Monday, March 15, 2010

Moving Legislation Farther to the Right And Calling It Rights.

Tampa Bay Online reports that a number of new bills regarding "abortion and the unborn" are being proposed in a new wave of anti-choice legislation. Modern liberal presidents, of which one could argue we've really only had two since the legalization of abortion in 1973 (and another could argue that they weren't ultimately that liberal) have always triggered a conservative backlash. We're seeing that now with the Tea Party and the disarray of the Republican party as it searches for it's base and works to regroup.

That patients' rights is a focus of such regrouping and "appeal to the base" is no surprise since the current president is focusing on health care reform. How successful these bills are depends on how attentive the public is to such discriminatory efforts.

Though Republican efforts to limit women's rights (and elders') are nothing new, I expect we'll see a giant push at the state level like the Tampa Bay article reports. The interesting nature of these renewed efforts is the way in which Republicans have adopted "women's rights" language to portray their legislature in a pro-woman light. Conservative groups have long worked to claim ownership of "real American values" and "patriotism" and "individualism." Now they're working to co-opt the language of rights by claiming to ally with older concepts of civil rights activism. Glenn Beck encourages Tea Party protesters to act like Martin Luther King Jr.; Sarah Palin works to portray herself as a liberated woman even going so far as to champion her choice to have a down syndrome child as she works agains women's choice; "pro-life" activists like Jill Stanek have warped statistics to propose that abortion equals black genocide; and the conservative Coalition for Patients' Rights works for discriminatory legislation regarding health care reform.

What's happening in Florida is in line with what's happening across the country. Republicans are appealing to (racist?) anti-government sentiment among ultra-conservatives by introducing increasingly conservative (big government) legislation. It doesn't make sense when examined closely and while it's nothing new, it is increasingly couched in benign language about women's and individual rights.

Here's the interesting clip:

About half of the bills come from legislators running for re-election, in a year when Tea Party activists and other GOP malcontents are challenging candidates to prove their conservative credentials. At least one bill was scheduled for a hearing early in the session, by a Republican committee chairwoman who is running for governor.

John Stemberger, of the Florida Family Policy Council, said he's delighted to see this year's show of pro-life initiative. Lawmakers' votes and sponsorship of at least some of the bills, he said, will factor prominently in the guide to political candidates his organization compiles each year for socially conservative voters.

"There's a frustration, I think, in the social conservative community, that Legislature has not been responsive," he said.

Political scientist Darryl Paulson who is a Republican, speculated that "many of these politicians are engaging in symbolic politics," appealing to their base.

Most of the sponsors insist their bills are not intended to interfere with a woman's ability to get an abortion, though all are Republicans who oppose the procedure.

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