World history is rife with instances of cruelty and barbarism at the hands of Christians, but since this is America it is one of those subjects few are willing to ever mention. Sadly, there is still an inordinate amount of cruelty and barbarism attributable to Christians who also happen to be exclusively American Republicans.
Even though they are not beheading or burning their victims at the stake, they are causing undue pain and suffering to other Americans, primarily women. It is all an integral part of their cherished religious liberty and as is nearly always the case it is women taking the brunt of the inhumane cruelty.
In Texas this week, a prime example of evangelical Republican’ barbarism was on display. As is usually the case with religious Republicans involved, it was a woman and her husband, both Christians, who were forced to suffer due to Republicans exercising their religious freedom to be merciless and savage.
The Mahaffey family were desperate for a child and had been praying incessantly for a baby. But when 20-week pregnant Taylor learned her fetus suffered a severe complication with no possible chance of ever surviving, the young couple cried and then prayed for a humane end to their fetus’ suffering. In fact, doctors and the medical staff cried along with the Mahaffey’s; in part because of the couple’s disappointment and grief, and partly because Texas Republicans passed a law mandating that the mother and fetus had to suffer because they enacted a religion-based “fetal pain” law.
The doctors informed the young couple that even though the fetus could never survive and would either die in utero or deliver stillborn, the couple would just have to suck it up, stop crying, let the fetus die in the womb, or endure the full nine months of torture and deliver a dead baby. If science could prove the fetus died in utero, then, and maybe only then, could the medical professionals “legally” deliver the carcass because of the religious Republicans’ “fetal pain” law.
One night last week, the mother experienced abnormal pain and rushed to the hospital where doctors discovered the fetus’ feet were pushing through the mother’s cervix. Doctors tried several emergency measures to stop the preterm labor, including a procedure in which doctors stitched shut the cervix. Still, nothing worked and nothing could save the fetus; it left the Mahaffeys pleading with doctors for an acceptable and humane option to stop the torture.
The doctors told the couple “The only humane thing to do would be to pop the sack, and let the fetus come into the world and die.” However, due to the religious law the doctors were “forbidden to induce labor because in Texas it is considered an abortion,” and in Texas, abortion is illegal. They sent the couple home to either “wait for the fetus to die in utero,” or for the mother to begin “natural” labor so they could deliver the dead baby.
The religious couple prayed constantly for “a miracle that might end their baby’s suffering.” The husband was rightly worried his wife would hemorrhage to death and despite the mother had started bleeding, because the fetus’ heart still beat doctors could not legally interfere. This is going on while the woman was “just screaming at them to get the fetus out of her.”
The young woman suffered like that for four days and after her “waters broke” doctors delivered a dead, partially formed “baby.” Now, this cruelty is not down to the medical professionals in Texas; they desperately wanted to help relieve the religious couple’s suffering, but religious Republicans said no.
If this were a one-off occurrence, it would be bad and barbaric enough to last a lifetime, but it is not unique. Not to Texas or any one of 12 other religious Republican states that ban abortions after 20 weeks based on the wholly unscientific idea that a fetus can possibly feel pain at twenty weeks of gestation.
According to mounds of scientific research and evidence, the American Medical Association (AMA) says that “fetal perception of pain is impossible before the third trimester;” that is when a fetus’ nervous system is developed to a point it can feel anything. Still, Texas religious Republicans’ barbaric and cruel ban on medical professionals helping women was passed as a provision in HB2.
One of the OBGYNs at the hospital where this tragedy of suffering occurred, Bradley Price, had previously testified before Texas Republicans and criticized them for “attempting to practice medicine based on religion and politics instead of sound medical science.” He said,
“This bill is extremely intrusive into the practice of medicine. It risked Texas women’s health by denying them the benefits of well-researched safe and proven protocols.”
Dr. Price even took the time to explain that most abortions performed after 20 weeks were on women whose fetuses had some kind of severe deformity or condition that was incompatible with life. He asked the religious Republicans,
“If you’re worried about pain at 20 weeks, what about pain at 40 weeks? Are we going to ask dead or damaged fetuses to go through the birth canal still? Is vaginal delivery out of the question? If you take it to an illogical conclusion, that’s where you go.”
The doctor should never have brought logic into the equation because these are religious Republicans. For dog’s sake if they take the word of the Personhood movement, the Vatican, and the National Right to Life over established medical science, of course they will choose the “illogical conclusion.” This is the issue with well over a dozen religious Republican states who all claim that science and biology, like a woman’s constitutionally-protected equal rights, are irrelevant based on “the feelings” of the anti-choice barbarians with religious freedom.
This incident, although tragic for the young Texas couple suffering a devastating experience, is bound to continue occurring in every Republican state run by theocrats. There is no sound political, economic, or humane reason for acute barbarism and cruelty towards women except that Republicans regard them as nothing more than objects for birthing. And if the fetus is deformed, incompatible with living, or dead in the womb, religious Republicans demand that the woman still gives birth.
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.