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Roe Back

“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Abortion-rights and anti-abortion demonstrators gather outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

It has been one dream of conservatives for decades: overturning Roe vs. Wade.  The landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision guaranteed women the right to abortion, in accordance with the 9th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  Now that goal has been achieved: earlier today, June 24, the Court has overturned Roe; thus gutting nearly a half century of reproductive freedom for women in the U.S.

It’s a stunning move and it’s left abortion supporters shell-shocked.  It doesn’t seem to matter that the majority of Americans support abortion to some extent.  Six justices on the Supreme Court have decided they don’t like the concept of abortion, so no woman should have access to it and no one should help a woman burdened with a crisis pregnancy.  It is the first time in U.S. history that a constitutional right has been granted and then rescinded.

Social and religious conservatives are ecstatic about this decision.  Although the Roe decision startled many people in 1973, the ruling didn’t really become an issue until the 1980s; when the evangelical Christian movement started to make its intrusive presence known.  They saw the election of Ronald Reagan as assurance that abortion would be outlawed in the U.S.

At least 26 states were ready to outlaw abortion under most circumstances, should Roe be overturned.  Now that it has, they are moving towards the annihilation.  Last year the legislature in my home state of Texas passed the so-called “Heartbeat Act”, which bans abortion after 6 weeks (before many women know they’re pregnant) and only allows it in cases where the mother’s life is endangered.  That means rape and incest victims will be forced to carry their pregnancies to term.  Any woman (or girl) who obtains an abortion and/or anyone who assists in that procedure could face up to $10,000 in statutory damages and face prison time.  Noticeably it doesn’t say anything about prosecuting men who rape women or girls.

The overturning of Roe perhaps will be one of Donald Trump’s greatest legacies, aside from his dismal handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.  But it won’t so much be his legacy as it will be that of right-wing extremists – the people who loudly proclaim to cherish personal liberty and freedom, but in practice, mean it only for themselves.  Everyone else’s personal liberty – that is, people who aren’t exactly like them – is somehow subjective.

Abortion opponents are now presenting – as they always have – what they consider viable solutions to the dilemma of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies; quick fixes that are ridiculously quaint and utopian.  They recommend creating a society where every child comes into the world loved and respected; that women always have a safe and effective way to carry out their undesired pregnancies.  It’s tantamount to beauty pageant contestants expressing their wish for the blind to see and the lame to walk.  It’s wonderfully idealistic, yet extraordinarily delusional.  Such answers to some of life’s most complex issues are typical of the conservative mindset: simple and unencumbered.  That’s why I always say my brain is too big to be conservative.

In the 49 years since Roe was passed, it’s estimated that some 60 million abortions have taken place in the United States.  Abortion adversaries groan that it means some 60 million children never got a chance to grow up and have fulfilling lives.  But millions of children have come into the world under the best of circumstances and have never lived fulfilling lives.  The future is always uncertain, and occasionally things go awry in families.

It’s also possible that those estimated 60 million children could have been subjected to abuse and neglect.  Children who come into the world unwanted often end up being unloved.  I have to wonder if abortion opponents are going to dish out any additional cash to help support all those children.  It’s easy for them to lounge in their ivory towers – the way religious leaders often do – and bestow well wishes upon troubled souls.  Good intentions don’t pay diaper and formula bills; they don’t provide housing and education; they don’t deal with the daily angst of raising children.  They’re glossy words that lack substance, unless solid and concrete action is taken to make those lives better.

Liberals and moderates are already concerned that other Supreme Court decisions are at risk, such as Griswold and Lawrence.  Even Brown and Loving may come under similar attack.  As part of his decision to overturn Roe, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” referring to decisions on contraception, sodomy and same-sex marriage respectively.

Remember, the original Roe decision developed under the auspices of the right to privacy and equal protection under the law.  Those are essential and undeniable features of a truly democratic society.  Stripping any particular group of basic human rights isn’t a sign of a moral culture, as many social conservatives would have us believe.  It’s more emblematic of a totalitarian world; a universe where a handful of people have blessed themselves with the power to decide what is and what is not appropriate for everyone else.

If abortion opponents think this Dobbs decision will end abortion in the United States once and forever, they are mistaken.  After the initial shock has worn off (which is already happening), people will begin to fight back and find ways around it.  Whether right-wing extremists like it or not, abortion will happen.  There will always be women who find themselves in very difficult situations and feel they must end a pregnancy.  It’s been happening for centuries and it will continue happening, even though a band of self-righteous elitists demand otherwise.

Just wait for it.  They’ve awoken a giant.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – June 18, 2022

“Look, maybe if we heard more prayers from leaders of this country instead of taking God’s name in vain, we wouldn’t have the mass killings like we didn’t have before prayer was eliminated from school.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert, about the Uvalde massacre

“If I lost one of my children I’d be pretty devastated, especially in a way that is so senseless and seemingly has no purpose.  I think … I would just have to say, if I had the opportunity to talk to the people I’d have to say, look, there’s always a plan.  I believe God always has a plan.  Life is short no matter what it is.  And certainly, we’re not going to make sense of, you know, a young child being shot and killed way before their life expectancy.”

Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General, to radio host Trey Graham, about the Uvalde massacre

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Best Quotes of the Week – May 14, 2022

“The wife of a Supreme Court justice doing what Ginni Thomas did is utterly unheard of in the history of the United States.  Justice Thomas, talking about [the] legitimacy of institutions – either the White House or the court itself – he should recuse himself, which he refuses to do, from any case involving the president of the United States and the election.”

Carl Bernstein, condemning Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for criticizing Americans opposed to the possibility of Roe vs. Wade being reversed

Describing Thomas as “rogue” and “disingenuous”, he added, “There is a real failure of institutions, especially on the Supreme Court, by a rogue justice who would not say, ‘I’m going to step aside.’”  Bernstein also noted that Thomas’ wife, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, had worked to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Thomas had given a speech at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference in Atlanta last week chastising people for “becoming addicted to wanting particular outcomes.”  The Court, Thomas said, “can’t be an institution that can be bullied into giving you just the outcomes you want.  The events from earlier this week are a symptom of that.”

It has to be noted that, in December 2000, Thomas was among the SCOTUS justices who ordered the state of Florida to stop counting ballots for the presidential election; thus handing George W. Bush the presidency.

“I’m a rape victim myself.  And when you realize what’s happened in your life, the trauma, the emotional, the mental, the physical trauma in a woman’s life, that decision ― she should make that decision with her doctor and between her and her God.”

Rep. Nancy Mace, in an interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation”

Mace added that, while she backs abortion rights and wants to see abortion laws handled at the state level, she would personally only support anti-abortion legislation in South Carolina that has exceptions for rape, incest and in cases where the woman’s life is in jeopardy.

“Is the state of Mississippi going to force those girls and women who have this tragedy inside them to carry the child to term?  Are you going to force them to do that?”

Jake Tapper, interviewing the Governor of Mississippi Tate Reeves about the possibility the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision

It was a Mississippi case that led to this critical moment in judicial history.  Tapper also asked Reeves if the state will force mothers to carry a child to term, even if the fetus is detected with “serious or fatal abnormalities that will not allow [it] to live outside the womb,” and in cases of incest.

Reeves argued that abortion procedures overwhelmingly happen in elective cases while incest is a much more uncommon circumstance by comparison.  “If we need to have that conversation in the future about potential exceptions in the trigger law, we can certainly do that,” he said.

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Right to Control

Many of the cases that arrive before the U.S. Supreme Court begin with individuals either trying right a wrong or make their own lives better.  They rarely expect to launch a national movement.  That was pretty much the case when Norma McCorvey found herself pregnant with her third child in 1969.  An unemployed carnival worker living outside Dallas at the time, McCorvey apparently had led a rough life and had given up her first two children for adoption.  She didn’t need – and couldn’t afford – to bring another child into the world.  However, the state of Texas didn’t allow for abortions except to save the life of the mother.  Even rape and incest victims couldn’t end their unwanted pregnancies.  Like so many women in her situation, McCorvey was too poor to travel to another state where abortions were safe and legal.  She even tried to obtain an illegal abortion, but again the cost was prohibitive.  She sought legal help and ended up under the guidance of attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington.

In 1970, after McCorvey had given birth and given up the baby, Coffee and Weddington filed paper work challenging the Texas law and bestowed the name “Jane Roe” upon their client.  They targeted then-Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade.  Wade had entered the national spotlight nearly a decade earlier when he prosecuted Jack Ruby for killing Lee Harvey Oswald who had been accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy.  (Wade would later come to light as a ruthless prosecutor who engaged in unscrupulous legal maneuvers to ensure criminal prosecutions, no matter the cost and despite evidence to the contrary.)

After McCorvey’s suit was filed, a Texas district court ruled the state’s abortion ban violated the constitutional right to privacy under the 14th Amendment.  Wade persisted, however, and vowed to prosecute any doctor who performed what he deemed unnecessary abortions in the state.  The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court and, in a 7-2 ruling on January 22, 1973, abortion was fully legalized in the United States.

That was pretty much the end of the issue until the 1980s, when right-wing religious leaders began stoking the fires of anti-abortion rhetoric.  It accompanied the presidency of Ronald Reagan who openly stated he wished for a return to an America before the 1960s.  That should say enough about his bigoted state of mind, but it aligned with a growing hostility towards progressive ideology and civil rights legislation.

Earlier this week the unexpected news arrived that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe vs. Wade by the end of its current term in June.  We wouldn’t know anything about this if it wasn’t for the leak of a draft opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito who declares the Roe decision “egregiously wrong” in terms of constitutional practicality.  Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed the veracity of the statement, but has joined many others in condemning the leak.

For many of us the leak isn’t the main concern.  It’s what it says.  There is now a very real possibility that nearly a half century of protection for that part of women’s overall health care could end because a handful of conservative extremists on the High Court want to inject their personal views into it.

For their like-minded ilk in the American public, the overturning of Roe marks the end of a long-fought battle in their alleged “pro-life” agenda; a perverted early Mother’s Day gift.  It doesn’t matter that a majority of Americans don’t want to see a complete ban on abortion.  They’ve been working for this moment over the past four decades.

For liberals, though, this is a much more dire situation.  While the current case that brought Roe back into the forefront is limited to just abortion, progressives see other seminal SCOTUS decisions in the judicial crosshairs.  It really isn’t extraordinary to see such cases as Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage, reversed.  Along with abortion, queer rights have been a target of far-right conservatives.  But, if the Court sees fit to outlaw abortion at the national level (and leave it up to individual states), it could also reasonably overturn Griswold vs. Connecticut, which ruled that states could not deny birth control to married couples.  Before that decision, married residents of Connecticut (and a few other states) couldn’t legally purchase birth control.

To some conservatives, abortion has become another form of birth control, which is not what contemporary feminists who jump-started the modern women’s movement desired.  The latter group had always declared that abortion should be a woman’s last choice.  But, with the overall concept of birth control in mind, is it possible a woman who has a tubal ligation could be criminally prosecuted?  For that matter, could men who have vasectomies be subject to criminal jurisprudence?  How about condoms or IUDs?  Could those be outlawed?

Why stop with Roe?  Aside from Obergefell and Griswold, could the Court target Loving vs. Virginia, the case that struck laws against interracial marriage?  How about Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, which outlaws racial desegregation in schools?

Remember that, when Antonin Scalia died in 2016, Republicans in the Senate displayed their usual contempt and disdain for President Obama by refusing to hold hearings on his nominee to the Court, until after Donald Trump got into office.  They stated that, since Scalia’s death occurred during an election year, the incoming president should select his replacement.  Yet, upon the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020, they rammed through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett – a character straight out of “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

That social and religious conservatives want to dictate what women can and cannot do with their own bodies conflicts with the long-held American vision of individual freedom.  Many of these people screamed at the thought mandatory mask-wearing or forced vaccinations at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; crying they should have autonomy over their own bodies.  Really?  What an original concept.

Conservatives herald the beauty of life, but a life costs hard dollars in the very real world of child-rearing.  Since 2019, for example, the state of Texas has experienced a 1,100% rise in children placed into foster care.  Love and compassion alone won’t pay those bills, no matter how much prayer one puts forth.  Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie once emphasized that pro-life means the entire life cycle – not just up to the moment the fetus is born.

The reasons why an individual woman wants to end a pregnancy are myriad, but it is no one else’s business.  As painful a decision as it may be, I’d rather see a woman end a pregnancy she doesn’t want than give birth to a child she doesn’t want.  Children who come into the world unwanted are often unloved.  That’s an awful fate for someone.

Regardless, pregnancy and birth are individual choices.  No one – not the Supreme Court and not a politician – has the right to interfere with that.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – April 30, 2022

“Just so we’re clear, bishops, when I said ‘controlled by Satan,’ I wasn’t talking about the Catholic Church. I was talking about you.  The Catholic Church must throw out these monsters instead of lecturing the people its own bishops have driven away.  I refuse to use kinder, gentler language as Bill Donohue might prefer when I talk about his disgusting and corrupt friends, who have made him rich with the donations from ordinary churchgoing Catholics.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, clarifying her criticism of the Catholic Church for helping immigrants, both legal and illegal

Greene, a long-standing critic of existing U.S. border policies, described the Church’s efforts as “Satan controlling the church.”  She added, “The church is not doing its job, and it’s not adhering to the teachings of Christ and it’s not adhering to what the Word of God says we’re supposed to do.”

“As much as the left likes to claim that they’re being erased — you’re erasing me — lesbians actually are — the category of lesbian is in fact, in reality, being erased.  And, if you follow the demographic trends, in another 30, 40 years, they just won’t exist anymore.”

Matt Walsh, opining on what he sees as the extinction of queer women on his show, Daily Wire

Walsh added, “And you look at the younger generations – Gen Z and Millennials – while LBGT identification has skyrocketed and trans identification has skyrocketed, lesbian identification has fallen off the cliff.  And why is that? It’s because every girl, every woman, who in the past would’ve identified themselves as a lesbian, now they’re being told, that oh no, you’re actually a man.  You’re not a lesbian, you’re actually a — not only a man, a straight man, it turns out.”

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Best Quotes of the Week – April 30, 2022

“When billionaires talk about freedom, watch your wallets.  Behind Elon Musk’s blather about free markets, free speech, and free choice is his goal to be free from accountability.”

Robert Reich, regarding Elon Musk’s recent takeover of Twitter

Reich went on to say: “The “free market” increasingly reflects the demands of big money. Unfriendly takeovers, such as Musk threatens to mount at Twitter, weren’t part of the “free market” until the late 1970s and early 1980s. Before then, laws and regulations constrained them. Then came corporate raiders like Carl Icahn and Michael Milken. Their MO was to find corporations whose assets were worth more than their stock value, borrow against them, acquire enough shares to force them to cut costs (such as laying off workers, abandoning their communities, busting unions, and taking on crushing debt), and cash in. But the raiders’ antics often imposed huge social costs. They pushed America from stakeholder capitalism (where workers and communities had a say in what corporations did) to shareholder capitalism (where the sole corporate goal is to maximize shareholder value). Inequality skyrocketed, insecurity soared, vast swaths of America were abandoned, and millions of good jobs vanished.”

“In the end, if Jimmy and Susie are curious about any of the above, they can do what everyone else does – get a room at the Motel Six and grab the Gideons.”

Chaz Stevens, a Florida resident who has asked the state to remove the Christian Bible from schools and public libraries because its content is inappropriate for children

He took issue with the many Biblical references to rape, bestiality, cannibalism and infanticide and proceeded to question whether the Bible is age-appropriate, pointing to its “casual” references to murder, adultery, sexual immorality, and fornication.  “Do we really want to teach our youth about drunken orgies?”

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Best Quote of the Week – April 23, 2022

“There is a difference between politics and outright hate. I think people are frustrated that elected officials haven’t done enough to call that out, that maybe Democrats are afraid of talking about religion and faith openly and honestly and calling hate what it is. I think we have to.”

Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow, defending herself from accusations by a fellow state senator, Republican Lana Theis, that she wants to “groom kids” and “sexualize” them

McMorrow added, “I am a straight, White, Christian, married, suburban mom” who wants “every kid to feel seen, heard and supported – not marginalized and targeted because they are not straight, White and Christian.”

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Worst Quotes of the Week – March 26, 2022

“Do you agree…that babies are racist?”

Sen. Ted Cruz, to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, repeatedly asking about her views on racism, children’s books and critical race theory (CRT)

He specifically asked if she agrees with a children’s book called “Anti-Racist Baby,” by Ibram X. Kendi, which is in the library at Georgetown Day School, a private school in Washington, D.C., at which Jackson was a board member.  Cruz held up a copy of the book and described it as one of the “most stunning” taught at the school.  He claimed it teaches children that babies are taught to be racist, not born racist, and that they are encouraged to admit if they have been racist and to talk about it.

In response, Jackson noted, “Georgetown Day School, just like the religious school that Justice [Amy Coney] Barrett was on the board of, is a private school.”

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how faithful would you say you are?  Do you attend church regularly?”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, inquiring about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s faith and how important it was to her

Jackson replied that, although faith played a big role in her life, she was reluctant to talk about it in detail because “I want the public to have confidence in my ability to separate out my personal views.”  Jackson noted she is “Protestant, non-denominational”.

Graham conceded that judges could separate their religious beliefs with the way they rule.  It must be highlighted, though, that Graham voted to confirm Jackson three times to other posts: her current seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a court considered second only to the U.S. Supreme Court; her previous seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; and her previous seat on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

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Best Quotes of the Week – January 29, 2022

“If we can do a better job to remember that we’re all created in God’s image, ‘b’tzelem Elohim.’ If we could all do more to tone down the rhetoric in politics and on talk shows and remember that we can debate ideas.  We don’t have to agree.  We also don’t have to attack one another personally to get our point across.”

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was taken hostage at gunpoint for 11 hours along with three other congregants at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas on January 15

The phrase ‘b’tzelem elohim,’ means “in the image of God”.

“We depend upon one another whether we know it or not and we are made better when more of us are seen and heard and helped. So many tiny-tribe people have been fooled into believing that someone else’s gain is their loss; that this existence is competitive when it is actually supposed to collaborative, that we take care of our own. That is a sad way to spend the brief time here that we have. I want something better.”

John Pavlovitz, in “Yes, This Is All About Tribalism”

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Most Hypocritical Quote of the Week – January 15, 2022

“Science tells us that after conception, that any … child’s heartbeat starts at six weeks. Any abortion at that point stops that heartbeat. It stops that life and it stops that gift from God. Today, I am asking all of you to protect the heartbeats of these unborn children. I am bringing legislation to ban all abortions once a heartbeat can be detected.”

Gov. Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota), in her State of the State address, in which she hopes to follow Texas’ lead and ban all abortions after 6 weeks

In a seemingly unrelated figure, South Dakota – with a population of just under 900,000 in 2020 – has an 11.9% poverty rate; the bulk of whom are non-White.

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