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Whose body is it, anyway?
By Jean Hay
October 1999

Have you noticed the shift? People, lots of people, have decided to take back their own bodies, from the government and from the bureaucrats.

HMOs are on the defensive. Who wants a clerk in some distant office to tell your doctor that he or she canít order that treatment for you, because your health is not cost-effective? Isnít it reasonable that someone who makes a life or death decision should be held accountable for the results of that decision? Thatís what the congressional Patientís Bill of Rights is all about. Itís not about making money for lawyers; itís about holding people accountable for their decisions. If the goal is to reduce costs, of course the HMOs will refuse to pay for expensive procedures. If, however, those clerks and those HMOs know they can be sued into oblivion, they might, just maybe, think twice about refusing to pay for a medical treatment that could save your life.

And how about that Medical Marijuana initiative on the Maine ballot Nov. 2? The federal government is putting people away right and left for growing and/or selling the stuff. Our prisons are full of non-violent drug offenders, who are languishing in cells and costing taxpayers more per year than if we sent them on full scholarship to MIT. Yet here comes this citizen initiative, which says people with some serious illnesses that can be helped by marijuana should have the option to use the drug without ending up in the slammer, despite what the federal government may think about the matter. And polls indicate that more than 3 out of 4 of us think the medical use of marijuana is a reasonable way to go.

This referendum is one way to send a clear message to your government and mine not only that the marijuana laws are stupid in general, but that it is none of the governmentís business what each of us individually chooses to do with our own bodies. It is one way to say that we, not the government, own our own bodies.

Another sign of this shift, of people deciding to take back their own bodies, comes in the form of another referendum, which will probably show up on the ballot in November 2000. The Death with Dignity bill would allow physicians to ease the death of terminally ill patients of sound mind who want to die with dignity and on their own terms. Individual people, not the government, the police, or the medical licensing board would make the final life decision.

The signatures have been collected, and as I write this, are being counted in the Secretary of Stateís office. When you think about it, it is profound that so many Mainers were willing to sign on the dotted line and force a referendum to make it legal and clear that the government has no business in such personal and private matters.

Which brings us to yet another issue that will face Maine voters this November 2. The question is Ė Does the government own a womanís womb? The strangely worded referendum question No. 1, which makes no mention of "partial birth" or "late-term" either in the referendum question or in any supporting legal documentation, would ban a "certain" abortion procedure, unless the life of the pregnant woman is at stake.

This is the ultimate in governmental interference. It says a woman, any woman, every woman, is incapable of deciding what is in her and her familyís best interest. It puts the government, the faceless, generic bureaucracy, in the position of deciding between the life of the unborn fetus and that of the pregnant woman. Is her life really in danger? What if the government bureaucrat says no, and the woman dies? (Despite medical advances, women still do die in childbirth, and of complications in pregnancies.) Who is responsible? What liabilities will apply?

This ban would also remove "health" as a legal consideration in any decision. It would remove the free choice of the woman, any woman, every woman, to decide what is, or can be, done to her own body at her own request, to protect her own life, her own health and her own body.

If you believe in individual liberties, in the very basic concept that people do indeed own their own bodies, then you will vote "no" on this ban. You will do this even if you know that you, personally, would never decide to undergo this "certain" procedure. You will vote "no" to make it clear to your government and mine that it does not own your body, or anyone elseís.

If, however, you feel that the government does indeed own every womanís womb, as the government of Communist China asserts, and if you feel it is the right of the voters, not the right of the woman, any woman, to decide her fate during any given pregnancy, then vote "Yes," and put the lives of all the pregnant women you know or will know in the hands of the government bureaucrats you trust so unquestioningly.


UPDATE!
On November 2, 1999
Maine Voters
Refused to Ban Partial Birth Abortions
and
Approved the Medical Marijuana Referendum

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