Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The Tail of Ultra-Religious Fundamentalism Is Wagging the Dog

There was a leak of a draft opinion by Samuel Alito on the question of whether Mississippi could limit abortions after 15 weeks. The fact that such a document was out was a much bigger deal than its contents. Assuming Alito didn’t accidentally drop it in the press room, one might guess that one of the clerks of one of the judges, a group of the purported best and brightest, decided to out it. A breach of ethics, if such a notion isn’t quaint by now.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade was pretty much a given despite the hand ringing of Senators Collins and “who asked Gorsuch and/or Barrett if they believed in upholding precedent.

For decades the abortion antagonists have been simultaneously waving the banner of Right to Life as though those two things were commensurate. That might be true if life began at conception and ended at birth. It doesn’t.

The Republicans, goaded by folks who believe they alone understand God’s will, have found themselves on the side of some of the most anti-life notions around. They oppose any consideration of limiting in any way the arming of America and have stretched the Second Amendment beyond recognition.

They opposed “Obama Care,” repeatedly voting to overturn it, always insisting they had a better idea. That never materialized. What more positive way of fostering the right to life is there than ensuring good health care. Unless you consider eating necessary to life. In that case, instead of quibbling about socialism when Democrats want to extend school lunches for kids who are hungry or poorly nourished, they would have been the first to promote it. That didn’t happen.

Humans are not designed to live outside in the elements. Shelter is necessary to support life. Unhoused folks are everywhere we look. Bible study must undoubtedly have included Matt. 25. Those people who self-identify as Christians must surely understand that whatever you do for the least you do for Jesus and whatever you refuse to do, you refuse him. A right to life must surely preclude state-sponsored executions. Not so much.

The tail of ultra-religious fundamentalism is wagging the dog. While the majority of Americans accept nontraditional marriage and choose to allow their fellow citizens to live their preferred lives; accept that women should be able to make all medical decisions for themselves just as men do; recognize that taxes allow the state to represent them when needs arrive in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the afflicted, etc.; in assuring that the water we drink and the food we eat are healthy; intervene when circumstances are so dire that individual assistance is not sufficient. Those things that support life.

A Republican congressman, when asked a hypothetical about a 13-year-old girl, having been brutally raped and having a fetus forcefully inserted into her womb, should do responded that she should consider it an opportunity to raise and nurture this new life. For him, her life was of no importance and should be offered up in sacrifice to the seed within her. As always, women’s lives, choices, dreams, and desires are of no value to that man.

Women are pregnant because, at some point, a male entered her body and deposited sperm. Yet, even until now, men have not borne the burden of caring for and supporting the lives they create. A man can make dozens of babies in a year, a woman only one. Its time to consequence the male party to procreation. Thanks to the efforts of science, it is possible for men to temporarily suspend their fertility with a pill. For decades, and one can only hope that the Supreme Court doesn’t interfere, women have been ingesting hormones, inserting odd contraptions, and spraying goop into their vaginas to prevent pregnancy. Men don’t like condoms, vasectomies hurt, and not having sex is not an option. Now they can take a pill just like their partner or partners. No pregnancies, no abortion, no unwanted children living stunted lives with absent fathers and exhausted mothers.

At some point, Congress needs to pass a simple bill that states that everyone’s medical choices are private and beyond the state’s reach. Just that. Every woman and every man can decide what best suits their bodies and their lives. No need to argue about when life begins or ends. Private discussion with one’s doctor about the option for treatment and decisions about how to proceed. That would be life-affirming indeed.

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M.A. Callahan
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