ACLU on the Side of….Conservatives?

Freedom is nonpartisan. At least, that’s the message I got this morning from my Twitter timeline when these two stories appeared. The first is out of Alaska, where the local ACLU chapter is defending an…anti-abortion group?:

The ACLU of Alaska is urging Alaska Governor Sean Parnell to provide more information about some creative censorship by state workers earlier this month during a street protest in Juneau. The street protest was staged by a group called the Center for Bioethical Reform, a fringe anti-abortion group that displays explicit pictures of aborted fetuses in public places to get their message across.

That’s what they were doing early in April on the sidewalk across the street from Alaska state Capitol building. The protest wasn’t exactly a rally. The CBR group included between four and six people, as counted by the Press from videos and photos of the incident. The group was around the Capitol about four days total, and on Tuesday, April 2, some state workers grew tired of the banner featuring a giant photo of an aborted fetus.

Some state employees parked delivery vans on the street, in between the protest banner and the capitol building. Rather than move their banner, the CBR protesters held their ground and began making video of the rather awkward attempt at censoring the graphic images. It’s “attempted censorship” because the CBR protesters could have simply walked to another part of the sidewalk. Alternatively, they could have recruited more than a half-dozen people to help them display graphic images of bloody fetuses in public places.

In Praise of Kindergarten Style Payback

Virginia State Senator Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier County) introduces a bill to require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. In protest, State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) introduces an amendment requiring a cardiac stress test and rectal exam before men can be prescribed erectile dysfunction medication. Vogel’s bill passes by voice vote while Howell’s amendment narrowly fails. Glenn Reynolds, A.K.A. Instapundit, declares himself “okay with abortion” but reserves all of his outrage for the failed amendment, insisting that what we’re seeing here is “a false equivalence” and “kindergarten style payback.” Something is very wrong with this picture.

In a way, Reynolds is right. We are seeing a false equivalence. While there is absolutely no medical reason to require women to have ultrasounds before undergoing abortion procedures, there are good medical reasons to require men to undergo rectal exams and cardiac stress tests before being prescribed erectile dysfunction drugs. Included among the side effects of Viagra, for example, are rectal bleeding, colitis, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. I don’t know if Howell had any of these side effects in mind when she proposed her amendment or if she was instead purely interested in kindergarten style payback, but either way her amendment actually makes more sense from a medical perspective than does Vogel’s.

Rick Santorum is no friend to limited government

Republicans in Iowa will today head to caucus locations and cast their votes. In case you’ve been hiding under a rock these last few days, Rick Santorum is surging in that state at just the right time, where he may pull off an upset win.

Santorum, a former U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania who lost re-election in 2006 to Bob Casey by 18, often claims his opponents in the race, including Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, aren’t conservatives. He then goes on to cite his own “conservative” credentials, which are often limited to being anti-abortion and anti-gay.

But Santorum’s “conservative” record is dubious. While he and his supporters slam RomneyCare (passed in 2006) for covering abortion and Romney himself for giving mixed positions on the issue, Santorum endorsed him during the 2008 presidential campaign. Of course, Santorum is trying to play that down now. During a campaign appearance in Boone, Iowa, yesterday, Philip Klein reported on what Santorum told supporters:

He explained, “In the case of Gov. Romney and John McCain, I settled for what I thought was the best alternative out there…I didn’t see Mike Huckabee at that point, after having lost South Carolina and Florida, and not having at least by reports lot of money available, then I thought the best chance to stop John McCain was at that time Gov. Romney.”

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