Missouri’s best-known insurrectionist is at it again. Not content with bashing democracy, or preempting the First Amendment with specious arguments about religious freedoms, Sen. Josh Hawley also is raising his fist at the administration for the way it describes pregnancy.
We’re not kidding.
In early September, President Joe Biden said almost all federal workers had to get COVID-19 vaccines. Federal workers must get their last vaccine dose by Nov. 8.
The rules for getting the shots are now becoming public. As expected — indeed, as required by law — one requirement allows federal agencies to exempt workers “because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance.”
Screening guidance has been developed to make sure a religious objection is truly sincere, and not based on something Uncle Charlie saw on Facebook. Seems reasonable enough.
Not for Josh Hawley, of course. This week he fired off a letter to three administration officials, including former Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, claiming a religious exemption to COVID vaccines should not be questioned.
The guidance shows “a skepticism and contempt for religious beliefs,” Hawley writes. “The guidance is also overbroad and riddled with woke propaganda. It should be withdrawn immediately.”
Apparently, Hawley gets to decide what is and isn’t sincere. That’s ridiculous and dangerous.
The government, for example, asks employees a series of questions to fully understand a religious objection to the COVID shot. Have you had other shots recently? it asks.
“If you do not have a religious objection to the use of all vaccines, please explain why your objection is limited to particular vaccines,” the screening template asks.
If you’re fine with a polio shot, but object to a COVID shot, tell us why. Hard to see much wrong with that.
Hawley thinks it’s tyranny. The form “evinces a skepticism and indeed a hostility to applicants who harbor sincerely held religious objections to the COVID-19 vaccine,” he says.
It does nothing of the sort.
The senator’s political opportunism hits a new low later in his letter, when he objects to vaccine guidance involving women. It addresses COVID shots for “people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to become pregnant now, or trying to become pregnant in the future.”
You’ll recognize that language. It’s used as a warning in practically every prescription drug commercial you see on TV. Incredibly, Hawley finds the phrases sinister.
He prefers “expecting” mother.
“It is part of an effort to target religious, conservative, and other civil service employees who do not subscribe to the far-left agenda,” he writes.
What? The COVID requirement, and guidance, and language, are designed to save lives, not target conservatives. Saving lives should be on everyone’s agenda.
In fact, the very guidance Hawley rejects allows for some discretion for pregnant women. “An agency may allow … an employee to delay vaccination based on the employee’s particular medical circumstances,” it says.
Like all Missourians, we wish Sen. Hawley would focus on real concerns: health care, education, infrastructure and a changing climate, perhaps. Instead, he wastes our time and his by focusing on imaginary affronts to the cloudless world in which he lives, mostly for perceived political advantage.
He is making the COVID crisis worse to further his political career. It is cynical and dangerous, and must be rejected by Missourians.