The Bush administration and Congress have turned over issues bearing on women’s reproductive rights to far-right religious groups opposed not just to abortion, but to expanded stem-cell research, effective birth control and AIDS prevention programs.
The Food and Drug Administration continues to dawdle over approving over-the-counter access to emergency contraception for fear of inflaming members of the religious right who deem any interference with the implantation of a fertilized egg to be an abortion.
This foot-dragging may be good politics from one narrow view, but it harms women and drives up the nation’s abortion rate.
The result of this open espousal of one religious view is a censorious climate in which a growing number of pharmacists feel free to claim moral grounds for refusing to dispense emergency contraception and even birth control pills prescribed by a doctor.
Public schools shy away from teaching about evolution, and science museums reject scientifically sound documentaries that may offend Christian fundamentalists.
Public television stations were afraid to run a children’s program in which a cartoon bunny met a lesbian couple.
In a recent Op-Ed article in The Times, John Danforth, the former Republican senator and U.N. ambassador who is also a minister, said his party was becoming a political arm of the religious right.
He called it a formula for divisiveness that ultimately threatened the party’s future.
With the nation lurching toward the government sponsorship of religion, and the Senate nearing a showdown over Mr. Bush’s egregious judicial nominees, it is a warning well worth heeding.
The New York Times today