The Left's culture war, and big government as a weapon 

A handful of stories today reflect an important truth about the culture wars in today's politics: Often the Left -- not the religious Right -- is the aggressor. The advocates of gay marriage and defenders of abortion are often the ones "imposing their values" on those who disagree.

Some current case studies:

1) Montgomery County's war on crisis-pregnancy centers that don't abort

From Marta Mossburg's column in today's Examiner:

Montgomery County Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg introduced legislation to require crisis pregnancy centers that don't offer abortions to inform clients they must go elsewhere for medical advice and should consult with a medical provider before deciding whether to keep their children.

She did not return a call requesting comment for this column. But if the bill is all about truth in advertising, why did she not also require abortion clinics to give clients notice of the services they don't provide?

It's hard to see this as anything but a legislative war on pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers. Trachtenberg seems to be in the business, not of expanding "choice" -- these centers obviously cannot prevent you from getting an abortion elsewhere -- but expanding abortion.

2) Abortion subsidies in the health-care bill

Pro-choicers argue that the Stupak amendment restricts access to abortion, and there's a way in which they're right. If Congress expands subsidies for health insurance (as all Democratic "reform" bills do) and prevents subsidized plans from covering abortion, then some people who had abortion insurance but no subsidies will now have subsidies but no abortion insurance. Pro-choicers say Congress is getting in the way of a woman's right to choose, but the pro-life reponse is just as valid: the alternative is forcing abortion opponents to subsidize the abortion of babies.

(The libertarian compromise, of course, is that Congress shouldn't force anyone to subsidize anyone else's insurance.)

Because the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops publicly backed the Stupak amendment, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., has threatened to sic the IRS on the USCCB in a Politico piece that charmingly describes the abortion of an unborn child simply as "a perfectly legal surgical procedure."

Twice in this short piece, Woolsey seems to be confused as to what is government action and what is not. She writes "this political effort was subsidized by taxpayers, since the Council enjoys tax-exempt status," and she also describes the absence of taxpayer subsidy for abortion as "added restrictions" on abortion.

3) Forcing churches to conduct gay marriage

The D.C. bill instituting gay marriage contains important protections of religious freedom regarding gay marriages, such as:

No priest, imam, rabbi, minister, or other official of any religious society who is authorized to solemnize or celebrate marriages shall be required to solemnize or celebrate any marriage.

And:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious society, or a nonprofit organization which is operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities, or goods for a purpose related to the solemnization or celebration of a same-sex marriage, or the promotion of same-sex marriage through religious programs, counseling, courses, or retreats, that is in violation of the religious society’s beliefs.

These are good clauses specifically aimed at guarding against the sort of imposition of liberal values I describe above. They also have upset some on the Left, such as City Paper blogger Amanda Hess, who writes: "it’s extremely unsettling that the council’s bill includes an allowance for religious institutions to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation."

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Timothy P. Carney

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