Legislating Holy Scripture in Ohio

Ashley Baxstrom:  Ohio just keeps embarrassing the buckeye out of me (and that’s only on Jezebel). I can’t get a break. This week, however, it’s more of a middling sigh-and-shake-my-head feeling than an outright pounding in my temples.

The culprit? Anti-abortion demonstrators protesting at the state Capitol. What are they protesting? The fact that the Republican-controlled state Senate won’t consider a measure effectively banning all abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

No, you read that correctly. Republican-controlled. Won’t pass. Fetal heartbeat abortion ban.

Cynthia Dunbar speaking in Ohio

This is why I’m not pounding my head into the keyboard. What up, frozen Hell!

Supporters of the so-called “Heartbeat Bill” have gathered on the marble steps to throw what Jezebel deliciously deemed a “Holy Tantrum.” Because they’re not just angry that the law wasn’t passed. They’re angry because such a move, they claim, is contradictory to Biblical law – and therefore unconstitutional.

No, you read that correctly too. Because the Senators are (in these peoples’ opinion) not following Biblical precepts, that in itself makes their actions unconstitutional.

The protest and concept was lead by the visiting Cynthia Dunbar, professor at Liberty University in Virginia. Dunbar, who previously served four years on the Texas Board of Education, describes herself in her faculty profile as “instrumental in preserving academic freedom in the biology classroom and restoring historical accuracy in social studies.” (… Which means she fought for intelligent design in science curriculums and historical revisionism in public schools.) In this video clip from Right Wing Watch, she says that 94 percent of the founding fathers’ quotes are directly or indirectly related to the Bible. “You wanna know what the laws of nature really is?” she says (bad grammer her own), “It is the will of our maker.” Jezebel sums up her argument as such: “The Bible doesn’t say anything about Roe v. Wade, and so Roe v. Wade can’t be law because the Founding Fathers would have been against Roe v. Wade because Roe v. Wade isn’t in the Bible and the Bible governed everything the Founding Fathers did.”

Dunbar’s closing quip: “Guess what, legislators? You don’t have the freedom to make any laws if they are contrary to what God has said in his Holy Scripture!”

The main gist of Dunbar’s argument is that the constitution should be followed per the “intent” of the Founding Fathers, who, she claims, believed that life began with the fetal heartbeat, which is generally around 6 weeks. The Jezebel author takes her to task on this specific argument, countering with the words of James Wilson, who signed the Declaration of Independence and participated in the framing of the Constitution, who said that life began at “quickening,” or when the fetus is able to move around in the womb, the 18th or 20th week. (Though it can range as wide as 13th to 25th.)

Well-played, respectable counter-argument. However, the first point I might have made would have been that in fact, legislators do have the right to make laws that are contrary to the Bible, because according to the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” – which is exactly what basing legislation on the Bible is. We need to preserve religion in the public square, of which government and politics are a part. But if we intend to maintain the “separation of church and state” and “religious liberties” our country created and values, then we have to continue to point out transgressions of those boundaries, not just argue with their arguments’ merits.  Our belief is at stake.

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