Monday, April 10, 2006

The Theocratic Future of America

I managed to slog through Jack Hitt's article in the NY Times Magazine about the conditions, uh, prosecutions, now extant as a result of El Salvador's anti-abortion law. It was not a slog because of Hitt's writing, which is fine, but because it was simply agonizing to read the tales of these women who have been criminalized by an unrepentant penal system in that country. The anti-abortion law in El Salvador is an absolute. No exceptions. None. If one is looking for a vision of the future of the United States should the extremists of the Christian Right get their much-desired way, one need look no further than Central America. And just has been argued here, what the anti-abortion extremists ultimately intend to do is turn the female body into a potential crime scene:
As they do in any investigation, the police collect evidence by interviewing everyone who knows the accused and by seizing her medical records. But they must also visit the scene of the crime, which, following the logic of the law, often means the woman's vagina.

"Yes, we sometimes call doctors from the Forensic Institute to do a pelvic exam," Tópez said, referring to the nation's main forensic lab, "and we ask them to document lacerations or any evidence such as cuts or a perforated uterus." In other words, if the suspicions of the patient's doctor are not conclusive enough, then in that initial 72-hour period, a forensic doctor can legally conduct a separate search of the crime scene....

In the event that the woman's illegal abortion went badly and the doctors have to perform a hysterectomy, then the uterus is sent to the Forensic Institute, where the government's doctors analyze it and retain custody of her uterus as evidence against her.
In case that last passage didn't quite sink in, I'll rephrase it; if the back-alley abortion a woman may have had caused serious injury, the doctors will remove the uterus and use the "evidence" to convict them.

But things really take a turn when the topic of ecotopic pregnancy comes to the fore. As Hitt explains:
ectopic pregnancy, a condition that occurs when a microscopic fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube — which is no bigger around than a pencil — and gets stuck there (or sometimes in the abdomen). Unattended, the stuck fetus grows until the organ containing it ruptures. A simple operation can remove the fetus before the organ bursts. After a rupture, though, the situation can turn into a medical emergency.
According to Salvadoran anti-abortion law, an ectopian pregnancy cannot be terminated until either the fetus dies -- though there is no hope that it will live -- or the organ ruptures. So, instead of a preventive surgery that would save the woman agonizing pain and end the certainly doomed pregnancy, El Salvadoran doctors are forced to stand-by until the fallopian tube bursts and perform an emergency surgery to save the woman's life.

Given these horrific scenarios, it goes without saying that anyone aiding and abetting an abortion also risks imprisonment. If the Christian Right has more of its way, this could very well be the future of America. How can this happen here, one might ask?

Despite South Dakota overstepping the Samuel Alito judical model of incremental subversion of Roe v. Wade, the strategy is very clear and Jim DeMint inadvertantly offered up just how abortion law like the one in El Salvador could very well become the law of the land here. When Tim Russert asked DeMint if he would prosecute a woman who had had an abortion, DeMint hemmed and hawed and then blubbered some telling words:
RUSSERT: You would ban all abortion, period. If that was the law, who would you prosecute, the woman, the doctor, the father, who?

DeMINT: We've got to make laws first that protect life. How those laws are shaped are going to be a long debate.

[... respect ... life ... babies ... blah, blah blah, a lot of blubbering for awhile ...]

RUSSERT: Who would you prosecute?

DeMINT: We'll just have to decide that. I mean...

RUSSERT: What is your view?

DeMINT: You know, I can't come up with all the laws as we're sitting right here, but the question is are we going to protect human life with our laws?
That's how. Pass the law first because no one can be against killing babies, right? Then, once the non-specific law is on the books, figure out what it actually means and what the penalties are and who is liable under the law afterwards. The voting public won't care about all those niggling details, like who goes to jail and for how long. I mean, boooorrrrinnng.

The resurgence of the Christian Right demonstrates clearly that they are relentless and their newly emboldened agenda, somewhat dormant during the Clinton years, has taken on an unseemly vigour that is beginning to cast doubt upon the age of this country. Of course, this has not happened by accident but has been conjured forth over the course of many years by the unholy incantations of GOP flaks who went begging the "moral values" base throughout the south and midwest. And now, by the marriage of cunning and simplicity, between bible-thumping ignorami attacking science as "dogma" and claiming the Devil buried all 'dem dinosaur bones jussa test us, and lumpen moralists like DeMint spouting off about law and babies, the assault on secular, civil society by these clotpolls is at a crest not seen these same philistines were turning water cannons on black people marching for civil rights back in the sixties.

South Dakota is only the beginning.


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