On Opting In

Let’s take Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest at her word, and stop funding the corporate-military junta.

“Anyone with e-mail understands what it means when you are signed up – opted in – to a list without your consent,” says Americans United for Life leader Charmaine Yoest about the impending implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions, known colloquially as “Obamacare,” adding, “For the first time in U.S. History, Obamacare opts in almost every American to all kinds of abortion-related policies, intertwined at multiple levels. And if you try to opt-out, the answers for many has been NO, and the punishments severe.” According to their September 17 press release, Yoest says, “You could call Obamacare the ‘Abortionist Full Employment Act’.”

Well, then—sign me up. Since many smart people seem to agree that educating and emancipating women is the best—if not only—method for alleviating global poverty, and since, yes, we do have an overpopulation problem, it strikes me as both fair and within the bounds of common sense that our society give women full information and full agency over their own bodies and destinies. (Plus, since I cannot give birth to a child and therefore have no idea what that’s like or how that would mentally and physically affect me, I think the simple code of decent taste compels me to not insist someone go through the very expensive and very dangerous process—let alone coerce them to do so by legislating my morality. Call me crazy. Note that if you want to have a kid, go for it—the pro-choice side is not arguing that the “pro-life” side must have abortions, which is a critical but often overlooked nuance.)

But back to the point, and the lead-in to this piece: “Anyone with e-mail understands what it means when you are signed up—opted in—to a list without your consent.” Yes, we all understand this phenomenon quite well, living in the heart of empire, with no decision-making ability whatsoever and no real way to drop out, since all the rivers are polluted. While running the risk of conceding even more ground (and we’ve already conceded too much ground already—literally), I would almost like to grant Ms. Yoest this point, and say, “Fair enough, you don’t want your tax dollars going to things you don’t morally agree with,” because, let’s face it, neither do most people I should hope. So let’s open the floor, then, to things that others find morally objectionable, and would like immediately and permanently de-funded. I, for, one, would like my tax dollars to stop subsidizing corporations, especially oil and gas companies.

Why, you ask, do I have a conscientious objection to corporations? There are many reasons, ranging from making people sit at desks to making people step on each other’s throats, but here’s some fun with numbers: “In 2010 alone, 1,270 infants were reported to have died following attempted abortions and notably that is only one year,” Yoest claims, falsely. Okay, well, with just a short trip through the beginning of the alphabet, I can add up the reported 25,000 African elephants50,000 bees20,000 chimpanzees, and 600 dolphins (the dead ones in the Gulf of Mexico; not counting the ones being born without eyes) that have been recent casualties of our culture. Can my tax dollars stop funding corporations that are causing the extinction of animals, please? I never “opted in” to this kind of destruction; I was put on this list without my consent.

Of course, this thought experiment is just hypothetical; the oligarchy would never let people actually decide what they want to fund or build, because… well, look up the definition of oligarchy. But should Yoest get her wish, on the grounds that Obamacare cannot coerce people to do or support something that they find morally wrong (which would actually be on the grounds that the oligarchy can’t let women control their reproductive capacity, since steady and perpetual population growth is paramount to GDP), then let the floodgates open. Quakers should not just opt out of military service but demand that the military be de-funded. By Yoest’s “logic,” if any group of people morally objects to an action, then it should be illegal and/or not paid for by the public purse. It worked for Prohibition, right?

And furthermore, one can deflate Yoest’s sensationalized claims simply by citing the Hyde Amendment. Remember the Hyde Amendment? Passed in 1976 and affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1980, it prohibits federal funds from being used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or endangerment to the life of the mother. It’s still on the books, and still lets states set their own regulations on funding for abortion providers. According to the Bill Moyers page linked to above: “In order to assuage opponents of abortion in his own party, President Obama signed an executive order stating that The Affordable Care Act—which could expand Medicaid to cover as many 21.3 million additional low-income Americans by 2022—would maintain current Hyde Amendment restrictions.”

So, there, you see? Obamacare is not the scary monster that Yoest describes. Don’t get me wrong: I wish it were. But alas…

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