Last night, one of the nurses mentioned in passing that she had recently visited a website that displays information, including mug shots, of registered sex offenders living in this area. One of the other nurses (the nurse mentioned earlier and who we'll call "Rita") said that her previous partner's then-7-year-old son had been molested by a female babysitter. She spent a few minutes describing her frustration with the woman's response and attempted justification of her actions, the involvement of this woman's minister, and the ridiculous failure of the local law enforcement to pursue an appropriate course of action and press felony charges. It was a sad story, to say the least. The dietitian, who normally comes in early but for some reason came in around 2am last night, somehow thought this was an opportune time to mention a story she allegely heard about some conservative commentator who said he thought women who have abortions should be legally required to have their tubes tied at the same time. I had to answer a call light, so I walked away for a few minutes.
When I came back, the dietitian was pontificating, with much agreement all around, that she believes anyone with male genitalia (not her precise wording) has absolutely no say in the abortion debate. I expressed my scorn and derision for such nonsense, though likely due to the late hour I was not all that eloquent. I pointed out that it takes a man to make that baby and that if a woman decides to keep that child, the man may be obligated to a couple of decades of child support. Those 2 simple facts alone mean a man has a say in the debate. Rita said that since so many of those men end up being dead-beat dads, that effectively counters my point. I pointed out that just because people fail to uphold their responsibilities does not mean that their rights, and the right, are somehow eliminated. The dietitian then modified her earlier statement to say that married men could have a say in whether or not their wife gets an abortion. So I guess I got a point on that one. Rita made a muddy argument about either the politicization of religion or the religious influence on politics, either way she perceived it as an obvious evil and claimed that any effort to bring a religiously-informed morality into politics was somehow against the Constitution. A couple of call ligths were going off and the debate was turning rancorous and noisy (3 against 1), so I decided to simply back off rather than let things get ugly.
Had it been just Rita and I, I certainly would have argued that her view of religion-free politics is absolutely 1) not what the Constitution actually requres and 2) as much a religiuosly-informed opinion as anything in the conservative's moral agenda. It is the view of religion-as-private-preference, one that has absolutely no bearing on any other area of one's life. If that is how you want to live, then that is fine - keep your religion private and vote like an atheist. However, attempting to prevent others from allowing their faith to influence their politics and views on public morality is just as contentious, imposing and "intolerant" as anything that they object to in the conservative camp. That it is expressed secularly in no way diminishes the religious underpinnings of the argument since many making that kind of statement do, in fact, make claims of faith. Based on their personalized, relativistic understanding of belief and the morality derived thereof, they move forward with an agenda that is irreligious on its surface. But it ultimately attempts to impose that personalized & relativistic concept of faith onto everyone else, to denude and destroy the comprehensive religious understanding of conservative Christianity in this country. Its a tired and failed argument and one that does nothing to make meaningful statements of any kind in the abortion debate.