Friday, January 15, 2010

Forced Pregnancy The Next TARP.

It's an old ruse. But one that continues to exhaust itself - on itself. "Pro-life" groups have a long history of trying to prove that their opposition to abortion has nothing to do with their religious ideology but everything to do with the secular benefits of forcing women to have babies against their will.

Such arguments only work for a community that is accustomed to believing in things unseen. If you don't look at the proof that women have better quality of lives when they make their own reproductive decisions, you don't have to see them. And if you're lame understanding of the economy let's you posit that forced pregnancies are the next TARP for the economy - who among your converted is going to point out the ignorance?

You'd think that efforts to prove opposition to abortion isn't religious would have died away by now but no. And why should they? Even the Supreme Court has upheld discriminatory laws like the Hyde Amendment on grounds of "privacy" and not religious discrimination against women.

I come to this issue again via a completely silly article at lifenews by Mychal Massie in which he writes that more babies in the US economy means more workers, more consumers, an economic recovery!

Someone needs to sit him down with an Economics 101 book. He's got no "where do jobs come from" logic on.

In fact, abortion may play a key factor in fixing our nation's current economic crisis. Consumer spending is the dominant facet of our economy. With the economy needing a boost and job creation jolted, a baby is a true stimulus plan.

Forget TARP and the Keynesian spending schemes promoted by the Obama Administration. A baby necessitates diapers, toys, food, books, clothing and more. Meeting those needs creates jobs in the manufacturing and service sectors. Children also create jobs in the medical and educational sectors.

When they grow up, babies supplement the labor force - promoting the "circle of life." At a time when our nation relies on an influx of legal and illegal immigrants, it's illogical to promote population control.

It's also an issue of quality, and not just quantity.

As the late economist Julian Simon noted: "In the long run, the most important economic effect of population size and growth is the contribution of additional people to our stock of useful knowledge."

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Going Amish. Like Going Rogue?

I'm loving the new conservative love affair (see comments) with the Amish and Mennonites. Because word got around a week or two ago that the Anabaptists can and have successfully claimed religious exemption from paying insurance, including the new health care mandate, teabagging, hands-off-my-hard-earned-money types are flirting with the Anabaptist ways.

They won't be flirting for long. But like every other conservative love affair that is founded on fuzzy ideas of "traditionalism" and ideology but has little basis in fact, these faux-converters will soon learn that there's a reason we're not all Mennonite (I'm a generation removed).

Religious freedom, guaranteed by the Establishment clause, works both ways. No one knows this better than the Anabaptists, persecuted and killed for centuries after the radical reformation. The Anabaptists are quite happy to do their own thing and take care of their own without imposing their faith doctrine on federal and state laws. It's a give-and-take I doubt teabagging types could live with.

So don your bonnets and strings, teabaggers. Time you thought a bit about what religious liberty means!

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More Signs That Montana Legislature Will Be Pressured to Address Aid In Dying.

Now that the Montana Supreme Court has ruled that there are now laws in the state that prevent aid in dying, "pro-life" groups are ramping up their campaign - more-or-less invited by the nature of the ruling - to influence legislature to make illegal any form of aid in dying.

Brace yourselves for a public spectacle about emotions and religious ideology, not one that addresses the realities of terminal disease and patients' rights.

The Supreme Court in Montana has upheld the legality of physician-assisted suicide, making the state the third in the nation to do so and spurring opponents of the practice to promise to continue fighting against it.

Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation, pledged to keep the organization’s "battle for life" going.

"It’s up to us now to go into the next legislative session and put a statute in place that completely and once and for all bans physician-assisted suicide in the state of Montana," he commented after the court’s decision was announced.

However, the verdict was greeted with praise by supporters of euthanasia, such as Jerry Dincin, president of Final Exit Network, a nonprofit organization that provides support for people with incurable conditions who want to end their lives.

According to Dincin, the ruling brings America closer to "the final human right of the 21st century." However, he noted that the law does not take care of "the needs of mentally competent, suffering patients who have not been declared ‘terminal’ (having fewer than six months to live),"and he vowed to continue fighting for their right to die, as well.

The Supreme Court’s decision stemmed from an appeal triggered by the death of a 76-year-old Montana man who passed away in 2008 after a 12-year battle with cancer.

The state joins Oregon and Washington in allowing physician-assisted suicide.

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Perry, Hutchison Vie for Texas Governor.

A report from Dallas News on their first debate which included a race to the bottom on women's rights and a great show of ignorance regarding state laws on end of life care. A third candidate, Debra Medina, a nurse, also participated.

"My record is one that always comes down on the side of life," Hutchison said Thursday night during the televised verbal bout at the University of North Texas. She said she voted against late-term abortions and federal funding for abortions.

Perry, seeking an unprecedented third four-year term, chided Hutchison for voting in favor of a nonbinding resolution supporting Roe v. Wade and noted she was once praised by an abortion rights group.

"The consistency issue is one I'm having trouble with, senator," he said.

Republican candidate Debra Medina also participated in the debate and appeared to be the only one of the trio familiar with the state's so-called futile care law, another issue important to anti-abortion groups.

The law gives families of some terminally ill patients 10 days notice before life support is cut off unless a court intervenes or the patient is moved. Texas Right to Life, disabled activists and others say they don't want medical officials making those decisions.

Medina, a registered nurse, said she sees its real-life effects and pressed Perry on why he hadn't repealed it. Neither he nor Hutchinson seemed familiar with the law.

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As a Nation, What Exactly Is It That Ails Us?

Don't miss Christopher Hayes article at The Nation today. It's a searching look at what the problem is with our country right now, why nothing's working, and how we can't seem to get set on a positive path toward achievement despite a change of regime. Here's a clip:

So what, exactly, is it that ails us?

In pondering the answer, it's useful to distinguish between two separate categories of problems we face. The first are the human, economic and ecological disasters that demand immediate action: a grossly inefficient healthcare sector, millions un- or underinsured, 10 percent unemployment, a planet that's warming, soaring personal bankruptcies, 12 million immigrants working in legal limbo, the list goes on. But the deeper problem, the ultimate cause of many of the first-order problems, is the perverse maldistribution of power in the country: too much in too few hands. It didn't happen overnight, of course, and the devolution has been analyzed and decried by a host of writers and thinkers in these very pages.

It's also not the first time. Indeed, the story of the American Republic is the never-ending task of redistributing power that always seems to collect and pool and re-form, a cycle in which we break up the power trusts, only to find them reassembling, Terminator 2-like, and requiring yet another dose of the founders' revolutionary fervor to be broken up again.

The central and unique paradox of our politics at this moment, however, is that our institutions are so broken, the government so sclerotic and dysfunctional, that in almost all cases, from financial bailouts to health insurance mandates, the easiest means of addressing the first set of problems is to take steps that exacerbate the second.


Martha Coakley and the Emergency Room.

Coakley continues to get criticism for her comments that Catholic hospitals - all hospitals - should provide rape victims with emergency contraception.

Yesterday she reinforced her position by saying that if your devout faith prevents you from performing certain standard services in the emergency room, you probably shouldn't work there.

Don't miss the comments where she is, for offering a position that some disagree with, called a bitch and mentally unstable: the standard throw back to women who wish to stand up for their rights and the rights of others.

But despite all the conservative noise about how the Democrats botched this race and how this is a sign for 2010, Coakley has been forced to take a stand on a position that she isn't so articulate at conveying. What about patients' rights?

Her campaign has been less than impressive. While Brown may be a moderate, he's not my idea of a great candidate. (Romneycare?) And yet, he's simply had a better campaign.

But my point here: the Senate race in Massachusetts makes us ask, is there no issue, no race, no bill that can't be divided over "pro-life" positioning? I've yet to hear someone come out talking about patients' rights - no institution rights (Catholic hospitals) or employee rights to impose devout ideology on a pluralistic population. The need for women to get emergency contraception after rape is not even controversial when you poll people. Most Americans even support abortion for rape, incest and murder - even the Hyde amendment doesn't prohibit these services.

And yet we watch a ho-hum campaign get destroyed by the controversy over a non-controversial issue.

Pro-choice candidates better get their talking points together - and get them out of the religious right frame. They're railroading women, equality and patients' rights. Again.

UPDATE: more msogynistic comments at the conservative Washington Times. And still no note of what patients who have no choice but to go to a Catholic hospital but don't ascribe to Catholic doctrine are supposed to do. The conversation has been framed as one of provider rights, the woman, elder, minority, poor be damned. Yup. Good Catholic compassion.

UPDATE: Ben Stein at looks at Coakley's comment and fails to get a couple of things right, like patients' rights. duh. But he does include text of the law, if you're interested.

UPDATE: Media Matters is correcting what many have said about Coakley's comment: She didn't say all devout Catholics shouldn't work in emergency rooms, she said those opposed to distribution of emergency contraception shouldn't.

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