On Leaving the GOP.
Howdy, all! It’s been a few weeks since I last updated this blog. I’ve had a lot on my plate lately and have taken some time off to try to clear my head. But on to the point of this post! I’ve grown increasingly disgusted with the behavior and actions of the Republican Party over the past few years. I’ve *never* been comfortable with the religiosity and social stances of the GOP, but for far too long I was willing to set that aside in the hope that they would deliver on some of the fiscal and foreign policy promises they made. This was … well, the wrong decision, to put it mildly.
As most of you who follow this probably already know, I decided to leave the Republican Party several
days weeks ago and become a Democrat. Most of the people I told about this decision weren’t exactly shocked, as my beliefs and that of the Republican Party have become increasingly distant as the party has gleefully done everything it can to further divorce itself from reality and sanity. I’ve somewhat discussed the reasons for my leaving the party via a variety of mediums (mostly Facebook and Twitter), but I figured it would be cathartic (and hopefully somewhat interesting) to explain it in detail. So, hopefully everyone will pardon my self-indulgent screed and at least find some entertainment value in all of this.
Let’s get started, shall we?
I suppose the first problem I should address – as it ties into many of the other problems I have – is the overwhelming religiosity of the GOP today. While religion has always played a role in American politics, the Republican Party seems dead set on turning the United States into an officially theocratic state. Many – if not most – believe that the United States is a Christian nation, founded by Christian men, based on Christian principles, and that all laws and norms must have their basis in a Biblical understanding of the world. I’m sure most of you reading this are already aware of the secular nature of our government and the Constitution, so I will not waste time going over it. The Republican Party was not always so theocratic and beholden to religious interests:
“I endorse [Justice Stevens’] constitutional views on the secular character of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, on securing procedural safeguards in criminal cases and on the constitution’s broad grant of regulatory authority to Congress.” - President Gerald Ford, 2005.
“On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.'” - Senator Barry Goldwater, 1981.
“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.” ~ Barry Goldwater, November 1994, as quoted in John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience (2006)
“When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.” - Barry Goldwater, 1994
Men like Ford and Goldwater (see here for other fabulous quotes I could have referenced) used to be common place within the Republican Party. Lincoln Chafee was probably the last of this breed; he was all but forced out of the party at gunpoint by the Tea Party, eventually launching a successful bid to become Governor of Rhode Island after becoming an independent. While all of these men (and those like them) were religious, they clearly separated their personal faith from their politics. Contrast these men with the wonderful Republicans of today:
“Speaker Newt Gingrich has unveiled his Faith Leaders Dream Team – rallying several fearless Christians including Don Wildmon, Tim and Beverly LaHaye, George Barna, JC Watts, Chuck Norris, Mat Staver and others as he takes on the the radical secularism of the Obama Administration. The Gingrich Faith Leaders Coalition is Newt Gingrich’s official advisory coalition on issues pertaining to life, marriage, and religious liberty.”
“They are taking faith and crushing it. Why? Why? When you marginalize faith in America, when you remove the pillar of God-given rights, then what’s left is the French Revolution. What’s left is the government that gives you right, what’s left are no unalienable rights, what’s left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you’ll do and when you’ll do it. What’s left in France became the guillotine. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re a long way from that, but if we do and follow the path of President Obama and his overt hostility to faith in America, then we are headed down that road.” – Rick Santorum
“This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country – the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age. There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that has been the case now for almost two hundred years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers.” – Rick Santorum
“The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life.
The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance. Throughout our nation’s history, churches have done what no government can ever do, namely teach morality and civility. Moral and civil individuals are largely governed by their own sense of right and wrong, and hence have little need for external government. This is the real reason the collectivist Left hates religion: Churches as institutions compete with the state for the people’s allegiance, and many devout people put their faith in God before their faith in the state. Knowing this, the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage. Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war.” – Ron Paul, December 30, 2003.
I could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on. The Evangelical takeover the Republican Party is one of the most frightening developments in American politics of the past fifty years. This more than anything else has played the biggest part in my decision to leave the GOP. Apparently, if you do not believe in the existence of a god – specifically the Judeo-Christian God- you are unable to be a patriot or even an American citizen. Now, having read the State Department’s page about losing one’s American citizenship, I was rather shocked to learn that the former leader of my old party believed that I could be stripped of my citizenship merely for lacking faith in a theistic deity. I find it rather amusing that despite the GOP’s attempts to portray itself as the modern-day reincarnation of the Founding Fathers that they clearly loathe the very government and Constitution said Founders set out to create; for all their talk of honouring Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, and Madison the GOP clearly couldn’t care less about what these men actually stood for and believed in. Where are all of the calls for secular government? To learn from the mistakes of Europe and avoid the merger of church and state? Why are the Republicans silent when it comes to early American documents like the Flushing Remonstrance, the Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, or the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom? The founders clearly set out to establish a government that would remain separate from religion and would allow each citizen to practice – or not – his religion as he saw fit, without interference from the government.
Any attempt to actually abide by the Constitution and ensure a secular government is portrayed as some sort of atheistic attempt to destroy the religious freedoms of the poor, persecuted, Judeo-Christian people of this nation. Nevermind, of course, that Christians of all denominations make up a near absolute majority of the American Population and only 13 out of the 535 members of Congress define themselves as anything other than Christian or Jewish. Do you believe that it is inappropriate to use government funds to erect a nativity scene on public land? Clearly you are waging a war against the good, honest, innocent Christian folk of this nation! Do you think that it is inappropriate for a public school to have mandated prayer in the class rooms? Well, you might as well be assisting the People’s Republic of China brutally oppress Christians within its territory! Clearly, anyone who believes that a theocratic government is bad – and a secular government is good – must be evil.
Secular government in the United States? Clearly, this is a ploy by Satan, atheists, and Karl Marx to destroy the United States! Of course government should be religious! Unless, of course, you happen to be a Republican like Rick Santorum speaking of the danger of a theocratic Iranian government. Remember, folks – if you’re talking about the United States (or the West), then you want as religious a government as possible: any separation of Church and State is obviously akin to living in the Soviet Union, and we wouldn’t want that. However, if you talk about any place other than the United States (or Europe), having a secular, non-religious government is a good thing. You see, it’s totally consistent: Theocratic America? Good. Theocratic Iran? Bad. Secular America? Bad. Secular Iran? Good. If Santorum wins the Republican primary, he is going to have a hard time justifying his relationship with some of his pals such as Pastor John “I Think Obama is a Dictator” Haggee.
Honestly, I find it utterly fucking laughable and contemptible that the same people who say that “our civil laws have to comport with a higher law: God’s law” suddenly proclaim the virtues of having a secular government when it’s some other stupid damn fairy that might be in charge. It’s not just limited to other countries, too – look at how quickly Dominionist Christians are willing to support the principles of the Establishment Clause when it comes to trying to thwart the EVER PRESENT AND DANGEROUSLY SERIOUS (read: utterly impossible and stupid) threat of Shari’a Law being implemented in a country filled to the brim with well-armed Christians. Hey, Radical Right-Wing Christians: Maybe if you would actually sign on with the rest of us here in the real world, you would realize that the same First Amendment that protects us from your tyrannical attempts to destroy our civil rights protects you from the evil Muslim boogeyman you think is going to jump out of your closet in the middle of the night and force you to pray five times a day towards Mecca.
And what if these theocrats actually succeeded (somehow) in their aims in establishing Dominionist control over the government? Are each of these fools naive enough to think that it would be their brand of Christianity that ends up in charge of the country? It’s unlikely that all of these disparate denominations are going to get together and agree exactly on what version of “the one true faith” is going to dominate the country. I’m not eager to see a repeat of the Thirty Years War take place in the United States – and if these Christians were smart, neither would they.
So, of course, the religious takeover of the GOP has far greater consequences than merely annoying me to the point of making snide remarks referencing the actual laws surrounding loss of American citizenship. Women and homosexuals are victimized daily by these religious fundamentalists. As I am not a woman or a homosexual, I probably am not fully qualified to comment on their mistreatment at the hands of religiously-motivated elements of society, but I will do my best.
Having spent most of my life in the GOP, I paid very close attention to what rank-and-file party members, party leaders, and our elected officials said and supported. This – above all else – is the thing I regret the most about my membership in the GOP and the votes I cast in their favor. I routinely set aside my social beliefs and willingly sold out many of my fellow citizens due to my economic and political beliefs. This is a mistake I’m not willing to repeat again. While I’ll probably never find a candidate that agrees with all of my stances, I would rather never vote again than willingly cast a vote that would either strip someone of their rights (abortion) or deny rights to citizens who deserve them (gay marriage/adoption/etc) like I have in the past. I’ll honestly never get over the disgust I feel towards myself for not coming to this decision earlier and for supporting candidates who were willing to strip fellow citizens of their rights. I bear the full responsibility for whom I voted for and supported, and while nothing will ever ‘make up’ for it, hopefully I can at least affect some positive change by using my vote more wisely in the future. The right to vote is the most sacred and fundamental of our rights as citizens of the United States of America. I made poor use of mine. I hope to at least influence others to avoid the same mistakes that I made.
So, starting with gay rights. I’ll start by once again referencing Barry Goldwater’s statements on gay rights. Even the founder of American conservatism supported the rights of homosexuals to marry, to adopt, and to serve openly in the military. Senator Goldwater was to the *left* of President Clinton when it came to gays in the military:
“Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar. They’ll still be serving long after we’re all dead and buried. That should not surprise anyone. But most Americans should be shocked to know that while the country’s economy is going down the tubes, the military has wasted half a billion dollars over the past decade chasing down gays and running them out of the armed services.
It’s no great secret that military studies have proved again and again that there’s no valid reason for keeping the ban on gays. Some thought gays were crasy, but then found that wasn’t true. then they decided that gays were a security risk, but again the Department of Defense decided that wasn’t so-in fact, one study by the Navy in 1956 that was never made public found gays to be good security risks. Even Larry Korb, President Reagan’s man in charge of implementing the Pentagon ban on gays, now admits that it was a dumb idea. No wonder my friend Dick Cheney, secretary of defense under President Bush, called it “a bit of an old chestnut.”
When the facts lead to one conlusion, I say it’s time to act, not to hide. The country and the military know that eventually the ban will be lifted. The only remaining questions are how much muck we will all be dragged through, and how many brave Americans like Tom Paniccia and Margarethe Cammermeyer will have their lives and careers destroyed in a senseless attempt to stall the inevitable.”
Barry Goldwater was against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because he thought it was unacceptable as a compromise policy and would rather allow gays to serve openly. Compare this to the modern Republican Party, where all of the current candidates (excepting Ron Paul, who is not in favor of gay rights either) said they would reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This, of course, despite the fact that the (then-sitting) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense both came out in favor of repealing the policy. Even General James F. Amos – who originally came out against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – believes that allowing gays to serve openly is going quite well.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was an outmoded and pointless policy even when it was enacted in 1993. It served no useful purpose and merely deprived honorable men and women of the opportunity to serve their country with pride and distinction in the uniformed services. Homosexuals have proven their worth, their valor, and their honor on and off the battlefield both before and after the repeal of DADT. Over 14,000 servicemembers were discharged under DADT (from 1993-2011) and cost the taxpayer nearly $400 million dollars. Interesting how the so-called fiscal conservatives in the GOP – who *love* to scream about government waste or unnecessary government spending – would be so ready to return to a policy that wasted hundreds of millions of dollars and served absolutely no purpose other than to force a religiously mandated worldview down the throat of the Department of Defense.
Even with the repeal of DADT, the fight is not over. Sodomy (both heterosexual and homosexual) is still a crime under Article 125 of the UCMJ:
(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense.
(b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
So while homosexuals may serve openly in the military, most of their sexual acts (even though they are consensual) would still be punishable under military law. There were various attempts to insert amendments to repeal Article 125 of the UCMJ into the NDAA FY2012, but they did not end up in the final version of the bill that passed the House and Senate. So – clearly more work needs to be done. However, if the GOP gets its way, we’d end up with homosexuals being forced out of the military … again. Not surprising, though, coming from the party that booed an openly gay soldier (Capt. Stephen Hill, US Army) serving in Iraq.
Of course, gays still lack marriage (and adoption) equality in most of the country. Six states (New York, Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, New Hampshire, & Vermont) as well as the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage; Maryland is set to join their ranks when the newly-signed bill legalizing gay marriage comes into effect this summer. About a dozen other states have created some form of civil union giving gay couples at least some of the rights associated with marriage. Of course, this was usually over the strong objections of the Republican Party. The GOP continues to defend the Defense of Marriage Act to this day, introduces new laws in state legislatures to allow private adoption agencies to discriminate based on sexual orientation, and stand in the way of same sex civil unions whenever possible.
Now, as some of you may remember, the 2004 Republican Party Platform specifically called for the banning of Same Sex marriage and even same-sex civil unions designed to give homosexual couples (at least some of) the same benefits and rights as heterosexual couples. From pages 83 and 84 of the 2004 Republican Party Platform, “A Safer World and a More Hopeful America”:
We strongly support President Bush’s call for a Constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage, and we believe that neither federal nor state judges nor bureaucrats should force states to recognize other living arrangements as equivalent to marriage. We believe, and the social science confirms, that the well-being of children is best accomplished in the environment of the home, nurtured by their mother and father anchored by the bonds of marriage. We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage.
After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence, and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization, the union of a man and a woman in marriage. Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country, and anything less than a Constitutional amendment, passed by the Congress and ratified by the states, is vulnerable to being overturned by activist judges. On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard. The Constitutional amendment process guarantees that the final decision will rest with the American people and their elected representatives. President Bush will also vigorously defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which was supported by both parties and passed by 85 votes in the Senate. This common sense law reaffirms the right of states not to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states.
What many people may not remember is that President Bush (despite his stupid and ardent anti-gay marriage stance) actually broke with his party over the issue of civil unions for same-sex couples, flat out stating that he does not oppose civil unions. Now, while civil unions are obviously a compromise policy in the vein of “separate but equal” (and thus less desirable than full marriage equality), implementation of civil unions would at least be a step in the right direction and would help same-sex couples in the short term. I can’t (and won’t) defend Bush’s stances on homosexual rights, but at least he was willing to support civil unions, right? Now let’s fast forward eight years: Rick Santorum opposes same-sex unions. Is your same-sex partner a police officer, killed in the line of duty? Well, better hope you saved up quite a bit of money, because Rick Santorum doesn’t want you to get survivor’s benefits like a heterosexual couple could. Want to make medical decisions for your comatose or incapacitated same-sex partner? Well, fuck you, because Rick Santorum thinks you are a disgusting freak and an abomination in the eyes of his god. But don’t worry, homosexuals! Rick Santorum has gay friends – nothing personal! It’s just policy! Remember: Friends don’t let friends take care of their incapacitated family.
If only it stopped there, folks. I’m sure most of us remember this fabulous little incident, only two days after 9/11, when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson blamed 9/11 on abortions, gays, feminists, “pagans”, etc:
People were still hoping against hope that their relatives may still yet be found alive. No one knew yet how many people were dead. Civilian flights had only resumed over the United States *that very same day*. No one knew if more attacks were coming. The country was shaken to its core. This is what you would have seen if you had been able to go to Ground Zero on the same day that Falwell and Robertson made those statements:
That’s all that was left of the South Tower at the time. While first responders were taking care of the injured and sifting through the remains, those two feckless thugs were trying to blame an act of radical Islamic terrorism – perpetrated by al-Qaeda – on homosexuals and abortions. I don’t have the words to properly express how much what they said disgusts me. All I can say is, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are monsters. I’m glad Falwell is dead, and I hope Robertson joins him shortly. If there was a hell, those two would surely be condemned to it. I can’t even begin to fathom the level of depravity necessary to actually sit there on national television – while all of this is occurring – and utter the statements they did. What was wrong with them, and more importantly, what is wrong with all of the people who still supported them after these statements? Hitchens was right – Falwell’s statements were treasonous. For anyone who ever questions me when I say I’m glad certain people are dead – this is why. People like Falwell and Robertson, who dedicated their lives to harming others, to oppressing others, to stripping away their very rights – all in the name of their religion. These people are a blight upon humanity and any rational, just, and moral society would show them the damn door and shun them. Pity, then, that by accident of birth they were American citizens. They are the worst sort – contemptible, scurrilous thugs whose sole raison d’être is to inflict as much pain on others as possible to further their religious agenda and to amass as much personal wealth and power as possible. I hope Falwell suffered before he died, and I hope the same for Robertson.
This, of course, leads me to the lovely Sally Kern, an Ohio State Representative and a member of the Republican Party. Representative Kern has a slight problem with homosexuals:
“Which has destroyed and ended the life of more people? Terrorism attack here in America or HIV/AIDS? In the last twenty years, fifteen to twenty years, we’ve had maybe three terrorist attacks on our soil with a little over 5,000 people regrettably losing their lives. In the same time frame, there have been hundreds of thousands who have died because of having AIDS. So which one’s the biggest threat? And you know, every day our young people…they’re bombarded with ‘homosexuality is normal and natural.’ It’s something they have to deal with every day. Fortunately we don’t have to deal with a terrorist attack every day, and that’s what I mean. It’s more dangerous, and yes I think that it’s also more dangerous because it will tear down the moral fiber of this nation.” – Representative Kern, September 2011
Yep, folks – homosexuals are the only ones who spread AIDS! They’re also more of a threat than a group of people that want to destroy our country and our very way of life. I’m glad we have people like Sally Kern to warn us that Rachel Maddow and Neil Patrick Harris are more of a danger to American society than al-Qaeda (and its franchises), Hezbollah, and a myriad of other groups that would quite happily murder Representative Kern and everyone she knows and loves given the chance. Thankfully, we live in a society free and secure enough for Representative Kern to make these sorts of ludicrous statements about her fellow citizens. However, I would encourage Miss Kern to consider becoming better acquainted with something many of us like to refer to as “reality.” Homosexuals are not a threat to the United States, they pose absolutely no security risk to the country, and the only people threatening to tear down the “moral fiber” of this nation are bigoted fools like Miss Kern who stand in the way of equality for her fellow citizens.
Let’s move on from homosexuality and focus on the other demographic that seems to attract the brunt of the GOP’s ire: women. Obviously, detailing the extent of anti-women activity conducted by the GOP over the past several decades would take far too much time – so let us primarily focus on the past few years. That being said, however, this article is interesting as it illustrates how many Republicans have suddenly become pro-life when moving into the national spotlight.
Less than a month after the 112th Congress took office on January 3rd, 2011, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced H.R.3, also known as the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”
At this point, it’s important to remember something known as the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment has been attached to every appropriations bill since 1976 and primarily bans federal funds –primarily delivered through Medicaid – to be used for abortions. According to the ACLU, similar measures have been passed “affecting programs on which an estimated twenty million women rely for their health care or insurance” such as “Native Americans, federal employees and their dependents, Peace Corps volunteers, low-income residents of Washington, DC, federal prisoners, military personnel and their dependents, and disabled women who rely on Medicare”. The ACLU goes on to say that “Women with cancer, diabetes, or heart conditions, or whose pregnancies otherwise threaten their health, are denied coverage for abortions. Only if a woman would otherwise die, or if her pregnancy results from rape or incest, is an abortion covered. The bans thus put many women’s health in jeopardy. “ So, the Hyde Amendment has three exceptions that allow federal funding to be used on abortion: rape, incest, and if the mother’s life is in jeopardy. It’s also important to note that the PPACA – or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, contained these same provisions, as Obama signed an executive order stating the Hyde Amendment would apply to the programs under the new law.
Now, back to H.R.3. Although the bill passed the House on May 4th of 2011, it has yet to come up for a vote in the Senate, and probably never will. However, it’s important to examine what this bill actually would do if it had been enacted. Although it’s been marketed as a more permanent version of the Hyde Amendment, it’s actually far more troubling than that. While the Hyde Amendment merely limited the use of federal funding for abortion, H.R.3 would eliminate tax benefits and credits for private insurance plans that cover abortion. Quoting from Section 301, 302, and 303 of the bill:
SEC. 301. PROHIBITION ON FUNDING FOR ABORTIONS.
‘No funds authorized or appropriated by Federal law, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by Federal law, shall be expended for any abortion.
‘SEC. 302. PROHIBITION ON FUNDING FOR HEALTH BENEFITS PLANS THAT COVER ABORTION.
‘None of the funds authorized or appropriated by Federal law, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by Federal law, shall be expended for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion.
SEC 303, PROHIBITION ON TAX BENEFITS RELATING TO ABORTION
‘For taxable years beginning after the date of the enactment of this section–
‘(1) no credit shall be allowed under the internal revenue laws with respect to amounts paid or incurred for an abortion or with respect to amounts paid or incurred for a health benefits plan (including premium assistance) that includes coverage of abortion,
‘(2) for purposes of determining any deduction for expenses paid for medical care of the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse or dependents, amounts paid or incurred for an abortion or for a health benefits plan that includes coverage of abortion shall not be taken into account, and
‘(3) in the case of any tax-preferred trust or account the purpose of which is to pay medical expenses of the account beneficiary, any amount paid or distributed from such an account for an abortion shall be included in the gross income of such beneficiary.
It’s also important to note that all of these provisions would apply to Washington, D.C., meaning that the citizens of the district would not have the right to decide whether or not their district government covers abortions like some 17 states do already.
Now, keep in mind there are some exceptions to what I just read, which I will get to in a moment. But for now, to summarize those three sections:
- No federal funding can go towards an abortion.
- No federal funds can be used for any health plan that includes abortion.
- Individuals will not receive tax credits for purchasing health care plans that cover abortion.
- No employer or other organization will receive a tax credit for paying for health plans that cover abortions.
- No health plans that include abortion coverage will be tax deductible.
- If a health savings account is used to pay for an abortion, the money used will be considered taxable income by the IRS.
- No plan that covers abortion will be allowed into the health insurance exchanges that will come into existence around 2014, even if abortion coverage is paid for with private funds.
A 2004 Federally funded study by the Guttmacher institution found that 87% of employer-based insurance plans covered some form of abortion. So this bill will in effect raise the cost of health care for the vast majority of people who obtain health insurance either through their employer or purchase it on their own.
How many times have we heard Republicans and conservatives justify tax cuts, tax deductions, and tax credits by arguing that individual citizens and businesses know how to spend “their” money better than the Federal Government does? Why, then, is there a sudden reversal of this argument when it comes to this? What Republicans are in effect saying is that the Federal Government knows best how to spend your health care dollars, and that they will make you pay more for a health insurance plan that includes abortion, whether you actually get an abortion or not.
I’d like to quote from this article by Jessica Arons, from the Center for American Progress:
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would impose blanket prohibitions on all forms of direct and indirect funding streams that might potentially touch on the provision of abortion care. Rather than securing the ostensible goal of shielding citizens who object to the use of taxpayer money for abortion—a questionable objective given that taxpayers are not similarly protected in other areas of controversial funding such as the death penalty or war—Rep. Smith’s bill would accomplish the unstated end of making abortion as difficult to obtain as possible without actually criminalizing it.
What’s more, H.R. 3 would redefine the concept of government funding far beyond the current common understanding. It does not simply prohibit the use of federal funds to directly pay for abortion. Instead, it would insert itself into every crevice of government activity and prohibit even private and nonfederal government funds from being spent on any activity related to the provision of abortion any time federal money is involved in funding or subsidizing other, nonabortion-related activities.
Taken to its logical conclusion, this line of thinking would prohibit roads built with federal funds from passing by abortion clinics, drugs developed by the National Institutes of Health or approved by the Food and Drug Administration from being used at abortion clinics, or medical students with government loans from receiving abortion training—all because such uses could be viewed as “subsidizing” abortion with federal dollars.
Since the Republicans cannot outright ban abortion due to Roe v. Wade, they’ve settled on making it as difficult and expensive to obtain an abortion as possible. It’s already exceedingly difficult for the poor and working class citizens of the United States to afford abortions, as the Hyde Amendment bans Medicaid and Medicare from covering most procedures. The same is true of those who rely on the Indian Health Service and the Department of Defense’s Tricare coverage as well. This bill would have encouraged health insurance companies to remove abortion from the list of covered procedures, as health plans without abortion would receive federal tax credits and deductions while those that cover abortions would receive no federal tax breaks.
Unfortunately, the bill gets even worse. I said earlier that the Hyde Amendment banning federal funding of abortion had exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. I also said that the new bill also had exceptions that I would cover.
Allow me to quote said exceptions:
‘SEC. 309. TREATMENT OF ABORTIONS RELATED TO RAPE, INCEST, OR PRESERVING THE LIFE OF THE MOTHER.
‘The limitations established in sections 301, 302, 303, and 304 shall not apply to an abortion–
‘(1) if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest; or
‘(2) in the case where the pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the pregnant female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.
Pay close attention to the language in the bill. This bill only covers forcible rape and incest if you are a minor. So what is suddenly NOT covered under this bill? Quoting from Mother Jones:
Laurie Levenson, a former assistant US attorney and expert on criminal law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, notes that the new bill’s authors are “using language that’s not particularly clear, and some people are going to lose protection.” Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes. “There are a lot of aspects of rape that are not included,” Levenson says.
As for the incest exception, the bill would only allow federally funded abortions if the woman is under 18.
The bill hasn’t been carefully constructed, Levenson notes. The term “forcible rape” is not defined in the federal criminal code, and the bill’s authors don’t offer their own definition. In some states, there is no legal definition of “forcible rape,” making it unclear whether any abortions would be covered by the rape exemption in those jurisdictions.
So there you have it. Not only would this bill have raised the cost of health insurance for a majority of Americans and American businesses, not only would it have been a gross invasion by the Federal government into our private lives and personal rights, but it would have drastically reduced the already limited protections set aside by the Hyde Amendment by covering only rapes in which a woman is literally held down against her will and forcibly violated.
This is beyond disgusting. How did anyone vote for this with a clean conscience? Women who have undergone grotesque physical and emotional trauma would have been saddled with another burden on top of the ones they are already expected to carry? How – exactly – is this ethical or just? This sure as hell is not the society that *I* want to live in.
And even if we set that outrage aside: How does the Republican Party and the “conservative” movement that constantly harps on about “government interference” and “personal responsibility” justify penalizing citizens and businesses that HAVE managed to obtain healthcare on their own and are not reliant on a government program? I seem to recall the Republicans of the 111th Congress and their ideological supporters arguing that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would make health care more expensive for Americans and for employers. I also seem to recall complaints that it would be used by the government to dictate what sort of plans people would be able to take and what sort of procedures would be covered. I also seem to recall some VERY strong declarations that Washington shouldn’t be able to decide what YOU do with your health care plan and money, and that it should be left up to the doctor and patient to decide what is necessary, NOT some bureaucrat in Washington.
So tell me – how the hell is THIS bill introduced in the 112th Congress– H.R. 3 – not responsible for doing the exact same things that the Republicans, Conservatives, and the Tea Party claimed that President Obama would do? This is a prime example of how the Republicans are hypocrites of the worst sort. They’re nothing but a bunch of vicious, vile little two-faced guttersnipes who will whine about “big government” and the evils of President Obama’s “government takeover” of healthcare but then engage in the exact same thing they are falsely accusing the President of doing.
… and that was only what the Republican Congress tried to do in their first month in office.
And what about at the state level? Well, the GOP has you covered there, too. Arizona and Kansas are now considering bills that would allow doctors to withhold information from women in order to prevent a woman from getting an abortion. So, your doctor fails to tell you the results of a prenatal screening because he doesn’t think you should get an abortion? It may be legal under those states. And here I was thinking that informed consent was absolutely critical when it came to medicine. I’m glad the GOP has set me straight on this, as I was under the assumption that a patient should know as much as possible before making medical decisions. Sigh.
In the lovely Commonwealth of Virginia, we had a bill passed that forced abortion clinics to be regulated as *hospitals* instead of outpatient facilities. Like other TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws, this bill was designed to limit (or outright eliminate) a woman’s access to abortion services by imposing regulations on abortion clinics that would be difficult or impossible (in some cases, like mandating corridor sizes) to follow. This is a rather devious attempt to circumvent a woman’s right to choose, guaranteed in Roe v. Wade.
The Commonwealth again attracted massive media attention and derision from across the country after the GOP controlled state legislature attempted to introduce a bill that would have required all women seeking an abortion – for any reason – to receive a transvaginal ultrasound. After the massive backlash the Virginia GOP received, they eventually removed the transvaginal ultrasound requirements, instead requiring an abdominal ultrasound before an abortion. As most of us are familiar with this story, I won’t bother rehashing it here – instead, let’s move on to a lesser known (but worse!) bill, from the great state of Texas.
Texas also had an anti-abortion bill that mandated an ultrasound before receiving an abortion. This bill did not receive nearly as much attention as the Virginia bill on the national (and world) stage. It’s also arguably worse than even the original Virginia bill was:
Women must have a sonogram at least 24 hours before an abortion, and the doctor must play the heartbeat aloud, describe the fetus and show the woman the image, unless she chooses not to view it.
Although the Texas law doesn’t specify what kind of ultrasound — belly or transvaginal — abortion providers say they almost always must use the transvaginal probe to pick up the heartbeat and describe the fetus in the early stages of pregnancy.
While originally blocked by a federal judge, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned this decision and ordered the immediate enforcement of this law as of January 13, 2012. This article from Mother Jones goes over similar laws that already exist or are currently being considered by state legislatures.
I recommend watching the whole clip, as it is rather terrifying, but here is the most telling and frightening part of the exchange, as provided by Think Progress:
SEBELIUS: There also is no abortifacient drug that is part of the FDA approved contraception. What the rule for preventive care…
MURPHY: Ma’m that is not true…Is the morning after pill or something like that an abortifacient drug?
SEBELIUS: It is a contraceptive drug, not an abortifacient… It does not interfere with a pregnancy. If the morning pill were taken, and a female were pregnant, the pregnancy is not interrupted. That’s the definition of abortifation.
MURPHY: Ma’m that is your interpretation, and I appreciate that’s your interpretation.
SEBELIUS: That’s what the scientists and doctors…
MURPHY: We’re not talking about scientists. Ma’m we’re not talking about scientists here, we’re talking about religious belief. Ma’m, I’m asking you about a religious belief. In a religious belief, that is a violation of a religious belief.
So, yeah. Science doesn’t matter when you are talking about what medication does. RELIGION matters.
There is obviously far more I could write about here – be it general religiosity, attacks on homosexual rights, or attacks on women. I think the examples I chose, however, clearly illustrate the depravity and hypocrisy of the modern-day GOP. These are the people arguing for smaller government – the same ones who want to interfere with virtually every personal decision imaginable. How is that not the very essence of big government? How can they sit there and argue – with a straight face – that repealing the Bush tax cuts (which we can’t afford) is somehow this egregious affront to individual liberty while mandating invasive and medically unnecessary procedures be performed on woman seeking to exercise control over their own bodies? How can they argue that this President is somehow a tyrant or a danger to the freedoms of Americans when the GOP is doing everything in its power to prevent homosexuals from enjoying the same rights as heterosexuals? I’m honestly surprised at this point that the GOP isn’t arguing for the overturning of Loving v. Virginia and the re-institution of anti-miscegenation laws at this point.
I’m utterly disgusted at what the GOP has done to this country. It has thrown away all sense of responsibility and propriety – it has placed the political and financial gain of its top ranks ahead of the well-being – and dare I say, the survival – of the Republic. Gone is the party of Lincoln, of Teddy Roosevelt, of Eisenhower. Hell, even the party of Richard Nixon no longer exists. The Republican Party stands opposed to the very ideals it claims to represent.
The Republican Party is hideous, and it deserves to lose each and every single election until it forces out these bigoted, anti-gay, anti-women theocrats from their ranks. These are not the only problems I have with the GOP – not by a long shot. I could easily attack their claims of being the party of “fiscal responsibility” – how even their ‘deficit reduction plans’ would add hundreds of billions to the current deficit. I could attack their desire to re-institute the failed and unconstitutional policy of nullification – amusing, seeing as how the Republican Party fought a damn war to enforce the primacy of the Federal Government over the states. I could also attack their educational policies and anti-science, anti-intellectual stances. And, finally, I could attack their entire foreign policy, and how they’ll readily attack Obama for anything under the sun, yet call someone treasonous and un-American if they attack a Republican policy. I may eventually cover these topics at some point if there is enough interest – but for now, I have said all I care to say.
Lord Acton once wrote, “The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.” The GOP would do well to consider this. I cannot in good conscience support the Republican Party in its current form. The party and the values I used to believe in no longer exist – if they ever existed at all. I hope this was illuminating to some of you and that it helps explain my decision in leaving the GOP.
As is typical, I will end with a quote from the West Wing.
“This is bush league. This is why good people hate us, this, right here, this thing… And if you proceed with this line of questioning, I will resign this committee and wait in the tall grass for you Congressman, because you are killing the party. ” – Cliff Calley, Republican Counsel.
I’ll see you in the tall grass, Republicans.