Hello again everyone.
Yesterday, the Virginia House of Delegates approved HB 1, the “personhood” bill granting constitutional and property rights from the moment of conception. News outlets have done an accurate job of reporting the dangers of such legislation passing in Virginia (my favorite reports were from The Rachel Maddow Show, the Huffington Post and Mother Jones).
The reports and the debate in the General Assembly frequently focus on what the bill will do. Among the extreme results likely if the bill becomes law: the complete outlawing of safe, legal abortion in Virginia, the criminalizing of many forms of birth control and the development of a model that other states can use to strip away women’s rights and send our country to some Biblical notion of gender roles. (Fitting that I am listening to Metallica’s “Holier Than Thou” while writing this post.)
Particularly striking to me in reading the coverage is the mere existence of the conversation.
The year is 2012. When he heard that year, the ten-year-old version of Joseph Patrick Richards envisioned flying cars, hoverboards, omnipresent virtual reality simulators (Facebook does not count) and meals in tablet form. While technology has come a long way, our ideals seem more retrograde than any time in the last 50 years. (As the AP reports, Virginia is a clear example of moving backward.) When we should be living on Neptune and paying for sewing kits with chips planted in our thumbnails we are instead focusing on doing everything we can to make sure women have only the role of broodmares in the future of the US.
Why? Why does this rhetoric exist? How can it be part of the national conversation? How can we be nearly 40 years on from Roe v. Wade and somehow find ourselves moving to the pre-suffrage days?
I am deeply troubled that our national dialogue continues to center on rejecting advancements in human rights. I believe it is entirely acceptable to hold bigoted views in your own life. It is your right to be a senseless asshole. However, as soon as you enter the public stage, especially in the role of leader (as a member of the press, public official, politician, etc.) you no longer have the right to act on your view that some people in this country should not be people. I believe every proposed bill should have to pass a human rights test. Will your strict voting requirement bill limit the human rights of certain individuals? If yes, then you do not have permission to even waste time or the public conscience by officially submitting your bill. Next. Does your bill in anyway single out women or abortion providers for restrictions you do not place on men or other doctors? Sorry, but we do not accept restrictions of human rights in this country. We’re the United States of America. We believe human rights are inviolable.
At least thirty-year-old Joey can dream.