The hatewatch business has grown in recent years from a large but solo operation known as the Southern Poverty Law Center into a major industry that includes an array of outlets that also retail gratuitous contumely, scurrilous innuendo and naked lies. Say something the left doesn’t like, and any number of disreputable websites will declare you a hater. It could be the rabid, barking leftists over at Salon, or the more moderate, lowing herd over at Slate, but whatever the source, say the wrong thing, and you become a target.

One expects this from the unhinged fanatics who fancy themselves public intellectuals. Salon’s Editrix Joan Walsh, for instance, who thinks something is wrong with whites, is ever on the lookout for deviationism from received leftist orthodoxy. Nothing escapes the petticoat tyrant’s sinistral gaze.

One doesn’t expect it, however, from former cabinet secretaries who toil in universities. But alas, Robert Reich, labor secretary under Bill Clinton has sallied forth to dash our expectations of better behavior from those who can make at least some claim to genuine intellectual pursuits. So the lunacy is spreading.

In his recent column for — you guessed it — Salon, Reich bemoans the mortality rate for women giving birth. The headline is typical Salon: “Right-wing policies are literally killing women.”

“Researchers aren’t sure what’s happening but they’re almost unanimous in pointing to a lack of access to health care, coupled with rising levels of poverty.” Of course, Reich, is sure what’s happening. After offering up some stats, he laments the obvious: Evil conservatives are murdering women.

A few excerpts:

Some American women are dying during pregnancy and childbirth from health problems they had before they became pregnant but worsened because of the pregnancies — such as diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease.

The real problem, in other words, was they didn’t get adequate health care before they became pregnant.

Other women are dying because they didn’t have the means to prevent a pregnancy they shouldn’t have had, or they didn’t get the prenatal care they needed during their pregnancies. In other words, a different sort of inadequate health care.

One clue: African-American mothers are more than three times as likely to die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth than their white counterparts.

The data tell the story: A study by the Roosevelt Institute shows that U.S. states with high poverty rates have maternal death rates 77 percent higher than states with lower levels of poverty. Women with no health insurance are four times more likely to die during pregnancy or in childbirth than women who are insured.

What do we do about this? Yes, of course, poor women (and the men who made them pregnant) have to take more personal responsibility for their behavior.

But this tragic trend is also a clear matter of public choice.

Many of these high-poverty states are among the twenty-one that have so far refused to expand Medicaid, even though the federal government will cover 100 percent of the cost for the first three years and at least 90 percent thereafter.

So as the sputtering economy casts more and more women into near poverty, they can’t get the health care they need.

Several of these same states have also cut family planning, restricted abortions, and shuttered women’s health clinics.

Right-wing ideology is trumping the health needs of millions of Americans.

Let’s be perfectly clear: These policies are literally killing women.

The idea that “right-wing ideology” controls American health-care policy is, of course, ludicrous, as is the idea that poor Americans cannot get health care. The indigent can receive free health care from myriad sources. And federal law forces hospitals to treat emergency patients regardless of ability to pay. Leftists like Reich saw to that with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.

“Restricted abortions” cause women to die? Abortion is a “health need?” If you’re a slattern who can’t (or most likely won’t) get rubbers or pills, raise your voice with Sandra Fluke: Blame the white Christian guy who pays most of the taxes that subsidize handing those things out. He’s waging a “war on women.”

This is the pass to which the hate business has taken public discourse. A former cabinet secretary has joined the moonbats to declare any opposition to leftist policy-making not just hateful, but downright lethal. My political opponents, Reich says in so many words, are murderers.

Let’s be perfectly clear: Robert Reich is a liar.