McMorris Rodgers and her Bald-faced Lie
So much for the 9th Commandment
Exodus 20:15: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Christians of all denominations recognize the 9th Commandment as a broad prohibition against lying.
Explanation: This commandment forbids bribery and forgery and even the least suggestion contrary to truth. It forbids libel, slander, and backbiting, and calls for the truth and nothing but the truth.
In Revelation 22:15, we are told that “whoever loves and practices a lie” will be outside the gates of the New Jerusalem, and in Revelation 21:27 “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA CD5, Eastern Washington) often touts her Evangelical Christian bonafides, so I took her seriously when she posted the following statement concerning the “Supreme Court leak” on her website:
Nearly every Democrat in Congress is on the record supporting the Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act. It creates a national standard mandating all states offer abortions of unborn children for any reason and at any stage of pregnancy up until birth. The Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act is more radical than Roe. It must be stopped.
There is no such thing as a billed dubbed “The Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act.” McMorris Rodgers must assume that those sufficiently in her thrall to visit her website will trust her honesty as a Christian woman and not delve further.
McMorris Rodgers has always felt free to display her religious belief that human life begins at conception, that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, a woman’s right to govern her own body should thereby be rescinded, and abortion ought to be outlawed. Why, now that Justice Alito’s draft opinion overturning Roe has been leaked, does McMorris Rodgers ignore the 9th Commandment to bear false witness about the content of a House bill she has already voted against?
Consider that, until now, voters could cast a ballot for McMorris Rodgers feeling assured that her rhetoric did not matter. After all, a woman’s right to determine her own bodily autonomy was protected by Roe, and Roe was considered settled legal precedent—the Supreme Court Justices she cheered on even said so. Suddenly, now that those same Justices look like they are about to be overturn Roe, McMorris Rodgers’ opinion is a clear threat to the human rights of more than half the voting population. Alarm bells are ringing. She must lie about the contents of the bill she voted against in order to demonize those who supported it.
The bill about which McMorris Rodgers concocted her offensive lie is H.R.3755 - Women's Health Protection Act of 2021. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill on September 21, 2021, on a vote of 218 - 211 (Roll no. 295) with only a single Democrat voting Nay, Henry Cuellar (D-TX) along every House Republican. The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 is now before the Senate, where there is a movement to force a vote that would put every U.S. Senator on record for or against. You can read the text of the bill here. If passed (it won’t be, thanks to the filibuster and Joe Manchin) it would write into federal law the rights of women to manage their own medical care and while balancing those rights against the rights of a healthy, viable fetus that is not threatening the life or health of its mother.
The Roe v. Wade decision was a compromise between the the rights of women and the rights of a fetus. Here’s the way Doug Muder puts what is essentially both the majority opinion on women’s and fetal rights in one of a series of excellent posts on Monday, May 9th. It happens that it is just such an opinion that mirrored in Roe and in the Women's Health Protection Act of 2021:
Based on little more than intuition, I suspect a large majority of Americans could accept this general framework, which is not terribly different from the status quo:
The moral value of life in the womb increases with time. A newly fertilized ovum evokes little empathy, a ready-to-be-born fetus a great deal.
Before the abortion option is closed off, a woman deserves a fair chance to discover that she is pregnant, to consider her situation, and to discuss the matter with people she trusts.
Given the growing significance of the fetus, the woman has a responsibility to make a timely decision.
She should be allowed to reconsider if significant new information becomes available about her own health or her potential child’s quality of life.
My own preference would be to keep the government out of the decision entirely, but I could live with this kind of compromise.
Importantly, the Women's Health Protection Act of 2021 (as did Roe) leaves it to the states to legislate around limiting access to abortion after fetal viability—as long as such legislation does not intrude on the “good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, [that] continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.” This Women’s Health Protection Act would negate hateful Republican legislation at a state level that disparages women’s (and physicians’) intelligence. Legislation now on the books in some states (awaiting the official Supreme Court decision) would, for example, force a woman to carry an anencephalic fetus (a fetus without a brain) to term—adding to the risk and to the heartbreak—or face a criminal penalty. How much denigration of intelligence will women put up with from (usually male) legislators’ conviction that their religious belief supersedes a woman’s right to her own body and her (and her doctors’ intelligence) in managing it?
McMorris Rodgers bears false witness, she lies, about the name of the bill (“On Demand”) and she lies about its content (“for any reason at any stage of pregnancy”) while the bill would simply federally codify Roe v. Wade, the judicial decision from 1973 that a large majority of U.S. voters want to see preserved—likely in the logical manner Doug Muder puts forward above.
Why does a proudly “Christian” legislator resort to to the sin of lying? Like all Republicans, McMorris Rodgers was elected as she spouted anti-Roe v. Wade rhetoric. She proudly touted her minority religious belief (not shared even by all Christians) that a fertilized egg is a human being, while she felt safely assured that actually overturning Roe v. Wade was somewhere off in the future. Voters who believed that we enjoyed a right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent could, with fair comfort, vote for McMorris Rodgers while they could rest assured she lacked the opportunity as a legislator to act on her rhetoric. Now it looks like precedent-and-womens’-rights-be-damned by five right wing Supreme Court Justices, all of whom paid lip service to “settled precedent”, are likely to grant McMorris Rodgers the power to legislate based on her narrow religious belief.
McMorris Rodgers (and Republicans in general) have a problem. Her (and their) absolutist view that all abortions should be outlawed because, to them, a fertilized egg is fully human is not popular. For voters the idea that a fertilized egg deserves rights that exceed the right of the woman in whose uterus the fertilized egg might implant makes no sense. Now voters need to reckon with the possibility McMorris Rodgers’ might, in the foreseeable future, be able to vote to federally outlaw all abortions based on her extremist belief.
The sin of McMorris Rodgers’ bald-faced lying about the name and content of the Women's Health Protection Act of 2021 must seem justified to her in order to paint the Democrats’ bill to codify protections for women's rights as extremist—which it is not. She is desperate enough to break a fundamental Commandment in order to take the spotlight away from the impending judicial removal of the precedent that would make her previously empty legislative threat to the rights of women a worrisome reality.
Do not let her get away with her lie. Don’t give her a chance to vote against the right of a woman to control her own body. Send her packing with this fall’s elections.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post on May 10 entitled “Democrats are proving to be the real extremists on abortion” Henry Olsen echoes the lies told by McMorris Rodgers. The comment section is scathing (but this is the WaPo after all). Clearly, these lies and distortions will be the Republican unified voice on the matter. Of course, neither Olsen nor McMorris Rodgers provides a link to the actual bill. They prefer that their followers do not actually read it…