Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 17/03/12

The Texas Taliban

Warning! The following piece invites you to read a piece of journalism which many of you may find distressing. In fact, I hope for your sakes that you do find it distressing. I'd worry for your sanity if you didn't.

Look, I'm not kidding here, folks. Seriously.

First some background. As some of you may know, various parts of the United States are under the control of legislators who are themselves - or are beholden to - religious fundamentalists of various stripes; mostly Protestant, but often Catholic or Mormon.

Texas is one such state. It is dominated by the Republican Party, and by a particular strain of that virus. As a result, the Republicans of Texas - like their equivalents elsewhere - are incapable of seeing any contradiction in the fact that, at one and the same time, they demand that The Government™ get out of their lives (at least as far as their money-making and their 'right' to shoot anyone they don't like the look of is concerned), and also insist that that self-same Government intrude upon the private, personal and medical matters of those wretched elements of society of which it deeply disapproves; you know, gays, blacks, Hispanics and women.

This leads legislators under the dense fog of this delusion to promulgate, pass and enact laws which are specifically designed to make life more difficult for those groups. This is seldom more obvious than in the case of women's reproductive rights. These thugs have never, but never come to terms with the fact that they lost Roe v. Wade rather a long time ago now, and they are determined - state by state - to undermine and reverse its provisions.

So it was that Texas recently passed a law forcing any woman seeking the termination of a pregnancy for whatever reason to undergo an ultrasound scan while the doctor or nurse is legally obliged to describe the foetus in detail to the mother. They are then similarly required to read to the woman 'information' provided by the State of Texas which describes the risks of having the pregnancy terminated. I put 'information' in quotes there because much of it is most emphatically not information; it is two parts emotive bullshit and one part sheer lies.

After being put through all this, the woman is then made to go away for twenty-four hours before coming back for the termination (if, that is, she hasn't been intimidated or guilt-tripped into backing out altogether). Assuming she lives near enough to a clinic which is willing to carry out the procedure, of course.

That the medical staff - even at Planned Parenthood - don't seem to think for a moment of disobeying such a law, is cause for enough concern. That the legislators of Texas - overwhelmingly white, wealthy and, of course, male - think that mandating such conduct could ever be considered a civilised, let alone humane, act is testimony to the power of organised religion to warp the mind - especially when campaign $$$s might be at stake.

A writer by the name of Carolyn Jones lives in Austin, Texas. At the end of January, she was told that the foetus she was carrying (at twenty weeks at this point) was so disabled by developmental abnormalities that it might not even survive to be born; and if born, would be in crippling pain and suffering for the rest of its life.

Writing in The Texas Observer, Carolyn tells us what then happened.

OK, it's your choice, as it always is, as it always must be. So read, should you choose to do so, her piece. Then come back here; I have something more to say.

Back? Thank you. Horrifying, isn't it?

What was somewhat refreshing was how few of the comments on the piece fell into the it's-God's-will-because-suffering-is-good-for-the-soul fuckwittery which tends to pop up like an unsuccessfully-flushed turd with pieces like this.

One supportive comment, however, froze the blood in my veins:

"[W]hat Santorum did - instead of putting the life of his wife ahead of a non viable fetus, the frothmeister decided it was better to have her suffer through the delivery of the incomplete body which then suffocated slowly in air its lungs were not developed enough to breathe - before taking the dead thing home for the little "siblings" to hold and sing lullabies to it."

The 'Santorum' in question here is, of course, Rick Santorum, former US Senator for Pennsylvania, current runner in the race for the Presidential candidacy for the Republicans, and hard-line conservative Catholic.

In a spirit of fair-mindedness which the bastard didn't deserve, I tried to see if there was any evidence for the claim made by the commenter above.

It seems that there is. I know this is from Wikipedia, but I've found other sources:

"In 1996, the Santorums' son Gabriel was born prematurely after twenty weeks of pregnancy and died in the hospital two hours after birth. Karen wrote that she and Rick slept with the deceased infant between them in the hospital that night, then brought his body home the following day and introduced it to their children as "your brother Gabriel"."

Pardon me, but exactly what sort of a fucking ghoul would do something like that. And all but brag about it afterwards?

And this guy is in the running - seriously in the running - for the Presidency of the planet's current sole hyperpower? He's already made it plain that he regards the separation of church and state as set out in the Constitution as being undesirable. And in just over two months from now, the Texas Primary will take place. The Deep South adore people like Santorum; those who are not merely religious but religiose, who wear their 'faith' like a combination of security blanket and baseball bat. He may go far. Hell, damn and shit, he may go all the way. And then, the United States of America will be one giant leap backwards towards what the people who pass laws like the one described (there's one being nosed about in Virginia which is even more intrusive) have long desired in their ever-expanding guts and ever-shrivelling nuts: a theocracy.

I know that there are many good and humane people in the US. They may even still be in the majority. But I have to say this to them; if you put Saint Moron in the White House this year in any capacity other than that of cocktail waiter, then for the sake of the civilised world, the rest of the planet may have little option but to build a heavily-armed spaceship, send it up into high orbit, and nuke yo' sorry asses from sea to shining fucking sea.

(Tip of the wig to Ophelia Benson)