I think that doing or saying nothing in the face of actions or ideas that you perceive to be inherently wrong or divisive, is - in and of itself - a form of tacit approval. I know I am not alone in this position as many great thinkers have heretofore said the same (and note, I hardly classify myself as a great thinker – I am merely an average thinker who tries to learn from the great thinkers).
Today I saw something in The Forum that I did not know prior – that Rick Berg, while serving as North Dakota’s House majority leader (January 2007), voted in favor of House Bill 1489. House Bill 1489 sought to criminalize abortion with a mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole. As a woman who believes that there should be limits on the government’s right to legislate and penalize my choices that have to do with my body – I find this kind of law overly intrusive. My beliefs and religion may dictate what my choices are in regard to earlier term abortion choices, but that is something quite different than government control over my body.
We never seem to generate this kind of legislation over men’s choices over their bodies. How about legislation that requires a mandatory vasectomy for men who impregnate a woman and then fail to pay child support? How about legislation that puts the responsibility of contraception on men? This makes sense to me since the responsibility and burden of a lack of contraception has to be carried by the woman. Why is it that men’s responsibility can (if they so choose) end with a thank you and goodbye? Where is the equality in this type of legislation that seeks to control folks’ decisions about their bodies? Frankly, the blatant inequality in it just pisses me off.
But wait, there is more. The article in The Forum was premised on an equally troubling piece of information, the fact that Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign has been curiously silent on Berg’s vote on this bill. Seriously? Well, now by disappointment is bipartisan. How can it be that there is no one crying foul about such a ridiculous piece of legislation? Hello??!!! This is 2012! We are no longer in the late 1800s and early 1900s…I am not the property of a husband, my body is not solely a vessel for reproduction, my voice is not silent in the political discourse…I am a registered voter who makes my voice heard.
There are limits on a government’s reach for a reason. We don’t want government to be able to reach too far into our homes or daily lives. That reach is balanced by the desire we have as a society to maintain some basic values regarding life, property, liberty, and justice. The balancing act is often difficult and the ends of the positional spectrum tend to be galvanized in political party rhetoric; however, there must be some place in the discusion for a common sense that the people as a whole can coalesce around.
All voters of all party persuasions should be very afraid of this type of legislation. This is about as instrusive as it gets. We should be talking about this type of issue as a society. This is exactly what the political discourse should include – how much governmental intrusion folks are willing to bless in the process of promoting societal values and what should remain in the purview of religious freedom. I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with my position, but I do expect folks to think about what some of these laws will mean if they come to pass.
Take note though, if a law like the one proposed in 2007 in North Dakota comes to pass in this state or nationally, I will be running for office and will propose that vasectomy bill. Then we will see how well men take to having the government in control of their bodies. There is another saying that comes from perhaps the greatest thinker of all time that I think is relevant here – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Day one thousand one hundred and sixty-eight of the new forty – obla di obla da