Mike Huckabee jumps on anti-abortion bandwagon

The goal: criminalize abortion, make it impossible for a physician in the U.S. to perform an abortion or for a woman in the U.S. to obtain a safe, legal abortion. The progress: excellent. The methods: distortion, sensationalism and more than a few outright lies. The concern for women: zero.

But it’s working. Obviously it’s going to get a lot of conservative Republicans elected.

This just in from Georgia Right to Life:

Today (May 3) Governor Mike Huckabee announced his support for SB 529 in a message that is going out to Georgia constituents asking for their support for SB 529. Governor Huckabee noted the importance of this bill, “SB 529 is a simple bill that prevents a woman from being forced to have an abortion against her will and prohibits the use of abortion as a means of race or gender discrimination. I’m asking you to support SB 529 and to ask your representative to support SB 529.”

Two weeks ago the Georgia Senate passed SB 529 with overwhelming support. On Tuesday, April 13, 2010, SB 529 had a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, but no vote was taken.

SB 529 was drafted by some of the leading pro-life attorney’s in the nation and was reviewed positively by the American Center for Law and Justice, Liberty Counsel, the Thomas Moore Law Center, Americans United for Life, and Focus on the Family.

Here are just a few interesting factoids: Mike Huckabee is the former governor of Arkansas, currently a regular on Fox News, formerly a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Presumably his “constituents” are those who will now support his next presidential — or whatever — bid because of this brave stand against “forced abortion.” Focus on the Family is a Christian organization that is not averse to messing around in political campaigns. The un-subtle message of that “as a means of race discrimination” is the bizarre hook with which abortion foes are seeking to manipulate African Americans, by equating abortion with Black genocide.

It is simply not so. Women do not need pious white guys protecting them from being marched in droves into abortion clinics. African American women do not need anybody telling them what they may or may not do with their bodies.

What we need is the right to life, our lives. The right to choose. The right to control our own bodies. Once the abortion foes win this battle — which gets scarier by the day — those basic human rights will be taken away from American women. Because women get pregnant. Sometimes that pregnancy is a mistake, a threat, a danger. When abortion becomes illegal, women will have no option but the back alley abortionist.

Decreasing numbers of us know what that was like, but I can tell you. Before Roe v Wade, legions of women, for countless valid reasons, needed to terminate a pregnancy. A few found doctors willing to risk their license in order to give a woman a safe choice. But uncounted thousands of us wound up in the filthy, unsafe, demeaning hands of back alley abortionists. Uncounted thousands died. Those who died were white, Black and all shades in between.

Would Mike Huckabee like to see his daughter go through that tragic indignity? That’s where we are headed.

A note to Sarah Palin

The industrious Sarah Palin, having thankfully receded somewhat from front pages everywhere, has been all over cyberspace and the airwaves recently with her Tea Party appearances and her new Fox News job. There is cause for alarm.

Palin is a grand master — or perhaps mistress — of the art of Us v Them politics. Some of us who still hang onto the hope for an Us and Them America were dismayed by her rhetoric. Not that it has changed, just that it was so comfortably forgotten for a while. Palin seems unenthusiastic about letting anyone forget her for a while.

Political commentator Amy Walter suggested, on last night’s PBS NewsHour, that Palin and the Tea Party boosters are simply capitalizing on the general American frustration with the status quo. Politicians like Marco Rubio in Florida and Scott Brown in Massachusetts, she said, are “recognizing the mood” and adjusting their messages to fit.

The mood of the Us-and-Them Together  party is glum. One Tea Party conventioneer explained to NewsHour about Palin that “She speaks like we do, she thinks like we do.” God help us. Maybe someone else will join in the U&T Together Party”s effort to respond to Palin’s latest:

“How’s that hopey changey thing workin’ out for you?” — Well, not exactly as we’d wish, but better, we think, than those hopey changey things you are promoting.

And about that comment you made re running for President of the United States — I’ll just keep on doin’ a darn good job… Could we respectfully request you confine your darn good job to Fox News? The U&T Together Party is not feeling hopey changey about Fox News.

Health Policy: Is Altruism Dead?

Recently in this space the me-first word was brought up. (It does not abbreviate well.) Might as well say it out loud: health reform could surely be sunk by the Me-Firsters, those who would put personal desires above the greater good, whether those desires are for better pharmaceutical or insurance industry bottom lines or for some corner of personal coverage, senior or otherwise, that might be sacrificed in the future.

I am not above having those desires. My husband and I actually have a tiny bit of stock in a drug company thanks to some mergers and buyouts I do not pretend to understand (I also don’t mess with the family stock portfolio) and thus a decline could cost household income we can ill afford. Plus, I would hate having the excellent care I get from Kaiser (thank you, Medicare) curtailed and would be seriously bummed if suddenly stuck with paying 100% of my post-cancer meds. But if that, or something equally draconian, is what it will take to get health coverage for my currently-uninsured friends, I would like to go on record as supporting whatever we must do to get access for all. This is not noble, just minimally humane.

There are noble people out there, however. They sign up for Teach for America, they volunteer in nursing homes and day care centers and hospice programs, put in long hours at food banks or take to the streets in other, similarly un-chic endeavors.

Re the current health reform brouhaha, there are also noble people, or at the very least altruistic people, all over the country; you just don’t hear a lot about them. On August 19, for example, President Obama urged supporters of health reform to “speak facts and truth” in what he said was a “contest between hope and fear,” and tried once again to refute some of the misrepresentations still widely circulating. His comments were themselves fairly widely circulated. But unless you happened to run across them in this space you would not have known they were made to 140,000 members of faith communities and/or supporters of community-organizing nonprofits. The people of Sojourners, Faith in Action, PICO and other groups that put together the 40 Days for Health Reform conference call are not in it for personal gain; they happen to believe everyone in this country should have access to health care. The next day, Nancy Pelosi held a press conference reiterating her determination to keep a public option in the final health bill. But again, unless you happened to see it here you would not have known the event was sponsored by the San Francisco Interfaith Council with a lot of help from its friends in the San Francisco Organizing Project.

When the religious right goes on a tear against abortion or end-of-life choice (or for that matter, when the religious left goes head-to-head with its ideologically-opposed brothers and sisters) it makes news. When community organizers stage high-profile protests, the same thing happens. What does not make news is the enormous effort made by people of good will just to promote the common good — most recently, health reform.

Some opponents of Obama and his reform bills even have an altruistic bone or two. The reportedly calm, if badly misinformed, Bob Collier, featured in a front page New York Times article August 25, allowed that “we’ve got to do something about those people who can’t get insurance.” He qualified that later: “There has to be a safety net there. But I don’t want that safety net to catch too many people.” Somehow, Mr. Collier wants to separate out the “truly needy” from the “lazy and irresponsible people who play the system” and wouldn’t we all. The Times said that Mr. Collier gets his information from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge, none of whom I see as particularly altruistic. I would surely welcome him to True/Slant.

But the people cited above, people in faith communities (including many I disagree with and some I can’t pronounce), progressive nonprofits, community organizing groups and others just roaming the streets being kind, these people seek access to health care for everyone without worrying about who deserves it and who does not. A great many of them worked hard to put Obama in office, and are now working hard for health reform for no reason other than it is the right thing to do for someone else. Might be unrealistic but they keep at it.

My money is still on those people.