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Opinion: Arkansas Theocrats Enact Unconstitutional Attacks On Women And LGBTQ people

Republicans are once again pandering to extremist right-wing religious fanatics in a bigger way than normal, and as is always the case, they are targeting women and members of the LGBTQ community with extreme prejudice.

Over the past two weeks the religious right governor of Arkansas has signed two pieces of legislation that reek of right-wing, extremist Christian origin. One bill the governor admitted is patently unconstitutional specifically targets a woman’s right to control her own body because in the fanatical Christian sect, that right belongs to evangelical men.

The second, most recent, bill gives religious people in the medical profession the legal right to refuse to treat members of the LGBTQ community if they claim doing so would violate their religious morals and conscience. Although it is a mystery why any health care professional would jeopardize the health and well-being of anyone seeking or needing medical treatment, it is no mystery what would drive an uber-religious medial professional to refuse to treat anyone –  hatred borne of religious fanaticism.

In the first legislation Governor Asa Hutchinson signed, a nasty near-total ban on all abortions, the creep admitted that the bill is unconstitutional and said he had slight reservations. His reservations, though, were not that the bill was unconstitutional or gave religious men control over a woman’s body. No,  his reservations were that the legislation did not include an exemption in cases of rape and incest that may prevent Trump’s Supreme Court religious cohort from overturning Roe v. Wade and ban abortions nation wide.

Hutchinson said:

 “(The ban) is in contradiction of binding precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law. I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view, and such exceptions would increase the chances for a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Anti-women’s rights groups have been drooling over the chance of an abortion case getting to the religious conservative majority on the High Court. This is particularly true since Trump appointed a trio of anti-women’s rights activists to join the other anti-women’s rights justices, one who actively called for some state to bring a case to SCOTUS, for the sole purpose of overturning Roe v. Wade.

Hutchinson had no reservations about signing the second piece of religious legislation targeting the religious right’s other sworn enemies – members of the LGBTQ community.

The simplistic description of the anti-LGBTQ measure says that health care workers and institutions have the legal right to not participate in treatments that violate their conscience.

In his signing statement Hutchinson said:

I support this right of conscience so long as emergency care is exempted and conscience objection cannot be used to deny general health service to any class of people. Most importantly, the federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, and national origin continue to apply to the delivery of health care services.”

Apparently, Hutchinson does not consider members of the LGBTQ community a “class of people,” or that a medical provider or institution is not guilty of violating federal anti-discrimination laws if they deny medical treatment due to a person “on the basis of sex and/or gender.”

If anyone doubts the origin of SB 289, its sponsor was Republican state Senator Kim Hammer whose real job is as a Missionary Baptist preacher. The law is so broad that it will affect more than just treating a member of the LGBTQ community. In fact, it will be legal for hospitals to not just refuse medical services if their religion opposes them, insurance providers can legally refuse payment for anything in their policies that violates their conscience, such as refusing to pay for HIV medication or contraception.

It is beyond the pale that in a nation so far removed from nations governed by theocracy like the islamic Republic of Iran, a major political party is so in thrall of a fanatical religious sect that it is passing purely religious legislation targeting “undesirables.” In the case of Arkansas, like no small number of Republican controlled states, the undesirables are members of the LGBTQ community and women who  refuse to allow mainly white Christian males to control their bodies.

The only reason these religious Republicans continue pushing legislation targeting women and LGBTQ people is because the media and politicians are cowards for not calling out the real source of the problem   religious extremism.

It is high time the courts,, Democrats, and the media stop using the term “socially conservative” and call it what it is: religious extremism promoted by Republicans.

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