A group of Department of Justice employees is asking the Biden administration to follow the lead of other large employers in granting administrative leave to Justice employees who may now have to travel long distances for abortion care, but this sentence in The New York Times' writeup of the request really sticks out:
"The request puts the administration in a potentially tricky position: either denying a benefit even as several large companies have made accommodations in the area, or granting one that pits it against state governments that restrict access to the procedure."
Uh ... yeah? And so what? We've got several states currently run by a seditionist party that's spent the last half-century trying to roll back civil rights because they believe there is only one true American religion—the one that they personally believe in—and everyone else needs to follow those religious rules or go to jail. Whether or not state governments get upset by the move is irrelevant.
Washington state Sen. Emily Randall and RuralOrganizing.org's Matt Hildreth talk about what they're seeing and hearing while knocking on doors this week on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast
By all means, "pit" federal powers against the state governments attempting to enforce theocracy-based medical rules on federal employees. Set up abortion clinics inside federal buildings! Provide a federal lottery in which every abortion you get earns you a chance to win a free car! Provide transportation to out-of-state clinics via military helicopter!
Somebody's worried that granting administrative leave to federal employees stuck in backwater mini-theocracies that limit reproductive services, in a nation that has one of the worst rates of pregnancy-related deaths in the supposedly civilized world, might be too bold a move?
Telling federal workers they're not going to lose their jobs if they have to take multi-day trips to get medical care may literally be the least the government could do. And it ought to be doing a whole lot more than that.
There's some muttering about the Hyde Amendment's prohibition on spending any federal money on abortion care because a particular dude of yesteryear got a bug up his butt about, to repeat myself, enforcing a very specific set of religious rules on absolutely everyone else on the planet, but that quite obviously doesn't apply here because this is just asserting the government will allow you to get your own medical care, it's not giving you any money to do it. It should, if we weren't a screwed-up nation just barely hanging on to our own supposed democracy, but it doesn't.
This is a no-brainer and the Biden administration should go forward with these rules immediately. Federal workers in Republican-held states could in the near future face arrest and prosecution just for crossing state lines to obtain medical care, so the administration needs to zip through this one so that it will at least be clear that the federal government won't be itself partnering in such persecution.
If we want to talk about something that will "pit" our national government against the religious demands of the seditionist states, add on travel protections for federal workers. Make it absolutely clear that these same Department of Justice employees will be allowed to travel across state lines whenever and however they damn well want, even if it takes the National Guard to make sure it happens.
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