When I Am Queen of Everything: A Crisis of Conscience

When I Am Queen of Everything: A Crisis of Conscience

Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,21 April 2015

When I was a child, I believed terrible people picked the eyes out of frogs and sold them as green olives. Now since I was a child, I could only deny myself green olives; I had no authority to prevent other people from eating them. I could try to make the would-be olive eaters feel guilty for grievously injuring frogs to satisfy their own selfish desire for olives by telling them sad stories of blind mommy and daddy frogs jumping into oncoming traffic, leaving their orphaned babies helpless in a cruel world. But unless you were an idiot or just really didn’t want to see me having a fit, you could pretty much ignore me and go on about your business consuming frog eyeballs willy-nilly.

Fast forward to today when I have now realized I was a deeply weird child and that deeply weird and/or narrow-minded people should not be allowed to make choices for other people based on the idiot things they believe. This is the problem with these so-called conscience clauses and religious freedom restoration acts. People have found ways to claim things as a deeply held religious beliefs — things that harm the civil and human rights of other people.

In Georgia, it looks like this has led to a Walmart* pharmacist refusing to fill a valid prescription for misoprostol for Brittany Cartrett, a woman who had just had a miscarriage. When asked why she had refused to fill the prescription, the pharmacist reportedly looked Cartrett in the eye and said, “Because I couldn’t think of a reason why you would need that prescription.”

In Indiana, “conscience” has led to pizzeria owners ridiculously asserting they’d refuse to cater same-sex weddings, which I’m sure devastated the zero couples who actually wanted pizza for their receptions. And now lawmakers in Northern Ireland are pursuing the same type of RFRA legislation in the wake of a Christian bakery refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple; this controversy has been described as the “gay cake row” (which I am calling dibs on as a future band name).

Finally, in Florida (of course it had to be Florida), the State Senate is expected to take up a bill to allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples in a measure described as “conscience protection.” The issue popped up during contention over a different bill that included repealing a decades-old law banning gay adoption; that law has not been enforced in recent years because of an appeals-court ruling.

Religious and conscience arguments have been used for decades — even centuries — to promote slavery and racial discrimination, and deny women’s rights. It wasn’t okay then and it’s not okay now.

So When I Am Queen of Everything, the law of the land will not bow to every nutjob claiming his or her religion gives them the right to treat someone else as subhuman. Pharmacists and physicians won’t get to pick and choose who they provide services for or try to prevent people from getting services for legitimate medical issues. Corporations and businesses will not be considered people and their rights most definitely will not trump the rights of actual human beings. And before people can run around claiming their consciences allow them to trample on the civil and human rights of other people, they’ll have to prove to me as Queen of Everything that they actually have consciences. I’m thinking an obstacle course will be involved.

*Walmart denies the prescription was refused because of conscientious objection but Jezebel has done a pretty good job explaining why that’s probably crap.


Take Action!

Hat Tips:

New Orleans Public RadioNew York TimesSlateThe HillBelfast TelegraphNews 4 JAXNPR, Image Credit: Flickr

Subscribe to get updates delivered to your inbox