May 23, 2024

Birth and Death Control

Hillary Clinton writes that the Bush Administration’s impending clampdown on access to birth control and "morning after" pills is outrageous interference in the lives of women.  She’s right, of course, although the decision also impacts men only a little less directly.

These rules pose a serious threat to providers and uninsured and low-income Americans seeking care. They could prevent providers of federally-funded family planning services, like Medicaid and Title X, from guaranteeing their patients access to the full range of comprehensive family planning services. They’ll also build significant barriers to counseling, education, contraception and preventive health services for those who need it most: low-income and uninsured women and men.

The regulations could even invalidate state laws that currently ensure access to contraception for many Americans.

It should be understood that contraception is not a right guaranteed by either the Constitution or any holy writ of which I am presently aware.  It is, however, a basic aspect of life that should fall under the control of citizens of a modern nation.  If the Bush administration persists in butting its peeping Tom head into the bedrooms of Americans it deserves a punch in the nose.

A significant majority of Americans say that morning after pills should be readily available and I agree with them.  Indeed, the people have spoken repeatedly on this issue.  President Bush’s steadfastness, so admirable when it comes to fighting terrorism abroad, is foolish and invasive as relates to personal birth control choices.  None of the mechanisms HRC describes could reasonably be categorized as abortions; the comparison is absurd, as is the notion that governments should be involved in the issue at all.

Government control is equally prevalent at the opposite end of life.  Because of ready access to certain deadly concoctions, Mexico is a favorite destination for the terminally ill – as well as friends/family of the same – who are ready for a peaceful end to life or simply want insurance against the pain of disease.

…aging and ailing people seeking a quick and painless way to end their lives say there is no easier place on earth than Mexico to obtain pentobarbital, a barbiturate commonly known as Nembutal.

Once widely available as a sleep aid, it is now used mostly to anesthetize animals during surgery and to euthanize them. Small bottles of its concentrated liquid form, enough to kill, can be found not on the shelves of the many discount pharmacies in Tijuana but in its pet shops, which sell a wide variety of animals, as well as medications and other supplies for them.

As the availability of such medicines has become more widely known, steps have been taken to keep the drugs from being sold and from being taken back to countries where they are sought after, Australia and the U.S., to name two.

The Catholic church calls suicide a mortal sin and many western governments have outlawed assisting a person in ending their life.  People on both sides of the debate have strong feelings.

“It’s awful to me,” Mr. Velazquez, the Tijuana veterinarian and pharmacy owner, said of euthanasia. “I think people should live as long as God decides.”

That’s a point of view that I’m sympathetic to.  However, ultimate responsibility for one’s conduct during life lies with the individual, not with the state.  State-mandated prosecution of individuals who help grant the wishes of terminally ill people who wish to end their lives is, on the face of it, just as foolish as attempting to dictate birth control methods.  It is certainly not the place of the state to judge God’s laws for Him.

It is true, I think, that condoning assisted suicide would lead to abuses of the practice.  That’s the sole redeeming aspect of the current ban – it’s unequivocal, even if it’s wrong.  Then again, the purpose of courts is to decide the legality of cases that fall into moral and ethical gray areas.  Must every aspect of life and death be scripted by the law?

Not in my opinion.  In its attempt to legislate and adjudicate perfect justice, western societies have entangled themselves in a mass of legalistic nonsense that is both ever-present and inescapable.  One can neither live nor die without getting permission, it seems, from the state, something that’s particularly troubling at a time when the American government is increasing its surveillance of our communications and monitoring of our travel.

Enough is enough.  Have we not even the right to manage our own bodies without Uncle Sam poking his head around the corner to say, "Don’t touch that!"?  The law should only be used to define basic morality.  The rest is between us and God.  Governments would do well to remember that.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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