Last month, the ladies of Pakistan got pretty upset. Their government convened a prestigious conference on women but didn’t invite one woman to the conference table. The all-male scene was reminiscent of many U.S. conservative confabs.
Back when ZPG (zero population growth) was a world-class acronym, a group of Indian politicians and scientists met to discuss their exploding populations. When asked about the family sizes of the attendees, the answers were startling. “I am having 12 children,” one said. Another expert said that he was supporting 13 offspring. The operative word was “supporting.” These men, because it was only men, saw the size of their families as irrelevant because they could “afford” to have as many children as they wanted. But, whoa, they, and by implication, we, needed to take strong measures to stop those poor people from breeding.
I don’t think there’s ever justification for excluding women from any discussion, but the conservative, evangelical case would have better optics if the men in charge weren’t being caught up in sexual scandals at an alarming pace. Salaciousness is bipartisan, of course, but when the foundation of your platform is a rip-off of the old “Father Knows Best” television show, it looks bad to have your leaders getting popped for sex crimes. When the leading evangelical publication Christianity Today calls for removal of the sitting president for lack of moral turpitude, we can see that the bruises on our governing bodies go bone deep.
On the surface, reproduction should be grounded in a religious context. But, since men authored most of the world’s scriptures, the scenarios above are consistent with the opposite. Also, since the separation of church and state was one of the first dictates of the framers of our Constitution, our holiest secular document, you would expect to hear about reproductive rights from the pulpit but not so much from the halls of government. Instead, there has been a movement afoot for decades to make this highly controversial, personal issue one of public rule of law. Flooding all tiers of our judicial system with partisan pro-life advocates, the Supreme Court included, ends the debate in favor of people who see assassinating abortion doctors as a legitimate chess move.
Planned Parenthood has been in the conservative crosshairs for a long time. Of course, inspected through a less emotional lens, Planned Parenthood is much, much more than just a kill pound. Once the contested baby is delivered, those forcing motherhood on a variety of women who do not aspire to that label, abandon the child and mother. Birth control and reproductive counseling, a huge part Planned Parenthood’s services, are deemed as bad as the dreaded “A” word. Logic would tell us that as the conservatives fret over the changing national demographics, they should realize that forcing minorities to deliver children just tosses gas on a population that grows up to vote against their ideology. Somehow, logic isn’t their strong suit.
Most of us believe that the words of our U.S. Constitution are sacrosanct. This means that the Constitution is not a menu. You can’t cherry pick the Second Amendment because you fear your government but ignore other amendments that don’t suit your political bias. When pro-life takes the road with the debatable right to bear weapons of mass destruction for supposed self-defense and/or to fight off a corrupt government, there is a head-on collision at every intersection every time. And children continue to be slaughtered by guns that most of the country want to see only in the hands of our military defenders.
Roe vs. Wade is “settled law”; until it is not. If the tenets of a specific faith do not rule your life, the conservatives invent threats like the advent of the Muslim Sharia Law to scare you back into line. Whatever happened to our “invasions” on the southern border? Why are fanatical Muslim rules any more frightening than the evangelical stance on similar issues? Some have settled the argument, at least in their own mind, by proclaiming the U.S.A. a “Christian country.” Others, including me, see us moving toward the American Taliban nickname. Without proper dissent, the Supreme Court becomes just another arm of the dominant political party.
We do not get to cherry pick the rules we want to adhere to. We do not get to earmark our taxes for only projects we approve of. We don’t get to make and enforce laws that single out specific groups of people or a specific faith. This is America. Start acting like it.
Jerry Tuck is a San Andreas resident. Contact him at olwhofan@aol.