When our government was framed, religion was granted freedom in hopes it would return the favor. Call it the Great American Gamble. Give something authoritative in nature free reign and have faith it won’t take over.
Here’s the primary debate of a free country: When does my freedom trample on your civil liberties? And when do your rights impede my independence? When does my opinion about the way you live your life become the way you have to live your life? Religion is opinion after all. Liberal Christians believe Jesus was a dark-skinned blue-collar hippie and conservative Christians think Jesus hated hippies and loved guns. (I’m exaggerating but only slightly … save your letters.)
What you don’t hear are Christians of any ideology saying, “Jesus said this, but I disagree…” If Christ isn’t reputed to have said it, his followers just forge his signature. See: homosexuality, interracial marriage and Charles Darwin.
This is how conservatives who believe themselves to be Christian have decided life ends at birth. That is not a typo. Anti-abortion activists are not for programs which would make raising an unplanned child easier. Anti-abortion activists are not pro-welfare programs. Anti-abortion activists are not pro-school lunches. They’re not pro-food stamps, pro-funding foster care or pro-taking-care-of-children-after-they’re-born. Economics is the leading reason for ending a pregnancy. But the anti-abortion activists are laser focused on life until it becomes viable—then that “life” becomes a lazy taker and part of the 47 percent “who believe that they are entitled to health care.”
The term “pro-life” for the anti-abortion movement is a misnomer. The data shows more women die when abortion is criminalized than when it is legal, safe and widely available. In fact, the data also tells us regardless of legal status, the same amount of abortions take place. So the truly pro-life position is for abortion to be available to women who need it. That results in the least loss of life.
But when you’re moralizing an issue as intimate as reproduction—it’s easy to overstep into dictating behavior: Should be married. Should be able to afford children. Should be chaste. Should not be pregnant. Meaning: They’re just using the term abortion as a battering ram against the conduct leading to an unwanted pregnancy.
On the other side, it’s not really about abortion as an available medical procedure, or what the right seems to be even more terrified of—sex sans consequence—it’s about keeping the government out of the fetal viability business. When abortion is a crime, miscarriages get investigated—every womb becomes a potential crime scene and just reproductive ability makes you guilty before proven innocent. When Right to Privacy gets mentioned, it means women’s private parts.
Religious people would never tolerate the restrictions on worship they want to put on women of childbearing age. What these self-identified religious people want to do to women goes against the Golden Rule (universal in all major religions): do unto others…
But the GOP ever tone-deaf on women’s issues (See: Haley Barbour referring to Hoboken’s Dawn Zimmer as a “lady mayor” this week.) have decided their good-old tried-and-true abortion wedge issue will come to their rescue again. But this time instead of framing it as a moral issue, they’re trying to sell abortion as an economic issue. Like I said, tone-deaf.
Under this banner of freedom from taxes, the GOP wants to nationalize Americans’ uteri and let dogma decree how they should behave.
The GOP wants zealotry to have a way of shutting that whole thing down.
Taking Eternal Vigilance Too Far