Friday, January 23, 2009

Pay Attention

Yesterday, Ruth noted the "Right To Life" demonstrations in Washington, D.C. The gathering was right on schedule: yesterday was the anniversary of Roe v Wade. I frankly don't see anything wrong with people protesting as they did yesterday. After all, this is America. We all have certain rights guaranteed by the Constitution, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

What is problematic, however, is when the protests take more drastic and life threatening forms, such as in this case in St. Paul, Minnesota:

On the 36th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, a man smashed his SUV into the entrance of the Planned Parenthood office in St. Paul...

Several employees were in the building at the time, said Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola. She said the SUV hit the front door of the clinic two or three times, damaging the clinic's front door and surrounding stonework.

When Di Nicola arrived at the clinic, she said the man had gotten out of the SUV and was pacing around it, holding a crucifix and chanting. "He was agitated and he was saying, 'shut down this Auschwitz,' " she said.

A dangerously ill person? Clearly, but one who will no doubt be hailed as a hero by at least some of his colleagues in the movement against reproductive rights. Fortunately, in recent times we haven't had as much of the violence against the clinics and their employees as we have had.

That doesn't mean the struggle is over, however, not by a long shot. One of the earliest bills introduced into the 111th Congress is HR 227. Here's a little of the language from that bill:

In the exercise of the powers of the Congress, including Congress' power under article I, section 8 of the Constitution, to make necessary and proper laws, and Congress' power under section 5 of the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States--

(1) the Congress declares that--

(A) the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being, and is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person; and

(B) the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, irrespective of sex, health, function or disability, defect, stage of biological development, or condition of dependency, at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood; and

(2) the Congress affirms that the Congress, each State, the District of Columbia, and all United States territories have the authority to protect the lives of all human beings residing in its respective jurisdictions.
[Emphasis added]

Now, just so it is absolutely clear what the intent of this bill is, its 53 sponsors included definitions of the key terms:

For purposes of this Act:

(1) FERTILIZATION- The term `fertilization' means the process of a human spermatozoan penetrating the cell membrane of a human oocyte to create a human zygote, a one-celled human embryo, which is a new unique human being.

(2) CLONING- The term `cloning' means the process called somatic cell nuclear transfer, that combines an enucleated egg and the nucleus of a somatic cell to make a human embryo.

(3) HUMAN; HUMAN BEING- The terms `human' and `human being' include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, beginning with the earliest stage of development, created by the process of fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent.

Here we go again.

I think it unlikely that the bill will pass the House, much less the Senate, but what this makes clear is that the Religious Reich are not giving up, even though the country rousted several of that contingent's favorite politicians.

Nonetheless, and just to be on the safe side, I urge you to contact your congress critter and make it clear that HR 227 is unacceptable and that you expect him/her to vote against it. At present, the bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. You can find a list of who sits on that committee here. If your representative is on that committee, you should have a special incentive in contacting him or her.

By the way, Thomas is another dandy tool to have at hand if you truly are interested in making government interactive. You can find out what a particular bill actually says, who submitted it, who co-sponsored it, where it is in the legislative process, and, when it comes up for a vote, how our employees voted on it. It's worth a bookmark.

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Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

I am not a bible-quoter (tho I have played one on tv), but my recollections (faded and hazy at best) are that the "bible" sez life begins at "first breath."

Foeti don't breathe, afaik.

Ergo, they are not "alive"...or am I missing something...

Btw, I remarked on similar circumstances this morning.

8:54 AM  

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