Politics: A Womb With a View

Republicans have long espoused less government.  Particularly, this spring, when they wanted it to stay the hell out of Americans’ health care.  Never mind a woman’s reproductive health, however.  On that matter, government can’t possibly be too intrusive.

And maybe one of these years (or decades), the GOP will actually heed their creed of less government intrusion in our lives.  But – whoa, there – your GOP legislators in Tallahassee don’t want to surrender their privilege to intrude just yet.

Take House Bill 1143.  Before Gov. Crist wisely vetoed it last Friday, it threatened to require all Florida women seeking an abortion – still a legal procedure in this country – to first pay for – and view – an ultrasound of their fetus.

Crist described the bill as “mean-spirited.”  Damn right.  Not to mention, crassly insensitive – and intrusive.

Sen. Nan Rich (D-Sunrise) opposed the bill:  “It never should have seen the light of day in the first place, during a legislative session that was very difficult at best, dealing with jobs and economic development issues.  To have spent the time that we did on this issue was really kind of appalling.”

The bill’s supporters openly acknowledged their intent with the legislation was to induce more women to have second thoughts about aborting their fetus if they were first forced to see pictures of it –

“Now are you sure you want to go through with it?  Really, really sure?  Just look at that picture!  Look at your unborn child!  That’s a baby you’re about to kill!  Have you no guilt?  Have you no conscience?  Have you no shame?”

The vote was along party lines.  Natch.  Never mind that newspaper polls from St. Pete to Miami showed that Floridians overwhelmingly hated this bill.  Noooo, that wasn’t enough to deter the statehouse Republicans.

Just remember this:  Bill “I wanna be your next governor” McCollum wanted this bill.  Wanted it like a salivating fox outside a hen house.

“It is important to note,” your ever-so-concerned state attorney general said in urging Crist to sign the bill into law, “that viewing the ultrasound is optional for women.”

Perhaps lots of women voters will return the favor at the polls this fall and regard voting for him as optional, too – then cast their votes for Alex Sink.

“They can simply decline to view the ultrasound and sign a form,” he added.

Where exactly do we sign, pray tell, to get these nosy ass-wipes to stay the fuck out of our lives, out of our sex lives, out of our reproductive systems, out of our gynecological exams, out of our wombs?

Where?

“Ensuring that patients are fully informed prior to making a critical health care decision should be a policy we all support.”  Well.

And this from an attorney general who, no sooner had the president signed the health care reform bill, hastily joined other state attorneys general in filing lawsuits against Obama and his “socialized medicine” plan so as to prevent Floridians from enjoying the benefits of it.

How thoughtful of McCollum that he’s so paternally concerned about us being well-informed.  Just so long, of course, as he and his GOP brethren get to decide on what we can be well-informed about.

You Republicans want to force Florida women to view their ultrasounds?  Fine.  Can we then get to force you to sit through a graphic video of wild birds drenched in crude oil, slowly suffocating to death, courtesy of an oil spill made possible thanks to your heavy-handed advocacy of off-shore drilling?

Here’s a new one for you:  Get a job with your local school district.  Prove yourself a loyal and hard worker.  Climb the ladder up to instructional supervisor for special education programs.  Then, in year 24, submit falsified applications on behalf of your own son and daughter for a total of $19,000 in scholarship money, money intended for disabled children – so that your own kids can attend an exclusive private school.  And make their mom proud.

That’s what Deborah Swirsky-Nunez, of Miami-Dade Public Schools, did.  She might have gotten away with it, too, if the superintendent’s office hadn’t gotten a complaint that was then investigated.

Trial date is pending; penalty could include time in the clink.

I feel for the kids.  What must it be like that everybody on campus now knows your ticket to private school came courtesy of your felonious mom?

Ahh, but at least she did it for the kids and not for herself, right?  Next year’s Mother’s Day card should be interesting:

“Dear Mom,

At least you thought of us.

And we think fondly of you…

See you on the next visitation day!”

Here’s another one for you:  Get elected mayor of your town (population:  93,000).  Double-duty as a warehouse operations director for the local school district.  Get caught on surveillance video stealing an industrial-strength commercial food mixer from a district warehouse.

That’s what happened to 17-year Hawthorne, Calif., mayor Larry Guidi.  Claims he needed it to make more dough for his backyard pizza oven.

Prosecutors say Guidi was so proud of his pizza oven that he even had images of it on Facebook.  He’s now charged with burglary and grand theft.

Maybe the prison kitchen he’s assigned to will have a food mixer.

There aren’t many religious figures I admire – or who are worth admiring – and in this day and age when an alarming number of them make headlines for all the wrong reasons (screwing altar boys… getting it on with a mistress or a male escort… being photographed frolicking on the beach with a forbidden lover… shifting pedophilic priests around from parish to parish in the years before you became pope…) it’s nice to know there are still some who are genuine in deed and thought.

Desmond Tutu is and always has been one of those in my book.

Two weeks ago, President Obama presented the 78-year-old archbishop emeritus of South Africa the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal in recognition of work, accomplishments or personal attributes exemplifying the legacy of Abraham Lincoln.

A year before he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the campaign to end apartheid, Tutu visited my college campus, where I was a freshman journalism major and freelancer for the student paper.  He was one of my first interview subjects as a college journalist.  On the night of the campus’s black student union dinner at which he was the guest of honor, we asked him if he might come out publicly in favor of what then was a controversial, and almost treasonous, issue – disinvestment (advocating foreign governments and companies pull out of economic investments in South Africa so as to pressure the apartheid regime).

I can think of bigger and more disloyal things for which to possibly get arrested by my government – the good-humored clergyman teased us – than to stand up at a tiny, relatively-unheard-of American college and advocate for disinvestment.

But while he didn’t do it then, he eventually did sign on to – and became one of the most powerful proponents of – the concept, which in time brought pressure on the South African government, eroded the apartheid system, and heralded a new era that would see black self-rule and a President Mandela.

It’s so good to observe, all these years later, that Desmond Tutu’s mission in life is not yet finished, and that he still, at his age, gets around the world, promoting peace and happily, eagerly working to better the lot of people everywhere.

Oh, if only all clergy people would commit themselves to missions as noble as that.

About Charles Branham-Bailey

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