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We all just got another little taste of what it means to live in a state whose legislature is run by the Christian Right. A House subcommittee has adopted a bill by our right-wing hero Tony "Wrath of God" Shipley
to make it illegal for health-care providers to deny parents immediate access to the medical records of their children. An incestuous father could demand and receive his pregnant daughter's records. Not surprisingly, this imperils the $6.5 million in federal family planning money that Tennessee receives.
To save that money and protect the confidentiality of patients, Rep. Henry Fincher tried to amend Shipley's bill to give physicians some discretion with the records of teenagers. As usual, Shipley was undeterred by logic. He compared the federal family planning money to "13 pieces of silver," coming up 17 pieces short of what Judas took to betray Jesus. (OK, so Shipley's not exactly a biblical scholar. So what? We all know what he meant.)
"My characterization is that $6.5 million that we get from the federal government for Planned Parenthood or family planning doesn't measure up to what's important to parents," he told the subcommittee.
The bill was important enough to Christian conservatives to bring none other than House Speaker Kent Williams to the meeting. As speaker, Williams can vote on any committee, but he exercises that power rarely. He cast the deciding vote to defeat Fincher's amendment 4-3 and to send Shipley's bill to the full Judiciary Committee.