TAG | Texas
In a mildly encouraging development (and one that follows a somewhat similar case concerning politicians playing doctor, but in New York) a federal judge has blocked at least part of the new Texas sonogram law. Over at the Washington Monthly, Steve Benen has the details:
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked key provisions of Texas’ new law requiring a doctor to perform a sonogram before an abortion, ruling the measure violates the free speech rights of both doctors and patients. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks upheld the requirement that sonograms be performed, but struck down the provisions requiring doctors to describe the images to their patients and requiring women to hear the descriptions.
The law is an example of Big Government Conservatism at its most offensive. To hear Republicans tell it, the GOP’s line on health care is straightforward: the party wants government to steer clear of the doctor-patient relationship, and certainly has no use for bureaucrats making medical decisions and imposing care instructions based on some kind of ideological agenda. For that matter, it’s important, Republicans say, for politicians to appreciate growing health care costs, and not mandate unnecessary medical procedures.
The Republicans’ sonogram measure in Texas ignores all of those principles, forcing government into the examination room and empowering state officials to make a medical decision, while imposing care instructions based on an ideological agenda.
Indeed, under this Texas law, women would not only have to receive a sonogram whether it’s medically necessary or not, but medical professionals would be forced to tell their patients, against their will, what Republican policymakers want the patients to hear. Doctors who refused could face criminal penalties and the revocation of their medical license.
It’s likely not the response Rick Perry was expecting.
Earlier this year, the Texas Governor called on Christians across the U.S. to come to Houston for a prayer event aimed at bringing God’s help to a “nation in crisis.” Organizers of the religious gathering, dubbed “The Response,” say only 8,000 people have registered on-line to attend this Saturday’s event at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, a venue with a seating capacity of 71,000.
Eric Bearse, a “Response” spokesman and former speech-writer for the potential GOP presidential candidate, says attendance numbers are a non-issue.
“Not concerned whatsoever. We think it will be a powerful event whether it is 8,000 or 50,000. The only people concerned about numbers are press,” Bearse said.
Razib, there are, of course, idiocies in the changes in the Texas curriculum (as described in that New York Times piece), not least in choosing Thomas Aquinas over Thomas Jefferson as an influence on the revolutions of the late 18th century, but I was also struck by how sensible at least some of the changes (opposed by all the Democrats, it seems) appeared to be. Including von Hayek and Friedman as economists to be studied alongside the “usual” (the adjective comes from the New York Times report) list of Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes and nutty (not the New York Times’ adjective) Karl Marx seems very reasonable. Throwing in some history of the Venona papers in the context of a discussion of Joe McCarthy is not entirely stupid either….
The Religious Right suffered a surprise setback in Texas when incumbent Don McLeroy—a creationist and critic of church-state separation—narrowly lost his re-election bid for the powerful State Board of Education to challenger Thomas Ratliff in the March 2 Republican primary.
McLeroy, a dentist from Bryan, lost by fewer than 900 votes. Since no Democrat filed for the race, Ratliff will assume the seat next year. Ratliff, a legislative consultant and lobbyist from Mt. Pleasant, is the son of former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff.
I have pointed out before that Republican elites are split on evolution. One dynamic which has played out repeatedly since the 1980s is that the Religious Right has taken over school boards and attempted to push Creationism, which usually results in a successful reaction by those in the Republican establishment who mobilize to “take back their schools” and the like. Eventually with the victory the motivation for turnout and organization for these generally low publicity positions declines, at which point the Religious Right can move back in again. And so the cycle begins anew.
It might seem strange that Republicans who aren’t core members of the Religious Right would repeatedly rise up and work to oust fellow partisans based around such academic topics. But I recall in 1999 when Kansas was dominated by Religious Right school board members who were attempting to push Creationism there were loud complaints from businesses. When engineering firms were trying to recruit talent apparently one issue which came up from prospective employees was school quality, in particular the science curriculum. This is a classic case where business and social conservatism will always be at cross-purposes periodically. Resolution can only come if the Religious Right manages to capture the cultural commanding heights and make their beliefs normative, at which point they would be good for business. I am skeptical that this will happen.