Interfering, by definition, means becoming involved in the activities and concerns of other people when your involvement is not wanted, and it is certain every American has experienced someone, likely a family member, getting involved in one’s personal life. It is safe to say no American, especially Republican politicians, wants their personal lives interfered with, particularly by strangers. Republicans used that fact to great effect to convince ignorant people the Affordable Care Act was government interference in private healthcare decisions, including getting between a doctor and patient. It was a blatant lie of course, but it did frighten stupid people into believing President Obama was using the federal government to kill sick people by allowing bureaucrats to make life-and-death medical decisions that are supposed to be between a doctor and patient.
Republicans are wont to claim no human being has the right to interfere in private medical decisions, unless they are white male Republicans holding a bible, or member of the right-wing Christian clergy overruling medical decisions between a woman and her physician. One would be remiss not to highlight the fact that the idea that males have the right to control women, and make their medical decisions for them, is grounded in patriarchy and anti-women tenets of the bible. However, in Tennessee the idea that Christian males have the right to control, and interfere with, women’s medical decisions is grounded in a proposed state amendment.
In Tennessee, anti-choice lawmakers are pushing an amendment that gives them, non-medical professional right-wing Christian lawmakers, authority to define and determine under what circumstances abortion should be legal or accessible. The short version of the amendment is “Under no circumstances will abortion be legal or accessible in Tennessee.” That includes complete authority to nullify exceptions for the life or health of the woman seeking an abortion; even in cases of rape and incest. The abortion ban is, intrinsically, unconstitutional and contrary to the Supreme Court ruling that a woman’s medical decisions are protected, as well as being the purview of the woman and her doctor. However, there is a problem for Tennessee Christian lawmakers because voters see the issue as government getting between a patient and their doctor; precisely what Republicans lied perpetually that the ACA intended to do.
Tennessee’s right-wing Christian lawmakers are doing what Republicans and religious right groups across the nation are doing with increasing frequency; defining and determining what constitutes necessary medical care regardless what medical professionals deem “necessary.” Alaska and Oklahoma Republicans proposed measures to let them define what counts as a medical emergency instead of doctors, Michigan Republicans hate abortion rape exceptions, and House Republicans want to forbid incest exceptions, so Tennessee is not out of line with the consensus of Christian Republicans. All of the Republicans interfering with personal health decisions are in league with extremist Christian organizations and Christian corporations (Hobby Lobby et al) that demand authority be given to Christians to have complete control over a doctor and woman’s medical decisions; something that Tennessee voters, even Republican voters, overwhelmingly oppose.
With 71% of voters opposed to Tennessee Amendment One, state Democrats said they oppose the bill “for the simple reason that we trust people to have good judgments for themselves and we do not think that the state legislature should be the one making those decisions. They’re very personal and they’re very private. And we respect people to have their own judgments.” Researchers from Vanderbilt University that conducted the poll remarked that it is instructive to see such massive regulatory over personal medical decisions ‘turns off voters across party lines.” It is likely that voters understand that it would be only a matter of time before Republicans extend the scope of state regulatory overreach in medicine, and use the bible to prohibit medical care for any group they deem violate Christians’ religious right beliefs. One Oklahoma Republican opposes the Tennessee amendment on purely practical medical grounds.
A pro-life Republican, Doug Cox, does not support medical restrictions like Tennessee’s that Oklahoma Republicans put in place giving bureaucrats power to define and determine what is “medical best practice.” Cox is a practicing physician and derided a “mess of restrictions” his colleagues passed “placing the board of health in charge of determining what our best medical practices are. That’s never been done before, and there’s a reason it hasn’t been done before. For instance, one of our board members is an immediate past president of the human resources division of Chesapeake Energy with no medical knowledge whatsoever. She’s out of her bailiwick to determine what doctors should and shouldn’t do while taking care of patients.There is a dentist and maybe three family practitioners, but there are parts of medicine that are out of their expertise. It would be like asking me, an emergency room physician, to set the rules and regulations for brain surgery.”
Another Republican from North Dakota, Representative Kathy Hawken, agrees with Cox and Americans who are not beholden to anti-women religious right extremists. She supports women’s reproductive rights on the grounds of smaller government, fiscal responsibility, and reproductive health. She said, “We need to get out of people’s personal lives. We shouldn’t be there. None of us have gone to medical school, and for that matter, not many of us have gone to law school. We shouldn’t be there.” A physician in Kansas, Cheryl Chastine, said focusing on invasiveness of the government, of the state presuming to make private healthcare decisions for patients as well as for physicians who are practicing, is a valid argument in supporting women’s reproductive health decisions, but she misses a very important point.
There is no arguing with religious extremists. They cannot even use their bible to support their anti-choice stance, so using the hated “government intrusion” into Americans’ personal healthcare decisions will not deter or convince religious fanatics of anything. Although it is safe to say the great majority of Americans recoil at the idea of government being in the doctor’s office, examination room, or surgical theatre prohibiting them from treating patients is sheer religious tyranny, but Christian extremists support the idea if women are the victims. It is important to remember, fanatics in the Christian Right movement regard it their religious liberty and free exercise of religion to make, and prohibit doctor and women from making, medical decisions by government fiat that Republicans happily oblige because “religious liberty;” and therein lies the issue.
The religious right and their Republican facilitators do not consider using the government to interfere in Americans’ lives “intrusion, interference, or overreach” if it is based on religion; particularly that bastardized misnomer “Christianity.” In April, Louisiana Christian Republicans passed an unconstitutional law to regulate sexual relations based on the Christian ban on “crimes against nature.” In about a dozen Republican states, there are attempts to ban divorce, or at least make it extremely difficult, at the insistence of Christian fanatics at the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage. Republicans only hate government interference if it involves environmental protections, gun safety, enforcing anti-discrimination laws, or forbidding Christian extremists from controlling women and gays.
Americans continue ignoring warnings that the religious right is on a crusade to rule by theocracy, despite the fact that religious fanatics in Republican states are having a great measure of success imposing harsh laws based on bastardized Christian morality that the public overwhelmingly opposes. It is the definition of religious tyranny and theocracy; enacting edicts borne of religion with no founding in democracy or the will of the people. Republicans abandoned any pretense of following the will of the people in January 2009, and with religious liberty as their cause célèbre, they are passing religious edicts in the states at a frightening pace and they all interfere with Americans’ private and personal lives.
All Americans should take note that right-wing Christians first went after women’s reproductive rights, then gay rights, then the right to end a bad marriage, and heterosexual couples right to practice sex in the privacy of their bedrooms. Anyone who still does not believe they intend on a nation under a harsh Christian theocracy rivaling the Islamic Republic of Iran has not been paying attention, and if they have taken note without screaming religious tyranny, they are as much of the problem as Republicans and extremist Christians.
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.