A Dangerous Arrogance
Gail Collins is her usual insightful self in her New York Times op-ed (June 11, 2015) entitled “Battle of the Abortion Decisions”. In this essay she writes about Federal court decisions relating to restrictive abortion laws that have been passed in Texas and Idaho. I’ll leave it to you to search out and read that column, which I highly recommend. For now, I want to focus on one quote in the column, spoken by Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. In 2013 during a debate in the Texas legislature over proposed abortion restrictions, Mr. Patrick, who was then a State Senator, asked “How would God vote tonight if he were here?” He was presumably implying that God would vote for the abortion restrictions bill that was being debated. I don’t think that anyone reading this would be too shocked to hear that Mr. Patrick supported and voted for this legislation. “Hey, God thinks just like me!”
What an arrogant, and yes, dangerous way of thinking. Now, I say this as a non-believer in the supernatural. But I think even true believers should be troubled by what Mr. Patrick said. Is he really saying that he, Dan Patrick, KNOWS how God would vote on this or any other bill? Especially as the Bible doesn’t actually say anything about abortion. If, as people like Mr. Patrick believe, the Bible (his version of it, of course) is the true word of God, and if God is as against abortion as Mr. Patrick would have us believe, wouldn’t He have said something about it in His own book? And what of the incredible hubris of claiming to know how God thinks? Do arrogant faith-heads like Patrick even read their own Bibles, or do they just thump them when it’s politically advantageous to do so? In Micah 6:8 it says “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God”. Claiming to know in 2013 how God would vote on a bill before the Texas State Legislature? Not all that humble by my way of thinking. Then there’s Corinthians 8:2: “If anyone thinks they know something, they don’t know as much as they should know”. Hear that, Lieutenant Governor Patrick?
Then there’s the issue of how states such as Texas defend their anti-abortion laws when challenged in Federal Court. After all, abortion is still a constitutionally protected right under the Roe v. Wade decision, so you can’t just walk in and tell a Federal Court that the state’s goal is to deprive women of that right. The 2013 law of which Mr. Patrick claimed divine knowledge requires clinics that perform abortions in Texas to have all the staffing, equipment etc. of a hospital surgical center, despite the fact that abortion is and has been an extraordinarily safe procedure in Texas and elsewhere. Many clinics cannot meet these new requirements, and so now must close, which was the law’s true intent all along. But in Federal Court the State of Texas says that they’re not trying to force clinics to close, oh no; they just want to make sure that clinics that perform abortions do so safely. Just concerned about women’s health, don’t you know. But of course the real-world effect is to force clinics to close. The result is that women (mostly poor; the rich can always get theirs, if necessary) who now cannot get a safe abortion in a medical clinic take pills they bought on-line to end their unintended pregnancies, or go to the local back-alley butcher. So Mr. Patrick and his fellow leaders of the great State of Texas go into Court and lie about their intent, which is really to make abortions more difficult to obtain by closing down clinics that perform them. Even worse, they lie that they’re concerned with women’s health, when they know damn well that the law that they passed and are defending will result in terrible harm to women who no longer will be able to access safe, legal abortions. But the good book’s 9th Commandment says “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”. So does the Lieutenant Governor really think that it’s okay for the State of Texas to lie to a Federal Court about the intent behind its new abortion restrictions? What would God say about that? I for one don’t presume to know.