The Culture of Strife
Across the nation this week, the Republican Party and its amen corner unleashed a tidal wave of dangerously irresponsible interventions into the most personal and intimate aspects of Americans' private lives. Whether they will pay a political price for their increasingly extreme - and unpopular - positions remains to be seen.
Let's begin in Madison, Wisconsin, where the state assembly voted to ban the distribution and use of the "morning after" pill on state campuses. By a 49-41 vote, the assembly voted to prohibit University of Wisconsin System health centers from advertising, prescribing or dispensing emergency contraception -- drugs that can block a pregnancy in the days after sex. The effort was led by Republican Representative Daniel LeMahieu, who declared the pill "chemical abortion." Democratic Governor Jim Doyle has vowed to veto the legislation if it is next approved by the Senate.
In Florida, Governor Jeb Bush decided to extend his perverse intervention in the Schiavo tragedy. In the aftermath of autopsy results conclusively demonstrating that Terri Schiavo suffered massive brain damage, blindness and was indeed in a persistent vegetative state, Governor Bush called for a new inquiry into her 1990 collapse. Despite clear scientific evidence and an overwhelming national consensus supporting the autonomy and sanctity of end-of-life decisions, Jeb Bush continued to pander to the most extreme elements of the conservative movement. In doing so, he joins the right-wing slander against Michael Schiavo.
Up in Massachusetts, Governor and obvious 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney continues his sharp right turn. This week, he announced his support for a state constitutional ban on both same-sex marriage and civil unions. In May, Romney vetoed a bill funding stem cell research in the state, only to be easily overridden. For Romney, whose on again/off again anti-choice credentials could prove costly in the GOP presidential primaries, fighting family equality is critical to his hopes of securing the nomination.
Back in the heartland, the Iowa Supreme Court today let stand a lower court decision dissolving a civil union between two women. The Court ruled against three state legislators and the Iowa Family Policy Center, declaring that "we fail to see how the district court's action in dissolving a civil union of another couple harmed in any specific way these plaintiffs' marriages and for this reason, they have shown no legally recognized interest or personal stake in the underlying action." The Court continued by rejected an argument by Matthew Wentz, pastor of the Church of Christ in Le Mars, that the decision threatened his ability as a minister to solemnize marriages."
These are only the latest battles of a power-drunk, anachronistic conservative movement in its expanding nationwide war. From pharmacists refusing to provide birth control and government agencies publishing bogus claims about abortion-cancer links to FDA stonewalling of the Plan B pill, the onslaught on personal privacy continues. But with solid public support for preserving Roe v Wade, stem cell research, and end-of-life autonomy, the Republicans comeuppance may arrive just in time for the 2006 mid-term elections.