I live in Michigan, in one of the 31 counties represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by none other than Mr. Bart Stupak, a Democrat. You've probably never heard of him. He's a pretty quiet guy, a former Michigan State Police trooper who boldly decided to run some 18 years ago as a Democrat in a rural part of Michigan that votes almost exclusively for Republicans (yes, I know -- what am I doing here? I'll save that story for a future letter).
His voting record is pretty conservative for a Democrat, but he's had a few shining moments. In the wake of the Columbine shootings, he voted for some gun control, a not-too-popular position to take here in northern Michigan. The NRA came after him with all they had in 2000.
But the good people of this area knew Bart's story and understood: He's been touched personally by gun violence. In a terrible tragedy, his teenage son, depressed and confused from the medication he'd been prescribed, killed himself with the family's .38 revolver. Despite the NRA's best efforts, Bart was returned to Congress by an overwhelming margin.
Yet, here we are, just days before a weak, simple-minded, but now ultimately necessary health care bill has a chance of making it through Congress -- and Bart Stupak is threatening to derail it because he wants to make sure that no woman who buys her own insurance with her own money is able to have a medically-insured abortion. We're not talkin' about federally-funded abortions -- those were stupidly outlawed long ago. Bart Stupak doesn't like that the Democrats' bill doesn't prohibit private insurance programs, set up for those whose employers don't provide it, from providing abortion coverage if they get any federal funding -- even to an individual woman paying without any government help. That's it.
A group representing most of America's 59,000 Catholic nuns has written to Congress and said that Obama's health care plan should be passed. Stupak, instead, has chosen to diss the nuns. Last night he went on TV and dug his heels in -- he said he intended to stop this health care bill and he didn't care what anyone had to say.
Now, it would be easy for some to just pass this attitude off on his Catholicism -- he believes what he believes and you have to respect him for that, even if you don't agree with him. But it's not that simple. It turns out that Stupak has been living in a subsidized room in the "C Street House," run by the infamous right-wing Christian cult "The Family." It was in this former convent that GOP Rep. Chip Pickering (according to his former wife) carried on the affair that ended his marriage. It's where South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford sought refuge as his marriage fell apart thanks to his affair. And then there's C Street roommate Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, who cheated on his wife with the wife of one of his top staffers. (The Justice Department is currently investigating whether Ensign committed a felony while paying off his aide to keep him quiet.)
C Street is where power, money, sex and religion meet. So am I led to believe that Bart Stupak lives in a brothel and belongs to a cult? He says he was just renting a room there. But that just doesn't ring true. Something stinks to the high heavens here, and Stupak sees no irony in taking his holier-than-thou position while living in a house that should be dubbed "Hypocrites' Hideaway."
If Stupak were truly pro-life then he'd vote for this bill. Right now, a mother in the U.S. has a ten times greater chance of dying in childbirth than a mother does in Ireland. If you really wanted to reduce abortions, you'd have to ask yourself this question: Why does godless France, where abortion is nearly free (it's covered by their universal health insurance), have 20% fewer abortions per capita than we do? What's even more amazing about that statistic is that you can't even get an abortion in America in 87% of our counties because there isn't one single doctor in those counties who will perform one! 87%!! The Right has scared them to death -- sometimes literally -- out of performing an otherwise legal, safe procedure. So, you can say women have "choice" in this country, but the reality is the "choice" doesn't exist in the majority of the nation. "Right to Life" has essentially won this battle. (My personal position: I don't get to have a position -- I don't have a uterus. If a Senate that was 90% female told me I couldn't have a vasectomy or made it a crime to leave the toilet seat up, I guess I might object.)
What is "life"? An egg is life, a sperm is life. Those sperm aren't running on a battery pack. They are living creatures, as is a fertilized egg. But they're not "human beings." A human being is something that can exist outside the womb of a mother. If you think a fertilized egg is a human being, then I respectfully ask you to go down to the DMV today and have them change your birthday on your driver's license to 9 months older than what you've been telling everybody.
So back to my question. Why do we have an abortion rate 20% higher than France's (and more than twice as high as Germany's), especially considering most doctors here won't perform them? The answer is any country that has universal health care, where contraception is free, where child care is free or inexpensive, where there is less poverty because people don't become bankrupt over medical bills -- those societies are simply going to have fewer unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.
And there the mask gets pulled off the Bart Stupaks and the "Christians." If the statistics show that countries with government-provided universal health care and nearly-free abortions are, in fact, the countries with the fewest abortions, then why on earth wouldn't the Right be the first in line to support universal health care?
Because it isn't about "universal health care." It's about controlling women, period. It's about sticking your nose in other people's business. It's about pushing your religious beliefs on everyone else because voices in your head tell you your Jesus is The One -- even though your Jesus never said one single solitary word in any of the four gospels of the Bible about abortion or fertilized eggs being human. You've just gone and made it up about "life beginning at conception." Jesus never said that. The little voice in your head said that, the same little voice that wants your grubby paws on women's uteruses. You need help. Please get some help and leave the rest of us alone, Mr. Stupak and friends.
After all, isn't it enough that women can't get an abortion in any of the 31 Michigan counties you represent in Congress? There is not one single abortion provider here in the north of the state, according to Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan. Hey, Bart -- you've already won! Women's rights have been stamped out in your entire Congressional district! Woo hoo!
So why don't you leave the rest of the country alone, step out of the way, and let them have the minimal health coverage this bill will give them? You wouldn't really crush the sick and infirm because of your own personal agenda, would you? What would Jesus do?
In the meantime, Bart, my neighbors and I are going to make sure a real Democrat runs against you in August's primary here. One of our religious beliefs in these parts is to never impose our religious beliefs on others.