Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Keith Fimian's Silence

VA Blogger, writing for Too Conservative, last week tried to deflect the growing concern of voters in the 11th CD over conservative GOP candidate Keith Fimian’s refusal to completely reveal his views on abortion and birth control. Here’s a stunning piece of misdirection to make it seem like Gerry Connolly’s campaign is focusing on socially divisive wedge issues rather than other substantive concerns in the district.
I wrote earlier this week a response to the Examiner’s story that “outs” Keith Fimian as a Catholic business owner and wondered if Gerry Connolly really wants to run a cultural campaign. It’s clear Keith Fimian does not, and would rather focus on the issues that matter to VA-11 voters: transportation, the economy, and national security.
And here’s the earlier blog post to which that refers.
Contrary to the implication of the headline of the story, Keith’s views aren’t at all “out of touch” in the district. The only ones out of touch are the ones like the DCCC that believe social issues like abortion and contraception are more important than issues like the economy, energy, and our national security, where Keith excels. If Connolly chooses to follow the DCCC’s lead, he wind up in the same sinking ship that Janet Oleszek found herself in running against Cuccinelli last fall.
In that piece, VA Blogger questioned whether Connolly would focus his entire campaign on Fimian’s extreme social and religious views and compared Connolly's campaign to Oleszek’s unsuccessful campaign against Ken Cuccinelli, where many of her mailers attempted to paint Cuccinelli as out of touch with his district because of his views on abortion.

I happen to agree with VA Blogger to some extent, as I wrote here. If the race becomes a debate about abortion, most voters will yawn. That’s because, while the district is decidedly pro choice, it’s just not a top concern. Voters don’t see that right as threatened. Never mind that the balance of the Supreme Court is just one appointment away from tipping so far to the right that overturning Roe v Wade is in striking distance for anti-abortion groups. Safe and legal abortions are such an ingrained part of the American way of life and dire warnings about its imminent demise have been issued for so long, that most people just don’t believe it’s possible they’ll actually lose that right.

I’m not so sure.

At the same time, although I’m personally pro-choice, I have a history of not wishing to demonize those who are pro-life. I don’t agree with them, but I think most of them are sincerely concerned with protecting what they see as live human beings.

But the definition of what constitutes an abortion and when life begins is getting slipperier and slipperier all the time. That definition was always more a philosophical and religious one rather than one grounded in true science. But for some on the right, it’s no longer that life begins at the moment of conception. Many now believe life begins at the moment of sexual activity and any attempt to prevent conception is also abortion. That's a position that makes almost all methods of contraception the equivalent to abortion.

That is a position that is neither scientific nor even logical. Yet, the Bush administration has proposed a regulation that would protect medical workers who refuse to provide women with birth control information, as reported here. (Bolding is mine)
The Department of Health and Human Services is reviewing a draft regulation that would deny federal funding to any hospital, clinic, health plan or other entity that does not accommodate employees who want to opt out of participating in care that runs counter to their personal convictions, including providing birth-control pills, IUDs and the Plan B emergency contraceptive.
Although the administration wishes to portray it as simply an attempt to protect the right of employees to follow the dictates of their conscience, the truth is it is an egregious infringement on the rights of patients to receive adequate health care.

Let’s play a little mind game here. What if you lived in a small town and went to the only hospital accessible to you for treatment for cancer. And what if some healthcare practitioners only believed in holistic care and were morally opposed to chemotherapy because they honestly believed it harmed patients. Yet you, based on all your reading of scientific literature, knew that it was the most effective way to treat your cancer and save your life. Whose decision should this be? The patient or the healthcare workers? I think we all know the answer to that question. In fact, it’s only when it comes to women’s reproductive health is it ever even an issue.

But the main point is that, in the case of this proposed regulation, the definition of what is an abortion is not based on science but on a purely religious definition of when life begins. Here’s what some experts had to say.
"They are manipulating the system by manipulating the definition of the word 'abortion,' " said Susan F. Wood, a professor at George Washington University who resigned from the Food and Drug Administration over the delays in approving the nonprescription sale of Plan B. "It's another example of this administration's disregard for science and medicine in how agencies make decisions."

The proposal is outlined in a 39-page draft regulation that has been circulated among several HHS agencies. The FDA has not objected, but several officials at the National Institutes of Health said that the agency had expressed serious concerns.

"This is causing a lot of distress," said one NIH researcher who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. "It's a redefinition of abortion that does not match any of the current medical definitions. It's ideologically based and not based on science and could interfere with the development of many new therapies to treat diseases."
And there’s the rub. Religious people, however, well meaning, are redefining science in ways that have no scientific, medical, or evidential basis. They are attempting to ram their particular and sectarian religious and moral views down the throats of those of other religions who don’t agree with them and also have rights, including the right to adequate treatment that meets their needs.

Because of concerns over the loss of the right to receive adequate reproductive health care, some Democratic women in Fairfax wrote to Keith Fimian with the not unreasonable question, would he support the administration’s contention that health care workers have the right to deny a legal service to their patients because of their personal morality?

Fimian has refused to answer clearly, honestly, and thoroughly. Yet this is an issue he might have to vote on. And whether it’s the most important issue or merely one of several minor issues, voters whom he hopes to represent have the right to know his answer. That’s not playing the social wedge issue card. That’s demanding to know where the candidate stands.

As a matter of fact, I’m in that district. I would be a constituent of Keith Fimian’s should he win. I think I have a right to know where he stands on an issue that could affect my health. And that’s not coming from Gerry’s campaign. It’s coming from me, a voter and citizen. And a constituent.


Anonymous said...

This is going to have to be an agree to disagree here

Here are some points I disagree with

the truth is it is an egregious infringement on the rights of patients to receive adequate health care (this does not fall under adequate healthcare... this is simply a get out of jail free card after making a poor decision... it has absolutely nothing to do with the health of the woman)

the cancer argument makes no sense because the life of the person seeking treatment is not at stake. in the most twisted ironic sense the life of an individual actually IS at stake except they can't make decisions or defend themseleves.

"and could interfere with the development of many new therapies to treat diseases" (how the heck does that have anything to do with this issue)

I could go on and on... but Like I said this is an agree to disagree

On your closing statement I don't think you want to go there. Do you know how many times Gerry has refused to answer questions. Thats not even going into the verbal abuse he often gives to anyone that dares to even ask him a question including his own constituents.

Disclaimor: I don't work for the campaign or speak for the campaign


Anonymous said...

In response to the first commenter...

This is about the 7th time I have heard someone argue that birth control is not part of adequate, comprehensive health care for women and that reducing access to it will have no effect on the health of women.

When women cannot control the timing and spacing of their children, it has devastating effects on their health--see sub-Saharan Africa, or look back to the slums of New York in the early 1920s. How does having 13 children in as many years not negatively affect a woman's health? And how does Fimian think that this issue is something trivial, that women won't worry about? It is fundamental to how we are able to live our lives in this day and age! And don't give me the line about not having sex if you don't want to have a child. I'm pretty sure we've evolved to a place in our society where sex is separate from procreation and even if you think we shouldn't have, what do you say to married women who wish to be with their husbands without getting pregnant? Gee, sorry, hope you have a good calendar and your counting's not off?

This intentional misinformation campaign about what birth control is and how it works just proves the pro-choice movement's point that for the most part, the pro-life movement is not interested in reducing the number of abortions, what they are really interested in is controlling women and making sure that sex is only allowed in the time and place and between the people they think it should be.

Anonymous said...

nice try but reread the context of the post

the example given was somebody who wanted healthcare after the fact that they had cancer.

thats not birth control thats oops I didn't mean to do this and now I need to get rid of it. Also once again comparing a human life to cancer is.... well this is a family blog

and like I said before its an agree to disagree

My main point though is calling out Fimian on not responding to something is the utter form of hypocrisy when you have Connolly as your candidate


Hokie Guru said...

VA Blogger was banned from Senate Guru Dot Com.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

NMM, I respect you and your right to disagree with me. Heaven knows I'm not infallible (no joke about the Pope intended, honest).

However, you are right that we must agree to disagree on this. So, let me answer some of your points.

First, preventing a woman from getting birth control does not cause an "oops, I made a poor decision moment" for her. This is not about a "get out of jail free card." It's about actively preventing a woman from acting responsibly and making a good decision to prevent a pregnancy.

There's no way around that fact. You are basically saying the government has the right to tell women when they can or can't have sex, even with their husbands. And that is not the government's role.

I took what I thought were great pains to separate the birth control issue from the abortion issue. They are not the same.

In addition, on occasion there are actually serious health risks involved in a pregnancy, which is why a doctor might recommend that a woman avoid pregnancy. So, denying her access to effective contraception could indeed be tantamount to denying a cancer patient access to chemotherapy because a healthcare practitioner doesn't believe in mainstream medication.

It's also an interference with the doctor patient relationship. Again, that's not the government's role. Promoting the religious beliefs of one group over others is also not the government's role and there are many mainstream Protestant denominations that allow contraception. So, denying women, or even men, access to it is favoring a particular religion over all other faiths.

None of that has anything to do with protecting an innocent life. The contention that life begins before conception is sloppy science and sloppy theology.

Even Catholics don't believe that (I know because I used to be one). In their religion they simply believe it is wrong to prevent the possibility of life. They believe every sex act between husband and wife should be open to that possibility of life. But preventing it is not considered murder. It's simply immoral, by their standards. And they have every right to those standards and to forego birth control. They just don't have the right to impose that on others.

BTW, Hokie, I wasn't aware of that. And I confess, I'm not familiar with Senate Guru - have to look that up. I don't ban people unless they are rude to other commenters, use obscenity or are racist. Barring that, people are free to disagree with me.

Hokie Guru said...

The best Senate analysis site on the Internet, AIAW. VA used profanity on several occasions on that site... it is a great site... Raising Kaine has referred to it a number of times.

Keep up the good work here.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Thanks Hokie. I just looked up Senate Guru. What have I been missing? It's a great site. Thanks for pointing me to it.

VA Blogger said...

Hope you don't mind me dropping in , AIAW. I appreciate the traffic, even if we don't agree on much.

I don't have much to add to the conversation that I didn't post at my site, but I just wanted to clear up the fact that I have never been banned from the Senate website; the only places I've been banned are at Swing State Project and Raising Kaine, and neither had to do with obscenity.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Thanks for clearing it up. I don't mind people disagreeing with me as long as they are civil, make a reasoned argument and aren't rude to other commenters. Not much to ask really :)

Silence Dogood said...

As a fellow Democrat I agree with several of your points..but in the future could you find a better way to express your thought than saying "Safe and legal abortions are such an ingrained part of the American way of life." It kinda skeeves me out; as one of the many Democrats who grew up in a religious household, I respect that Roe v. Wade paves the way for what President Clinton termed "safe, legal and rare" abortions in this country, but I'm still heavily biased towards rare, meaning widespread access to contraceptives and broad sex ed to help teach people early on how to use it safely and effectively. Yay planned parenthood. :)

Anonymous said...

I am curious as to why HokieGuru brought up the issue of VA using swear words on Senate Guru, as it doesn't seem germane to this argument of birth control, or his post on the matter.

And I appreciate your commitment to civility, AIAW. Your blog, while I disagree with much of what you write, is interesting and easy to read.

I have come to find it unwise in a social-health argument to compare two scenarios of different treatments - because a majority of the time, the two are incompatible analogies (especially the two that you mentioned) and their differences detract from expressing your point clearly.

Furthermore, I cannot understand why "religious people" should have their their views or agenda suppressed, when supporters of pro-Choice have been expressing their opinions and message since the days of Margaret Sanger. Are the religious not entitled to this right, simply because it is irritating?

You go on to state that the socially-conservative are "redefining science in ways that have no scientific, medical, or evidential basis". I assume you are speaking on the debate of when one's life begins.

If so (and at the risk of sounding like a zealot), is there any proof to support the other side of this debate (that life begins at birth)?

Nonetheless, Abortion is legal, and will remain such for years to come. Recent memory cannot recall a time when the Congress last voted on such issues as you mentioned, especially a bill that made national headlines or impacted the medical community to such an extent that it gave way to the destruction of Roe v. Wade or right to contraception.

I highly disagree with the notion that life begins at sex, and I don't know of any right-wing leaders that believe in denying women (or men) the right to contraception or would vote to do so.

I understand your concern but do not understand why abortion has to be an issue in this campaign when there are many other, very pertinent issues facing our district today.

I think that both the socially liberal and conservative want Congress to find ways to bring energy efficiency & independence, secure our country, and restore our economy. All things that I think Keith Fimian would be able to help deliver - and I have no doubt, knowing him personally, that he would do so with integrity and due diligence.

Anonymous said...

Last one I promise :-p

This is the main sticking point

"It's about actively preventing a woman from acting responsibly and making a good decision to prevent a pregnancy."

Thats the agree to disagree

We say thats allowing a woman to commit murder


Big difference between that and this

"There's no way around that fact. You are basically saying the government has the right to tell women when they can or can't have sex, even with their husbands. And that is not the government's role."

Thats birth control. Fine with that. The first example is different.

Also the cancer argument is still fairly weak. You had to bring in when the mothers health is in danger to finally have it flow logically.

I'll admit thats a tough one for me. At that point you are weighing one life against the other.


Haven't been here in a while keep up the quality writing. Even if it seems I disagree with more and more of it :-p. Have to get used to a Democratic President somehow.