have left many supermarket and pharmacy store shelves bare. For families with children who are not exclusively breastfed, this has resulted in a desperate, frantic scramble to find any formula. The dire situation came following a February voluntary recall from Abbott Nutrition of several major brands of powdered formula after four babies suffered bacterial infections potentially tied to formula from a Sturgis, Mich., facility.
On Thursday, conservative Twitter exploded with a variety of tweets from Republican members of Congress and other conservative voices about the formula shortage, many attempting to lay the blame on the Biden administration for both the scarcity and for adhering to the 1997 Flores consent decree.
The Post explained that the decree began as a class-action lawsuit over the treatment of migrant children that the Justice Department settled during the Clinton administration. It requires the federal government to release rather than detain immigrant children to their parents, or other adult relatives if necessary. A 2015 ruling updated the settlement to cover all children in immigration custody, whether they were apprehended crossing the border alone or with family.
As part of the settlement, immigration authorities are required to not only provide the minors with a reading of their rights and to hold them in safe, sanitary conditions, but also to “provide access to toilets and sinks, drinking water and food as appropriate.” A 2015 Customs and Border Protection document specified that “food must be appropriate for at-risk detainees’ age and capabilities (such as formula and baby food).”
The paper noted that staunchly anti-immigration Trump was “no fan” of the Flores ruling, and tried to get it erased, but was rebuffed by courts and forced to reluctantly abide by it. On Tuesday, the FDA announced that it was taking “important steps” to improve the supply of infant formula, including regular meetings with infant formula manufacturers to better understand their capacity to increase production, closely monitoring the status of the supply, offering a streamlined import review process for formula from foreign facilities and asking some retailers to put temporary purchase limits in place, among other efforts.
See Legend’s tweet below.
These are the “pro life” folks. https://t.co/O3baiH64L2
— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 13, 2022