Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oklahoma Republicans On the Hot Seat

Here in Oklahoma things have gotten sticky for republican legislators. At question is Oklahoma state senate bill 1433, which among other things declares that a person exists within a woman's womb the very second a sperm fertilizes an egg.

The Christian Imams are clamoring for its passage in the state house, but for reasons unsaid the republican majority is reluctant to do so. It has shelved the bill and wants to let it die this session. This decision has enraged the evangelicals and catholic clergy, along with an outfit known as Parenthood USA. Parenthood is one of those right wing organizations, much like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which writes bills promoting their agenda and then hands them off to arch conservative hacks from places like Hollis, Oklahoma. You know, people who have been elected to office, but are too stupid to come up with their own ideas or legislation.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to read the bill, because to do so you need software I don't possess. It is obvious, however, that something is terribly wrong with the way it is written. We aren't talking about New York and Massachusetts republicans here. We are talking about yahoos who go out and shoot their dinners. These are the same people who will tell you, quite seriously, that if you support Barak Obama you are a communist sonofabitch. No, the only reason this thing hasn't gone to the floor and passed is that it is flawed beyond redemption and even the conservative clods who hold the majority in the state house recognize it as such.

The Tulsa World quotes Oklahoma Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice co president, Kelly Jennings as saying, "Only attorneys who litigate all the law suits arising from this ridiculous legislation will benefit." That gives us a hint as to how helter skelter the wording must be.

Other organizations and supporters are shrilly denying the legislation will cause in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and even contraception to become illegal. Their denials are so desperate that it makes one think that is exactly what could happen if the bill passes. Other issues may have to do with, oh yes, money.

As my wife pointed out the other day, "If I get pregnant in October, I should be able to declare the fetus as a dependent on January's taxes, even though the baby isn't born yet." Indeed, if Oklahoma has declared the fetus a person and obviously it is dependent on the mother, how can the state deny the deduction before birth. Tax breaks for preggos everywhere! Then once you give them the tax break the parents should be able to take out life insurance on the unborn. After all it is a legal dependent and a "person." And, if the worst happens and the "person" dies during birth, or  even before? Well then the carrier, owes the mother, or parents what might be fantastic sums  of cash  because someone who was never born in the first place has passed away. I love it when I think like a lawyer. It is a muddled mess and only those who aren't going to be responsible for the fall out don't see it that way. No wonder even Oklahoma republicans are edgy about the whole proposal.

The only thing certain now is that the people pushing this bill are stooping to threats not usually seen outside of mafia social clubs. Personhood USA has said that governor Mary Fallon should use her influence to get the measure heard and "avoid a share of the blame". More darkly, the group threatened to report any house member who blocks the effort to bring the bill to the floor as being for abortion rights. Big Joe McCarthy was a rank amateur compared to these grinders.

A spokeswoman for the Southern Baptist churches in Oklahoma contends that her denomination has "been failed by the very people who are here because of our votes and our campaign dollars." Priests are in the gallery praying and the halls of the capital are filled with protestant ministers adorned in pastel colored sports jackets. They have the necks of bull frogs and their saccharine smiles are offset by their steely glares. Mass excommunications will begin soon. Heresy trials are sure to follow as wooden stakes are planted just south of the capital in anticipation of witch burnings.

The republicans sold their souls to these monsters and now the piper has come to be paid. It is the blackest of comedies and only people like me are laughing. Well, at least for now. I won't be once this bill passes. And it will pass, if not this session then the next.

Years ago a Southern Baptist preacher asked me what denomination I belonged to. I told him I was an Episcopalian. There was a long pause, then he finally said, "Well, that's all right." He then went off into a little sermonette clarifying that it was okay for me to be an Episcopalian so long as I believed pretty much exactly what Southern Baptists believe.

And there you have it. The only problem is that now they are trying to turn that philosophy into state law. You either follow the tenets of their church or you do hard time. So much for that whole separation of church and state deal.

Next stop, mandatory state sponsored prayers in public schools.

Bet on it.


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