Hot Air

Religious Freedom

The question has been put to me (and others) by loyal Northern Indiana Pencillista David Paglis:

I wonder if those opposed to the Religious Freedom [Restoration] Act would be in favor of legally requiring Catholic hospitals to provide abortion services and if not, why not.

For whatever reasons, those Catholics who are most flamboyantly passionate about their religion seem to be passionate most about abortion. Capital punishment? Meh. War? Sometimes ya gotta do it. Nuclear proliferation? Silence. Abortion, though, gets the uber-Catholic blood to boil. The only thing approaching it as a sheer reactionary trigger is homosexuality.

A more pressing Q. might be What is it with Catholics and sex? But that’s a topic about as inscrutable as quantum electrodynamics.

Anyway, let’s tackle David’s query.

Acc’d’g to pretty much everyone’s interpretation, Indiana’s spanking new SB-101 2015, AKA RFRA, allows business proprietors to do things like refuse service to LGBTQ folks if their (the proprietors’) religion sees them (LGBTQs) as sinners bound for the eternal flames of hell. We’ll ignore the utter absurdity of our state legislators penning laws to accommodate peoples’ belief in inanities like eternal damnation and a flaming hell. A brief reminder: The calendar tells us this is the year 2015; hell, natch, is a Mesopotamian cultural concept, meaning it was a an attempt to understand our shared baffling mortality by the very first proto-civilized Homo Sapiens sapiens more than 5000 years ago.

I might hope we’d have learned a few things since then.

Nevertheless, an alarming swath of the American pop. still buys into the hell thing. So much so, in fact, that they loathe even being around those whom they’re certain are on a highway to the place. And so sure are they of this that they’ve pressured our democratically elected representatives to codify it.

Again, in the year 2015, in case you’ve forgotten.

The law tells us we can’t make people do things that are in violation of their religion’s tenets. Indiana University Maurer School of Law prof. Daniel Conkle (a supporter of the new law) suggested last week in an Indy Star op/ed piece that laws such as RFRA protect, for instance, Muslim prisoners in their practice of Islam within the confines of the joint. Conkle also cited a Pennsylvania state court ruling that people could set up soup kitchens in city parks in violation of municipal statutes if their religion demanded they feed the homeless.

The government wanted to make the Muslim prisoner shave his beard and hoped to force the soup kitchen operators to stop ladling broth in the park. Under similar “religious freedom” laws, per this argument, the gov’t was barred from doing so. Huzzah, Conkle concludes, for these laws.

No one, though, has attempted to argue that Muslims should be forced to eat barbecued (pork) rib tips at the Taste of Bloomington. Nor has anyone demanded that soup kitchen operators make their broth available to lawyers, doctors, and hedge fund managers. Quite frankly, those of us who despise this new law don’t give a good goddamn if Muslims eat pork or that hedge fund managers are being deprived of free soup.

Nor do we, as a rule, care that Catholic hospitals don’t do abortions. In fact, many dioceses and hospitals have banned even the dilation & curettage procedure because it is often used as an alias for abortion. That’s like refusing to let customers to enter a bank lobby because bank robbers always use the lobby.

In any case, we should be demanding that Catholic hospitals, especially those that are the only health care facility for many miles around, provide abortion services. If you’re going to open up an ice cream parlor in this free society, you should be compelled to serve everybody who comes in except those causing mayhem, are public nuisances, or pose a threat to public health. Same with hospitals. Abortion is legal in this holy land. It’s a medical practice generally regarded as safe. If you open up a hospital, that means you should treat everybody who comes in the door using every therapy and procedure that’s been okayed by contemporary medical science.

Otherwise, don’t open a hospital. And try to think a little bit less about how gross sex is. And lose the habits and wimples while you’re at it. It’s 2015, for chrissakes.

Here’s Gov. Mike Pence signing RFRA last week, surrounded by officials of the Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Israel, the Rashidun Caliphate, as well as various ascetics, mystics, and fundamentalists. In the year 2015. In case you’ve forgotten.

Pence RFRA Signing

One thought on “Hot Air

  1. Cindy Beaulé says:

    Knowing that Catholic hospitals had staunchly refused abortions, how many women do you think would choose to go there and feel safe getting one if the Guvvmint said the hospitals had to provide them ? Not this one. “Oops, ma’am, my scalpel slipped.”

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