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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/26/15

Marco Rubio, Political Religion, and the Republican Party

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Reprinted from Greanville Post

Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio
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Marco Rubio is only the latest Republican to state that if he were President, abortion would be illegal at any time of a pregnancy. Further, there would be no exceptions, such as for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. (For the latter, Rubio claimed that he didn't know of any instances in which abortion would or could save the life of an expectant mother.) He's not a physician, and apparently not a scientist of any kind either -- the reason he sort of gave for not taking a position on global warming. But he is willing to say, in no uncertain terms, that there would never be an instance where abortion would/could be necessary to save the life of the mother, making any exception for that purpose totally unnecessary.

Ah well, as I -- and many others -- have said many times, consistency is not a property that runs abundantly in Repub. minds. Sharing the Rubio position aggressively are such Dominionist Repub. candidates as Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. Most of the other Repubs. are chiming in to a greater or lesser extent -- Scott Walker comes to mind -- but right now Rubio is the one out in front on this one.

There has been much response to the Rubio position. The first level has been on the very correct "what, not even in the case of rape or incest -- much less to save the life of the mother?" (Huckabee allowed that it shouldn't be allowed for a 10-year-old girl raped by her step-father.)

The second level has been on the long-standing and very correct position of the right of every woman to have control, if she wants it, over what is going on inside her body, and in the case of fetuses, up to the time of viability. The long-time Nation columnist, Katha Pollitt, has recently stated this position very well.

Playing to the Republican party's reactionary base, many candidates are prepared to abrogate the separation of Church and state, as mandated by the Constitution. Rubio is currently cynically exploiting this issue, but others may soon contest the same turf.

Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio
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The next level up in terms of the potential impact of the ban-choice argument is that Rubio et al would enforce their views on abortion rights by the use of the criminal law. This is the matter which I think we must now begin to face, and loudly. Repubs. never talk about this themselves, and they are rarely questioned on it. But what this policy would mean is that both licensed medical and nursing professionals performing abortions would be committing a crime punishable by a fine and prison (that is, if it were to be treated like just about any other felony, and presumably the men and women holding to this position would make this crime a felony), and so would the formerly pregnant woman.

The long-term, predictable, outcome of such a policy is presented in Chapter 7 of my book, The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022 (below, left).It is entitled "The Morality Amendment" (which, by the way, would put abstinence-only sex education into the Constitution).

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But it is the next level up that concerns me the most. That is the Republican Party is basing its platform for national policy, not only on abortion rights, but also on the rights of the LGBT community, entirely on its own interpretation of certain texts in a particular English translation of the Bible known colloquially as the "King James version." (It happens that this so-called "inerrant word of God" -- as presented to us by particular human beings selectively reading the text as they will -- is a translation from the Greek and Latin authorized by King James VI of Scotland, I of England, created by a team of 48 scholars and theologians appointed by him.)

But well beyond that is the fact that virtually every Repub. candidate this time around wants to use the criminal law to enforce a particular religious view as to when life begins. This is one of the most dangerous challenges that our nation faces. This is just the sort of theological question that led to 150 years of murderous religious wars in Europe and England in the 16th and 17th centuries. I hardly need to explain that such a position is dangerous in America because this nation is notorious among developed nations for having so many people who regard the word of (a Christian) God, and the Bible itself, as fundamentally inerrant.

Further, the Republican Party wants to place its religious concept of pregnancy and pregnancy rights above all others. Let us pause to remember that many pregnant mothers -- as well as many gays who want to marry the person they love -- are themselves religious. So the Republican Party is saying that their religion, based on a particular form of Christian theology (that most would refer to as Right-wing), is to be placed above everyone else's and that it and its interpretations are to be enforced using the criminal law.

My book is just one of those that details the very dangerous slope down which this sort of politicized theology will certainly lead. See also, for example, Christian Nation by Frederic Rich. Thus, the state would be using the criminal code to uphold and defend one particular religious doctrine above all others, a de facto refutation of the Constitution.

Contrary to this religious doctrine is the view, based in the First Amendment by the way, that it is the right of the pregnant woman, religious or not, to believe that life begins sometime after fertilization -- presently up to the time of fetal viability, as in Roe v. Wade. And it is the right of gay couples to marry, under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. But I do firmly believe that if this struggle is to be won in the long run, by both the pro-choice movement and the gay rights movement it must be raised to the level of religious freedom and the potential outcomes of the drive to enshrine certain religious beliefs in the law, by criminalizing others, religious and non-religious alike.

This one is not going to be won solely on the positions that women have the right to control her own bodies (and of course they should be able to), and that LGBT people have the right to marry whom they choose, just because it is fair (and of course it is). If the Republican Party is not caught up short, and soon, on the matter of their drive to put their particular religious beliefs into the law (incidentally, already well underway) and then backing that up with criminal sanctions, this nation will ultimately doom itself to going back to the era of Bloody Mary, The 30 Years War, and Oliver Cromwell.

Oh yes, "The Duopoly Watch" aspect of this is that the Democrats --opportunists to a fault -- play right into this narrative by never, ever challenging Republicans on the matter of religious freedom on either the abortion rights or the gay rights issues.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a “Trusted Author,” he is a Senior (more...)
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