When the Founding Fathers crafted the Constitution, they assigned certain powers to the bicameral houses of Congress as well as the procedures and rules to pass laws. The Founders also made provisions forbidding establishment of a state religion to guarantee that citizens were not forced to adhere to any particular faith. On August 15, 1789, James Madison wrote that he “apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience.” Madison would not recognize the current Congress or the unconstitutional establishment and enforcement of Christianity on lawmaking at the hands of Republicans.
Yesterday during debate on H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” House Republicans forced a religious doctrine on the American people by passing the bill based solely on their belief in god. The House GOP also lied about the bill’s provisions that go against their own core beliefs on taxation, state’s rights, personal liberty, and government interference in the business community. The debate was between a parade of Republican liars who gave mini-sermons, and Democrats who attempted to protect women’s individual liberties and businesses from Republicans. It was a spectacle that was reminiscent of revivalist tent-meetings where charlatans deceive the public to inflame religious passions and paint Democrats as homicidal maniacs intent on killing babies as well as women.
The first lie Republicans perpetuated was that H.R. 3 was necessary to prevent the federal government from paying for elective abortion on demand. The Hyde Amendment prohibits one penny of taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions, but the god-fearing Republican liars disputed that the Hyde Amendment adequately prevented such funding. Besides the Hyde Amendment, President Obama made an executive order last year prohibiting taxpayer money from funding abortions as part of the Affordable Health Care Act.
According to the Hyde Amendment and President Obama’s executive order, abortions are only covered in the cases of rape and incest. In H.R. 3, Republicans put a provision that said rape had to be “forced” and Democrats offered an amendment to remove “forcible” from the language; Republicans railed on them and claimed the word was never in the bill. Several Republicans said the Democrats were lying and creating a distraction by claiming rape had to be forcible to qualify for abortion coverage; they also said the American people should read the bill to see for themselves that the Democrats were being dishonest. The word forcible is in the bill and every Republican voted against removing it from the language of the law.
When Democrats offered an amendment that prohibits medical records from being exposed to the IRS for audit, every Republican voted against keeping women’s records secret. Before the vote on the amendment, one Republican after another lied and said that there was absolutely nothing in H.R.3 that related to taxes or restrictions on health plans and yet the bill plainly disallows any deduction for health insurance premiums, medical flex-accounts, or self-purchased premium health plans if there is abortion coverage. The IRS could request and inspect a woman’s medical records to determine if she purchased a plan that included abortion coverage whether she used the coverage or not. Republicans consistently call removing a tax credit a tax increase, and yet H.R. 3 disallows businesses or individuals from claiming a deduction or credit for health plans that include abortion coverage.
No-one is surprised that Republicans tell abject lies for their ignoramus fundamentalist supporters whether they are lying about taxpayer funded abortions or the benefits of giving subsidies to the oil industry. It is surprising that the only argument in favor of H.R. 3 was from a religious perspective and it was disgusting to watch one lying Republican after another give their spiritual counsel from the floor of the House of Representatives. The Founders didn’t intend for scriptural testimonials to be used in making laws, and they would not advocate representatives enforcing the legal observation of god’s law or compelling anyone to worship god, and yet that is exactly what Republicans did on the floor of the House.
Some Republicans implied that women could not be trusted to make choices regarding their own reproductive health. Many of the GOP evangelists said they were protecting the life of the unborn as well as women who may choose abortion because only god can make life and death decisions. The insinuation is that Republicans are god and they alone can make choices for women.
The primary sponsor of the bill, Chris Smith (R-NJ) related a story of a woman who did not want an abortion but the doctor and nurses laughed and told her to “shut-up” and take it. Smith said it happens 4,000 times a day and that taxpayers were paying the doctors to kill babies against the woman’s will. None of the Republicans gave any specifics of forced abortions, but it certainly served to inflame the fundamentalists who may have been listening.
If any American wondered what legislating the bible and installing a theocratic set of laws looked like, it was on display yesterday in the House of Representatives during the debate on H.R. 3. The final vote was down party lines with 16 cowardly Democrats joining every lying Republican in the House. The entire debate from Republicans consisted of god talk and deceitful lies. The biggest lie from House Republicans is that the government is funding all the abortions in the country, and conservative Christian legislators know the existing law prohibits taxpayer dollars from funding abortions. Their bill is an attack on women’s right to choose and an ongoing attempt to subvert Roe v. Wade at any cost.
H.R. 3 is an assault on state’s rights, businesses, medical professionals, and most of all, women’s rights. The title of the bill is itself redundant with current law and unnecessary. If anyone reads the text they realize that Republicans are prohibiting all abortions regardless of who pays for them and Republicans say as much. The bill still has to go through the Senate and President Obama, and there is sure to be more theocratic posturing with Republicans playing god’s messengers throughout the process; it is all they have in their arsenal.
The Dominionists and evangelical fanatics in the Republican Party have passed the first hurdle in reshaping our democracy into a theocracy, and if the maniacal fundamentalists are not stopped it is the beginning of the end of America. The Republicans who do the bidding of the extremists have broken their oath of office and must be recalled or impeached. The sickening display of Republicans stumping for god on the floor of the House is only matched by the horrid assault on women’s rights. The misogynists who say women are incapable of making choices for themselves deserve to be in prison for cruelty, and the Founding Fathers would jail the legislators for imposing their religion on the government in violation of the Constitution.
Yesterday was a sad and momentous day in American history because in a few hours, every Republican and 16 Democrats cast the first votes for theocracy. They also cast votes to send women back to the Bronze Age when they were possessions for men’s pleasure as well as birth machines to make more Christian soldiers. It was difficult watching liberty and freedom from religion die at the hands of lying House Republicans while their Taliban-fundamentalist supporters cheered from the pews at the assault on democracy and America’s women.