Pennsylvanians, ‘you just have to close your eyes’

By Madeleine Dean, Posted Sunday, March 25, 2012 in The Intelligencer:

Gov. Tom Corbett has some striking advice for Pennsylvania women: “You just have to close your eyes.”

When asked by a reporter about House Bill 1077 — the measure that would mandate a Pennsylvania woman seeking an abortion for any reason to undergo an ultrasound, including a transvaginal probe — Corbett said of such a state-mandated procedure: “… you just have to close your eyes.”

An answer so dismissive and disconnected that it seems the governor thinks of women as children. (I picture a parent trying to briefly shield her child from the fear and pain of a necessary childhood inoculation.) But we are not children — not chattel — and this government-mandated invasive procedure is not necessary. It is coercive and dehumanizing. It is a scary government intrusion by a party that claims to hate government intrusion.

If you read the bill, it is alarming the kind of state-mandated documentation required by both the doctor and the woman. The record-keeping requirements are frightening.

You just have to close your eyes.

In addition to working on and promoting the state-mandated ultrasound bill, the Pennsylvania General Assembly recently passed House Bill 934, the voter identification bill, mandating that anyone attempting to vote present photo identification before being allowed to exercise his or her right. It is well known that many of the elderly, young and minorities simply do not have such identification.

If you look at the numbers, research shows that in the last decade, there were fewer than 10 documented cases of voter impersonation. Yet, we expect the voter photo identification bill will disenfranchise tens of thousands of citizens, and cost millions of dollars to implement.

I suppose the governor’s advice here would be the same: Hey, Pennsylvanians, you just have to close your eyes as thousands of citizens — mostly the young, the old and minorities — lose their fundamental right to vote.

And prepare yourself: This April 24 Primary Day may be the day the government begins a dry run of the voter suppression measure — just a warm-up to the chilling events of the fall.

You just have to close your eyes.

Or look at Gov. Corbett’s 2012-2013 proposed budget, a communiqué of funding cuts to education, the environment and the intellectually disabled.

Corbett’s proposed budget slashes education spending by $30 million for early education, $78 million for primary and secondary education and $249 million for higher education. This on top of hundreds of millions cut last year.

Corbett has sliced nearly 20 percent over the past two years from the Department of Environmental Protection budget. If the governor is successful, this year would see $38 million taken from the Keystone Fund/Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, a fund that supports parks and forests. And, importantly, the department has an estimated $1 billion logjam of park and forest projects that would create thousands of private sector jobs in Pennsylvania.

In addition, the Corbett budget strips funding from programs for the mentally ill and intellectually disabled.

You just have to close your eyes.

As the governor takes from so many — blaming or citing the difficult economic times we are in — he gives to the few, and he fails to look at opportunities for increasing revenue. Somehow, he can’t see the natural resources for the trees.

Pennsylvania has natural resources that our state and country need. They are the treasure of our citizens, and those who take these resources for profit should be taxed fairly. I’m talking about what every fiscal conservative is talking about: adequately taxing the Marcellus Shale industry.

Look to Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska, all energy industry-friendly states, which tax their wells at rates substantially higher than we do in Pennsylvania. An appropriate tax would be a source of revenue that could help protect our environment, improve the very infrastructure needed to support this new important business and improve the lot of our citizenry by supporting improved education and the care of our citizens.

You just have to close your eyes.

But all Pennsylvanians — men, women, minorities, young, old, disabled, all citizens — will not close their eyes to the myopic focus of the Corbett administration and the majority in the state Legislature.

We won’t close our eyes to a Legislature and governor who think so dismissively and crudely about the rights of women; who act so cavalierly about one of our most fundamental rights as Americans, our precious right to vote; who rule so blindly as to take away our children’s education and our economic future; who prefer to rule rather than to govern.

We must not close our eyes to what is going on in Pennsylvania politics.

We will be judged by how we treat our own — how we treat women, children, minorities, the mentally challenged and our environment. It is dangerously past the time for the Pennsylvania Legislature to reverse course and tell Gov. Corbett he has closed his eyes to us.

Read the full article here.