Sunday, February 19, 2012

If America's future is to be secure, regressing to a religious state is not the answer

by S. Paul Forrest

We will be discussing this and other issues Monday, 02-20-2012. Be sure to tune in to Breaking Taboo, 7:00 PM EST on 

It would seem to any reasonable person watching the drama unfold in the 2012 Presidential race that efforts in our Nation would involve economics, trade and green, sustainable energy initiatives but instead, the focus has been on abortion and contraceptives.  Acting as if the negation of our right to privacy will fix all of America’s woes, the candidates and their constituents at the State level have centered their efforts on this single issue despite the Supreme Court’s decision to protect not only the right to choose on abortion but also the right to utilize birth control.

In listening to the rhetoric of late regarding these freedoms and the desire of some to challenge them, one would be led to believe this issue had never been decided upon  in the past.  As would seem typical of late in America’s selective amnesia surrounding social and political issues, many people have been quick to forget that the highest judicial authority in the nation has already made the decision involving birth control and the right to privacy in this nation.

On June 7, 1965, the Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut that a "right to privacy" can be found within the U.S. Constitution which includes the use of contraception by married couples. This decision paved the way for Eisenstadt v. Baird in 1972, which extended the right to single people. Since the Griswold decision, many rights to choice have emanated from these privacy decisions, including the right to abortion including Roe vs. Wade in 1973. More recently, in the 2003 decision Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court relied upon it to extend privacy rights to gay and lesbians within their homes.

In their continued resistance against many decisions by the Supreme Court combined with the push for autonomy from federal oversight, many States have begun to deny their obligation to protect citizen’s rights to privacy and choice by enacting tougher, anti-abortion laws. Although many States do not directly negate the Court’s decision, they have begun to engineer tactics to make the procedure not only demeaning for the women involved but have also begun to redefine abortion to include even contraceptive products as a form of it.

Acting to enhance this initiative, a recent decision by the Virginia’s House of Delegates and Senate which requires a woman to view an ultrasound of the fetus 24 hours before the procedure and demands that the physician performing it to show the results to the patient.  Similarly in Texas, providers must both make an audible heartbeat of the fetus available and provide a detailed description of the fetus pictured in the sonogram.  There are currently, 26 other States which require ultrasounds but the most intrusive by far will soon be mandated in Virginia, Iowa and Texas: The decision involves the use of a transvaginal scan which some have deemed legislated rape.

As Dahlia Lithwick states, “The whole point of the new abortion bans is to force the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade.  It's unconstitutional to place an "undue burden" on a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy, although it's anyone's guess what precisely, that means. One would be inclined to suspect, however, that unwanted penetration with a medical device violates either the undue burden test or the right to bodily autonomy. But that's the other catch in this bill. Proponents seem to be of the view that once a woman has allowed a man to penetrate her body once, her right to bodily autonomy has ended.”

These laws are not only intrusive, they add to the war against women and their rights in this nation by some in the radically aligned, political fringes. If any evidence need be viewed to back up this claim, all one has to do is look at the recent Congressional review board on the issue of contraception and the Healthcare Reform Act on Capitol Hill.  The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform assembled a panel chaired by a male and consisted of eight men who felt personally persecuted by the requirement to testify on the Obama administratons policies on birth control and whether or not requiring insurers to cover birth control violates religious freedom of people who don't believe in science. Not a single woman was allowed to participate in this discussion.

How long are us Americans going to allow these emerging Theocrats (mostly men) to determine our Nation’s future in taking actions to slowly negate the right of women to choose for themselves on abortion and birth control? It is reasonable to believe that partial birth abortions or the use of abortifacients as an alternative form of birth control is a selfish and irresponsible act (some would argue illegal actions), to take that to the personal druthers of terming contraception as a form of abortion and penalizing any who use it, is going off the edge of that reason especially when women are not included as an integral part of the discussion to control their use.  

The same people attacking women’s rights to choose and excluding their opinions on the matter are reminiscent of the male Elders of the Dark Ages Church Councils determining the rules and laws of the people without their consent.  The Christian Right decries the loss of women’s rights in the Sharia Law-oriented Muslim society but are tirelessly pushing America toward a similar set of laws. These few Republicans, people largely pushing sexual conservatism on their “holy” soap box, tell us they want less governmental interference in our lives and all answers lay with the people rather than with the government, but many in the Party are happily pushing governmental control of our bedrooms and personal lives.

Funding Theocratic Measures with Our Money
Further standing as evidence of their contradictory stance on many issues facing this nation, the proponents of anti-choice from the right speak vehemently about wasted money and banning tax payer derived funding for Planned Parenthood but are spending millions of dollars to negate the Supreme Court’s decisions on the matter. 

“Even without a direct assault on Roe through the Supreme Court, the cost to states to defend abortion restrictions can run high. Kansas, for example, has spent nearly $400,000 in legal bills in six months defending new laws to restrict abortion this year, according to the Kansas attorney general's office. Of the total, $237,834 was spent on private lawyers defending efforts to strip Planned Parenthood of federal family planning funds. 
Planned Parenthood was paid $623,000 in fees by South Dakota resulting from two challenges to abortion laws over a decade. This did not count the state's own attorney hours and resources, according to Jennifer O. Aulwes, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. 
The state's Legislative Research Council estimated that the cost of defending a law passed in March requiring a three-day waiting period for an abortion could be between $1.7 and $4 million, according to executive director James Fry. South Dakota chose not to appeal a preliminary injunction.
Another South Dakota abortion law is before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A donation-funded "life protection" subfund to defend abortion laws has a balance of $63,387, according to Sara Rabern, spokes woman for the attorney general's office.
Other states in court over abortion-related restrictions passed this year include Indiana, North Dakota, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas.”
In response to the criticism for the use of Tax payer monies to fight the Supreme Court’s decisions, the article goes on to point out Ohio Republican State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, the Republican sponsor of the Ohio "heartbeat" bill stating, "I think saving, in future years, millions of unborn babies from death is something you don't put a dollar value on.”  I wonder how much money he was of in favor of spending for the saving of innocent, civilian lives (men, women and children) from our Middle East “security” policies and the reign of death we have enacted there?

And what about the real issues facing our nation?  What about jobs, economic responsibility, balanced budgets and humanistic foreign affair matters in the Middle East and across the Globe?  In the fight against birth control and abortifacients (a policy which should more properly termed, abortifascism), the real issues have been put on the back burner in a seemingly purposeful action that could be viewed as simply, the Politics of Distraction.  Could it be they are doing this only because they have no real, long term answers to these issues; no policies with which to win the upcoming election? It would seem so.

It is widely understood and supported that matters of sexuality, birth control and privacy should be decided upon by the people, so why are so many politicians at the State and Federal level taking it upon themselves to decide for American voters?  If these new Laws are to affect our privacy; our freedoms, shouldn’t We the People be the deciders of our fate?  Have we come so far down the fascist highway that we cannot even decide for ourselves which direction our Nation should be going in? 

One would think the Party so vehemently and even radically striving for the reformation of the “socialist system” they say is being enacted by President Obama, would not trade our Liberty for a Theocracy, but in the race to polarize the voting base in order to entice them to support the re-emergence of the G.O.P. as the dominant Party in Washington, they are enabling the regression of our society’s to the pre-civil rights time when freedom was unconscionably trampled upon without regard for what it meant to those citizens so dramatically affected by it.

People supporting these steps may argue that this is an issue of morality only and that it is important to set our national course away from what has been termed “the war on religion”, but how far are we really willing to go to enable this rebirth and what else will be on the horizon toward this end?  Will the next battle involve criminalizing sex itself? And how will this new theocratic reign affect the God given rights of women in this country? This author cannot help but remember the tale of Hester Prynne and how theocracy condemned her to bear the scarlet mark of such an oppressive system. 

In their political quest to reclaim control of our nation, the real consequences and irreversible damage to our Liberty as one People seems not to be under consideration by these religious zealots. This is a movement that needs to be watched and yes, even feared.  There is no security in enveloping a system of autocratic governance and rekindling the fires of religious condemnation to help us out of the troubles we face today.  God is not going to help us govern  ourselves nor will He or She determine how we will avoid the dangers of self serving dictates from a blind committee living yesteryear's lust for inequality. If America's future is to be secure and our common destiny preserved, regressing to a Religious State is not the answer: it will only make things much, much worse

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