The right to freedom of religion is the right of an individual or group to practice their faith among themselves, but within limits. There are many religious practices that are not legal, moral or ethical that the 1st Amendment does not protect: human sacrifice, ritual animal mutilation, and polygamy just to name a few. Just ask about how much the right to “freedom of religion” absolved polygamist human trafficker Warren Jeffs, leader of the FLDS, of his prison term. But I digress.
The right to “freedom of religion” is NOT a right to abrogate an entire identifiable group of people of their human rights, nor is it a right to enter the public/secular sphere by owning businesses, schools, hospitals, or social service agencies and through these vehicles, force or coerce all those who work for them (or who have no other choice for obtaining services) to follow their dogma and doctrines.
If Catholic hospitals only treated Catholic patients and only employed Catholic staff, that would be one thing. But they don’t. Their hospitals serve the public and employ members of the public of different faiths, and of no faith at all. At that point, a sectarian institution gives up its rights to coerce others into fowling its doctrine and religious teachings.
President Obama made a very generous compromise when he offered to have insurance companies pick up the tab for contraception (which can run as high as $100/mo) rather than ask the tax-exempt churches to do it. This is exactly within the letter and spirit of the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. And institutions that accept federal tax dollars are NOT exempt from public law, including laws regulating commerce.
According to the IRS, in order to qualify as a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization, churches and their affiliated charitable organizations MUST:
- NOT use a substantial part of their money or activities to attempt to influence legislation.
- NOT use their money and activities to intervene in political campaigns.
- Maintain purposes and activities that are legal.
- NOT violate fundamental laws and public policy.
And not one single Republican in Congress has been willing to call out the initial act — which was prior to Rush Limbaugh’s latest publicly aired verbal sewage against women — that Darrell “Car Thief” Issa (R-CA) refused to allow testimony from a single woman on the question of birth control. Any condemnation of Rush Limbaugh’s remarks must also reflect the fact that an all-male panel convened by Darrell Issa wouldn’t allow ANY testimony from the group of people who need and use contraception.
Every tiny gain women have made, we have had to fight to keep — often paying for it with our lives. It’s time to kick misogynists in AmeriKKKa where it hurts for once and for all, and not let them up even if they cry “uncle” because history has shown us that misogynists — like all other sociopaths — in every culture never give up and stop on their own volition. They have to be stopped.
Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, John Boehner, Bishop Lori, the pope, Darrell Issa, Ron Paul and his Teabangelical son Rand “Head Stomp” Paul — all came into this world on the blood, pain, trauma and bodily sacrifice of a woman. Not one of them respects women as persons deserving of human rights. They talk about “fetal pain” but callously disregard the pain a woman suffers in childbirth, which sometimes causes a woman to go into shock, “stroke out”, or die from a massive heart attack.
Not one of them acknowledges the sanctity of women’s lives — that no woman or girl should be punished with the trauma, pain and disfigurement of forced childbirth at peril to her health, wellbeing, liberty and life for the “crime” of satisfying some male’s sexual “needs.” (Who does Rush Limbaugh and his like-minded male supremacist pigs in Congress think women on birth control are having sex with? Ourselves? Each other?)
Rush Limbaugh’s scripted “apology”, which really was no apology at all, is not good enough considering all the harm and damage his publicly broadcasted venomous, misogynistic spleen these past 30 years has caused for women due to his influence on public policy (as admitted by some rich white male Congressmen) — all of which helped to promote and perpetuate our “rape culture.”
To dismiss Rush Limbaugh as “only an entertainer” is like calling dog shit “chocolate candy.” And what sort of people seek to continue the harm and injustice and deprivation of human rights against women for “entertainment” anyway? What message does that send to women and girls in this society?
If the potential human life of a fetus is more important and valuable than that of a sentient woman or girl because the fetus is “human”, then what the hell is the woman? Obviously, she’s not human or there would be more care for her wellbeing. That’s the same logic that legitimized the enslavement of African-Americans and kept them from enjoying the same human rights as white males.
Women who survive the ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth are often stuck with varying degrees of permanent damage to their bodies that diminish their quality of life. For this, women are not compensated. And now, it seems that women are going to be forced to endure this against our will. And no, a “healthy baby” does not make up for that. A “prize”, no matter how wonderful, does not cure physical and psychological trauma in any situation. We don’t tell a man who lost his legs that he should be grateful he didn’t lose his arms; It’s no different for women who have suffered trauma from childbirth — especially if the pregnancy wasn’t wanted in the first place.
No woman is obligated to give birth just because she had sex. To say otherwise is cruel, narcissistic and sadistic. Pregnancy is not a “gift” when it’s forced. The experiences of pregnancy/childbirth and the baby are separate things. The attitude that a healthy baby makes women forget all about the pain, trauma and lasting physical damage from their pregnancy and birth experience is bullshit. Women carry that experience with them for life. Fatalism and stoicism are not the same as “getting over it.”
The idea that fetal pain matters but the pain, trauma and disfigurement women are expected to suffer in childbirth as a mandatory punishment for having sex shows just how easily the UN Convention of Torture can be subverted when it’s women being targeted for sexual and reproductive torture.
Denying women the human right to have control over what happens to our bodies by imposing a sexual double standard in denying us access to reliable contraception and abortion, and denying women adequate pain relief during childbirth without a scientifically valid reason (and there really isn’t any) while making sure Viagra and penis stents are legal and available for every selfish jerk that wants to get it up so he can masturbate in some woman’s body without any concern for what his orgasm may cost her — is state-sponsored gender-specific torture and a crime against humanity.
The legal language in Article 1 of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment spells out the definition of torture. This was ratified by the US Senate in 1994. Torture is the intentional infliction of severe mental or physical pain or suffering by, or with the consent of, state authorities for a specific purpose. Methods of torture include rape, sexual assault, and forced childbirth.
In 2009, 49% of all surveyed Americans said that the use of torture under certain circumstances is “often” or “sometimes” justified while 85% of Europeans oppose it. In 2007, evangelical pastor and former Nixon administration staffer Chuck Colson wrote that torture might be “inconsistent with the Christian understanding of human dignity but as with all moral obligations, there may be circumstances for exception.”
No matter how “pro-lifers”, social conservatives, and Christians want to spin it, the devastating effects and injuries of torture cannot be bifurcated by drawing some imaginary line between “faith” and political issues — a line they cross at their convenience in the name of “religious freedom.”
In 2006, the same US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) that is today in 2012 promoting the sexual and reproductive torture of forced pregnancy and childbirth against an entire identifiable group of people (women), asserted that policies permitting torture and inhumane treatment are “shocking and morally intolerable.” The USCCB also said, “Let America abolish torture now — without exceptions.”
Apparently, abolishing torture “without exceptions” doesn’t apply to women. This same powerful Vatican lobby group shamelessly promotes the torture of women and girls with forced childbirth, even at peril to our health and lives, by influencing Congress and shaping public policy to deprive women of access to contraceptives and abortion — even in cases of rape or where pregnancy will kill a woman. That’s what “conscience clause” laws and “fetal personhood” laws being pushed by Christians and their misogynistic hangers-on imposes: Torture and chattel enslavement of women, no matter the harm and cost to us.
Every society teaches its members what they need to have or do in order to belong. And being able to belong, to fit in, to be socially accepted and loved, ranks in importance of human needs right alongside food and water, according to human development specialist Abraham Maslow. In our society, a woman’s “worthiness” for everything from social acceptance to a good job to love and commitment is solely based on her ability to conform to men’s shallow, superficial and unrealistic standards of physical attractiveness which is very unforgiving of the realities of aging, genetics, metabolism problems, poverty, and the ravages and rigors of childbearing.
For women who have abandonment issues, especially those who were the deserted result of an unwanted pregnancy, or who lived through their parents’ divorce, the risk of being discarded by your “Prince Charming” over shallow, superficial reasons makes the traditional gender role of unpaid housewife and motherhood so not worth it. Women who fail to get their pre-pregnancy bodies back, despite making superhuman efforts to do so, are told by everybody else that “having a baby is no excuse for letting yourself go.”
Women suffering from abandonment issues are already emotionally fragile and insecure enough as it is and don’t need any more hate dumped on them as gratuity for sacrificing their bodies, careers, educations and risking their health and lives by providing compulsory gestational service for some selfish prick’s genetic material. And a cheap Hallmark card, a box of chocolates, and a bouquet of flowers once a year on Mother’s Day (if you’re lucky) doesn’t make up for all that.
Now, think about misogyny and sexism as a sacrosanct religious belief, as “entertainment”, and as public policy and what message that sends in our society about where women and girls belong: in the cemetery by age 45 after being physically worn out by endless cycles of pregnancy and childbirth from menarche to menopause (if we make it) — right about the time we women lose our ornamental value to men, and to a male-centric society that worships youth and fitness (read: thin, tight bodies with perky breasts) and that marginalizes and punishes women who can’t look 20 at age 40, or whose bodies don’t “snap right back” after taking a beating from pregnancy and giving birth, often with permanent consequences that are far more severe than mere aesthetic side effects.
A trip to any old country cemetery will quickly verify the multitude of women’s premature deaths as casualties from men’s “right” to an orgasm at women’s expense.