08 April 2005

GOP Values: "Culture of life" only when financially convenient

The latest fight within the Florida GOP reflects the divisions within the party and shows how the various constituencies of the party are at odds with one another. The Republican Party constantly panders to the religious right, but at the same time, they are aware that their campaigns are financed by big business. When the two special interests come into conflict; however, the GOP makes their choice clear. Money talks and Christianity walks!

Representative Marcelo Llorente (R-Miami) has filed House Bill 839 which gives either parent the legal right to recover for "his or her own mental pain and suffering, emotion distress, and any economic damages" for medical expenses related to a miscarriage or termination of pregnancy caused by the negligence of another. This bill appears to support a "culture of life," and of course the GOP would support it, right? Wrong.

Representative Dennis Baxley, the same politician who led the fight on behalf of Terri Schiavo's parents by claiming that the Legislature must always value human life, actually argued against the bill. Baxley said that it would be wrong for unborn children to be "denigrated" by being made the subjects of litigation. Of course, Baxley's comments echoed those of the insurance companies, hospitals, doctors organizations, and lobbyists who spoke against the bill because it could cut into their profits. The Republicans refused to vote on the bill, because they obviously believe that depriving a corporate executive of his millions was more tragic than robbing a mother of her child.

The Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill 1974, sponsored by Senator Bill Posey (R-Rockledge), has not yet been heard in committee. Its first committee of reference is the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Daniel Webster (R-Winter Garden), who recently partnered with Representative Baxley in the Schiavo fight. Apparently, Webster agrees that the "culture of life" should only be pursued when financially convenient.

The hypocricy of the GOP members of the Florida Legislature is only outdone by that of President George W. Bush. During the Schiavo saga, our president told anyone willing to listen how he wanted to institute a "culture of life" in our country. Unfortunately, President Bush has not been consistent on this issue. As governor of Texas, Bush spearheaded a law that would allow a hospital to remove life support from a patient if the care of the patient hurts the business' profits, even when the family opposed such measures. Last month, Bush's law resulted in the death of Sun Hudson, a six month old boy whose mother wished for him to be kept alive but eventually lost her court battles with the hospital's executives.

Llorente's bill appears to be stalled for the session. The Florida GOP was forced to choose sides between corporate profits and human life, and they made their choice. The religious right continues to provide much of the necessary grassroots for the Republican Party during election season, but when push comes to shove, the GOP is willing to drop them like a bad habit. The party's real loyalty is to big business, because while prayer is nice, it doesn't pay the bills.

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