ScienceBlogling Ed Brayton finds this little tidbit from the coverage of the Stupak amendment (italics mine):
I’m bothered by something said in an earlier article on the CNN website about this:
Several Democrats, including Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pennsylvania, said they are in touch with their Catholic bishops back home. Altmire said he must have the approval of his bishop in Pittsburgh before he can vote yes.
Since when do religious leaders have veto power over legislation in this country?
I realize Ed’s asking a rhetorical question, but, to answer it anyway, pastors, preachers, and prelates gained veto power when the party of Jefferson forgot that the quote inscribed on his memorial (“I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man”) was a reference to religious oppression.
Aimai tells us what such a reminder could have sounded like:
As for Stupak and the Catholic Bishops I would have taken a very, very, very, hard line. I would have gone to the Bishops and said I was going to allow Grayson to read into the record the names and insurance status of every child raped by a Catholic Priest and I was going to hunt up records showing how the Catholic orphanages benefitted financially from “gunshot adoptions” and their anti-choice work. I would have gone to Stupak and said we would primary him, and all assistance of any kind to his community would be cut off or redirected so that it clearly came from other hands than his. And I would have had Obama and other surrogate dems all over the TV making this argument:
“We can’t allow small minorities of religious extremists to dictate which lawful medical procedures will be performed on non-co-religionists. That would be like putting the entire country under Sharia law, for example. I mean, look, there are religions and sects that will ban absolutely everything–from blood transfusions to fertility treatments. We simply can’t allow the door to be opened to punish one section of our society at the behest of another for religious reasons. There will, of course, be an opt out clause for patients and consumers to refuse to avail themselves of treatments if their religion forbids it. But insurance companies will have to cover all lawful and medically necessary procedures for everyone.”
If necessary I would (pre-emptively) have introduced a clause–call it the Real Conscience Clause Amendment– to allow consumers to opt out of insurance entirely if they didn’t want to pay premiums to cover services like abortion or asthma or whatever other fantasy contract they’ve got with god–but they’d have to sign a form stating that they wouldn’t use insurance at all, or emergency care services either, for anything. Penalize the shit out of the believers up front–before they penalize the shit out of us. No abortion care for mommy? Then no fertility treatments for daddy or mommy. No abortion care for mommy? then no cancer treatment for daddy. Simple as that.
As long as theopolitical ideologies are granted special, inviolate status that exempts them from the norms of political debate (such as they are), this sort of madness will continue. Anyone who cares about religious freedom needs to push back on this.
They get a veto because they are allowed to have one.