I grew up going to church. My father was a pastor and still preaches in the church, and I love listening to him give a sermon. But my religion does not and should not decide health policies for women in the entire state of Kansas, just as the Islamic religion should not interfere with my health care, or the beliefs of Judaism should not decide if I get chemotherapy. This is a country founded on freedom of religion to be practiced by me, in my church and in my personal life — not by my doctor during my gynecological exam.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and his Republican conservative allies want to make sure doctors in Kansas are not denied their right to freedom of religion when making decisions on women’s reproductive health — even if this requires lying to women or withholding information from women that could be detrimental to their health or possibly fatal. I wonder what these same politicians and doctors would do if their banks decided to apply their religious beliefs to these politicians’ and doctors’ personal money matters. Mark 10:21-27, 31 says, “Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.”
I wonder what Brownback would do if his bank decided to divvy up his fortune and give it to those in the bank with more financial need. I have a feeling the need for this banker to be able to practice his religion would be quickly curtailed by the powers that be. Yet this kind of reasoning is being used by some conservative Republicans to decide issues on women’s health. Traveling down this slippery slope, your grocery store cashier would be allowed to judge if you are treating your body as a temple and reserve the right to refuse to sell you food if the cashier does not agree with your choices. Or your tax preparer, much like the banker, would be able to decide if you have too much money or pay too little in taxes based on the tax preparer’s religious beliefs. Your building contractor could decide to build you a more Amish style house than the showy ostentatious house you had paid and contracted for, based on your contractor’s religious beliefs.
Furthermore, if we allow one religion to be practiced on our bodies, then we should allow all religions to do the same. Buddhism, Wiccan, Judaism, Paganism, Islam and Muslim are just a few of the other faiths practiced in the United States. What happens when it comes to circumcising male babies? Should the baby’s doctor get to make the decision whether the baby is circumcised based on the doctor’s religious faith?
Interestingly, the Christian Brownback said he would sign a bill that would have made it legal for doctors to lie to patients. This particular bill passed the Kansas House but got held up in the Kansas Senate. The legislation would have mandated doctors tell women considering an abortion that there is a greater risk of breast cancer after having an abortion, even though studies have shown that no such link exists.
Brownback did sign into law the Health Care Right of Conscience Act. This bill allows doctors and pharmacists to refuse to administer any drug they “reasonably believe” might result in the termination of a pregnancy. A doctor could refuse to provide birth control or even chemotherapy to a pregnant cancer patient. Support of such policies makes me wonder how Brownback reconciles his Christian beliefs with his obvious disregard for women’s health.
I want to state that no one likes abortion. However, in the past laws didn’t stop abortion; they just made it deadly for women. If someone really was concerned about the pain of a fetus, I would think that person would know that making birth control available is an effective way to decrease the numbers of abortions. Yet this same party is making birth control less available and advocating abstinence-only programs in schools and districts while studies show that contraception is much more effective at bringing down teen pregnancy rates than abstinence programs. This contradiction should make all of us suspect that the real motive has little to do with truly reducing the number of abortions and everything to do with controlling women.