s it just me, or does it really seem to others like there is a huge upswing in the level of paranoia and fear in our country? And I’m not talking about just people in general. I’m talking about Christians!
The other day on Twitter, someone decided to unfollow me (and actually blocked me) because I challenged them on the need to address concerns with integrity and truthfulness. They seemed, unfortunately, to be more content to play into the fear and paranoia that comes from misrepresenting the facts about pending legislation.
Here’s what concerns me: Christians should be the ones demonstrating peace, no matter what the circumstances are. And Christians should be the ones leading the way to finding out truth. Even our own holy book says, “Come let us reason together”, yet we throw reason out and instead argue on hyperbole and exaggeration.
The newest controversy surrounds a bill in Congress (H.R. 20) right now that is referred to as the “Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act”. The way this act is described in the emails that are racing around the country, the bill (if it became law) would mandate a test of competency be given to all mothers when they give birth. If the mother is deemed to be “incompetent”, they will not be allowed to take their baby home from the hospital.
Sound insane? I thought so, too. Yet, according to this post, that’s exactly what the bill is alleged to say. And my guess is that many are just taking that information and running with it.
But did you know that you can actually read the text of the bills that are being debated in Congress?
OK, I’ve spent some time reading the bill (if you all don’t know, you can go to http://www.opencongress.org and look up any bill, see its status, read its text, etc. Here’s a link to the bill in question.) I’ve also examined the information on the dailypaul.com link that I mentioned above (which, by the way, is a website INSPIRED by Ron Paul, but is NOT Ron Paul — if that matters to anyone. I found it a bit misleading).
I have a couple of thoughts, but first a couple of disclaimers.
Dislaimer #1: I’m extremely conservative, and am very opposed to government intrusion. My political views are probably close to that of the Libertarians. I voted for Ron Paul (as a write-in) in the last presidential election.
Disclaimer #2: My comments are not meant to defend this legislation (which I oppose), but rather to provide some different insight into WHY we should oppose it.
Disclaimer #3: These are just my non-expert opinions, and I’m very open to differing views or different reasoning as mine here. My desire, however, is to focus on FACTS and not allow ourselves to a) get caught up in hype, or b) simply take someone else’s word for what we think about something.
With those disclaimers in place, allow me to offer my insight here:
1. Having read the entirety of this bill (fortunately, it is not a lengthy one like the stimulus package was!!), I do not see any indication that the claims on dailypaul.com are correct that there is a test given that will cause them not to allow you to take your child home with you if you fail. The exact quote on dailypaul.com says, “The Mother’s Act, if passed, will mandate that all new mothers be screened by means of a list of subjective questions that will determine if each mother is mentally fit to take their newborn home from the hospital.” This is simply nowhere to be found in the bill!
2. The focus of the bill is research regarding postpartum depression. Now, I don’t have any strong feelings one way or the other about PPD (as to its legitimacy, or not) because I simply don’t have enough information, and certainly no experience (!) in this area. However, in an effort to look at the facts of the bill and not 3rd party statements like dailypaul.com, it must be acknowledged that this bill is geared toward research and resource, not “determin[ing] if each mother is mentally fit to take their newborn home….”
3. Does this mean that new mothers might have to be “educated” at the hospital about PPD? It does appear to be quite possible. But does it have anything to do with not allowing mothers to take their children home after birth? Again, I find absolutely no basis for this claim.
Now, having said that, if you’re still reading, I would like to share why I DO oppose this bill, and give my reasons for concern:
1. Section 101.a.4 concerns me greatly. It states that the research appropriated by this bill would include “[c]linical research for the development and evaluation of new treatments.” The reason this bothers me is that there have been uncovered some situations in our nation’s past (and present) where studies are performed on subjects WITHOUT THEIR KNOWLEDGE AND CONSENT. So, this area does pose some grave concern. I would see the possibility here for new mothers to be given medication in the hospital as part of this research about which the new mother neither knows or understands, nor to which she gives consent.
2. Section 330G-1.b.2 has similar concerning language: “Delivering or enhancing inpatient care management services that ensure the well-being of the mother and family and the future development of the infant.” My concerns raised in #1 above apply here, too.
3. Section 330G-1.b.4.B.ii also states that there should be an effort “ensuring that training programs regarding such education are carried out at the health facility.” This does sound to me like it would be possible for a mother to have to stay at the health facility during whatever training might take place before being able to return home with their new infant. That concerns me, as well.
So, having said all that, I think there are several reasons to oppose this legislation, or at least to express concern about it. However, I am concerned that there seems to be a trend in our conservative circles to misrepresent the actual facts and promote a culture of fear.
For those of you who are believers in Christ, as am I, we have nothing to fear! There is nothing our government can do that 1) is outside the hands of our Father, or 2) that can do anything to us of eternal consequence. Let us not fear!
I would encourage each of you to actively pursue information about these topics when you hear these alarming alerts sounded. But in the process, make sure that you don’t get caught up in the fear and hype surrounding certain topics. There is a good chance that the alarms being sounded by many are misdirected and misguided.
Is there reason for concern in this bill? Yes, I believe I have made that clear in my analysis above. But I do not believe that the fear that is circulating and perpetuated by sites such as dailypaul.com is rooted in reality. It simply makes us appear “ignorant” to anyone with a different viewpoint because we look like we don’t know what we’re talking about. Let us fight these battles with integrity, truthfulness, and — above all — love, in the spirit of Christ!
Until next time,