By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire
There are those people who believe that, sooner or later, the Republicans will wise up and realize that they’re sucking around for a gender gap the size of the Bosporus. There also are those people who believe that calling what the Republicans are doing these days “a war on women” is intemperate rhetoric of a piece with the rantings of porcine junkie sex-tourist Rush Limbaugh, and that we’d all be able to find “common ground” if we just didn’t say such mean things to each other. To them, I say, paraphrasing JFK, who makes Rick Santorum want to throw up (and have I mentioned recently what a colossal dick Rick Santorum is?), the following:
Lass’ sie nach Topeka kommen.
Let them come to Topeka.
Having helped destroy a woman’s right to choose de facto, mostly by murdering any doctor who sought to provide that choice, the good folks in the “pro-life” community in Kansas now have moved along to more formal channels, attempting to choke off that choice de jure with preposterous conditions and legal hurdles, all of which are aimed at one day hitting Antonin Scalia right in his Opus Dei G-spot and Anthony Kennedy right square in his ambivalence. The bill now sitting before the state legislature contains all our favorite new delights, including the religious exemption that would allow doctors to lie to their patients. In fact, this one requires doctors to pass along the roundly debunked fiction about a “link” between abortion and breast cancer. It also contains a staggering welter of financial restrictions. And, of course, there is the fact that none of this is in anyway accidental. Quoth the HuffPo:
The bill includes provisions similar to those found in other state laws now facing federal lawsuits, including Texas’ requirement that the mother – hear the fetal heartbeat, and Oklahoma’s – mandate that mothers be told about a potential risk of breast cancer – with an abortion. It also would replicate Arizona’s provision – prohibiting tax deductions for abortion-related groups.
Gee willie-wonkers, I wonder if this is all a coincidence?
One of the funniest features in any newspaper is “On Faith,” wherein The Washington Post hands a “conversation” about spirituality over to that aging trophy bride, Sally Quinn. (To be fair, Ms. Quinn has been pretty good on the whole Limbaugh business.) As you might imagine, there’s a lot of “conversation” over there these days about ladyparts, and what various pudgy clerical bureaucrats say is the acceptable use of ladyparts under the rules that apply only to the ladyparts of the laity. (Chatting contemptuously about what various middle-management executives of the firm had been doing with their misterparts over the past 60 goddamn years or so is, of course, just another anti-Catholic slur by the secular media.)
On Thursday, we were treated to a treatise by a couple of women from the Becket Fund For Religious Liberty, an ultramontane legal chop-shop best known for promulgating The Manhattan Declaration in 2009, which was drafted in part by Jesus’s favorite former Watergate felon, Chuck Colson, and by Robert George, the all-purpose nuisance from Princeton. Prominent signatories include Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, recently named as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and James Dobson, the famous spanking preacher from Focus On The Family. It’s mainly about how “religious liberty” is threatened by gay people getting married and by birth control.
“We certainly hope it doesn’t come to that,” said Mr. George, who added that he has represented a West Virginia resident who has refused to pay a portion of her state income tax that funds abortions. “However, we see case after case of challenges to religious liberty,” such as compelling pharmacists to carry abortifacient drugs or health care workers to assist in abortions, he added. – “When the limits of conscience are reached and you cannot comply, it’s better to suffer a wrong than to do it,” he said.
(There’s a lot of this bold talk in it about civil disobedience and Martin Luther King, but I would note that, by this point in his career, King already had seen his house bombed and he’d been thrown in jail a few times. If Mr. George has seen the inside of anything more spartan than the faculty club at Princeton, I’m not aware of it. And I’m sure that, if I refused to pay a portion of my taxes that funded, say, Clarence Thomas’s salary, or the war in Afghanistan, Mr. George would be right there to go my bond.)
Anyway, the ladies from Becket want us all to know that this isn’t about contraception. It’s about religious liberty, which is now threatened because secular insurance companies have to provide birth control free as part of a general health-care package even to those people who work in Catholic institutions. Religious liberty therefore means that Presbyterian janitors can either subject themselves to Catholic doctrine. I mean, why not mandate communion, too? Freedom!
We represent millions of women across myriad religions that find the mandate an offensive assault on freedom of belief in this country. We represent millions of women who do not want to be treated as a lump category whose thinking stops at our reproductive organs. We are the face of millions of women who object to the idea that somehow, we cannot object.
(Also, if you’re going to cite an authoritarian – like William Lori as a source on “liberty” of any kind, your argument is pretty much doomed from the start. Lori’s concern for “religious liberty” does not extend to the consciences of the laity in parishes with whom he disagrees.)
The point of this is to show that, as heartening as the polls on these issues might be to Democrats, and especially to the Democrat in the White House, the people who seek to truncate brutally the right of women to control their bodies and, specifically, their health care, are organized, well-financed, and they simply do not stop. There is nothing on the other side of the argument that compares to the network of organizations that apparently have decided that this is their last best chance to roll those particular rights back, and that are prepared to fight that battle on every front possible. This is not encouraging.