Punish Women for Having an Abortion? GOP says YES!

Donald Trump has spent the better part of the last week playing mopping boy to all his gaffes. But there is one thing Donald said this week that – bob and weave as he may – he will not be able to dodge. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews this week, Donald Trump admitted he supports punishing women who have an abortion.

The Donald has spent the better part of the week trying to back away from his words. He’s claimed the interview was edited. He’s claimed he “misspoke.” And he keeps trying to offer an alternative to his genuine belief that women should be punished for seeking reproductive care by offering that the doctors who provide that care should be punished in lieu of the woman who decided to obtain it – as if we women are unthinking, naive victims of these money grubbing health care providers.

But I’m not buying it, and neither should you.

The GOP platform is clear about their stance on abortion. The GOP “support a human life amendment to the Constitution.” No matter then rest of their pretty words on the sanctity of life and supporting pregnant women, ratification of the “personhood” amendment the GOP so pointedly seeks means women will go to jail.

I am not just talking through my teeth about this. The evidence is clear. It has been demonstrated time after time that women ARE punished when abortion is made illegal. Take one look at the countries where abortion is illegal and you cannot deny the evidence. In countries where abortion is illegal, women go to jail for having abortions, women go to jail for having miscarriages, and women die due to unsafe abortion.

Even in the United States women have been prosecuted for obtaining abortion inducing drugs or miscarrying after attempting to self-abort.

So when Ted Cruz says he does not agree with Donald Trump’s position – that women be punished for abortion –  he is LYING to you. Ted Cruz supports a personhood amendment. He KNOWS that women will go to jail if a personhood amendment is passed. Ted Cruz supports punishing women. John Kasich supports punishing women. Mitch McConnell supports punishing women. The whole damn GOP supports punishing women.

Women and Children Deserve Better

 

It’s a common slogan in “prolife” circles: “Women deserve better than abortion.” I see these signs carried by protesters outside my local clinic on a regular basis, as if some ridiculous protest sign is going to changed a woman’s mind about something so serious.

But you know what? They are right on one point.

Women DO deserve better.

Women who live in the richest country in the world should not have to choose abortion because of economic hardship. The most expensive health care on the planet, pregnancy discrimination, lack of parental leave, no sick leave, no paid leave, and astronomical child care costs can create a situation where a woman who might otherwise choose to carry on a pregnancy, eventually give birth and possibly raise a child chooses instead to end it. It is a contingency that affects women and families across all demographics. Eliminating this situation is a commendable goal.

But there are so many points on which these anti-choice protesters are wrong, wrong, WRONG! Organizations like Feminists For Life elevate this mantra, characterizing abortion as a “humiliating, invasive procedure” that “sacrifices” a child. They characterize abortion as a violent, tragic scourge pushed upon victimized, vulnerable women. And they cite flawed research to persuade the public that abortion is dangerous, causes psychiatric distress and cancer. On all these additional points they could not be more wrong.

Abortion is not humiliating. Abortion is not tragic. Abortion is not violent. Abortion is not always a symptom of an underlying problem. And women who choose abortion are not “victims.”

On the contrary, for the woman who feels trapped in an abusive or unsatisfying relationship, abortion is a tale of liberation. For the woman with pregnancy complications, abortion is tale of healing. For the woman working hard to finish college, abortion is a tale of opportunity. For the woman who just does not want children, abortion is a tale of relief.

And, since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal and safe, the dangers associated with illegal, unsafe abortion have all but disappeared. The rates of serious complications and death from pregnancy far exceed those of abortion. Most women who have abortions go on to have healthy pregnancies when they are ready to do so. And research has shown that the incidence of mental health issues in women after abortion is no greater than that experience by women after other stressful life events.

Rather than saving the lives of the unborn, I am most motivated to protect and improve the quality of life for the living. Having compassion for the living means advancing clean energy, maximizing available resources and changing public policy to increase pregnancy safety and encourage birth. Having compassion for the living also means protecting a woman’s access to safe, legal abortion without guilt and without apology.

So, yes, women and their children do deserve better – much better – than the guilt and shame leveled at them by the “prolife” movement. Women deserve good quality of life. Women deserve choices. Women deserve respect.

Michael Vick Did A Bad Thing

Michael Vick hurt dogs. Michael Vick tortured dogs. Michael Vick drowned dogs. Michael Vick murdered dogs. Michael Vick did some of the most horrible, unspeakable things to dogs that I have ever read. He lied to federal prosecutors and they threw the book at him.

Michael Vick spent 21 months in federal prison contemplating the horrible things he did to those dogs. He spent 21 months thinking about turning his life around.

Michael Vick is out of jail. He has been out of jail for over 6 years. He has played football in the NFL for most of those six years, both with the Eagles and the Jets. And now…

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Tuesday that they have signed Michael Vick to a 1-year contract as back-up quarterback after Bruce Gradkowski sustained a season-ending injury during Sunday’s pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers. The former dog fighting ring lord and canine assassin is now a Steeler.

Some fans are outraged. Some of my hard-core Steeler fan friends have even said to me that they will not watch a single Steeler game because Vick is on the team. At today’s practice, there were even protests!

Michael Vick murdered dogs. Michael Vick went to prison for murdering dogs. Michael Vick is now a Pittsburgh Steeler.

And I am okay with that.

There is a lot to be said for honoring the rule of law. Vick pled guilty to the crimes of which he was accused by the federal prosecutor. He served his time. And since his release from prison has shown a remarkable 180 degree attitude adjustment. After serving his time for his role in the dog fighting ring, Vick became an advocate for humane animal treatment. He has volunteered his time and notoriety for The Humane Society of the United States, supporting their Pets for Life program and helping to spread their message with public appearances. He even helped to get the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act passed in Congress.

In this case, justice was served. Whether one agrees with his sentence is a moot point now. Unfortunately, in our society, we often make it extremely difficult for ex convicts to lead meaningful, gainful lives. In some cases, it would be better to keep convicts imprisoned than throw them on the streets without the means to provide for themselves and their families or enjoy a sense of accomplishment after serving their time. The resulting lack of opportunity leads to re-convictions and life behind bars. This is why Rand Paul and Cory Booker have brought justice to Congress with their REDEEM Act; and why many Americans seek to “ban the box” from employment applications.

Michael Vick served his time; and he deserves a second chance. He’s not perfect. He’s just a football player. Michael Vick is a Pittsburgh Steeler. And I’m okay with that.

But I still wouldn’t let him babysit my cats.

Edit:
The illegal dog fighting culture is alive and thriving in Western Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. Therefore I feel like I have not done justice to this issue without encouraging everyone to write to your legislator and encourage him or her to support legislation that strengthens the laws against dog fighting. In Pennsylvania there are bills sitting with the Assembly waiting on them to take action. I encourage everyone to make a phone call to your legislator to ask them to support laws that aim to end dog fighting for good and put dog fighting ring participants behind bars.

A Fate Worse Than Pseudoscience

You have to be careful what information you believe nowadays. The internet is chock full of wannabe experts trying to sell you on their various theories on health, wealth, and child rearing. It isn’t even limited to the internet anymore. Even that television doctor Doctor Mehmet Oz was dragged in front of the United States Senate to explain his charlatan ways. It’s one thing when such pseudoscience causes unwitting dupes to shell out their hard-earned cash on some useless panacea. It’s quite another when personal opinion masquerading as science actually causes harm.

Case in point – the anti-vaccination wave. A 6 year old boy recently died in Spain because his parents chose not to vaccinate him against a preventable disease – diphtheria – because one money-grubbing doctor wrote an article based on pure falsehood that associated vaccines with autism.

So imagine my [lack of] surprise when I ran across an article aimed at convincing women that mammograms cause cancer. The article, to the unscientific eye, looks legitimate. There are no flashy ads, no claims of CIA schemes or Obama plots, and two scientific articles are even referenced. But a simple examination of the details revealed this blog to be full of unscientific bullshit.

For example, the author straight up claims mammograms cause cancer. [This is where my jaw nearly fell off, it dropped so low.] To support this argument, the author cites Paul Yaswen, a researcher with the Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and links to a journal article by the same. Taking a look at the article, one can clearly determine the study findings are taken out of context. Yaswen’s study proved that epithelial breast cells respond to radiation by creating variant cells, which he postulates to be more likely to be pre-cancerous. However,Yaswen’s finding cannot be logically interrelated to the claims being made in the mammogram article. Yaswen did not even prove radiation caused the cells to become cancerous. In addition, the radiation dose applied to the epithelial cells in Yaswen’s research is far, FAR higher than that which would result from a mammogram. (Sorry to pick on you Yaswen.) In fact, some of Yaswen’s samples were dosed with 200 Rads – a dose that would cause visible skin inflammation (burns). In contrast, a mammogram results in around 0.3 Rads. And I don’t know anyone who every got a skin burn from a mammogram.

[Smooshed Boobie Syndrome – now that’s another story…]

The author goes on to make many other bogus claims. I’m not going to enumerate them all. Suffice to say it is bull crap like this that could potentially cause real, actual harm. What if a woman reads that crap and then decides not to get a mammogram? If she develops cancer, it might not be detected in time to save her breasts or, possibly, her life.

I wish there was a way to scour the internet and zap away all the harmful falsehoods to make it easier for users to discern fact from fiction. Or better, we need a way to hold people accountable for things they post on the web. As replacement, I give you this warning – beware the internet pseudo-expert.

Passive Aggressive Bigotry

Now that the United States Supreme Court has ruled that barring same-sex couples from marrying the person they loved amounted to unequal treatment under the law, my social networks have exploded in a wash of rainbow colors speckled with dingy, gray flecks of hate. Even before the ruling, I had to endure daily flashes of undesired religious admonition. But now…

Hole—EEE—crap.

The parade of exhortation has become so repulsive and weighty, I am half a mind to hide certain friends for the foreseeable future to protect my sensitive eyes from the scrolling diatribe of Christian guilt.

So, imagine my (non)surprise when, the a day after Obergefell v. Hodges, one woman I know posted a meme showing a man and woman outlined in bathroom sign fashion with hands interlocked that said “straight pride.” Wow.

Of course, people – including me – called her out on it. Though she didn’t see fit to retain the comments that countered her view, she claimed she only posted the picture to show she was “proud to be straight,” and that she couldn’t see why anyone would be offended by her expressing her “straight pride.” The whole thing smacked of anti-gay sentiment.

Coming the day after the Supreme Court overturned state-sanctioned discrimination, her claim that she – a “Catholic, conservative” woman – only felt the need to boast to the world her pride at being a straight person in order to show she is “pro-me” was highly disingenuous and utterly and completely insensitive.

As a straight, white, Christian woman, she has never been made to feel inferior because of her race or her sexual orientation. She hasn’t had to fight for her rights for anything. She has never had to hide who she really is.

Her posting this sign is akin to posting a “white pride” sign the day after Loving v. Virginia. It was not meant to be a benign personal expression. And I found it extremely hard to believe that she didn’t think it would be taken negatively because I don’t think she is stupid. She posted it in an act of counter-protest to the many expressions supporting marriage equality, or in her words, the people “shoving gay acceptance” down her throat.

At best, it is a mockery of a day that was about freedom for an oppressed minority. At worst, she is just another bigoted liar.

When does life begin?

I was enjoying a visit from my sister and brother-in-law a while back when I was asked a very interesting and enlightening question. You see, I’ve been through a life changing event. Last year, in a feat of strength, I conceived. And nine months later, I had a baby. It was an amazing, life-changing event.

And so, while sitting on the couch taking in the breath, feel and sound of a newly born human, my brother asked me, “So, now that you’ve had a baby, when do you think life begins?” When he asked me this question, I was deep in the thrall of sleep deprivation, and didn’t really realize where the question was coming from. I think my response was something on the lines of, “What? I don’t know.”

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I assume he asked me this in light of my political history. If you know me or have read this blog at all, you know I am pro-choice – staunchly so. I’ve written many blog posts supporting a woman’s right to chose if and when to have a child. I’ve also been an abortion clinic escort for many years. And so I can only assume my brother wondered whether, having experienced pregnancy and childbirth, my views on reproductive matters had changed.

So, when does life begin?

At conception? At implantation? At 12 weeks? 20 weeks? At quickening? At viability? When you’re born? When you start to remember things? Maybe. It is such a subjective question. There is no right answer.

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But the thing is, for me, being pregnant only more keenly highlighted the importance of self determination. Until you’ve been pregnant, you haven’t actually faced the possibility that, under different circumstances, someone else could control your health outcome and even whether you live or die. Being pregnant made me even more grateful that if I had to make a choice about my pregnancy it would be MY decision – not some priest’s or politician’s or some health board’s decision. If I chose to sacrifice my health for the sake of the baby it would be my decision. I was in control of my own body.

So does the moment life begins matter to me? Sure it does. I mean, I AM alive. But the moment life begins cannot bring back the any of the millions of women killed by illegal abortion. The moment life begins cannot put food into the mouths of a poor family. The moment life begins cannot make a woman’s teeth grow back. And the moment life begins doesn’t make me willing to relinquish control of my body and my life for the sake of another.

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I am a mother. I am pro-child. I am pro-family. And I am pro-choice.

“I’m no feminist, but…”

Ya know what pisses me off? Women doing feminist things while saying they aren’t feminist. So often these days, “anti-feminist” women will use a platform they’ve earned to disavow any and all self-identification with feminism as if it is some man-hating branch of the KKK. A lot of times an anti-feminist will take a stand against what he or she perceives as misogyny – such as internet harassment – while at the same time disowning feminism. I doubt the anti-feminist even realizes she is calling out of rape culture – a purely feminist act!

I’m not sure when feminism became a bad word. Feminism has affected women’s lives in ways many of these anti-feminists don’t begin to appreciate. A woman can have a bank account and a credit card in her own name. Women are able to vote. Married women can own property. These are all things that would not be possible but for feminism.

Some of the anti-feminists claim that prejudices against women are a thing of the past. However, women have a long way to go to truly be equal to men in our society. Though laws to the effect have been struck from the law books, to this day a woman’s word in court is not as credible as a man’s. Women are stripped of their autonomy by patriarchal governments while making pregnancy decisions. Women in abusive relationships are in some states legally prohibited from leaving an abusive spouse. And, in theory, women have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. But in practice, girls are discouraged from breaking with gender stereotypes at an early age, and women are passed over for promotions in favor of men. So, at this point, feminism is very NECESSARY!

Therefore, to the anti-feminists I say, “get on board my feminist bang wagon!” We have cookies.