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Republican Amendment Proposes Religious Liberty Based Death Panel

President Obama’s election engendered a rash of fallacious claims about tyranny and loss of freedom within weeks of the Koch brothers’ creating teabaggers. At tea party rallies across the nation racists objecting to an African American man in the Oval Office held signs decrying “tyranny” and Gadsden flags with a rattle snake and the words, “don’t tread on me” that symbolized resistance to oppressive British acts in colonial America. Interestingly, queries to teabaggers about which liberties they lost when Obama was inaugurated went unanswered; they just knew the President was a tyrant who stole their freedoms.

Republicans assailed President Obama for restricting religious liberty when he included contraception in employees’ health insurance coverage, and even after exempting faith-based institutions from the law, Republicans still claim he is restricting religious liberty.  In a move to counter health insurance contraception coverage, Republicans have taken steps to allow any employer to deny health insurance coverage for any preventative or essential health care service, not just contraceptives. The amendment is sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and it is the death panel Sarah Palin preached about during the healthcare reform debate, and the ultimate loss of freedom (life) at the hands of Republicans. It is also how theocracy begins.

The measure allows insurers or employers to claim moral or religious objection to covering “HIV/AIDS screenings, Type 2 Diabetes treatments, cancer tests or anything else they deem inappropriate or the result of an “unhealthy” or “immoral” lifestyle. Similarly, a health plan could refuse to cover mental health care on the grounds that the plan believes that psychiatric problems should be treated with prayer.” The measure serves two purposes. It allows religious extremists to control healthcare decisions for all Americans, and undermines the new health law. This is not about contraception, it is about Republicans doing the bidding of Catholic bishops and evangelical freaks whose tyrannical bent leads them to dictate to an entire population what constitutes medical treatment regardless of how essential it is to save lives or maintain good health.

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Republicans and some very conservative Catholic groups claimed the President’s inclusion of contraceptives was tantamount to “religious persecution,” and although their claims were unfounded and patently untrue, they have turned the tables and are using their religion to persecute all Americans. In the section titled “Respect For Rights of Conscience”  of Amendment 1520 of S. 1813 it says “no exchange or other official or entity acting in a governmental capacity shall discriminate against a health plan, plan sponsor, health care provider, or other person because of such plan’s sponsor’s, provider’s, or person’s unwillingness to provide coverage of, participate in, or refer for, specific items or services.” In short the amendment gives any person the right, based on their personal moral or religious conviction, to refuse treatment or coverage for other people in any health plan whether it directly affects the individual or not.

The National Women’s Law Center asserts, correctly, that the language in the amendment is vague enough that insurance companies can “sell plans that do not cover services required by the new health care law to an entire market because one individual objects, so all consumers in a market lose their right to coverage of the full range of critical health services.” What that means is that if one malcontent evangelical objects to cancer screening for gays, then no-one in the plan gets cancer screening coverage; gay or straight. If, for example, a nurse concludes an obese, unshaven man suffering a heart attack is homeless or living an unhealthy lifestyle, they can refuse to administer life-saving treatment because doing so is contrary to their moral beliefs. It is the same if an emergency room nurse “thinks” an accident victim is gay, they can refuse to admit or treat the victim on moral or religious conscience grounds without fear of termination or consequences, and the hospital must respect their decision as final and withhold treatment.

Senator Blunt’s amendment is primarily aimed at women’s freedoms, but it applies to every American and is a gift to the insurance industry. If a man enrolls in an insurance plan and he objects to maternity coverage, then the plan must, by law, disallow all maternity coverage just because one man objects. Conceivably, the insurance industry can refuse to cover any medical treatment if they can find (or pay) one person to lodge a complaint objecting to coverage for, let’s say, Diabetes, depression, broken bones, or myriad health problems despite that such “coverage is required as part of the essential health benefits.” The danger is not just from bible cults that object to contraception or other medical treatment, it extends to non-health professionals and puts every American’s health decisions in the hand(s) of ordinary lunatics who claim moral or religious conscience objections.

Republicans and teabaggers claimed the Affordable Health Act puts the government between a citizen and their doctor which is untrue, but now they are proposing putting religious fanatics between citizens and any health professional. Blunt’s amendment exemplifies religious tyranny and is the ultimate expression of loss of freedom to choose healthcare or essential medical treatment. It also puts life and death medical decisions in the hands of non-medical professionals who can single-handedly eliminate any treatment from a health plan regardless if it is based on religion or not.

This is Republicans putting ethical, moral, medical, and religious decisions for the entire country squarely in the purview of one religion, or one maniac. The diabetic who needs insulin to maintain their life may lose access to insulin therapy if a religious person in a private or government health plan objects to treating diabetes, or a mentally ill patient may have to resort to prayer if one Scientologist objects to mental illness treatment. The amendment is egregious for many reasons, but it is most horrid because there is no government expense involved in private health plans and yet one person can eliminate coverage for the entire plan if they happen to object on moral grounds.

Blunt’s amendment epitomizes religious tyranny and gives ultimate power to any fanatic to dictate their morality to every citizen in this country. If this amendment passes and becomes law, Republicans will have legalized tyranny by nut-job with the full support of the federal government. Republicans are expediting religious fundamentalists’ goal of controlling every aspect of Americans’ lives, and it is legislation by theocracy. It is also the beginning of death panels, or in the case of Blunt’s amendment, death by individual with a twisted religious conscience.

It is bad enough Republicans spent the past year doing religious fundamentalists’ bidding denying women’s right to choose their own reproductive health, but now they are attempting to deny all Americans and their doctors the right to make healthcare choices. One thing is certain; teabaggers now have a legitimate claim that their liberties are being stolen and it is their lawmakers who are responsible. It is, in effect, tyranny by Republicans, religious fundamentalists, janitor, nurse, or window washer who objects to any medical treatment for religious or moral reasons. Only in Republican’s America can an elementary school dropout  with a bible object and prohibit cardio-vascular surgeons from using anesthesia during quadruple-bypass heart surgery, but they will allow prayer.

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