Since Richard Dawkins is about to give a talk in Oklahoma, I've been doing Google News searches on Dawkins and Oklahoma because I'm curious what the reception will be. This is my excuse for having run across the charming publication called the Tulsa Beacon.
Oklahoma has long been at the forefront of progressive bioethics,* and the "reportage" in the Tulsa Beacon is showing that they're not ready to relinquish the mantle any time soon. They are pleased to report that an abortion bill has cleared the house which stops designer babies. Oklahoma House Bill 1595, introduced by Rep. Dan Sullivan, mandates the reporting of certain information to the Oklahoma state government. Sullivan states that this is so that people can't choose to abort little girl babies in favor of little boy babies. I haven't read the bill so I don't know what other information is included in the mandated reporting, though I find myself having difficulty believing that Sullivan is being above-board about all the provisions in his bill, that this is really his motivation, and that this is all that physicians have to report. What this all has to do with "Designer Babies" is left up to the reader, because the Beacon never explains it.
Biomedical intrusions of the religious right are actually a golden opportunity for pro-separation Americans. Americans cherish privacy and self-determination, so the eagerness of religious conservatives to make your doctor report information about you to the Government hands you a rhetorical weapon in discussions with Americans on the fence about this issue. All in favor of mandating that your doctor report certain information about you to the government, raise your hands. Don't everybody jump at once!
The Terry Schiavo case was a real embarrassment for the religious right, one which I never fail to bring up when I have the opportunity. That's because it was shameful, and it turned one family's tragedy into a tabloid story for political gain that never materialized. And I will never fail to use bills like this against the Religious Right, who seem to forget all about privacy and big government when they want to use that government to force their views on the rest of us.
*Oklahomans, I know it must be frustrating to be stereotyped according to these kinds of headlines. The solution is to get your legislature away from these extremists, and then there won't be any more fuel for the fire.
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