So, according to certain media, there is a bill making its way through the final stages of the Missouri state legislature that could “allow employers and landlords to discriminate against women who use birth control or have had abortions.”
But, I’m not a Missuran (is that a word? Missourian? I think it’s Missourian…) why should I be poking my nose into their issues? It’s none of my business…
See, that’s the problem with this particular bit of legislation – and the legislation that inspired it. Noses going where they aren’t welcome.
There are two “problems” here; or at least, two causes that I sympathize greatly with, and it just so happens that they are on opposite sides.
First is the issue of reproductive rights; what you do with your body isn’t anyone’s business. Even if we’re talking about abortions – and assuming the hypothetical “you” here believes that life starts at conception, and therefore it’s murder – that’s still an issue that aught to be resolved in a court of law. Not by employers, not by landlords – most importantly, because they cannot access a person’s medical information to make an informed decision.
On the other hand (sorry, if you were with me up to here, I might lose you now…) I also sympathize with people being forced to do and pay for things that they find are morally objectionable. (If you’re still here, imagine being forced to pay for conversion therapy… forcing people to pay for other’s treatment still sound like a good idea?) Everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs, and we don’t get to just dismiss them if they run contrary to our own, and force people to conform to our ideals.
Now, of course depending on your position in the political spectrum and how much science you know, you’ll probably be more sympathetic to one of these problems than the other. Which is understandable. What isn’t, however, is refusing to consider the other problem because you think your problem is more important.
This is what leads us to the law of unintended consequences being the only piece of legislation that never fails to pass. People focus on their issue, and in the pursuit of their noble goal, ignore the negative side-effects of the legislation they are supporting.
Opposition to this new law won’t be effective if it doesn’t consider the cause; and while “those guys I disagree with over there are just mean and evil and do mean, evily things” is nice to whip up the base into calling legislators and signing online petitions … it’s not the best way to craft legislation – or to prevent a new version of this bill from making the rounds once the activism has died down.
After all, SB-5 was created by the same mechanism; of whipping up a different base by accusing the “other side” of wanting to mean, evily things and they have to be stopped. Damn the consequences, saving innocent children is more important.
It’s this partisan, retaliatory legislative and executive action that ignores the concerns of the people they are reacting against that is the problem. Just stopping SB-5 isn’t going to fix the problem, anymore than passing the bill is fixing the problem. It’s just creating a new and bigger one; because very often people will ignore some of their own issues to force through a bit of legislation that they think is “more important”.
I doubt that the people who support SB-5 are any more amenable to employers being able to look through their employee’s medical records, than people who oppose it are OK with denying people the right to practice their religion. They’re just so focused on the passionate, immediate issue of abortion that they aren’t really stopping to think of all the consequences of what they are advocating for.
And that leads us to having these awful, messy, backwards bills and laws.
Now, my apologies to the citizens of the great and lauded state of Missouri, that I was using you as an example of this issue – and please don’t think I’m trying to tell you how to run your state. Just that… given how hard it was to find information on this bill, it seems more people there should know about it.