Abortion, a case of religious liberty, Missouri Republicans

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If conservative Christians believe in individual freedoms, they cannot take them away from others.

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Recently, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said that the government should not provide Americans with any child care assistance because “people have decided to have families and become parents. … It’s something they have to consider when making that choice.

Such beliefs are apparently shared by many Republican members of the Missouri General Assembly, who are working to remove individuals’ right to choose abortion and, in some cases, birth control. Yet these same politicians argue that having children is a private decision for which families alone are responsible.

How can families make responsible decisions when Republicans support laws that block economic and legal access to birth control and abortion, based solely on the bigoted religious doctrine of these legislators?

Missouri’s legislative proposals range from laws to criminally prosecute anyone who tries to help someone get an abortion in another state to banning abortions after a so-called ‘heartbeat’ is detected. at about six weeks. Apparently, this rhythmic heart activity in an embryo is now equated with a fully formed human being.

Politicians are guilty for babies born by state force in circumstances that increase their likelihood of being abused and neglected. Credible research has identified conditions associated with a greater likelihood that these children will be physically and/or sexually abused. They include domestic violence, isolation, economic distress, lack of support systems, past family violence, substance abuse, and unwanted pregnancies.

Not to mention the long-term psychological damage suffered by adults who were abused as children.

In the real world, only a tiny percentage of people place babies for adoption in the United States. Instead, most try to take care of them, even in the worst of circumstances. This trend has continued for decades despite the wishful thinking that parents can simply give their children up for adoption.

The state only becomes greater when it dictates the moral beliefs and most private reproductive decisions of citizens – common practice in authoritarian regimes.

To clarify, the belief that it is a scientific fact that a fetus is a human being is far from universal. Scientists have identified a developing embryo as a human life form. Some question whether a fertilized egg the size of the period at the end of this sentence is a human being, while others acknowledge that the definition of a human being is rooted in different religious and moral belief systems that presuppose often a conscious subject with the ability to think, feel and suffer, which is the basis of our empathy for others. The physiological development of a thinking and feeling human being does not emerge in a fetus for at least 20 weeks (which is why current proposals for fetal pain laws begin at this time). Still others adhere to the biblical doctrine that human beings exist only at their first breath – when God breathed life into Adam, as recorded in Genesis.

The First Amendment secures the rights of Americans to different religious and moral beliefs through the separation of church and state. The success of Republicans in enforcing by law the denominational doctrine of certain Christian denominations as absolute truth is today and always has been a flagrant violation of religious freedom.

Given the guilt of politicians who enact laws that prevent Americans from making responsible personal choices about parenthood, they become responsible for funding the social services needed to provide a safe and healthy life for these children, including nutrition, health care, child care, protection from violence and services for parents with substance abuse problems.

A newborn deserves nothing less.

Victoria Johnson is associate professor of sociology, emeritus, at the University of Missouri.


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