"Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, Ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin' lazy circles in the sky."
According to the Republican controlled Oklahoma state legislature last Tuesday, Curley McLain and Laurey Williams better not be doing anything other than hawk watching while they "sit" alone, because if Laurey got into a little trouble, and Curley decided he wanted to go back to his cows, she'd be in for a parcel of misery.
The right to lifers in the state House and Senate took it upon themselves to override the Governor's veto of two restrictive laws regarding a woman's right to choose in matters concerning her pregnancy. The first requires that the woman requesting an abortion must view, or at least be present when a doctor or technician performs an ultrasound of the fetus, while the state of it's health is narrated to the patient. The other, and in my mind the more insidious, removes the ability of the mother to sue the doctor if he chooses not to inform her of potential birth defects.
Supporters said the second measure was aimed at preventing women from discriminating against fetuses with disabilities. The House votes were 81-14 for the ultrasound provision, and 84-12 for the withholding information. The Senate voted 36 to 11 for each.
"We must move to stop the degradation of human life seen in recent years and stand up for those who cannot defend themselves," said House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa.
This is wrong in so many ways I hardly know how to begin, so I'll let someone else do it.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which immediately filed suit claiming the laws unconstitutional, disagreed with the legislatures stated motivation in enacting these laws.
CCR Staff attorney, Stephanie Toti says they were not motivated to "protect the heath of the mother, and promote informed decision making before the procedure."
"The effect of these laws is to manipulate the flow of information about options. It's an attempt to coerce a woman to choose the option that the state thinks is best," Toti says. "These laws threaten women's health by reducing access to safe abortion care. They really humiliate women who are seeking abortion and fail to accord them the dignity that they ought be accorded by law."
Keri Parks, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, believes the reason for the legislatures continuing efforts is purely political in nature, that they desire to gain "pro-life" votes in the upcoming midterm election.
Whatever the motive, the state Supreme Court is getting tired of the legislatures antics, stating they our ignoring the states own constitution, and their attempts "a waste of time for the Legislature and the Court, and a waste of taxpayers' money."
A week ago a Oklahoma district court ruled as unconstitutional a 2009 law that created a public web site where doctors were required to post personal information of patients having abortions.
Oklahoma's Governor, Brad Henry, a Democrat, who had vetoed both bills, said the ultrasound law was an unconstitutional intrusion into a woman’s privacy. He agreed with me concerning the insidious nature of the second law: “It is unconscionable to grant a physician legal protection to mislead or misinform pregnant women in an effort to impose his or her personal beliefs on a patient,” Mr. Henry said.
Which is true.
I have to admit that I am a little perplexed, which is not unusual for me. Currently there are only three clinics within the state that provide abortion services (and it is also bizarre that a state law should be solely targeted to so few individuals), and one would think that the operators of these clinics are in that business because they wish to be, and therefore relucent to enforce these new laws forcefully. Do not the law makers realize this?
In any case, over 20 other states have enacted similar laws aiming to prohibit a woman's ability to undergo a legal medical procedure, either because they wish to imbue their own personal and religious beliefs onto others, or for political gains, or both. Some have readily admitted that they will continue to pass these laws in order to have them introduced within the justice system for the sole purpose of having them eventually heard in the Supreme Court of the United States, in an ongoing effort to overturn "Roe vs Wade." All of this in a effort to impose their will onto the rest of the country.
Now I'm an atheist. None of my friends are atheists, or my family, which makes me a lonely atheist. Be that as it may, I have never felt the need to impose atheism onto anybody else. I have never used this web site to promote atheism when I clearly could on a daily basis, if I so felt the need. But I have no desire, feel no need, to do so. I am quite happy to allow others to have their own beliefs without me interfering in them. I will certainly explain my position, and why I believe what I do, and I have done so. But other than that I am perfectly satisfied to let others belive whatever they want to, what ever helps them in this crazy world we live in.
So I am always perplexed at the need, the compulsion, that some have who would wish to impose their will, their world view, onto everyone else. I think it may have something to do with inadequacies within these people, insecurities. They are so insecure in their persons, and beliefs, that anyone who appears to differ with them is recognized as an intolerable threat.
But what if these folks who promote the right to life movement (by the way, The Republican Party, seen by the right as the champions of the Right To Life Movement, will never, ever allow Roe V Wade to be repealed. They raise too much money with it as a wedge issue during elections) are sincere, and truly believe that a fetus is a human being, with the same rights as those humans who have already been born, and there must be many, I admit that. Heck, The Declaration of Independence guarantees it: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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."
Well I have to postulate there is no such thing, in nature, and in human nature, that provides a "right to life," and agree with the late Dr. Carl Sagan and his lovely wife, Ann Druyan:
"There is no right to life in any society on Earth today, nor has there been at any former time… : We raise farm animals for slaughter; destroy forests; pollute rivers and lakes until no fish can live there; kill deer and elk for sport, leopards for the pelts, and whales for fertilizer; entrap dolphins, gasping and writhing, in great tuna nets; club seal pups to death; and render a species extinct every day. All these beasts and vegetables are as alive as we. What is (allegedly) protected is not life, but human life.
And even with that protection, casual murder is an urban commonplace, and we wage “conventional” wars with tolls so terrible that we are, most of us, afraid to consider them very deeply… That protection, that right to life, eludes the 40,000 children under five who die on our planet each day from preventable starvation, dehydration, disease, and neglect."
It is a common argument from the other side, the pro choice side, the the pro life side is only concerned with the unborn. That when children are born they remove all of their support, allowing mothers and children to live in adverse circumstances, or with crippling medical difficulties unaided. That right for lifers are the same people who advocate gun ownership, deportation of all illegal immigrants, war on Iran, and so forth. And to a great degree there is evidence to support that position.
According to UNICEF, the world’s premier children’s organization:
2.5 billion people (1/3 of the world's population) lack access to improved sanitation
1 billion children are deprived of one or more services essential to survival and development
148 million under 5s in developing regions are underweight for their age
101 million children are not attending primary school, with more girls than boys missing out
22 million infants are not protected from diseases by routine immunization
8.8 million children worldwide died before their 5th birthday in 2008
4 million newborns worldwide are dying in the first month of life
2 million children under 15 are living with HIV
500,000 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth
When these issues are addressed by the "Right To Life" movement I will feel much more comfortable in taking them seriously. When everyone addresses these issues then maybe some credence can be given to the claim, that at least for humans, a right for a chance of life truly exists.