Thursday, March 15, 2012

Control freaks


There have been a lot of stories -- and comic strips -- recently about birth control and contraception and the attempt by the Republicans and conservatives to make it an issue in the presidential campaign. But this story from Arizona strikes me as the capper:

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-2 Monday to endorse a controversial bill that would allow Arizona employers the right to deny health insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious objections.

Arizona House Bill 2625, authored by Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if they seek contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes, such as hormone control or acne treatment.

"I believe we live in America. We don't live in the Soviet Union," Lesko said. "So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom and pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs."

Lesko said this bill responds to a contraceptive mandate in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law March 2010.

"My whole legislation is about our First Amendment rights and freedom of religion," Lesko said. "All my bill does is that an employer can opt out of the mandate if they have any religious objections."

Glendale resident Liza Love said the bill would impose on women's rights to keep their medical records private.

Love spoke to the committee about her struggle with polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis, conditions requiring her to use birth control.

"I wouldn't mind showing my employer my medical records," Love said. "But there are 10 women behind me that would be ashamed to do so."

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that none of this has anything whatsoever to do with religious freedom, moral objections, or the rights of an employer to pay or not pay for certain kinds of insurance, mandated or otherwise. (I especially like the part about not living in the Soviet Union as justification for an employer to have dictatorial oversight to an employee's medical history. When it's the state doing it, it's Communism, but when it's a company, it's the free market capitalism at its finest. Irony is lost on this person.) None of it -- not the invasive sonograms, the 24-hour waiting periods, the parental notifications -- is based on medical concerns or the right of a patient to know about a procedure. It is simply that the people who are writing and passing these laws are control freaks who are obsessed with the private lives and morals of everyone else.

(As history has proved time and time again, they are flaming hypocrites when it comes to their own personal lives. How many more stories are we going to read about a straight happily-married evangelical Christian legislator who sponsors anti-gay bills while he has a Gay.com app on his smartphone that says "looking for discrete NSA fun; can't host"? Or how many more lectures will we endure about the sanctity of marriage from a presidential candidate who follows his divorce attorney on Twitter, or a senator who has a record of paying for sex? It's been a part of the repertoire since Aristophanes. As one wag noted, "A happily-married man has to have something on the side. Otherwise he wouldn't be so happy.")

It comes down to their pathological desire to rule, not govern. But they can't come out and say it, because if they do, they'd have to acknowledge that that is all they want. It has nothing to do with the sanctity of life or "values." This is why they're "pro-life" to the point that they destroy any reasonable argument for protecting the developing fetus. Reasonable people can -- and have -- made good points about why abortion should be limited to the first trimester except in cases of threats to the life and health of the mother. But enshrining a fetus with the same rights as a person goes not just against legal logic (the Constitution does not grant citizenship to a person unless they are born or naturalized in the United States) but it makes the argument for their side so ridiculous that even the voters in Mississippi -- a state not known for secular liberalism -- rejected a law that granted "personhood" to a clump of cells.

The spate of laws that require invasive procedures prior to a woman getting an abortion are for the sole purpose of shaming a woman into not going through with the operation. They are couched in the Orwellian niceties of "ensuring that the patient is fully informed," but what they're really saying is that they -- the white straight male proponents of "smaller government and more freedom" -- know what's best for a woman and her doctor. If you're an unmarried woman using birth control, your morals are suspect and you have no expectation of privacy because you're just a whore. And you, the guy with no wedding ring and a rainbow flag bumper sticker: why are you buying condoms, hmm?

These people may say it's about religious freedom -- as long as it's their religion. They may say it's about traditional marriage -- as long as they get to define both "traditional" and "marriage." But hiding behind all this sanctimony of religious claptrap or "traditional values" is just a cover-up for that fact they crave the power to control others... as long as no one controls them.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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