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Catching up on my blog-reading today, I noticed the discussion between LMark and Denise over whether gender-reassignment surgeries should be an employment benefit for graduate student instructors. Neither of the two have completely persuaded me. I agree with Denise that these surgeries are usually, in all important senses of the word, necessary. But so far, Larry seems to have the stronger argument about coverage -- gender-reassignment surgeries seem to me exactly the kind of treatment that ought to be left uncovered when the choice is between covering them, and leaving some workers without medical coverage altogether. (This of course presumes that such an either-or choice actually exists. If we can find the political will to get control over some aspects of prescription drug pricing and to spend more public money on relatively inexpensive public health measures, it seems that we could find the money to cover gender-reassignment surgeries for the people who need them.)

Meanwhile, Steve Sanders puts his finger on what bothers me about Terri Schiavo's parents. Of course they love their daughter; of course they should vigorously fight for what they think is best for her. To say on CNN that Judge Greer was on a "crusade" to "kill" Terri Schiavo, though, is an indulgence that gets no sympathy from me. As Steve explains, that kind of rhetoric harms the rest of us by aiding religious extremists who show nothing but contempt for earthly law.

Nevertheless, if the Schindlers really believe that their daughter is still on this earth in that hospice bed, they have a reason to be upset with the results they've gotten from the judicial branch. Tom DeLay and Bill Frist are an entirely different story. Steve's post says it well; go read it.

I'm only slightly confused about one thing, though. Why would a rational fundamentalist right-winger really want to attack the legitimacy of the judiciary? If their electoral majorities were rock-solid, I can see the temptation, but it seems like the fundamentalists aren't dominating at the polls (yet). Surely they must fear the consequences of a delegitimized judiciary if their short run of narrow electoral successes were to come to an end. Any kind of political backlash will send them running to the judges like kiddies to their mamas. Are they so confident of the national mood that they're willing to risk everything on majoritarian politics?

Perhaps all those a.m. radio talk shows have gone to their head. They should try reading some liberal blogs sometime, just to remind themselves that there are still a lot of folks out here who still disagree with them. (Hell, they should just read some secular blogs -- plenty of conservatives still disagree with them too.)