At a time when the agenda of the radical right is being advanced with unprecedented fury, troublesome reports are arriving daily. Today, Amanda Marcotte’s article describing how expanding “fetal rights” in state laws are seriously harming women who are trying to have babies by threatening to invoke criminal local laws to prevent adequate prenatal care or arrest pregnant women if authorities perceive a risk to the fetus.
These seem to be the same folks from the radical right who opposed expanding insurance protection for health care in general (Obama-care) on the grounds that government is somehow coming between a patient and her doctor. I guess that doesn’t count if it involves local law enforcement, and the patient is a pregnant woman.
One of the most offensive things about this kind of attack on women is that it is based on fundamentalist religious ideas that not all Americans, and probably only a minority, share. The premise is that human life is not a continuous process, but something that “begins” at the moment of conception. Like “Creationism” there is no scientific foundation for such a view in science. Such laws, instead of championing the rights of adult humans and giving them priority, undermine those rights with potentially dire consequences. Given separation of church and state, such laws should not be found constitutional, especially given the constitutional right of choice for women acknowledged in Roe v. Wade .
Shortly after receiving the Marcotte article, I received this urgent e-mail from NARAL – Pro-Choice America requesting help opposing some federal legislation being advanced in House bills:
“We’re trying to stop anti-choice bills that could change women’s access to abortion forever.
“One of the bills (H.R.358) would allow hospitals to refuse to provide abortion care, even when necessary to save a woman’s life. Another (H.R.3) would effectively block private-insurance plans from covering abortion care.
“The new anti-choice leaders in Congress are out of control. What happened to the jobs agenda?”
These bills directly interfere with women’s exercise of constitutionally protected rights. One would require hospitals to permit the death of a mother where a fetus is involved, perhaps without regard to the condition of the fetus. The other would deny constitutionally protected choice by permitting health insurance coverage only when pregnancy termination is not involved. In the America I was familiar with, States could not pass laws like this without denying women their 14th Amendment right to equal protection, and federal laws like this would similarly be deemed discriminatory and unconstitutionally.
Of course, there is no job creation agenda for the radical right, so their legislative efforts in Congress this year can sensibly be regarded as a diversionary side-show, perhaps offering a preview of what they hope is in store for America.
JMH – 3/16/11