Keeping pace with Republican norm, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) staked his claim against big government—except of course when it disputes Republican rhetoric. In a town hall meeting in Iowa on Wednesday, Grassley beat back a constituent’s accusation that the federal government would soon interfere with the choices an individual can make over his or her body by accidentally making the case for Roe v. Wade.
Sen. Grassley was asked by a constituent, “They’re saying that they’re going to start, in 2013, putting microchips in government workers and then any kid that enrolls in school, starting in pre-school, will have a microchip implanted in them so that they can track them.” Grassley responded, “No. First of all, nothing can be done to your body without your permission. It’d be a violation of the Constitutional right to privacy if that were to happen.”
Watch the town hall clip here.
Grassley can thank conservative commentator Paul McGuire for stirring the controversy around this feared government mandated microchip after the publication of his 2010 book, Are You Ready For The Microchip? This conspiracy theory stems from an actual medical technology company, PositiveID Corporation that developed VeriChip to monitor glucose levels in individuals with diabetes. Of course this microchip is merely an option for diabetes patients, which is no more mandated than receiving a flu shot. This is yet another desperate measure by conservatives to create fear and opposition to President Obama’s health care bill among voters.
Grassley’s tone and brief response to this question demonstrates just how little he could be bothered—certainly lawmakers would never defy the U.S. Constitution in demanding that citizens do something to their bodies that they oppose.
This is an interesting position for the senior senator to take, since he has traditionally taken no issue with defending Republican motives to implement federal laws that restrict a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body. In fact, despite any beneficial aspects of the 2009 Affordable Care Act, Grassley cited taxpayer funding for abortions as his reasoning for voting against the measure. Not to mention that Grassley’s colleagues in Congress and across the country in state legislatures have proposed bills that would mandate women who are seeking an abortion to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, whether she wants the invasive procedure or not. For Republicans to use the Constitution as a shield for individual rights and privacy when it comes to something like a microchip, failing to extend that same right to women is nothing shy of hypocritical.
For years conservatives have argued against Roe v. Wade, on the grounds that the decision is morally wrong. The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision found laws that infringe on an individual’s “personal, marital, familial, and sexual privacy said to be protected by the Bill of Rights” is “overbroadly infringing [on] Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.”
Grassley’s comments during Wednesday’s town hall parallel arguments made by Roe v. Wade supporters. Just as “nothing can be done to your body without your permission,” particularly at the hands of the government, nothing can be done to legally forbid what women can do to their own bodies, particularly in cases of abortion where the health of a woman is at risk.
If Grassley considers it outrageous that the government would consider tracking human health through implanted microchips, than he ought to think it equally outrageous that the federal government would enact laws forbidding a woman to seek out a particular medical procedure. Both entail securing an individual’s privacy that is established in the U.S. Constitution, which Grassley and other Republicans defend tenaciously.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr Commons
This item was updated to include a section about women’s rights and transvaginal ultrasounds.