Browsing the archives for the abortion category.


We Don’t Call ‘Em American Taliban for Nothing

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abortion, Supreme Court, Terrorism

It strikes me that the right-wing Christianists celebrating the Hobby Lobby decision are an unimaginative crew. This might be expected of people who combine dogmatic literalism with a myopic inability to perceive the difference between their own culturally induced bigotries and God. The degree to which they are shooting themselves in the foot is revealed in a New Yorker commentary by Steve Coll, Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York.

Tehrik-e-Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, is a closely held, profit-making enterprise organized on religious principles. One of its principles, announced as public policy in July, 2012, is that children should not be inoculated against polio, because the vaccines violate God’s law. So sincere are the Taliban’s religious beliefs that its followers have assassinated scores of public-health workers who have attempted to administer polio vaccines in areas under Taliban control or influence. …

… If the Pakistani Taliban, aided by clever lawyers, organized a closely held American corporation, and professed to run it on religious principles, might its employees be deprived of insurance coverage to inoculate their children against polio? And would the Supreme Court, by the five-to-four decision issued on Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell, endorse such a move?

Coll acknowledges that before this could happen the Taliban would have to jump through some challenging hoops, such as their status in the U.S. as a terrorist organization. And the part about assassinating people would touch on other areas of law, unrelated to the Affordable Care Act, that might get them into trouble even in “murder at will” states like Florida. However, maybe if they came out for open carry … well, that’s another argument.

Here’s the meat of Coll’s argument:

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the Court’s conservative majority, sought to evade such thought exercises by predicting, without evidence, that there will not be “a flood of religious objections regarding a wide variety of medical procedures and drugs, such as vaccinations and blood transfusions.”

Why not? Is it because the justices do not intend to extend their reasoning to companies that hold religious views less proximate to their own Christian beliefs? Or because the judges believe that they can enforce what they imagine to be a rational or permissible resistance to reproductive rights for women, while blocking what they might see as irrational resistance to transfusions and vaccines?

In other words, as Dahlia Lithwick argued the other day, either the justices intend to show favoritism to “mainstream” (in their minds) Christianity, denying other religions the same privileges, or they think women’s reproductive health is a less serious medical issue than, for example, blood transfusions. There really is no other way to interpret Alito’s argument.

The Right argues that these medical procedures would not be blocked, because the employees could still obtain them and pay for them out of their own pockets. But here in Real World Land, the cost of such things could be out of reach, especially for employees making minimum wage. Add several children, and you might as well tell the employees they can buy a gold-plated yacht while they’re at it. Also, it’s not just the Taliban with issues about vaccines, is it?

And here’s the central issue:

Perhaps the Supreme Court’s majority cannot fully imagine that religiously motivated litigants—Muslim, Christian Scientist, Hindu, or other—as qualified and as American as the Hobby Lobby owners might ultimately use Monday’s ruling to enforce beliefs far outside of the decades-long campaign of Christian evangelicals and Catholics to limit the reproductive rights of women. If so, that is another failure of their reasoning, one that exposes what really seems to have gone on in this decision: four longtime adherents to the deeply rooted conservative movement to limit or ban abortion in the United States, joined by a fifth willing to defer to them, saw in the Hobby case an opportunity to advance their cause incrementally, and they reasoned to achieve that end—not, as their opinion claims, to construct a sustainable framework of religious resistance to public-health laws.

The Right is perpetually screaming that we are about to be placed under sharia law. Sharia law, as I understand it, is interpreted many different ways, and I don’t want to join into demonizing it here. But the Right doesn’t seem to appreciate that the Hobby Lobby decision potentially opens the door to exactly this — a company with Muslim owners could potentially enforce its Islamic views on the employees.

The pre-Hobby Lobby understanding of separation of church and state would have prevented sharia law from being involuntarily applied to non-Muslims in the U.S. That’s not quite so clear now. It seems to me that the only way the HL decision wouldn’t open the door to all kinds of religious impositions on employees is if the courts set themselves up as arbiters of what religious beliefs are legitimate and which not, First Amendment be damned.

I like this bit:

Because campaigners against reproductive rights have successfully mainstreamed their views within institutions like the Supreme Court, those views no longer seem radical even to many of their opponents. The Taliban have not similarly legitimized their philosophy because they are so indiscriminately violent and repressive, among other reasons. (Some religiously motivated radicals have assassinated abortion providers in the United States, but the gunmen are not commonly referred to here as terrorists.)

I argue from time to time that the only difference between our domestic right-wing extremists — and not just the religious ones — and Islamic terrorists is in degree, not in kind. Of course people who bomb abortion clinics or assassinate doctors — or even threaten to assassinate doctors — are terrorists. Here’s the dictionary definition of “terrorism”:

the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal
the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

So, yes, many abortion clinic “protesters” are terrorists. But we can’t call them terrorists because their opinions have been “mainstreamed.” A group doing exactly the same thing to banks that the Fetus People do to abortion clinics would be called terrorists. No question. So clinic protesters are allowed to get away with terrorism because some courts, and much of the public, sympathize with their cause, not because they aren’t actually terrorists.

Bottom line, extremist right-wing dogmatic Christians get a pass, because they are “mainstream.” I suspect Islamic extremism got its first footholds in the Middle East the same way.

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Buffer Zones Are Gone

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abortion, Supreme Court

SCOTUS has found Massachusetts “buffer zones” around abortion clinics to be unconstitutional. This doesn’t surprise me. I am, however, stunned to learn this was a unanimous decision. Some guy actually is arguing that liberals won.

True, Roberts’s opinion, joined by the court’s four doubtless relieved liberals, struck down the buffer as a violation of the free-speech rights of pro-life activists who seek to converse with women who might be seeking abortions. But the crucial element in the opinion — the one that got the liberals on board and enraged the conservatives — is that Roberts said the law was neutral with respect to the content of speech as well as the viewpoint of the speakers. That conclusion protected the possibility of other laws protecting women seeking abortions that pay more attention to what Roberts said was missing here, namely proof that the law was narrowly tailored. For the liberals, that was enough to get on board.

I’m reading that Don Scalia is furious with the majority opinion, which apparently stopped short of declaring open season on abortion providers.

I haven’t had time to wrap my head around this. However, I do think that if the anti-abortion “protesters” were handled like the public nuisances, dangerous bullies and sometimes terrorists they actually are, we wouldn’t need “buffer zones.” As I wrote in my book,

Let’s try a thought experiment: Let’s say a number of people decide that banks are evil. This group then targets banks to picket. But they don’t stop with picketing. They chain themselves to doors. They try to stop bank customers from entering. They yell at people to keep their money at home and not let it mingle with the infernal financial system. They set up websites displaying photos and names of bank employees and where they live, hinting that maybe somebody could just eliminate these people. Banks are vandalized and even bombed. Some bank managers are assassinated.

Now, how many nanoseconds would pass before law enforcement and the FBI call this movement domestic terrorism and shut it down? No one outside the anti-bank cult would stand for this. But when the context involves women, sex, and religion instead of money and business, somehow, it’s different.

It’s only because the well-being and concerns of women are not taken seriously that the buffer zones were necessary.

See also “Do what we tell you to do, or we will kill you” and an extended excerpt from my book here.

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When Anti-Choicers Choose

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abortion

It appears today is the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Here’s an eye-opening page of accounts of what happens when an abortion clinic picketer encounters an unwanted pregnancy. They want an abortion, of course, but they think their case is “different.”

Many anti-choice women are convinced that their need for abortion is unique — not like those “other” women — even though they have abortions for the same sorts of reasons. Anti-choice women often expect special treatment from clinic staff. Some demand an abortion immediately, wanting to skip important preliminaries such as taking a history or waiting for blood test results. Frequently, anti-abortion women will refuse counseling (such women are generally turned away or referred to an outside counselor because counseling at clinics is mandatory). Some women insist on sneaking in the back door and hiding in a room away from other patients. Others refuse to sit in the waiting room with women they call “sluts” and “trash.” Or if they do, they get angry when other patients in the waiting room talk or laugh, because it proves to them that women get abortions casually, for “convenience”.

I remember reading about an abortion provider who said that whenever a woman came to her for abortion and said, “I’m not one of those women who gets abortions,” the doctor said “Oh, OK, I don’t guess you need me then.” And the woman would be refused treatment. That sounds harsh, but on the page linked it says that anti-choice women who get abortions will sometimes turn around and sue the clinic for some trumped up reason.

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New Adventures of the Fetus People

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abortion

If this doesn’t make you want to bite the wall and howl at the moon, nothing will.

An abortion clinic sitting in a residential area of Wichita, Kansas poses a safety hazard to the surrounding community, pro-life activists argued to the Wichita City Council this week.

This is the abortion clinic that once was operated by the late George Tiller, who was murdered by a “right to life” activist. Keep that in mind.
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Representatives from local pro-life groups, including Kansans for Life, Operation Rescue, Word of Life Church and the Kansas Coalition for Life, appeared in front of the Wichita City Council Tuesday to convince government officials to rezone the neighborhood surrounding South Wind Women’s Center to prohibit abortions. The clinic is located on the city’s eastside at Kellogg and Bleckley.

The pro-life representatives told city council that South Wind Women’s Center poses a safety threat to the surrounding residential community, and employees at the clinics are often aggressive towards pro-life advocates seeking to provide pregnancy alternatives to women entering the clinic.

“Some of the clinic workers are aggressive and harassing toward the pro-life people who are attempting to offer help to abortion-bound women. An escalation of their hostile behavior has every possibility of spilling out into the neighborhood, causing a safety concern to residents along Bleckley,” Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy advisor for Operation Rescue, one of the pro-life groups present at the meeting, told the council. “An abortion business does not belong in a residential neighborhood,” Sullenger added, according to LifeSite news.

What they are saying here is that because they are are aggressive and obnoxious jerks who harass women entering the clinic, and sometimes the clinic staff express a hostile attitude about this, the clinic must be moved.

The pro-life groups also argued in a joint press release that it is inappropriate for schoolchildren commuting past the clinic to see protest signs depicting graphic images relating to abortion.

Yes, you read that right. They want the neighborhood to be shielded from the inappropriate signs they are carrying. The clinic must be moved somewhere where they can be obnoxious and carry inappropriate signs with impunity, or something.

It gets better. Today one of the Fetus People accused the clinic of trying to provoke a shooting incident. Like the one that killed George Tiller, maybe?

Mark Gietzen, chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life, said he believes the South Wind Women’s Center is allowing volunteers to escort women into the clinic in hopes that they will harass the anti-abortion protesters outside and provoke a shooting. He said Julie Burkhart, the founder and owner of the clinic, would blame the incident on the protesters in order to raise money.

Gietzen also said it’s possible that the father or boyfriend of the woman seeking an abortion might show up to the clinic angry and armed because they disapprove of the abortion, and a security guard or nearby protester could end up getting shot.

Are we biting the wall yet?

Wonkette:

Haha, we think that is supposed to be a joke, but godDAMN, it’s a bad one, isn’t it? Everyone knows that most “pro-lifers” are really super nice people who do not do violent things or terrorize anyone, and that the most prominent “pro-life” organizations do not condone violence. Except those like, say, the most famous “pro-life” organization, Operation Rescue, which hired Cheryl Sullenger as its senior policy advisor after she served her time in federal prison for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic, but hey, she has SO renounced violence since then, and it’s a TOTES coincidence that she helped Scott Roeder stalk Dr. Tiller and then murder him. That was an isolated incident anyway. Just like the thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS of other isolated incidents of violence and terrorism by “pro-lifers” against doctors and their patients.

Besides, as Gietzen points out, it’s really the clinic’s fault for provoking and antagonizing the protesters in the first place, what with the clinic being there and all, and if the clinic does not want to get blowed up, or its employees and volunteers and patients do not want to get shot, well, then, the clinic just shouldn’t be there, should it?

I say the FPs are terrorists, and they should be treated as such.

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Funny Guy

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abortion

Erick Erickson thinks coat hanger abortions are hilarious. And, y’know, in 1972, the year before Roe V. Wade was decided, only 39 women in America died from back-alley abortions. which Son of Erick says is proof that the dangers of abortion are more myth than reality.

I am thinking unwholesome thoughts. Bad Buddhist.

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The Many Hidden Agendas

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abortion, Immigration, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Regarding abortion — the Fetus People perpetually accuse “pro-aborts” of just wanting to kill babies. Giving women control over their own lives and bodies doesn’t register with the FPs.

But what is their agenda? “Saving babies” doesn’t make sense when you acknowledge that criminalizing abortion doesn’t stop it. It doesn’t seem even to reduce it. Abortion rates tend to be higher in countries where it is illegal than where it is legal. Restricting access to legal abortion just drives it underground. The one factor that does make a measurable difference in reducing abortion rates is use of contraceptives.

There is copious data from many studies over many years supporting these facts. Yet the hard-core FPs remain fixated on criminalizing abortion, closing clinics, and restricting access to birth control and sex education. It’s illogical.

Well, unless “saving babies” isn’t the real agenda.

I’ve come to think there are two kinds of hidden agendas. One is about greed and gain. The other is emotional and psychological, and almost always is buried so deeply in the pysche that people who have it deny to themselves it is there. Demagoguery is all about the people with the first kind of agenda manipulating the people with the second kind of agenda.

In the case of the Fetus People, the only agenda I can think of that makes consistent sense is a fear and loathing of female sexuality. All those copulating women have to be controlled! The FPs will deny this, but this is not a crew famous for self-awareness.

Politicians in conservative districts have been demagoguing this issue for years, because it’s a big, fat button to push that gets big results. So the politicians have been acting from the first kind of hidden agenda. But in recent years, I believe, more and more people suffering from the second kind have been getting into office, especially at state level, and they will not rest until those womenfolk have been properly brought back under patriarchal control. They’ll still get abortions, of course, but they’ll have to do so secretly, illegally, and thereby shamefully. That’s what’s important.

But it’s not just abortion. Let’s look at economic policy. Please do read “Can libertarian populism save the Republican Party?” by Mike Konczal. A bit:

The specifics of a libertarian populist agenda are often lacking, but advocates sometimes point to to things like Rand Paul’s budget plan. This is a plan that calls for flat taxes, cutting discretionary spending through a balanced budget and removing the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate to promote low inflation and high employment.

This brings to mind Eugene Mirman’s joke about bears, where he notes that the common notion that you should play dead if you see a bear “is a rumor that bears spread.” Similarly, the idea that reducing the tax burden on the rich while calling for tighter money and deregulation counts as “populism” sure seems like a rumor spread by the 1 percent.

Yet all kinds of people well down in the 99 percent ranks will support this, partly because they don’t understand it but mostly because there is something about the way the plan will be marketed that appeals to their psychological and emotional issues.

Here’s another one — the bleeping border fence. Is that stupid, or what? Joshua Holland writes,

Only about half of the country’s unauthorized immigrants entered illegally through the Southern border to begin with. And with illegal entries at a 40-year low, and the undocumented population down by a million from its 2007 peak, the right’s fetish for security spending is shaping up to be a boondoggle for giant defense contractors with a consistent track record of bungling past efforts to “secure the border.” . . .

…Reached by phone in Chihuahua, Mexico, Tom Barry, a senior analyst at the Center for International Policy and author of “Border Wars,” told Salon that the effort is simply “absurd.” “Border patrol agents are tripping over themselves now,” he said. “They have nothing to do. They’re reading magazines in their trucks. If they increase the force by the levels they’re talking about now, you’ll have measures of boredom and waste that are almost inconceivable.”

It’s not just a fence, of course, but I’ve spent enough time on rightie websites to know they have a huge emotional investment in a fence. Maybe it’s just that there’s something about a fence that their little minds can understand, but I suspect also they have a deep emotional/psychological need to have a real physical barrier between themselves and those Brown People.

And, of course, the defense industry will make out like banditos. It’s a perfect storm of agendas.

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Anti-Choice Chicken

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abortion

In Chile there’s an 11-year-old girl impregnated by her mother’s boyfriend, and doctors say the pregnancy is putting the child’s life at risk. But Chile has very strict abortion laws that make no provision for life of the mother, not to mention rape. And it appears the government is not going to make an exception in her case.

In a way it’s a shame the child’s plight has been made public, because Chile has the highest abortion rate in Latin America. Chilean women are getting abortions; they just aren’t getting them legally. But if this child’s very public pregnancy were to suddenly go away, she’d probably be arrested.

Could this happen here? Hell, yes. Some of the troglodytes sincerely believe that there are no circumstances in which a pregnancy has to be terminated to save the mother; that “life of the mother” is just a dodge for the abortion industry. (And if you want to read something really twisted, here’s a creep arguing against termination of ectopic pregnancy.) So, yeah, there are people Out There who would make the U.S. the Chile of the North.

It seems to me that a lot of right-wing politicians are playing at a kind of abortion brinksmanship these days. How far can they go to please their atavistic base without completely blowing it with general election voters? Obviously Todd Akin and Joe Walsh went too far. But Marco Rubio is planning to introduce a 20-week abortion ban in the Senate that makes no provision for health of the mother. Rape, incest, and life of the mother are too close to the brink, but eliminating the health exception might be enough to show he is serious.

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Smoke and Mirrors and Abortion

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abortion, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts, Women's Issues

For years the Fetus People have based their entire movement on falsified framing, and they are still at it. They are particularly lavish with the phrase “late-term abortion,” drizzling it over their rhetoric like syrup over pancakes. Michael Gerson is doing it today, for example. However, to them “late-term” is a mercurial qualifier with no fixed boundaries and little relationship to actual human gestation. It means whatever they want it to mean.

For example, back when the fight was over the intact D&X procedure, or what the FPs kept calling “partial-birth abortion,” The Fetus People did such a good job conflating the terms “Partial birth” and “late term” that when the Supreme Court sided with them that the procedure could be banned, the FPs celebrated the end of late-term abortion. I wrote about this a lot at the time; see “Better Middle Than Late” and “More Late-Term Confusion.”

For example, this person sincerely believed that the “partial-birth” controversy was about aborting potentially viable fetuses, which it wasn’t. He wrote,

If a late term pregnancy was so harmful to the mother’s health, then the mother should just deliver the baby and give the baby a chance to survive. But this procedure wasn’t really about saving the life of the mother. It was about killing an unwanted baby.

But most, if not all, of these procedures were done before the gestational age at which a fetus is viable. So no matter how the pregnancy was terminated, there was no “chance to survive.” And elective post-viability abortion already was, and still is, illegal.

Let’s review:

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The SCOTUS decision in Roe v. Wade allows states to ban elective abortion when the fetus is potentially viable, and it seems all have done so, although I understand that in 9 states the law is not officially in effect because of a pending court challenge. However, per Roe guidelines, after the gestational age at which a fetus might survive, an abortion cannot be performed legally in 41 states by any means unless there is a medically compelling — life & health of the mother — reason to do so.

For the most recent information on the status of abortion law in each state, see the Guttmacher Institute, “State Policies on Later Abortions,” updated July 1, 2013.

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So when Michael Gerson writes in his most recent column:

The national abortion settlement declared by Roe v. Wade — rooting a nearly unrestricted right to abortion in the right to privacy — has been unstable for 40 years. The reason is a tension between the state of the law and a durable public consensus that human life has an increasing claim on our sympathy as it develops. This view does not reflect either pro-life or pro-choice orthodoxy. But it predicts a more sustainable political resolution.

The media have a slothful tendency to place Americans into rigid categories of pro-life and pro-choice. The reality is more complicated. A 2011 Gallup poll found that 79 percent of people who describe themselves as pro-choice support making abortion illegal in the third trimester.

… he is willfully ignoring what he must know, that, for all practical purposes,

elective abortion already is illegal in the third trimester

… and Roe is fine with this. Roe isn’t the problem. The problem is with bleeping stupid pinhead troglodyte righties who form opinions based on abject ignorance of both law and pregnancy.

Here’s what they’re up to: First, the Fetus People are hoping the public, including their own minions, have forgotten their victory over “late-term abortion” back in 2005 so they can recycle the old propaganda about those awful late-term abortions that are going on.

Second, they are trying to close the “life and health” exceptions, because they’d rather see a woman die than willfully refuse to drop her calf, so to speak. Of course, many of them have persuaded themselves that circumstances in which a fetus must be sacrificed to save the mother never happen, just like pregnancy resulting from rape never happens. It’s so much easier to achieve moral clarity if you ignore the messy reality of things.

Third, they are re-defining “third trimester” downward so that it starts sometime in mid-pregnancy. Notice how Gerson goes on about the third trimester when the laws being pushed by the Right these days would ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation, which is seven weeks earlier than the third trimester actually starts, and well before the viability threshold.

A full-term human pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. Even the math impaired can probably figure that 20 weeks is smack in the middle of the gestation period, not late in the gestation period. And no human fetus has ever survived outside the womb after only 20 weeks’ gestation.

Gerson continues,

But because the Supreme Court imposed a national settlement at odds with natural sentiments, pro-choice advocates are on the defensive. Their political challenge is to prevent the working of politics. Their real opponent is democracy, as state after state considers late-term abortion restrictions.

Pro-choice advocacy organizations have always stood by Roe, which means they are perfectly fine with states passing late-term abortions restrictions as long as (1) late-term bans really are late-term, meaning no sooner than the 24th weeks of gestation (the common viability threshold, which is still three weeks before the third trimester begins); and (2) allow for exceptions for life and health of the mother, giving private physicians reasonable discretion as to what that means without being second guessed by a bunch of pinhead troglodyte legislators.

So, again, Roe isn’t the problem, and reproductive rights advocates are fine with states banning genuinely late-term elective abortions, and have been since Roe was decided in bleeping 1973. But as part of the propaganda effort, shills like Gerson have to paint reproductive rights advocates as the unreasonable ones who don’t understand that late-term abortions are different.

See also Charles Pierce, “Stop Blowing Up Clinics and You’ll Have a Point“; and Tim Murphy, “Texas Lawmakers Too Busy Targeting Abortion Providers to Deal With Exploding Fertilizer Plants.”

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Gov. Cuomo Will Be Re-elected Next Year

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abortion

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo is introducing legislation that will ease restrictions on abortions after 23 weeks’ gestation in New York. The law would, first of all, go beyond the usual “life and health of the mother” clause and specify that a pregnancy may be terminated late in the pregnancy if the fetus is not viable. (My understanding is that late termination of a non-viable fetus is generally considered legal under the “health of the mother” clause, already, so this really is just a clarification more than a change.) It would allow licensed health care practitioners, not just doctors, to perform some abortions. And it would remove abortion entirely from penal law and instead regulate it through the state’s health laws.

I don’t know who the Republicans might run against Cuomo next year, but if they come up with some homophobic gun-totin’ Fetus Person, ol’ Andy’s got it in the bag. And if the New York legislature fights him on this, and the issue makes a big splash, it’s going to be a big bag. And yes, I realize upstate is more conservative than the New York City area, but it’s also less populated. And I suspect even the most conservative county in New York is liberal compared to, say, Mississippi. Social conservatism in particular doesn’t go very far in this state.

The governor has said that his Reproductive Health Act would be one plank of a 10-part Women’s Equality Act that also would include equal pay and anti-discrimination provisions. Conservative groups, still stinging from the willingness of Republican lawmakers to go along with Mr. Cuomo’s push to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011, are mobilizing against the proposal. Seven thousand New Yorkers who oppose the measure have sent messages to Mr. Cuomo and legislators via the Web site of the New York State Catholic Conference.

This could be fun. Bring it on.

I was not much impressed with Cuomo early in his first term, as he started out as Mr. Austerity — balance the budget without raising taxes, etc. I’d like to see him make a stronger argument for public investment. But I won’t have any problem voting for him next year.

Naturally, the Fetus People are screaming that Gov. Cuomo is introducing “abortion on demand,” but in effect the only effective difference would be that it clarifies non-viability of a fetus as part of “life and health of the mother.” (Clue to Fetus People: That means the fetus is already dead or has no hope of survival, so you can stop hollering about killing babies, thanks much.) Currently New York has a law on the books that leaves out “health,” but that is not in effect because it’s been overruled by federal courts.

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Wingnuts: Grapple With Your Own Theodicy and Leave Me Out of It

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abortion, Religion, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Amy Sullivan, truly the David Brooks of religion writing, thinks that liberals are misreading Richard Mourdock’s position on abortion.

Take a look again at Mourdock’s words: “I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And…even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” The key word here is “it.” I think it’s pretty clear that Mourdock is referring to a life that is conceived by a rape. He is not arguing that rape is the something that God intended to happen.

I understood him perfectly well and I still think it’s outrageous. This goon is saying that women must be forced to carry a pregnancy to term even in cases of rape. I think that’s barbaric and cruel.

Amy wants this to be about theology –

This is a fairly common theological belief, the understanding of God as an active, interventionist. It’s also not limited to conservative Christians. There are liberal Christians who also argue that things work out the way they’re supposed to. Some of them are in my own family, and I think they’re wrong. But it is one way of grappling with the problem of theodicy, trying to understand why God would allow bad things to happen.

And they can grapple with it all they like; just do the grappling with their own bodies, thanks much.

Sullivan goes on to explain the theological arguments about things being intended by God, as if any of us who were sent to Sunday School at least a dozen times didn’t already know them.

And I say that the next time Richard Mourdock gets pregnant from rape and chooses to carry the baby to term because he thinks it’s god’s will, I’m just peachy with that. Whatever floats his boat. But this theo-idiot is planning to force everyone else to live by his conscience and not our own. And, y’know, to a lot of us that looks like good old-fashion oppression.

Most religion looks ridiculous to outsiders. If Mourdock can somehow reconcile in his own head that God did not intend the rape but did intend the conception, that’s not any of my concern — as long as it stays in his own head.

Despite the assertions of many liberal writers I read and otherwise admire, I don’t think that politicians like Mourdock oppose rape exceptions because they hate women or want to control women. I think they’re totally oblivious and insensitive and can’t for a moment place themselves in the shoes of a woman who becomes pregnant from a rape. I think most don’t particularly care that their policy decisions can impact what control a woman does or doesn’t have over her own body. But if Mourdock believes that God creates all life and that to end a life created by God is murder, then all abortion is murder, regardless of the circumstances in which a pregnancy came about.

In other words, Sullivan is making a distinction between actively hating women and being “oblivious and insensitive” to our individuality and humanity. I don’t really see the difference. A man who is incapable of perceiving women as human beings in their own right, who cannot empathize with them or respect that their perspectives are just as valid as his, is what we call a “misogynist.” There is a spectrum of misogynist attitudes that goes from garden-variety sexist pigs to psychopathic serial killers, but it’s a difference in degree, not in kind.

And I oppose this creep Mourdock not because I disrespect his religion but because he disrespects mine. He also disrespects my humanity. I find that annoying.

As you can see from an old post, Amy Sullivan has a long-standing pattern of finding distinctions with no differences. Her shtick for years has been that liberals are mean to proper religious folk because we misunderstand them. Well, I doubt one fundamentalist in a million understands a dadblamed thing about my religion, and that doesn’t bother me in the least as long as they leave me alone about it.

The real issue is that from the earliest days of our Republic conservative Christians have tried to use government to impose their beliefs on everyone else, establishment clause notwithstanding, and they must be opposed. Period. What their theological rationalizations are is irrelevant to me.

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