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Davis Sweet Headshot

Keep Your Laws Off My Body, Too

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I'm coming out of a little bit of a closet, here (don't tell my wife): I have Multiple Sclerosis. Not the telethon thing (that's Muscular Dystrophy) or the bike-a-thon thing (which I think is cancer) but one of the walk-a-thon things where you get the wheelchairs and arm crutches tooling down the highway for a quarter a mile.

So abortion is, naturally, my pet issue.

Bob Burnett asks why men don't write about abortion. I think we do, but, lacking wombs and associated equipment, not so much from the defending-our-bodies standpoint as we probably should. So here's my banner: Keep your laws off my body, too!

See, the anti-abortion extremists who, thanks to the Supreme Court, run the country -- and, thanks to the Supreme Court again, the Supreme Court as well -- want domain over my central nervous system. As a punishment for sin. Really.

In their twisted outlook, any cell created by slapping the male and female procreative mechanisms together is a person. (Yeah, yeah, "Every Sperm is Sacred," I know, but we're not talking about just Catholics here.) Therefore, as the Good Book tells us, that microscopic seed is (intelligently) designed to cause its carrier blinding pain as eternal payment for that wicked Eve wanting to understand, well, anything.

Apparently, Eve must have also had Multiple Sclerosis, because I too am paying in pain for her peek into that damned "tree of knowing-stuff." We can't look at what appears to be the best hope for fixing my pain -- stem cells -- because that would mean cheating some just-impregnated woman out of her chance to experience the miracle of epidural anesthesia. (Which, come on, must be another sin, right? It's in the book, people! Pain is the whole point! Anesthesia is the devil's workshop! Get Tom Cruise on the phone!)

Stem cells are, essentially, liberals. Open-minded, cooperative, helpful. Show them a cluster of damaged nerve sheaths that erroneously tell my brain that all my skin from the waist down is on fire, for example, and they say, "How can I get in there and fix it?"

But this budding Americorps has been co-opted by the religious end of the right-wing world into a selfish little conservative. Stick to your own tribe, fulfill your preacher's version of your divine mission, and for Christ's sake don't get involved in helping anybody. "I got mine; screw everybody else."

We don't have the technology to do the thousands of microscopic surgeries it'd take to repair Montel Williams's MS or Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's or my friend Andy's spinal cord injury or my dad's diabetes. Stem cells are that technology.

Only we can't get them because they're earmarked for biblical purposes.

Here's a radical idea: how about we separate the church from the state for real? Actually divorce the decisions about laws and government funding from Monsignor Megachurch's veto pulpit? Oh, wait. I was thinking of the mythical America we learned about in school. The "liberty and justice for all" one. Not George Bush's evangelical punishment machine.

As long as churches craft and determine our laws -- which is to say "as long as Republicans run the place" -- I'll be in pain. Searing, physical pain, not just the psychic pain that comes from seeing the word "Liberty" on all the quarters minted by the government that runs the Guantanamo prison camp. I'm not sure how that benefits anybody, least of all me, but it's the case.

If you get a chance, and I think there's one coming up, do me a favor and vote these cruel idiots out. Strip away their gavels that beat up -- and beat down -- millions of Americans every day. Put this technological marvel of a country back in the "do good things for Americans" business. Let the research lead where it leads, not just where some guy's scriptural interpretation decides it should lead.

Keep your scriptures; that's your right. Just keep them away from my country's laws.