Saturday, March 17, 2012

Announcing REPRIMAND/Inequality: End bias in laws restricting access to legal acts

These last months have seen an unprecedented rise in the volume of legislation biased against one segment of the law-abiding population.  Virginia and Texas have legislated that women seeking abortions must undergo a medically unnecessary transvaginal exam.  Texas has also signed into law a statewide ban on medicaid funding for any doctor or clinic that performs, or is even affiliated with, abortion.   The Missouri House of Representatives has passed a bill that (1) prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, (2) defining life as beginning at conception (a.k.a. Personhood) thereby (3) banning many forms of contraception by classifying them as murder, and (4) requiring transvaginal ultrasounds for women who still seek abortions.   The Oklahoma State Senate, perhaps mildly more moderate than Missouri, has only passed a personhood bill.  The U.S. Senate tried to allow employers to deny women insurance coverage for contraception, and when that failed, Arizona took up the cause with gusto, adding that employers can fire women who use birth control if it violates their religious views.  The list goes on and on...

Spin the stories any way you want, the fact remains that these laws only impact women who are performing or engaging in lawful acts.  These laws represent blatant legislative biases of elephantine proportions (a fitting reference since they are penned almost exclusively by Republicans).  These laws are written mostly by men, and intended almost exclusively to restrict the rights of women.

The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law.  Typically we read this as meaning everyone reaps the same rewards from the same rights.  Shouldn't equal protection also require that everyone suffers equivalent restrictions under the law.  If a state has the legal ability to deny, limit, restrict or alter a woman's access to lawful activities, then surely men must suffer equivalent legislative consequences.  Otherwise, these laws have introduced intentional bias.     

"Separate and unequal" is not the GOP motto, but it seems to be their current practice.  Unless states and the Federal government require equal restriction as well as equal protection, what is there to stop a political party from marginalizing any group of citizens through the same kind of legislative bullying as is currently underway?   

We propose the REPRIMAND/Inequality (REsponsible Pairing of Restrictive & Invasive MANDated Inequality) law, that requires that all restrictive or invasive laws which disproportionally affect only one segment of the population must be paired with equivalent restrictions against the rest of the citizenry.  In other words, if you limit a woman's access to insurance coverage for birth control, then you must limit men's coverage for an equivalent condition, such as vasectomy.  If you wish to ban gay marriage, you must ban some equivalent set of rights of all straight couples.  Undo unto others what they have undone unto you.  Otherwise, we are not all equal before the law.

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