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Tom Zirpoli: Abortion rights are threatened. What will the GOP target next? | COMMENTARY

It is interesting how some so-called “religious” folks show their true colors when their political views conflict with their religious values. Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, for example, has offered Vladimir Putin his full support of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. During a phone call with Pope Francis, Kirill told the pope that the conflict in Ukraine was a “culture clash between the wider Russian world and Western liberal values, exemplified by expressions of gay pride.”

So, Kirill is blaming gay people for the war in Ukraine? If the killing of innocent men, women and children in Ukraine is the culture Kirill stands for over respecting the human rights of people who are gay, I don’t want any part of his religion.

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Appropriately, Pope Francis told Kirill not to become “Putin’s altar boy.” “Brother,” said Francis, “we cannot use the language of politics but that of Jesus.”

There is a lot of that — the language of politics — going on these days as evangelicals celebrate the revelation that the Supreme Court is about to strike down a woman’s right to an abortion.

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Years ago, I wrote about the Supreme Court eventually giving conservative politicians and their evangelical supporters exactly what they wanted by overturning a women’s right to an abortion. If the Supreme Court makes abortion solely a legislative issue at the state and federal levels, it will hand off the decision to politicians who will then have to answer to voters.

Indeed, conservative politicians have been running on the abortion issue for 50 years and the Supreme Court seems ready to give them what they asked for. I can assure you that many of them are not happy to have this responsibility. They are aware that a majority of Americans, especially women, support a women’s right to choose. Talk is cheap. Now they will have to face some consequences for their votes.

The argument against Roe v. Wade put forth by conservative judges is interesting. They say that the Constitution doesn’t mention abortion or the right to privacy. Of course, the Constitution was written years before it could even imagine the issues facing Americans today. If Roe v. Wade can be struck down because the Constitution, written in 1787, does not address abortion or a women’s right to reproductive privacy, one has to wonder what else the Supreme Court can strike down. Same-sex marriage? Birth control? Interracial marriage? The internet? Can women be denied the right to drive?

As Maureen Dowd wrote in The New York Times, “The Constitution doesn’t mention an awful lot of things that the court involves itself with. But while it expressly prohibits state-sanctioned religion, this court seems ready to let some rebel public school football coach convene a prayer session after games. These rogue justices are always ready to twist the Constitution to their purposes.”

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Watch out for the slippery slope. Remember, a majority of the Republican judges on the Supreme Court belong to a religion that not only forbids abortion, but openly opposes women serving in church leadership roles and forbids them from taking birth control pills. Their religion forbids premarital sex and gay marriage. All not addressed in the Constitution.

The 14th Amendment is supposed to limit the government’s power to take away people’s liberty. The courts have historically interpreted this as implying a right to privacy, including some privacy over decisions involving people’s bodies. The Supreme Court seems to be conveniently ignoring the 14th Amendment.

Meanwhile, while conservative Republican politicians pretend to care for the unborn, one only has to look at their recent actions against children to see their hypocrisy. They consistently vote against providing prenatal and postnatal health care for mothers and their infants. They want to do away with the Affordable Care Act, which would take away health care from millions of children. They consistently vote to protect guns over protecting children’s lives.

They demand that women give birth to children with severe disabilities while consistently underfunding support and services for families with children with severe disabilities. The same Republicans who say that they want to protect the unborn at any cost can’t bother wearing a mask to protect pregnant moms, unvaccinated babies, and young children from a deadly virus. And while they demand their freedom from a mask requirement, they can’t seem to respect a woman’s freedom to decide about a much more significant, life-changing issue.

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Americans don’t generally pay attention to politics beyond how the politics affects them personally. You’d be surprised at how many Americans have had an abortion or know someone who has. Republicans now want to put women in jail for having an abortion even after rape or incest. Many Republican-led states are passing laws demanding just that.

Perhaps the Supreme Court has stirred our senses enough to awaken Americans to what Republicans really have in mind when they tell us that they want to make American great again.

Tom Zirpoli is a professor and program coordinator for the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.


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