By Stephen Pizzo
Mar 29, 2004, 11:56
During the Taliban rule of Afghanistan the world got a good look at what happens when religious zealots gain control of a government. Television images of women being beaten forced to wear burkas and banned from schools and the workplace helped build strong public support for the President's decision to invade Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.
But even as President George W. Bush denounced the brutal Islamic fundamentalist regime in Kabul, he was quietly laying the foundations for his own fundamentalist regime at home. For the first time far right Christian fundamentalists had one of their own in the White House and the opportunity to begin rolling back decades of health and family planning programs they saw as un-Christian, if not downright sinful.
Since 2001 dozens of far-right Christian fundamentalists have been quietly installed in key positions within the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Drug Administration and on commissions and advisory committees where they have made serious progress. Three years later this administration has established one of the most rigid sexual health agendas in the Western world.
It began immediately. One of George W. Bush's first acts as president was to issue an executive memorandum reinstating a global abortion "gag rule." The rule was first implemented under Ronald Reagan but revoked during the two Clinton administrations. The rule prohibited federally funded family planning providers from even discussing abortion with their clients.
Bush's order reflected the views of those at farthest reaches of the Christian right, zealots who saw any means by which women controlled reproduction as unbiblical:
"I would like to outlaw contraception...contraception is disgusting – people using each other for pleasure." -Joseph Scheidler, Pro-Life Action League
"I don't think Christians should use birth control. You consummate your marriage as often as you like – and if you have babies, you have babies." Randall Terry, Operation Rescue
Over the next twelve months the administration moved quickly to install similarly-minded Christian fundamentalists to positions of authority and influence over all matters relating to reproductive and sexual health.