As the Senate prepares once again to vote on a measure to restrict reproductive rights, this time a 20 week ban, I was curious to see how Senator Steve Daines would justify his vote. In an interview with a group called Bound for Life I learned that his rationale rested on the logic of 13 year-old boys and Fox News devotees: a search of Google Images.
Daines tells the the organization:
One of the thoughtful questions we could be asking is, “Have you ever gone to Google and typed in 20 week baby or 20 week fetus? Try it and click on the images.” Suddenly your friend will see what a 20 week-old baby looks like in the womb. That image is clearly a unique life.
Who needs theologians, medical ethicists, doctors, or the women whose health and rights will be impacted when you can use pictures from Google to make critical decisions for the country? Actual informed opinion is certainly less important than are patriarchal values and Internet memes.
As a Senator, Mr. Daines undoubtedly has free access to more information than most of us. He could have instructed staffers to read the medical journals that overwhelmingly support the position that a twenty week abortion ban is bad science and policy; he could have walked over to that giant library founded on principles of Jeffersonian inquiry, and discovered the same himself. Instead, because the images appealed to his already decided mind that women do not deserve reproductive freedom, he took propaganda photos from pro-life activists as evidence for his position.
Before Republicans want to be taken seriously on this issue and place the mantle of Wilberforce on their undeserving shoulders, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that they base their opinions on actual science.
Now, I have to admit that I once held the position that perhaps abortion should be restricted at the “pain threshold” for the fetus. I remember being persuaded by an article I’d read that it represented a potential compromise on the divisive issue of abortion that seemed to be ripping the country apart. I was wrong on two counts: first, like Daines I didn’t know a damn thing about reproductive rights and was woefully undereducated when I took my position on the issue, and second, I was even more wrong to assume that conservatives are interested in compromise on this issue. Look back to the interview with Daines, where he is compared with William Wilberforce, who is credited with ending slavery in Britain. Wilberforce did end slavery after twenty weeks, he abolished it, and to see these moves to restrict reproductive rights positioned as compromise as anything other than a gradual strategy to outlaw abortion in the entire country would be breathtakingly naive.
It is gratifying, however, to learn that Senator Daines has an appreciation for the Catholic Church’s “unwavering stance on life.” Perhaps further research on Google images will reveal the church’s position on the abhorrence of the death penalty, the evil of unjust wars, and most importantly, perhaps, the spiritual and physical deaths caused worldwide by unrestrained capitalism, all of which have been condemned by Pope Francis. Otherwise, it’s hard to take it very seriously when a Senator talks about the moral necessity of defending all life while promoting an ideology and policy often at odds with it. Perhaps the good Senator can explain his admiration for this statement about the importance of human life from the current pontiff:
“[B]ehind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called ‘the dung of the devil’. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.”
Somehow, I suspect he’ll be a bit less enthusiastic in his support of that statement.
More this week on the political posturing from Republicans who are using manufactured outrage yet again to throw a tantrum and threaten the ongoing operations of the federal government.