Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lundberg doesn't get to define 'child'

The misogynist culture warriors keep trying to impose their definitions on a world that wants to think for itself.

Kevin Lundberg is the latest culture warrior who wants to inflict his peculiar brand of fantasy on the rest of us. Lundberg, a state senator from rural Larimer County, is posturing in opposition to a bill that would fund contraception for poverty-stricken teen-agers in Colorado because said contraception would include the use of intra-uterine devices. IUDs are against Lundberg’s personal misinterpretation of a religion, so he wants to impose that interpretation on the rest of us in the form of legislation.

At the heart of the matter is this little fact: IUDs provide contraception with a backup. That is, on the rare occasion that the device fails to prevent sperm from meeting egg, it will probably prevent the zygote from attaching to the wall of the womb.

The problem for Lundberg is he doesn’t know the difference between an inarticulated cluster of cells and a child. Here are Lundberg’s own words:

“The IUD is a mechanical device that makes (the uterus) an impossible environment for a young child to implant in the uterine wall.”

That’s right, in the Neverland that Lundberg wishes existed, a fertilized egg (referred to in medical terms as a “fertilized egg”) is a “child.” Problem is medical science says differently. Mosby’s Medical Dictionary defines a child as “a person of either sex between the time of birth and adolescence.”

Lundberg wants to impose a radical religious definition on a medical condition. I wouldn’t have a problem with this if Christian clergy went to medical school, healed the sick, repaired the injured, researched new ways to cure and prevent diseases, delivered babies, and pronounced us dead. But they don’t. Doctors do. And because doctors are the people most intimately knowledgeable of human life and death, they get to say when life begins. Everybody else is just making shit up.

Lundberg’s defenders would argue that he’s just “voting his conscience” and that his conscience is guided by his religious belief.


Lundberg is among a growing number of middle-aged white men who see their power, and thus their privilege, slipping away. Power, you see, is a zero-sum game. If women and minorities are to gain the social and financial equality that is rightfully theirs, they need power, and that means taking it away from white men like Kevin Lundberg. And that scares the bejesus out of Kevin Lundberg.

His answer, then, is to deny women the power they need to become fully equal to men. The most effective way to do that has always been to identify them primarily by their ability to have children. Every civilization in history has hobbled women with an impossible choice: Subjugate yourself to child-rearing or face the disapproval of all around you.

Some women can afford a support system that allows them to transcend the usual duties of child bearing and thus achieve the equality that is their due. Others want to delay or forgo it altogether. There’s nothing Lundberg and his fellow misogynists can do about the former, so they focus on the latter. That means making up new definitions for, among other things, “child.”

But it's not just your garden variety misogyny that's at work here; it's a particularly cynical form. Lundberg knows as well as anyone that a good legislator keeps his religious beliefs separate from his work in the Legislature. Most of his Republican colleagues under the gold dome support the measure, and it’s sponsored by Rep. Don Coram, a Republican from Colorado’s 58th district. That’s in the southwest corner of the state. My wife and I both have family down there, and with the exception of a few tofu-serving restaurants in Durango, that’s as conservative as it gets in Colorado. Cultural reference: Novelist Olivia Newport, moved her Amish heroine from Colorado Springs to Coram’s southwest corner of Colorado in search of religious and moral purity. That’s how conservative those folks are.

As a social conservative, Kevin Lundberg is a poser. He pretends his “base” elected him to advance a biblical version of modern Colorado. The truth is, the Democrats regularly sacrifice innocents from Loveland in Lundberg’s 58th Senate District so they can hang onto Fort Collins and the 14th Senate District.

So Lundberg has the chance here to do the right thing, but he won’t. He knows the program to prevent teen pregnancy is going to be funded. He’s just trying to look good the folks at his church by defining a fertilized egg as a “child.” That doesn’t make him a good legislator. It makes him a cynic. I just hope Lundberg’s Republican colleagues aren't using the same dictionary.

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