Trade agreements are an important aspect of any country’s economy, and since globalization of the world’s markets is now the rule and not the exception, it is foolish to hamper with agreements with our most valued trading partners. South Korea is one of America’s trading partners that provide us with affordable products because of cheap labor and the use of our technology and raw materials, and drives their economic engine as well as bolstering American corporation’s profits. The Senate Finance Committee began action on the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement on Thursday, and although it is a trade pact under consideration, Senator Orin hatch (R-UT) attached an amendment to the deal that has absolutely nothing to do with trading.
The Utah Republican’s amendment to the agreement bans organizations like hospitals that provide abortions from receiving Medicaid family planning funds even if an abortion saves a woman’s life. There is little doubt that abortion is irrelevant to anything to do with a trade agreement with South Korea, but it shows the folly and hateful political wrangling Hatch is willing to engage in to make political points with Christian conservative voters. Mr. Hatch submitted several amendments related to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act that have nothing whatsoever to do with a U.S.-South Korea trade agreement because his polling numbers are down heading into the 2012 election season. Hatch’s actions are typical of Republicans willing to hold crucial legislation hostage for his own political gain, but tying abortions to South Korea is a new low. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to reject Hatch’s amendments, but his action shows the length Republicans are willing to go through to ban legal abortions in America.
There are several states that have or are striving to defund Planned Parenthood as a means of banning abortion coverage regardless that no federal money can be used for abortions under the rules of the Hyde Amendment. It is one thing to oppose abortion, but defunding Planned Parenthood is opposition to life. The majority of Planned Parenthood’s services are for birth control, cancer screenings, annual checkups, and sexually transmitted disease treatment and testing services. Of all the services Planned Parenthood provides, only 3% are for abortions and no federal money can be used for the completely legal procedure. In several states, bans on abortions under “fetal pain” bills so far this year conflict directly with the fetal viability standard ruled by the Supreme Court. A fetus that is 20 weeks old cannot exist on its own outside the womb, but according to personhood laws in several states, the moment a sperm fertilizes a woman’s egg Christians consider the subsequent zygote a person.
The move by states to defund Planned Parenthood will have detrimental consequences for poor women and middle class women alike. In America, one-in-five women have used Planned Parenthood’s services for pre-natal counseling, birth control, cancer screening and important annual checkups. In states where Planned Parenthood has been defunded, tens of thousands of women have no alternative but to forego important preventative medical procedures and the results will be increased incidences of cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. It is clear that conservative Christians intend to kill as many poor women as possible by subjecting them to the slow death of cancer just to say they tried to stop legal abortion. Apparently, the sanctity of life does not extend to mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and granddaughters of conservative Christians who use birth control.
A study at The Guttmacher Institute on contraceptive use among religious women reported that 99 percent of women who have been sexually active have used contraception other than “natural family planning,” including 98 percent of Catholic women in spite of the Church’s ban on contraception. Defunding Planned Parenthood will prohibit poor women who are Catholics and evangelical extremists from having access to birth control, and with a prohibition on federal funding for abortions already in place, it is obvious that the Christian movement to defund Planned Parenthood is more about controlling a woman’s sexual activity than preventing abortion. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann claims liberals are conducting a war against women’s fertility, and a Texas state legislator admitted that the drive to defund Planned Parenthood in Texas is really a prohibition on birth control.
It is dangerous for states to defund Planned Parenthood, especially when it is tied to Medicaid. Indiana risked losing $4.3 billion in Medicaid funding for seniors and the poor because they cannot restrict who gets federal money for medical procedures and treatment. However, the conservative Christian legislature would jeopardize Medicaid funds to promote their bible-inspired opposition to birth control, and if seniors and poor residents die in the process, at least the killers made a gallant stand for the sanctity of life. It is also interesting that the minute a fetus breathes air, the Christians withhold funding for children’s wellness and food programs to teach them a lesson about the limitations on the sanctity of life.
These attacks on women’s right to use birth control or have affordable cancer screenings demonstrates the lengths Republicans are willing to go in pushing their social conservative policies that will result in death and disease for women. Orin Hatch is willing to jeopardize an international trade agreement to satisfy his Christian conservative voting bloc, and if in the process women lose out on cancer screening or reproductive health care; he will have at least won a few extra votes from death-dealing Christian conservative voters who wave the sanctity of life banner.
Americans must see the lengths Republicans are willing to go through to garner votes from the religious right and Christian extremists who are willing to allow tens-of-thousands of women in every state to die just to stop a legal medical procedure their preacher tells them is bad. How long before a Republican senator or congressperson attaches an amendment to the next trade agreement forcing Latinos into slavery, or puts African Americans into cages so white racists can shoot them? If Orin Hatch or any of his Republican purveyors of death have their way, there is nothing out of the realm of possibility. Will they attach an amendment to a trade bill that says Catholics must undergo forced sterilization, or that people with red hair get their eyes gouged out? Republicans will use any manner of evil machinations looking for votes from their vile supporters, and if Orin Hatch is willing to hold up free trade with South Korea over abortions, there is certainly trouble on the horizon.