“Theocracy is a form of government in which official policy is governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or is pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religion or religious group.”
Finally—finally—Governor Jay Nixon has done the right thing by vetoing Senate Bill 749, which essentially would make the vaginas of Missouri women subject to theocratic control. Here’s how the Post-Dispatch described the measure passed this year by a Republican-dominated legislature:
The bill would have allowed Missouri employers and insurers to decide not to provide coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization if such procedures ran contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions.
In January HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the Affordable Care Act would require that all health insurance plans provide, free of charge, contraception coverage, as well as coverage for sterilizations. That action pissed off pastors and priests all over the country, who insist that their theological tastes trump a woman’s right to manage her own vagina.
The Missouri Catholic Conference, which describes itself as “The public policy agency for the Catholic Church in Missouri,” is urging “enactment of SB 749, the governor’s veto notwithstanding.” That means, of course, the legislature overriding Nixon’s veto, which has a very good chance of happening. Republicans have more than enough votes in the Senate and need only three Democrats in the House to force women to live by others’ moral and theological convictions.
So, while Nixon did the right thing, the right thing may not survive a September override vote. Missouri women need to pressure their legislators between now and then or the zealots will prevail, and reproductive rights will become subject to a male-created theology.
Finally, I want to leave you with a message from the “Most Reverend” James V. Johnston, Bishop of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese:
The Catholic Church will never yield in her defense of both the sacredness of human life and the inseparability of the unitive and procreative aspects of conjugal love. This is a moment where each of us will be called to take a stand either for or against the Church.
For the reverend, this is not merely a hell-avoiding choice for women. It is a choice for men, too, who the last time I checked don’t have vaginas and can’t have babies. But for zealots, biology doesn’t get in the way of their fundamentalist imagination.