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Stupak is back! Time to call your legislators again!

This time it’s in the Sen­ate, folks. In case you just crawled out from under a rock, I’m talk­ing about the Stu­pak-Pitts amend­ment to the Afford­able Health Care for Amer­i­ca Act that was orig­i­nal­ly intro­duced in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives by Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bart Stu­pak of Michi­gan and Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Joseph Pitts of Penn­syl­va­nia, along with a long list of Con­gressper­sons. The bill tried to keep any fed­er­al funds from being used to pay for an abor­tion, but was also word­ed in such a way that it would have pro­hib­it­ed women from pur­chas­ing pri­vate cov­er­age to cov­er abor­tions. That’s a ridicu­lous restric­tion on the repro­duc­tive free­dom of every woman who needs health care, and an even fur­ther eco­nom­ic restric­tion on what pri­vate cit­i­zens can pur­chase with their own funds. Women would be los­ing cov­er­age they have now!

The let­ter I sent to my Sen­a­tors last month was, like every­thing I send to Sen­a­tor Isak­son, not read as far as I could tell, because his office just respond­ed with a form let­ter bab­bling about his reli­gious beliefs. That’s a bit bet­ter than Sen­a­tor Cham­b­liss’ office, at least, which does­n’t even do that much. Still, that form let­ter was some­thing of a straw break­ing this par­tic­u­lar camel’s back, and it inspired me to write anoth­er let­ter back to Sen­a­tor Isak­son, one that he has­n’t respond­ed to at all. I’m not ter­ri­bly sur­prised, as I asked that he not respond at all if his only response was going to be anoth­er form let­ter. Still, writ­ing it pre­pared me, to a cer­tain extent, to respond to the alert going out about the renewed Stu­pak amend­ment, which is why I men­tion it here.


While I am as guilty as the next per­son of just sign­ing my name to most of those peti­tions and requests for action and so on that come through my mail­box or via Face­book or Twit­ter or what­ev­er rather than actu­al­ly writ­ing any­thing orig­i­nal, we all know that the intend­ed recip­i­ents must stop read­ing them after the sec­ond or fifth or at the very least the twen­ty-fifth let­ter, no mat­ter how good her intent may be. If he’s hos­tile to the con­tent, I can’t imag­ine he pays much atten­tion after the first one. It’s all, “Blah blah blah.”

I know per­fect­ly well that all Sen­a­tor Isak­son and oth­ers like him are going to do is toss out their rehearsed pre­pared, “I will always vote my reli­gious beliefs in this mat­ter” every time the word “abor­tion” comes up, and every time “health care” comes up, they are going to asso­ciate that with “abor­tion” some­where in their minds.

Because I know all of that, I did­n’t just sign my name this time. I wrote a real let­ter. I’d share it with you, but I already hit send, and there’s no way that I could repro­duce it — it was one of those one-time things. But I can try to lay out my throught process, and encour­age you to write your own let­ters to your elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives, so that they’ll receive many, many real let­ters, rather than just a lot of copies of the same old thing.

It’s up to us to short-cir­cuit those old pat­terns. It’s up to us to stop using our own tired rhetoric, and to start by remind­ing these elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives that who­ev­er elect­ed them, whether we vot­ed for them or not, we are their con­stituents, and when they took office they took oath, most of them on the Bible, a book that many of them con­sid­er sacred. They swore on that book to uphold the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Unit­ed States.

That Con­sti­tu­tion guar­an­tees free­dom of reli­gion to every per­son in this nation. It promis­es us a nation ruled by law, not a theoc­ra­cy. It promis­es that we will all stand equal before the law.

Whether the Sen­a­tor or Con­gress­man­’s reli­gious beliefs do or do not agree with abor­tion is irrel­e­vant. Abor­tion is not ille­gal in the U.S. It is occa­sion­al­ly med­ical­ly nec­es­sary. As a legal pro­ce­dure, occa­sion­al­ly nec­es­sary pro­ce­dure, there’s no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for an amend­ment to the Afford­able Health Care for Amer­i­ca Act mak­ing it ille­gal to use fed­er­al dol­lars to fund said legal pro­ce­dure, or to make it ille­gal for women to pro­cure pri­vate poli­cies that pay for it.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not pro-abor­tion. I’m pro-choice. Abor­tion is at an all-time low in the U.S., and I’d like very much to see it stay that way. I’ve looked at the his­to­ry, and the sta­tis­tics, and I know all too well that when abor­tion is ille­gal, women — girls — die try­ing to end preg­nan­cies ille­gal­ly. They will find a way to do it, one way or anoth­er. Mak­ing abor­tion ille­gal will not make unplanned preg­nan­cies go away, any more than Pro­hi­bi­tion made alco­hol go away or the War On Drugs made ille­gal drugs go away. That has nev­er worked, not once in the his­to­ry of mankind. I don’t ever want my daugh­ter to need an abor­tion. I don’t want her to have to make that choice. But if she needs that right, I want her to have it.

Back to the point here: the log­i­cal con­clu­sion of my argu­ment is that vot­ing on a bill or amend­ment based sole­ly on reli­gious beliefs vio­lates a con­gressper­son­’s oath of office, which requires that he or she uphold the law, not any scrip­ture. If a Sen­a­tor or Rep­re­sen­ta­tive finds that he or she can­not serve due to his or her reli­gious beliefs, that’s under­stand­able, and I’m sure his or her res­ig­na­tion would be accept­ed.

Is that anti-reli­gious? No. I take oaths very seri­ous­ly, and if any­one who believes that his deity is real should think twice before tak­ing an oath to uphold the law and then turn around and betray both the law and his com­mit­ment to the deity at the same time. As I recall, that Bible talks about giv­ing to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s, and giv­ing to God what is Gods. In this case, every Sen­a­tor’s hon­est vote belongs to Ceasar. How many of them will have the moral fiber to vote hon­est­ly, rather than kow­tow­ing to earth­ly lob­by­ists?

(Can you tell that when I was a Chris­t­ian, i was real­ly, real­ly fun­da­men­tal­ist?)

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