Ordinarily, I focus on national politics in this blog.
There’s a good reason for that. See, I am currently living in Colorado Springs. Mecca for evangelical Christians and right-wing hotbed. Looking at local politics is just too damn depressing.
So for the most part, I ignore it, and focus on the national issues.
Every now and then, though, something from local politics intrudes on my consciousness, and I feel like I have to say something.
This is one of those times.
Our local embarassment of a state senator, Dave Schultheis, cast the only vote against a measure that would provide for HIV testing of pregnant women. The idea behind the bill is that it would allow doctors to take appropriate steps to prevent an infected mother from passing the virus on to her child during delivery (which is when infection of the child usually occurs).
Now, there may be good privacy-related reasons to argue against mandatory testing in other circumstances, though I think the health and safety of the child should trump privacy concerns, since knowledge of the mother’s infection status can allow doctors to take steps to prevent transmission of the disease to the child.
But Schultheis wasn’t making a privacy-based argument.
He was making an “AIDS is punishment from god for immoral behavior, and if the child gets the disease the mother will feel guilty” argument. In his own words:
What I’m hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that. The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity and it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior. (Quote courtesy of the dead-tree edition of the Colorado Springs Independent.)
Nothing like condemning a child to life with an incurable and ultimately fatal disease in order to teach his or her parents (who are already similarly condemned) a lesson.
Forget the fact that many women with HIV were infected with the virus as a result of their husbands’ cheating. We have to PUNISH these women and make them feel GUILTY for their husbands’ behavior.
How utterly appalling.
The good news is, Schultheis was the only state senator to vote against the bill. It passed. Pregnant women and their doctors will have the information necessary to prevent HIV transmission to newborns, in spite of Schultheis’ moralistic myopia.
If you’d like to let Schultheis know what you think of his position, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org