The United States is founded upon the principles “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” as stated in the Declaration of Independence. The authors were careful to use the words “their Creator” instead of “God” or “the Creator” because this document represented people of differing religious beliefs. They took care not to identify the Creator. It is clear that these men did not want a particular religion to rule this new nation. It was important for our founders to maintain clear separation between church and state to avoid violating such religious freedoms. To have a single church or religious belief govern the laws of this new nation would be little different from the British Crown where the King was head of both church and state from which they were fighting so hard to breaking away. They envisioned a new nation somewhat the polar opposite of the British Crown and Royal rule at the time.
We seem to have forgotten those principles expressed almost 240 years earlier by such an insightful group of people during the Second Continental Congress. They were so liberal and advanced for their time and even to some extent today. Laws governing moral conduct based upon Christian beliefs have sprung up throughout this country’s history ranging from abortions, to sexuality and sexual orientation, to marriage, to pornography and freedom of speech, to religion being taught in schools, to evolution and intelligent design, to slavery and racism, to drinking and drugs, and so on. All have their origins in Christian morality. The religious right attempts to infuse our laws with their form of morality. Though many such laws have been struck down there still remain laws that govern moral conduct especially in regions below the bible belt where such laws and practices are still apparently thriving.
A case in point is the anti-abortion law recently passed by the Texas Legislature (Texas Senate Approves Strict Abortion Measure) where the religious right is using devious tactics to legislate their form of abortion morality upon pregnant women in their state. Because it was unconstitutional for them to out right ban abortions they decided to pass a law requiring all abortion clinics in the state to have fully equipped surgical centers, for all physicians to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and to outlaw abortions for pregnancies over 20 weeks. The first requirement essentially shuts down all but about 5 abortion clinics, which are already located in medical facilities, throughout the state. I’d like to make a few personal observation about this issue.
- One problem with this law is that it singles out only one medical procedure requiring a fully equipped on-site surgical center. What about other medical procedures performed in clinics throughout Texas such a colonoscopies, minor surgeries done in doctors offices such a Lasik surgery, oral surgeries, and other medical procedures requiring you to sign a waiver of liability if complications arise? Why don’t they have similar requirements? Shouldn’t laws be passed requiring these facilities to also have fully equipped surgical centers? Otherwise the law is not being applied equally to all similar circumstances and as such is discriminatory.
- Texas is essentially banning abortions for the poorest among its citizens. The wealthier citizens can easily travel to the few surviving clinics or travel to other states where abortions are legal. The poor don’t have the money to travel to distant abortion clinics. So once again our laws discriminate against the poor, primarily minorities who dominate those in poverty. The poor pregnant minorities do not have equal access to abortion clinics making this law economically discriminatory.
- Forcing morality upon a select group of people through legislation conflicts with the separation of church and state as explained in the first part of this post. True the law is not worded to prohibit abortions under 20 weeks. But it does force the closing of almost all abortion clinics, effectively eliminating most legal abortions, which obviously is its real intent. I find this sneaky and a flagrant violation of just about everything our founding fathers fought so hard for to make this nation equal for all people, not just the wealthier moralists as was the case under British rule in 1770’s.
- As a consequence of this bad law cheap illegal abortions will flourish greatly increasing the health risks of poor minority pregnant women with botched procedures at great risk and human suffering. This will place an even heavier burden on emergency medical facilities and taxpayers as they deal with fixing botched abortions. Moralist never care about consequences since they are doing deeds from a higher calling. They got their law and feel good about doing God’s work. That is all they care about.
- It seems that Texas fundamentalist Christians, who openly espouse high moral standards, are resorting to very underhanded legislative means to impose their high moral standards upon mostly poor minority pregnant women with whom they likely want little to do with just to make themselves feel good. There seems to be a double moral standards here where abortion morality justifies the use of less than honorable means.
- What about the Christian doctrine of Free Will where God gives man the free will to do good or evil and that God is the sole judge of their deeds? It seems that man is now playing God by taking away the free will of poor pregnant minority women to have abortions. How can this be the will of God in light of the doctrine of Free Will? Could it be that these moralist Christians are actually not doing the will of God but taking the law into their own hands?
It bothers me when others use our laws to force me to believe as they do. I believe in our founding fathers’ vision for this nation, one free of religious bondage where all ethnicities have “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We have had almost 240 years to turn this into a reality, but for far too many it is still a distant vision.