Courage is the quality of mind and spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or personal sacrifice without fear, and it is typically applied to a warrior’s bravery in battle. In America, most people do not assign courage to politicians unless they take a principled stand to defend the Constitution from attack regardless the consequences. Most people expect courage from a man defending women, and it is difficult to imagine many American men turning their back on a woman being assaulted regardless it is under the aegis of the state. However, as Republicans blatantly assault women in state legislatures, Congress, and the courts, while most male politicians are silent as to the source of the attacks, one courageous Democrat took a stand for women and condemned the source of power Republicans use to deny women their rights.
Less than two weeks ago, former President Jimmy Carter courageously cited the source of violence against women and did what no other politician in America has the courage to do. The 39th President and devout Christian addressed a human rights event and lashed out at all religious doctrines that “contribute to political, social, and economic structure where political leaders passively accept violence against women,” and cited a laundry list of inequalities including conditions American women are subjected to. It was a courageous admission coming from a Christian man in America, but it is the first time a public figure admitted the source of attacks against women is religion. The former President did not cite the unconstitutionality of state-sanctioned religion to conduct the war on women, but it may have been too perilous to admit in a public forum that the bible is not the Constitution.
The former president acknowledged politicians’ cowardice and cited the “great aversion among men leaders and some women leaders to admit that this is something that exists, that it’s serious and that it’s troubling and should be addressed courageously.” Unfortunately, it is not being addressed at all regardless it is rampant in several states making no attempt to conceal the unconstitutional use of religion to attack women’s right to their own reproductive health. Although religion is the source of all attacks on women’s reproductive health, it is in Texas where the legislature openly advocated biblical prohibitions on women’s choice that no politician challenged on the grounds it was unconstitutional.
In preparation for the vote to shutter most abortion clinics in Texas, legislators were provided with pamphlets replete with biblical passages as justification to force women into becoming “brood mares” according to the young woman hauled out of the legislature while raging at Texas legislators supporting the unconstitutional measure. Governor Rick Perry framed lower house passing the measure as a blessing for women and said, “Now is not the time to waver, it’s important work in support of women’s health and protecting the lives of our most vulnerable Texans.” Perry’s “most vulnerable Texans” refers to zygotes that are not fetuses until well after the new 20-week ban, and certainly not “viable outside the womb” as ruled by the Supreme Court 40 years ago. However, basing the ban on religion makes any legislation affecting women’s reproductive health unconstitutional.
Women’s rights to decide absorbed another attack in Wisconsin where Scott Walker signed a law mandating women be physically assaulted with transvaginal ultrasounds, and one wonders why any man would allow the state to use religion to require doctors to physically violate women seeking abortion services. Likely it is due to the unspoken edict that speaking out against religion, even state-sanctioned religion, is forbidden and it informs the bravery former President Jimmy Carter displayed in admitting “that it’s serious and that it’s troubling and should be addressed courageously.”
It will take courageous addressing by Democrats because there is little standing in the way of Republican assaults on women and their Constitutional right to choose their own reproductive health. After sneaking an atrocious abortion ban in anti-Sharia legislation last week, yesterday North Carolina Republicans used a similar tactic by stealthily inserting sweeping abortion restrictions in a motorcycle safety bill unbeknownst to the public or legislators on the committee. Two weeks ago Ohio Governor John Kasich’s budget redefined pregnancy and effectively gave personhood rights to a zygote Republicans claim is a fetus at the moment of conception contrary to all known and empirical evidence in medical science.
According to a recent court decision, religion also gives retail outlet Hobby Lobby the right to dictate suitable prescriptions their employees’ insurance will cover because, according to the judge, they are entitled to their religious liberty to demand their employees adhere to Hobby Lobby’s owner’s religious beliefs. The company’s owner claimed their religious rights were violated because they “believe” hormonal contraception and IUDs are abortifacients in stark contrast to all known medical and biological science. In a related state-sanctioned religious law, Indiana Republicans revamped a 1997 law making it a felony for same-sex couples to apply for a marriage license that is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. Like the fanatical opposition to women’s choice, opposition to same-sex marriage is wholly based in religion and yet no-one has the courage to cite the unconstitutionality of using the bible as basis for inequality.
It is pathetic that Republicans are attacking women’s rights under any circumstances, but that they are using a religious text as grounds for legislation is patently unconstitutional according to the 1st amendment and established legal precedents. It is true their outrageous religious laws will be challenged in courts, but no-one is brave enough to say out loud the recent spate of anti-women’s choice laws cannot stand because they are the state enforcing one specific religion’s dogmata. However, two weeks ago the most courageous man in the nation broke the silence and stated categorically “that it is religious doctrines that contribute to political, social, and economic structure where political leaders passively accept violence against women.” Sadly, America is not only a nation where political leaders accept violence against women based on religion, Republicans actively legislate against them and a crucial element to their success is, according to former President Carter, “voices demanding these circumstances change are few and far between” and it is precisely why the GOP proceeds with impunity.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.