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."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.
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."
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.