Congressional Republicans: Still Looking For Jobs In Uteruses

In contrast to their purported focus on the revitalizing the economy and creating jobs, Congressional Republicans continue to make the intimate details of uteruses and the decisions of those who have them their top priorities.  For bonus hypocrisy points, this attack comes in the form of an overriding federal-level piece of legislation designed to standardize [lack-of-]access laws across state borders, yet is proposed by a member of the party which loves squawking about states' rights when it comes to things like gun control and health insurance regulations.

So what is it they want to restrict this time? 

Minors' access to abortion services*.  This new bill, proposed by Republican senator John Boozman (AR) and five co-sponsors, would institute a nationwide requirement of parental notification before a minor may get an abortion.  According to the text of the bill, this means both parents, via certified mail with delivery receipt and "restricted delivery" (meaning the named recipient must be the one to sign for it; some quick googling tells me that means each notification would cost about $10, plus time for a staffer to handle the mailings and such), and a 4-day waiting period between notification and the abortion itself.  It would also require that, if the parent chooses to seek a court order preventing the abortion, the court issue an injunction against it, disallowing the abortion "until the issue has been adjudicated and the judgment is final."  How long does that take?  Anyone more familiar with court proceedings than I?  The bill also mandates a $1 million fine and 10 years imprisonment for any doctor found in violation.  There is a medical-emergency clause, and one for "clear and convincing evidence" of parental abuse - which as I read that, leaves it basically up to the doctor to determine what constitutes "convincing evidence" - but none for rape or molestation by someone other than the parent, not even a judicial-bypass option.

[TW: mention of hypothetical rape and forced pregnancy scenario]

So.  Imagine a teenage girl, let's say 17.  Old enough to make her own decisions for the most part, in her senior year of high school, applying to colleges, all that fun stuff.  Mere months from crossing that mystical line that transforms one from a legal child to a legal adult overnight.  She is in a relationship, and her boyfriend rapes her.  (Sadly, this is not at all a far-fetched scenario; 24% of teens in dating relationships have experienced sexual violence therein.)  She broke up with him, but doesn't want to accuse him, for any one of a number of reasons.  Because she still loves him, or because she's ashamed, or her parents are deeply religious and would punish her for it, or she's seen the gauntlet survivors are forced to traverse in the public eye in this culture and wants no part of it.  For whatever reason, she doesn't feel she can or should report him.  But a few weeks later, she discovers she's pregnant.  Now what?  Being pregnant doesn't magically make her ready to report him, or willing to talk to her parents about what happened if she wasn't before. 

As things currently stand, she might live in a place that permits minors access to abortion services without requiring parental involvement.  If she doesn't, she might be lucky enough to live close to a border with a state that does, and/or have the resources and time to make it possible to cross to another state to access a legal abortion. 

And that is precisely the scenario Boozman and his cronies want to prevent, as they outright admit.  By god, there will be no crossing of borders to obtain services!  Those services will be the same level of inaccessible no matter where you try to go!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the major point of our system of governance, as a collection of semi-autonomous states able to make our own laws on a number of issues, largely about the ability to go somewhere else if you didn't like the laws of your area?  Isn't that what state-level opponents of legal abortion like to claim, as they slowly tighten the noose?  That if you don't like it you can go somewhere else where the laws are more permissive?  And now this explicit attempt to make that impossible.  Hypocrites; color me shocked.

Anyway, if this law passes, the girl of a few paragraphs ago will have no option.  She will either have to accuse her rapist and face the victim-blaming gauntlet, or let everyone think she's irresponsible and face the judge-and-shame-pregnant-teens gauntlet.  And if her parents so choose, they can force her to bear her rapist's child and there is not a damn thing she can do about it no matter where she goes.  In what world is this a moral thing to do to someone?

Or another scenario.  A teen gets pregnant via consensual intercourse when the condom breaks.  Zie wants an abortion.  Zie lives with hir mother, but hir father disappeared years ago and nobody has any idea where he went.  With no forwarding address and the requirement being that both parents are notified via mail, what is this teen supposed to do?  Again I'll point out that there is no provision for judicial bypass, as most parental-notification bills include.  If a minor cannot locate and notify *both* hir parents, there is no recourse, and zie will be forced to have the baby or resort to illegal and unsafe abortion methods.  Congratulations, Boozman: your fucked-up law could end up killing the pregnant person and, you do realize this, yes?  The fetus in that case dies too. 

I'll also add that (as has been pointed out many times before) by anti-choice logic on this issue, parents should be able to force pregnant teens to abort, too.  If the parent can step in and make the decision about what to do with the pregnancy, irrespective of the teen's decision, well...that sword cuts both ways.  Of course we all know pro-forced-birthers would be up in arms if a parent ever tried to use their parental override that way (and rightfully so; remember, pro-choice is not pro-abortion, and we respect the right of the pregnant person to decide, so *any* overriding of that in any direction is bad in our eyes), but again:  Hypocrites. 

Color me shocked. 

*Typical Republican politics, to target the least powerful; first the poor via H.R. 3 and associated legislation, now minors.

Florida's Blaine Amendment Repeal

Florida's legislature is in the midst of repealing the Blaine Amendment, an amendment to their state constitution which bars state financial support of any religious denomination or institution.  They want to repeal it because it was originally rooted in anti-Catholic bigotry, and proponents of the repeal are upset that it means the state can't let funds go to religiously-affiliated hospitals, schools, and adoption agencies.  The new law would read:
Except to the extent required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, neither the government nor any agent of the government may deny to any individual or entity the benefits of any program, funding, or other support on the basis of religious identity or belief.
And is justified by a three-page-long list of "WHEREAS"es, like this one:
WHEREAS, religiously affiliated hospitals, schools, adoption agencies, and other benevolent institutions have been of longstanding service to the people of Florida and have provided numerous services to those in need, and
Which is all well and good, but the problem is, if an organization wants taxpayer money, they need to chuck their religious restrictions at the door and provide all the same services as the public schools/hospitals/adoption agencies.  This includes adoptions by same-sex couples (where that's legal, anyway; I seem to recall Florida passed a law against it, but I also seem to recall it was challenged in court, and don't remember the outcome?), adherence to scientific standards in school curricula (this means no creationism), and providing reproductive services like contraception and necessary abortions (at a minimum).    And religiously-based public service organizations are quite often loathe to do this. 

The idea behind allowing government funding to go to private, religiously-affiliated organizations seems to be based in avoiding redundancy and waste by simply funneling state/federal dollars to subsidize the religious hospitals, instead of having to keep open a competing public hospital in the same region.  But it's not a 1-to-1 conversion; government money handed to Catholic hospitals does not perform the same function that money would provide for if it were kept for a public hospital.  Witness official Catholic hospital policy that would rather let a woman die than perform an abortion to save her life, so long as a fetal heartbeat is present.  And I remember when I was in college, in Santa Cruz, and the hue and cry that went up when it was exposed that the only hospital nearby, without crossing the mountains to go into San Jose, was a Catholic hospital that refused to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.  Also a recent ruling in Washington state that a Catholic hospital is not bound to abide by the same employment non-discrimination laws as other businesses in the state.  Taxpayer money does not function the same when funneled to a religious organization, as it would if it were spent to support a public hospital.  And I fail to see why taxpayer dollars should go to subsidize services only selectively provided, according to the religious strictures of one particular religion to which not everyone in the demographic they're supposed to be serving is beholden.  Why should my healthcare options be restricted according to Catholic dogma, simply because I have the poor luck to live in an area where the only hospital is a Catholic hospital?  I'm not Catholic.

So.  Acknowledging a history of anti-Catholic bias?  Good step!  Religious freedom!  Etc!  But using that as a reason to spend taxpayer money supporting predominantly Catholic institutions that do not actually provide all the same services as the public equivalent would?  Bad!  Very bad!  And especially sucky for low-income areas without a lot of mobility, which is where Catholic hospitals are often to be found, and from which most people don't have the capacity to venture further afield in search of actually-comprehensive medical care!


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