Monday, November 16, 2009

Church and State and the Stupak Amendment

The healthcare bill recently passed by the House of Representatives carried a very disturbing addition, the Stupak amendment.  It might slide by unnoticed, but enough people who are vocal about these things did notice and so it is being talked about on the the news and in the papers and, most certainly, in an email inbox near you. 

The reason this amendment is so disturbing is that it allows the government to interfere in such a way with something that is legal in the U.S. that it is made unavailable to all but the wealthy.  Oh, the conservatives warned us, didn't they, that this new health care bill would have the government intervening between a doctor and a patient, and they were right.  They were right, because they are the ones who saw to it that this nice little amendment got in there.  Those who protest the most about too much government interference in our lives are too often at the head of the line in promoting exactly that.

The Stupak amendment makes all funding of abortions illegal -- not just government sponsored, but also through your own private health insurance.  The only way to pay for one is out of pocket .  I repeat, no insurance coverage of any kind.  So, if you are pregnant and continuing the pregnancy is about to kill you, say good bye to your existing kids and your husband because if this bill passes the senate with the Stupak amendment still in it, the government has just condemned you to death.   And you better not plan on using your tax refund to pay for that abortion, either.  Or even your salary, I suspect, if you work for the government or the government subsidizes your business in any way -- schools?  Hospitals?  Research facilities?  Highway construction?  Public television?  No government funded income of any kind can be used.  Welcome to Big Brother World.

Ah, it won't effect you because you weren't planning on having an abortion anyway?  Perhaps so, but it will kill women just the same.  It will bring back the pre Roe v. Wade coathanger and back alley abortions that caused deaths by the carload.  If you think the "life" of an unformed bit of protoplasm has more value than that of a woman who has an established foothold on life and ties to the community and people who care about her,  I believe you need to think a bit further. 

And who is at the base of this?  The Church.  The Catholic Church --and others -- are now dictating our laws.  Never mind that those are not your beliefs, even if you belong to those churches -- they have bought and paid for the souls of the legislators.  If a Catholic legislator -- 25% of the total membership -- does not vote the Vatican policy, he or she is excommunicated.  That is a terrifying prospect to a devout Catholic.  The more conservative protestant churches, like the Southern Baptists, also play a strong political role, actually preaching sermons pre-written by the church hierarchy, instructing their congregations on how to vote and who to vote for. 

Both the Catholics and the Mormons, and the conservative mega-churches like Saddleback, also played a huge role in passing Prop 8 in California and in repealing GLBT right to marry legislation in Maine recently.  Think of it: a church you do not belong to can dictate who you may or may not marry in a civil ceremony, as well as the health care decisions once left to you and your doctor. 

On CNN this morning, I listened to Kyra Phillips interviewing a man from on the issue.  She's a spunky woman, and also a devoted Christian.  She said, "No matter what your beliefs are, abortion is a medical procedure.   Why are religious groups being allowed to infuence health care legislation?  We're looking at a right to medical care versus religious beliefs, so what happened to the separation of church and state?"

That division seems to exist less and less.  I believe church interference in politics is so pervasive and so insidious that it is time to revoke tax exempt status not only for the Catholics and the Mormons, but for all churches.  If the separation between the two is not going to observed by either side, then we need to stop giving the churches a tax break.  No more subsidizing organizations that do not play by the rules.  By giving them continued tax-exempt status,we are actually subsidizing lobbyists. 

Maybe there should be an oath taken when members of congress are sworn in that promises that their allegiance to the country and their constituents as a whole will take precedence over their allegiance to religious hierarchy.  If they can't promise it, they should not be allowed to take office. 

Our government is based on the rule of law, not the tyranny of religion.  Or at least, it used to be.

photo credit: Flickr

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