Thursday, December 29, 2011

Republicans Are Going Extreme on Abortion

I have noted many times that I am not a proponent of abortion which should be resorted to rarely and not used as a form of birth control. That said, making abortion illegal in all cases is wrong and not only tramples of individual rights but is dangerous and would put the lives of many women at risk. Nonetheless, the many of the GOP presidential candidate clown car - Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann and Santorum to date - have signed on to the so-called "personhood" movement even though a ballot initiative in Mississippi, by far and away the nation's most backward and reactionary state, was defeated by a wide margin back in November. For those living under rocks, the "personhood movement wants to define a fertilized egg as a human being. The phenomenon demonstrates just how extreme and sectarian the GOP is becoming and it ought to wake people up to the fact that the Christianists want to ban not only same sex marriage, but also abortion and ultimately contraception. Indeed, the enactment of nothing less than a Christianist version of Sharia law seems to be the ultimate goal. Michelle Goldberg's piece at The Daily Beast looks at the growing insanity of the GOP. Here are highlights:

In November, when the personhood movement tried to pass a ballot initiative in Mississippi defining a fertilized egg as a human being, it lost by 58 percent. It was a staggering defeat in one of the country’s reddest states, and a sign of just how extreme personhood is.

That doesn’t mean, though, that it’s too extreme for the Republican presidential field. Last night, four GOP candidates—Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry—took part in a “tele-town hall” sponsored by Personhood USA, which was broadcast on the radio program of Steve Deace, an influential Iowa evangelical. The event demonstrated that a commitment to banning all abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, and threats to a woman’s health, is now the normative position among the party’s presidential contenders.

Each of the candidates, who spoke separately and took a couple of questions each, took the same hard-line position. The differences were on the margins. Bachmann distinguished herself with her dishonesty, claiming at one point that Obama is “putting abortion pills for young minors, girls as young as 8 years of age or 11 years of age, on [the] bubblegum aisle.”

Gingrich sounded rather more rational, but his argument may have been the most radical of the four. In response to a question about how he would respond to a Supreme Court ruling against a personhood law, he insisted that the legislative and executive branches can “rebalance the judiciary.” He referred listeners to a paper on his website (PDF) which, among other things, suggests that Congress abolish uncooperative courts and judgeships, and argues that in certain rare cases, “the executive branch might choose to ignore a Court decision.” Rather than overturn Roe v. Wade, he proposes to overturn the entire system of judicial review.

Given that Mitt Romney will likely be the nominee, we probably don’t have to worry about Gingrich’s dreams of extrajudicial power. Still, it’s worth paying attention to the sort of views expressed last night. After all, they’re the views of the majority of the current Republican field, a field in which the position that Rick Perry held on abortion until last month is unacceptably moderate.

It is truly frightening just how unbalanced and extreme the Republican Party has become. At times I wonder how the knowledge of the Roman Empire was lost and the Dark Ages ensued. One need only look at what the GOP is becoming to see how the wholesale move towards ignorance can occur.

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