Monday, March 12, 2007

Florida's Worst Storms

The latest lie by the affright-to-lifers is the alleged rationale behind a new bill they’re trying to pass in Florida. Ostensibly, the legislation, if passed, would enable police to find and punish sexual abusers of young girls. Those who, like anti-abortionists, abuse young girls in nonsexual ways will not come under scrutiny.

SB 2546, which is still in its embryonic stage, would force healthcare providers to report to the cops whenever they found out that a girl under 16 is pregnant. If the girl reasonably chooses to have an abortion, samples of both her and the fetus’s DNA would have to be turned over to the authorities after the operation. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement would then have the job of identifying the male “culprit.”

State senator Ronda Storms, a Baptublican from the Tampa Bay area, is one of the sponsors of the bill. Thundering her support, Storms says that if a girl is “the victim of some sort of crime, then we are going to go after” the abuser. Sounds good, right? What kind of monster isn’t against child abuse?

The truth is: the state already obligates health care providers to report cases of child abuse. The new notification requirement is tied merely to the pregnant girl’s age, not to her specific circumstances. In other words, if a young pregnant woman is not yet sweet 16, the state is free to make her life really sour. Under the bill, the minute a pre-16’er is discovered to be in the family way by any medical professional, she’s ripe for governmental intervention.

Doctors and nurses will no longer be bound to keep their patient’s information confidential. On the contrary, these professionals would be compelled, under threat of losing their medical license, to report — within 24 hours of finding out — that an underage patient is pregnant. And the requirement won’t be limited strictly to physicians and their assistants: even orthodontists better brace themselves.

SB 2546 goes way beyond the typical repulsive anti-abortion legislation. A few years back, Ronda Storms, as a Hillsborough County Councilwoman, successfully spearheaded the defunding of a Planned Parenthood program to teach local teens about safe sex and pregnancy prevention. Now, what those youngsters don't know will hurt them. In the Tampa Bay area, and others like it, the new bill would be punitive. It’s clearly aimed at terrorizing teenagers of both genders who dare to abstain from abstention. Ronda Storms and her ilk are determined to enforce family values, even if they have to ruin entire families to do it.

Not surprisingly, Storms has also been a big windbag in pushing for the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, the name of which is an out-and-out, or perhaps not-out-and-not-out, lie. The proposal should be called the Florida Gay Marriage and Substantial Equivalent Thereof Non-Recognition Amendment, since it reads. “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as a marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.” Bible thumpers like Ronda Storms want their thumping to be done in one way only.

When I looked up Ronda Storms’s bio on her member page at the Florida Senate’s Web site, I discovered that she was once on the “Value Adjustment Board.” It turns out that the VAB is simply involved in disputes between taxpayers and property assessors. But could you blame me for mistakenly thinking that it must have been a religio-fascistic organization?

Citizens of Florida should rain down letters, phone calls, and emails to Storms and her fellow Thugs for Christ. I urge everyone concerned to contact their state legislators and insist that SB 2546 be aborted.

7 comments:

Adam said...

A difficult post which deserves a thoughtful and nuanced answer.

As for the proposed amendment itself, I think it could probably be seen as a valid extension of age-of-consent laws. We have better technology now, why not put it to use in the extension, betterment, and refinement of the original principles of the law? If we're going to prosecute people who sleep with minors, why should we not use science in an attempt to further the efficiency of doing so? Hell, if we can abort children out of efficiency, I don't see why we can't prosecute violators of the age-of-consent laws.

That said, I think a Christian-religious argument can be made against a law like this, should it be brought, as you seem to imply, from purely religious motives. For one, in the infancy narratives of the Lucan gospel, we see Joseph finding out (i.e. he is not told by his spouse) that Mary is pregnant. He doesn't know exactly who got her that way, but because he is a "righteous man" he decides to "divorce her quietly." In effect, he decides to not expose the woman and her private doings to the rough effects of the law. Here, I think that understanding of sexual privacy may have the better reasoning behind it. Unless the girl expresses that the conduct was forcible and not consented-to, I don't see why the privacy of the interaction should not be left alone.

This law is furthermore complicated by placing such a heavy burden on doctors. It forces them to become arbiters of the law, when in fact they should be able to merely passively follow it. The law usually doesn't attempt to make people strive towards good conduct other than in it's public policy, from what I can tell. It usually only gives a lower threshhold on what is not socially objectionable.
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As for the seemingly obligatory reference to the marital 'protection act.' I can understand from a purely secular point of view why a state would desire it. More couples means possible more divorce litigation, means increased workload on already 'scarce judicial resources.' If you want to bicker over why such an act was brought, well, I'd direct you to your second to last paragraph. Perhaps your bias has misguided you.

The Exterminator said...

Adam:

I'm glad to read that you have serious misgivings about Florida's proposed SB 2546. Even folks who are anti-abortion (note that I'm making no assumption here about your stance on that issue) should be disturbed by its requirements.

As to the "Florida Marriage Protection Amendment," you wrote:

I can understand from a purely secular point of view why a state would desire it. More couples means possible more divorce litigation, means increased workload on already 'scarce judicial resources.'

You're being disingenuous. If the state of Florida believes that denying marriage to homosexuals will decrease its divorce workload, it ought to go a step further, by your reasoning, and deny marriage to everyone. I can find no evidence showing that gay marriages, unions, or life-partner relationships are any more likely to end in break-ups than heterosexual ones.

Perhaps the institution of marriage -- whatever that is -- would be better "protected" by removing so long as you both shall live and/or till death do you part from its playscript. Those phrases raise foolish expectations, in lovestruck mindless believers, of an ever-blissful union that conforms wholly and irrevocably to their god's plan. The anticipation of constant heaven-sent joy is much more responsible for marital unhappiness -- and costly divorces -- than the threat of a gay couple down the street officially registering for swanky flatware.

Mikayla Starstuff said...

I could imagine that a law like this could be more likely to prevent pre-16 year old pregnant girls from going to the doctor in the first place and getting the prenatal care that they need...just my 2 cents.

Adam said...

Yet another long response is necessary...

You're being disingenuous.

I can only promise you that I am not. The ability of the judiciary to handle the caseload has been pressed upon my mind ever since I set foot in law school. The courts here in the states work much slower than they do in places that work off of civil law rather than common law. It is thus a very important factor to consider whether or not a law should be enacted based upon the courts' ability to adjudicate it effectively.

As for your statement about barring marriage entirely, my reply is: kindly don't twist my words. You know that, within reasonable bounds what I'm saying makes perfect sense. If we took your logic a step further we bar all lawsuits, considering them too burdensome on the courts. That is not at all what I am saying. I am saying the state legislature and court system has the right to deal with cases as they see fit. If judicial efficiency is put at risk by the possible widening of a definition, it is perfectly reasonable for the courts and legislature to therefore pre-emptively strike at such a widening.
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The anticipation of constant heaven-sent joy is much more responsible for marital unhappiness -- and costly divorces -- [edited out as unnecessary]

I agree, which is why I am a Christian. Christian marriage does not fit this description at all. If this is what the church taught on the subject of marriage, I'd see fit to throw off the whole system of belief as being internally inconsistent. It makes no sense to say that life is all about "picking up your cross every day, and following Me," while at the same time teaching that marriage is some sort of heaven-on-earth. Christian marriage is instead legalistic, dogma-heavy, ritual-heavy, and spoken about in the imperative, rather than declarative mood. No one says, "The Christian couple will grow in love." They say, "GROW IN LOVE, for your union cannot be dissolved." The duty is on the two people involved to sacrifice their ego-driven desires every day for the sake of the union, or as Paul says to "die daily."

What you are describing sounds like the mind-mush of some street corner pop-psychologist. Certainly nothing I've ever bought into.

The Exterminator said...

Mikayla:
Your 2-cents-worth is right on the money. The law endangers pregnant teenagers, as well as the fetuses its supporters pretend to be so concerned about.

Adam:
You may be the only person in the world who justifies taking a stand against gay marriage because it could increase the divorce caseload of the poor overworked courts. I’m not even gonna dignify that kind of dishonesty with an answer.

As far as your Jesuitical comments about marriage: Surely you don’t believe that crap. Are you really OK with potentially enslaving two people to one another for their entire lives, yoking them together as if they’re a brace of oxen, all in the name of obedience to some fantasy puppeteer in the sky? Why would any sane person enter into the kind of lifelong union that you describe? And what kind of twisted, sadistic character do you imagine your god of love to be?

One more point: Citing the Pauline epistles will not convince anyone of anything in this neck of the blogosphere. Save the biblical quotes for elsewhere; they possess no magical authority here.

Adam said...

My citation of Pauline epistles was merely to couch my language in a different manner. But notice, if you will, your own inconsistency. Not a word of reprimand flies from you when I quote Luke to batter that terrible proposed piece of legislature. Oh no, should an argument be in your favor, even should it be made from such a 'childish' source, it escapes your wrath.

Do I sense that perhaps it is not religions which you despise, but people who come to different conclusions? Perhaps I am overreaching, though it does appear to be a valid conclusion based on your writing.

I would suggest you follow the Raving Atheist's precedent (http://ravingatheist.com/archives/2006/06/more_than_words.php): no need to mock Christianity or Christ; it is much more intellectually honest instead to say you disagree with someone's principles, but can see their logic.
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As for marriage, I do not think it cruel. I find it to be far worse to leave a person within their sheltered, cut-off ego rather than to attempt to coax them out into the greater world. While love must always be corralled by prudence, I see nothing of imprudence in an indissoluble union. Think of your logic in a different area to see if it tests well. In the law of contracts, should we allow one business to shirk its responsibilities to another merely because it is "too cruel" to hold them to your promises? What lunacy would that create?

The Exterminator said...

Adam:

I suppose I ought to respond to some of your more outrageous assertions.

Not a word of reprimand flies from you when I quote Luke to batter that terrible proposed piece of legislature. Oh no, should an argument be in your favor, even should it be made from such a 'childish' source, it escapes your wrath.
Well, in all honesty, I tuned out your reasoning. Perhaps I should have noted in my response that we arrived at the same destination by taking different paths, and that I thought the one you traveled didn't make any sense. Maybe I should have noted that your detour into theological exposition was a time-wasting annoyance. But it was only your first crack at bible-pounding, and from a practical point of view: why would I get angry at someone who opposes the same theocratic bullying that I'm against?

Do I sense that perhaps it is not religions which you despise, but ...
I don't despise religions, I just think they're laughable. What I do despise are people who would use the government to force all of us to act in accordance with their superstitious beliefs.

... it is much more intellectually honest instead to say you disagree with someone's principles, but can see their logic.
Ah, but I can't see your logic. Belief in god is totally illogical to me.

...I see nothing of imprudence in an indissoluble union. Think of your logic in a different area to see if it tests well. In the law of contracts, should we allow one business to shirk its responsibilities to another merely because it is "too cruel" to hold them to your promises?
Are you reducing marriage to a business contract? Why then must it be between only one man and one woman? I assume you're not married, because if you were, your wife would cut off your privates over that gem.