Friday 17 February 2012
In the US birth control debate, Orwell lives
Canadian women watching the farcical US birth control debate must be breathing sighs of relief.
Not that there aren't Roman Catholic tyrants in Canada who'd criminalise birth control in a jiffy if they could, It's just that they can't.
What empowers these US reactionaries? Mainly, two ugly facts. First, there's a lot more poverty in the US than in Canada, and severe poverty much of it is, too, so millions of very poor women can't afford to pay doctors to prescribe birth control, or pharmacists to dispense it. So birth control opponents have a lot of leverage. Second, the religious right has a lot more political power in the US than it does in Canada. There are congressional districts where the sitting member could not expect to win re-election if he (or rarely she) were to come out in favour of unrestricted birth control.
So in the land of the free and the home of the brave, a lot of women cannot get birth control.
Yet in every US school and church and playground, and in nearly all US media, kids have it drilled into them every day that they live in the freeest society on earth.
That belief doesn't fit with bare facts like widespread poverty and severe restrictions on birth control, so covering stories have to be invented.
Now, all over the world, wherever the Catholic Church can muster the power to prevent the free dissemination of birth control, it does so. Yet what do we hear in the US debate? That permitting Cathlolic bishops to block the distribution of birth control is a matter of religious freedom! Yes, that's right! Freedom-loving US Republicans are defending the freedom of Catholic bishops to deprive others of the freedom to use birth control!
You think you might've heard this kind of doublethink before? You're right. When Soviet soldiers occupied Prague in 1968, they took pains to tell the Czechs they were dismantling the Prague Spring because they loved the Czechs so much! Yes, it was an act of love!
George Orwell lives.