Over the years, I've put myself on lots of right-wing mailing lists, which must have been why the American Center for Law and Justice called this weekend to inform me that the Senate's health-care reform bill is "an abortionist's dream come true." The robocall, featuring the voice of ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow, said that the current bill is essentially the Freedom of Choice Act -- a long-cherished legislative goal of the pro-choice movement -- disguised as health-care reform. According to Sekulow, should the Senate bill pass, "every plan in the country will be forced to cover abortion."
Protesters on the south steps of the Oklahoma state capitol, as part of a National Tax Day Tea Party, April 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Next month's Tea Party National Convention has been making news for the fat fee Sarah Palin is commanding -- $100,000, according to many reports. But the gathering, to be held at Nashville's Opryland Hotel, is interesting for another reason as well: It marks the attempt of the old-school Christian right to take over the tea-party movement. Speakers joining Palin include Rick Scarborough, Roy Moore, and Joseph Farah, men who are radical even by religious-right standards. Their presence shows that the tea-party movement is no longer merely populist, libertarian, or anti-government, if it ever was. It is theocratic. Indeed, after several months in which the religious right seemed lost and dispirited, it has found a way to ride the tea-party express into renewed relevance.
Late last month, Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, came out against a proposal for a 5 percent tax on cosmetic surgery to help offset the cost of health-care reform. Speaking to The New York Times, O'Neill argued that for some women, plastic surgery can be an economic necessity. "They have to find work," she said. "And they are going for Botox or going for eye work, because the fact is we live in a society that punishes women for getting older."
Late last week, The New York Times published an 800-word story about a few right-wing Jews' complaints that Barack Obama's Hannukah party was smaller than that of Bush, a purported sign of the White House's callous indifference to the Jewish people. On Friday, the CBS News Political Hotsheet blog picked up the story with a headline declaring: "White House Hanukkah Party Spawns Anger."
Pro-life protesters in Dublin, Saturday July 4, 2009. (Niall Carson/AP Images)
On Wednesday, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, began hearing a case that has the potential to be a kind of Roe v. Wade for Europe. Three Irish women who had to travel to England for abortions are challenging their government's abortion ban, saying the expense and hardship involved constitute a violation of their human rights. Precedent suggests that the court could agree. If it does, the repercussions will go far beyond reproductive rights, raising important questions about where in Europe national sovereignty ends and international guarantees of liberty begin.