Tag Archives: I Stand with Planned Parenthood (whether they like it or not)

You Don’t Get This Sort of Stuff in Scientific Journals

25 Oct

Everyone has that one teacher. You know the one. The teacher that is such an inspiration that you’d thank him or her upon receipt of an Emmy or Nobel. I had several of them. But other than one great chemistry teacher, I can’t say any of them taught science. I’m willing to say that it could have just been me. I had some great math teachers, but they went right past me as well. Had math been taught as a language, my life would have been different, I believe. Math IS a language that explains science. And science is what they do on MythBusters. And I can get down with some MythBusters.

Chuck and I recently watched a PBS program on arctic dinosaurs and learned more about biology and geology in one hour than we learned in 17 years of schooling. Bill Bryson and John Polkinghorne have taught me about astronomy, paleontology, and quantum physics. Mary Roach taught me about cadavers and is now schooling me on the afterlife. Later in the week, she and I will be going to outer space. I get around.

I’m reading Roach’s book Spook, which is about what science thinks about the afterlife. I’ve just finished the section she devotes to ectoplasm. Ectoplasm, as any good GhostBuster knows, is the slime that ghosts leave behind. Or something. Ectoplasm was really big around the turn of the century and on into the 1920s. Your more highfalutin theatrical mediums used everything from cheesecloth to, well, animal entrails to approximate ectoplasm. They would secret away the effluvia to, well, um…here’s an excerpt:

And now I’m going to pass the microphone to William McDougall. For how many chances do we have to hear a Harvard professor hold forth on vaginally extruded extoplasm? “There is good evidence that ‘ectoplasm’ issues, or did issue on some and probably all occasions [from] on particular ‘opening in the anatomy’ (i.e. the vagina),” allowed McDougall in his summary statement for Scientific American. “The more interesting question is–How did it come to be within ‘the anatomy’? There was nothing to show that its position there and its extrusion from that place were achieved by other than normal means.” In other words–please forgive me–she stuck it up there and then she pulled it out.

I’ll just leave it at that, okay? That’s not even the part that struck me as really interesting. It has never occurred to me that conception was “discovered”.  I know, I know. I really SHOULD have paid more attention in science class. I vaguely remember the name Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and, if pressed, could probably have remembered mostly on my own that he had something to do with microscopes. I could not have remembered, however, his sperm work. He and these other science dudes thought sperm contained a tiny, tiny, tiny person. Eggs, well, they were there, certainly. Any farmer knows the importance of eggs, but only as vehicle or incubator. Leeuwenhoek actually tried to peel back the tiny green curtain of  spermatozoa and find the tiny person inside them.

Then a bunch of stuff happens and we learn how babies get here. Please, you don’t read me for my sparkling scientific commentary.

My curiosity was piqued when Roach mentioned a philosopher and Catholic priest, Norman Ford. In 1988, Ford wrote a book called When Did I Begin? I looked the book up and he got my attention in the  first paragraph. Ford writes, “As a lecturer in moral philosophy and in the philosophy of the human person, it has always been important for me to know when a human person begins. In cases of rape it was necessary to know how long after the attack it was morally permissible to attempt to prevent a human embryo originating as a result of violence. This knowledge was crucial in differentiating morally between actions that prevented conception and those whose effect was really abortifacient.”

Wait, what?

Ford goes on to argue that personhood (generally referred to as “ensoulment”) does not begin until the point that identical twinning is no longer possible. That’s about two weeks after conception. For a religious person, the question was what happens to the soul if the soul arrives at conception, but the the zygote goes on to become twins? Ford believes twins need not do with half a soul. Because that zygote could become two distinct people with distinct souls, Ford says, “[T]he cell cluster can best be understood as human biological material but not a unified living human organism.”

Later–and hold on to your garters for this one–he writes, “Any philosophical theory that places the beginning of the human person at fertilization needs to be examined if it appears to conflict with the facts of modern biology.” He says that to uncover the philosophical truth of the beginning of a human person, we cannot be afraid of science.

Look, I know these words can be used against me. In fact Mary Warnock, who wrote a later introduction to Ford’s book, is responsible for the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. Among other things, this law specifies when abortion is legal and banned research using human embryos more than 14 days old.

So what’s my point?

I do not believe I was a person from the moment of fertilization. Let’s assume for a second there is a God or some force God-like. God has made me more than the sum of my parts. I think, I feel. I have emotions. Oh, do I have emotions. (Sorry, honey!!) I have a conscience and I have consciousness. Calling the product of fertilization a person strips away the very foundation of what makes us human. If you want to say life begins at conception, fine. Cells dividing is life. It’s what happens when you grow tomatoes. A living thing, a pistil, is combined with another living thing, a stamen. Do it right and you get baby tomatoes. But do you slice up the flower of the plant and put it on a bacon sandwich and call it a tomato? No, because it’s not a tomato. Could you? Sure. But that’s be a BLF, not a BLT.

A sperm is a living thing. An egg is a living thing. Together they make a clump of cells. If all goes well, and it’s estimated that it does only 50% of the time, the clump gets implanted. Is it a person? Nope. It’s a zygote. Then it’s a blastocyst. The blastocyst, by the way, has an inner cellular mass that produces the embryo. The outer layer forms the placenta. So if this zygote–this fertilized egg- is a person, why are we getting rid of the placenta? Is it not worthy of exultation too? Some people bury it. Some people eat it. Most of the time it’s incinerated as medical waste. But why? Is that placenta not a person too?

You know why that sounds ridiculous? Because it is. Just as ridiculous as making human life about nothing more than a clump of cells. The question of what makes us human, what makes us people, is not something that can be legislated. If you believe abortion, birth control, IVF is wrong because you define a person as a lump of cellular material, that’s fine. You don’t have to take birth control pills or have an IUD, get IVF should you not be able to conceive by other means, or have an abortion. But don’t tell me that I can’t. It is not your business.

Personhood should be a philosophical question, not a political one. You want to make a fetus a person? Are you going to change the drinking age to 20 and 3 months? Can we now vote at 17 and 3 months? Drive at 15 and 3 months? What if I go past my due date? How do we figure that out then? Will my embryo get counted in the census? Does this mean we get more politicians to represent these zygotes? Because that’s just what we need. We absolutely need politicians who are concerned with nothing but zygotes so we can finally get a few to represent the rest of us. The humans. The living. The tax payers.

BergsieCo Is People

5 Oct

I just read a story from the AP about officials from several states going to the big air show in France. Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina spent more than $100k each–EACH–on the trip. See, they were trying to drum up defense contractor bidness. And the way to do that is taking your staff out for dinners of snails and souffles.

I get it. The Paris Air Show ain’t a bunch of them helicopters that can do flips. It’s where the Big Boys hang out. Dudes who want to sell the government invisible jets that can carpet bomb a country and then be used to make a delightful fruit smoothie. These states want to make those CombiBombers. It makes some sense for them to have a booth at the show. Like such:

Last week, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said that all government agencies will now answer the phones with, “It’s a great day in South Carolina!” It’s not because she wanted people to feel AWESOME! about South Carolina, it was because she was in France and wanted to know what the weather was like back home.

We used to do stupid stuff like that in retail: We’re havin’ a great day at Chico’s! Thanks for calling Macy’s, how may I provide you with outstanding service? I can’t site a single instance where that kind of bullshit got me more business. But I’m sure those people calling the Great State of South Carolina to try to get unemployment benefits straightened out will totally feel AWESOME! after being greeted with what a great day it is! Personally, any time I’ve called a government entity in the past, oh, 20 years, I’ve gotten an automated system. I think it’s AWESOME! South Carolina has actual people answering phones.

But y’all, the Gubner worked MONTHS on that phone greeting as a way to get people EXCITED! about a state with 11% unemployment. How do you know she didn’t come up with that idea in France, huh? Maybe she was out one night eating prawns and the waiter said to her, “Ohhoho! Eet ees a great day for vous, Madame Gubner, but eet’s not such a great day for zees prawn, oui?”

You just don’t know, do you? No, you don’t. So don’t judge, man.

Big Business and Big Government are different than you and me. For example, it’s the end of a quarter. You’re a salesdude for CombiBomber. You’ve got $500 left in your business entertainment budget. You’re going to spend $700. You have to. If you don’t spend all that and more, you won’t get it in your budget next quarter. You see, you’re forward-thinking.

It’s much more important for states to court big contracting business than to encourage homegrown small businesses. It may SEEM that a state would rather have many of its citizens getting in there, opening businesses, employing many other citizens, growing a tax base, shooting a little adrenaline into the local economy. BUT NO. It’s much better for a state to have ONE contract with ONE company who will import all its brass from other states, bring in families who will not bond with the locals because they won’t be there that long because they’ll be off to Somewhere Else in a couple years when Somewhere Else gives them better tax breaks and gives them land from a family farm that’s only been in that family for 150 years because it’s a much better use of that land to be seized to make CombiBombers than, oh, food. AND let’s not forget that when the government cuts spending and cancels the order for 200 CombiBombers, that business is once again invigorating the economy by keeping bankruptcy lawyers and accountants in business.

What don’t you understand?

These are Job Creators, DUH. Do not question their logic. Job Creators are infused with a intellect you and I will NEVER understand, friend.  Touched by the hand of God, they are.

Which reminds me…

Have you noticed how many of  the people screaming about a free market economy are the ones who think creationism should be taught in public schools? What’s up with that? I don’t understand how you can have survival of the fittest in one place but not the other. Oh, wait. Is that a quantum mechanics thing? I don’t get how you can not believe depression may be an evolutionary process to force insight in HUMANS, but totally believe it when a depression causes insight into how the MARKETS work.

But that’s probably why I’m not a Job Creator. I’m just some idiot who hands over a third of her family’s income to her government. I would like Standard Shed to create jobs. Starting with one for me. But I’m hopelessly middle class. I can’t just waltz in to some bank and ask for $3,000,000. Like anyone could, pshaw.

But I have a plan. I’m going to incorporate my ladybits.

I would like to get a better tax rate AND I would like the government to stay out of my womb. SO, I’m thinking I’m going to incorporate my uterus.

BergsieCo IS People!

I think it’s a perfect plan. BergsieCo makes eggs every month at zero cost. Those eggs are pure profit, hoss. Who will buy them, you ask? No one. See, you have to think like a big business. They create products, THEN a market. How else do you explain the cheek scraper on your toothbrush?

Further, it’s a perfect plan to ensure the government does not take an active roll in my family planning decisions. Government doesn’t care what businesses do. It’s a free market economy, dummy! Go wild! Not only will my taxes be cut in half, I’ll be able to have the family I want. And if I have too many kids? No problem! Government LOVES giving businesses handouts. All those Bergsie Juniors will be on the payroll! What’s that? Yeah, I know they’re kids. Haven’t you ever heard of a sweatshop, dumbass?

MY WOMB WILL BE TOO BIG TO FAIL!

It’s About Civility In Public Discourse, Stupid

19 Sep

As you may know, I worked in retail for the longest 5, 476 years of my life. There were so many things about it I loved. Dealing with irate, irrational people was not one of them. There is a certain sort of person who is so lacking in power in other areas of his or her life that he or she takes the time to be a complete and total prat to service industry workers. We all know those people. (Not you, dear reader! Anyone with the taste and intelligence to spend time reading MY blog would never be a dick just because you could, RIGHT?)

There’s the guy who will rant about how you ruined his entire day because the mayo was spread too thick on one quarter of one half of his sandwich. The woman who insists you call 74 other stores to find another skirt because the seventeen you have in her size are all clearly mislabeled and are really eights, not twelves. And my personal favorite, the man who comes in the store EVERY MONTH to complain to the credit department–knowing FULL WELL there is no credit department in the store anymore–that he was charged a finance charge even though he paid his bill IN FULL and will not accept the true, rational, and clear explanation that had he paid it within twenty-five days, he’d not accrue a finance charge, but as he waited to the twenty-seventh day, BOOM. Just like it says in very clear language at the bottom of the bill. Possibly the ONLY clear statement on the bill.

Take your average blowhard, add in politics, religion, and maybe an ovary or two and you got yourself a shootin’ match, hoss.

It is in dealing with these blowhards I have learned that the best thing to do when everyone is yelling is to lower my voice in a husky Suzanne Pleshette way. Imagine I’m reading this to you in that voice.

It’s been a tough year for women’s health. At some point, and I must have been absent that day, it was determined that all women’s health comes down to is abortion. And further, as best I can tell, as long as you don’t have one, think about having one, know anyone who has had one, support people who will provide one, or say the word three times while looking in the mirror, your ladyhealth will be stellar!

Here in Shelby County, a federal grant was pulled from Planned Parenthood. I mentioned this briefly the other day, but I want to go into a little more detail. This grant is Title X (as in 10) money that the federal government gives states to use exclusively for family planning.

As part of Title X of the Public Health Service Act (1970), money was allocated to be given to state and local health departments, community health centers, independent clinics, and other agencies. Here are some things this money may be used for:

  • Access to contraceptive services, supplies, and information
  • Breast and pelvic exams
  • Breast cancer and cervical cancer screening
  • STD screening, education and prevention information, and counseling
  • Pregnancy diagnosis and counseling

According to the Health and Human Services website, “The Title X family planning program is intended to assist individuals in determining the number and spacing of their children. This promotes positive birth outcomes and healthy families.” Priority for the use of Title X funds is given to low-income individuals.

The Shelby County Health Department has subcontracted to Planned Parenthood for several years. Back in the spring, Shelby County notified the state that it lacked the staff and facilities to continue the services Planned Parenthood delivered.

So here’s where we run into problems. Hizzoner Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey has made it his mission to put Planned Parenthood out of business. He wanted to end the “shell game” he said Planned Parenthood was playing. Hizzoner and his ilk refuse to believe–even in the face of federal laws and proof positive (entities taking money must keep detailed records and statistics of patients and procedures)–that Planned Parenthood is not using federal money to provide abortions.

Here’s where we are right now. Shelby County has not been gracious enough to state publicly exactly why Planned Parenthood was jettisoned and Christ Community Health Services was funded in its wake. County Mayor Mark Luttrell said that a six-person team ranked proposals from Christ Community, Planned Parenthood, and Memphis Health Center. County Mayor Luttrell says Christ Community was ranked highest.

I’m not going to knock Christ Community. I believe they are good people doing what they believe to be the Lord’s work. I have an amazing amount of respect for healthcare professionals who work in clinics that provide services for low-income, uninsured, and underinsured patients.

I happen to believe a faith-based organization cannot be unbiased when counseling about family planning and reproductive health options.

In order to take Title X funds, minors must be treated. Let’s say you are a 16-year-old sexually active girl and you have found the courage to do the smart thing and look at birth control options. A Title X clinic must counsel you, recommend the best birth control option for you, supply it to you, and not notify your parent or guardian.

Now let’s say you’re a GLBT young adult who wants to do the right thing and get vaccinated for HPV. You’re marginally employed and uninsured. How comfortable are you going to be going into a clinic with the word “Christ” in its name? Will that deter you from getting vaccinated? Would it deter you from getting a pap smear? What about tested for HIV?

I truly believe the perception of religious bias will keep the poor, the disenfranchised, the people who can least afford to be sick from seeking healthcare.

Beyond that, this is a dunderheaded move by Tennessee Republicans to take control of women’s reproductive rights. This does not make abortion go away. In fact, if a woman who receives Title X services asks for pregnancy counseling, pregnancy termination MUST be included in the discussion along with foster care, adoption, and prenatal care. I wonder how well money from religious anti-choice donors will keep coming in to a clinic which will now be federally mandated to discuss pregnancy termination? Will conservative Christians continue to support a clinic that will be federally mandated to discuss more than abstinence with its young patients?  The anti-choice movers and shakers have accomplished an amazing thing–money for nothing. By putting this money in the hands of an anti-choice, anti-birth control facility, they have rendered this money useless.

But back to my original point: civility in public discourse.

It is near impossible to have debate about reproductive rights without it devolving into a shouting match involving Bible verses, bogus statistics, and name calling. I am not a horrible ogre because I believe a woman has a right to choose whether or not she takes a pregnancy to term. I do not believe you are a moron because you have a moral or religious opposition to abortion. I do believe that what I choose is not your business. I do believe that your religious opposition to abortion does not mean you get to ban it. This is not a theocracy. There is no Sharia Law here. I don’t happen to like that federal money can be used to subcontract to a faith-based healthcare provider–even those with a more “liberal” agenda. But you know what, we don’t need to yell about it.

I’ve been talking to people about these fetal pershonhood amendments. The anti-choice personhood movement has done a great job talking about how they will ban abortion at the state level. They haven’t done such a good job talking about how fetal personhood affects birth control. Why? A conservative Christian couple might never look at abortion as an option, but more than likely they’ve looked at some type of birth control method outside of separate bedrooms. The Separate Bedroom Method of birth control isn’t going to raise a lot of money. Point is, no discussion I have had has turned into a shouting match. The reason, I believe, is that in these conversations we have genuinely been moved to find understanding from the opposite side. I do think that when people are fully engaged in understanding, breakthroughs happen. But if one side of the debate is going in with the attitude that theirs is the only opinion that matters, breakdowns happen instead. When time is spent shoring up an argument rather than reacting to what the opposing side has said, you miss a lot of important information and a chance for understanding. How many times have you fought with your honey and haven’t even heard what he or she said because you were busy planning your attack? I mean, in my case it’s zero, obviously. But I am told this happens with some regularity.

Mr. Finance Charge up there could have saved himself the hassle of coming into my store every month to complain to the non-existent credit department if he had just listened the first time. After two months of not listening, we all just assumed he liked to bitch. I like to bitch, too. Can’t beat a good bitch session for venting. VENTING. Not solving problems other than the need-to-vent problem.

I don’t believe we’re a nation of extremes. I really don’t. Squeaky wheels get press. People who believe passionately in something but who are rational and level-headed don’t get the air time zealotry does. How many people know who Michelle Bachmann is? How many know who Elizabeth Warren is? I’d love to see that poll.

By the way, as I sit here writing this, something interesting came up in my Twitter feed. A CNN poll shows 78% of the country is pro-choice. So it just goes to show you that even though the anti-choice voice might be loud and well-funded, it’s not the majority’s voice.

 

 

 

The One Where I Skip Around A Bunch

15 Sep

I have a bunch of new readers and subscribers–hey, y’all! Glad you’re here. You could be doing other productive things like filing your nails or eating donuts. Perhaps you’re one of them multitaskers and you’re doing all three! Thanks for spending part of your time with me. The more hits I have, the closer I am to TOTAL WORLD DOMINATION and I will totally remember all the little people I stepped on to get there. No, really. This little blog has taken off something fierce in the last couple of months and I’m humbled.

I’ve spent a good portion of today looking at Title X verbiage. Don’t know what that is? It’s federal grant money used by states to “assist in the establishment and operation of voluntary family planning projects which shall offer a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services. (including natural family planning methods, infertility services, and services for adolescents) The mission of Title X is to provide individuals the information and means to exercise personal choice in determining the number and spacing of their children.” That’s from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

I’m thinking about it because Shelby County has decided not to give this almost $400,000 grant to Planned Parenthood. Instead it is going to a faith-based community clinic. Tennessee gubment has made it very clear that they will do whatever it takes to put Planned Parenthood out of business. Shelby County has not yet deigned to tell us what put this other clinic in front of Planned Parenthood. When and if they do, I’ll write about it.

For now what I’ll say is that our government thinks that all there is to reproductive health is abortion. I was thinking that maybe instead of our “Don’t Say Gay” law, we should have a “Don’t Say Abortion” law. Oh, the quiet that would descend upon our lawmakers is the stuff of dreams. They’d have to focus on issues like unemployment and failing schools. Or sunflowers.

Yeah, sunflowers. Shelby County Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter upheld a citation given to Nutbush resident Adam Guerrero issued, in part, by the seven-foot tall sunflowers in Guerrero’s yard. Read the whole story here. Hannah Sayle writes that Guerrero, a math teacher at Raleigh-Egypt High School is teaching his students real skills in the yard. Y’all these kids are making their own biodiesel, for the love of Pete. Then they take the glycerin by-product of the  biodiesel and make their own soap.  Yeah, what’d you do in high school science class? Dissect a frog and flick its liver at the cute girl at the next table? Can you tell the difference between a Punnett square and a square root? This guy’s teaching kids IN HIS YARD. He’s got bees and squash and rain barrels and pepper plants and OH THE HUMANITY!!! What a nuisance this guy is!

But, come on. If the gubment’s not going to stay out of my uterus, it’s surely not going to stay out of my blueberries.

Personally? I’m happy to know all other environmental woes of Shelby County have been solved so we can spend more time fining people for excessive science.

And speaking of squash…

I just got the new Country Living in the mail. It’s been an embarrassment of riches in the magazine area this week. This is mag number five. The cover has these toile-decorated pumpkins on it. Dude, they wrapped these pumpkins in paper and THEY ARE ADORABLE.

What is that? WHAT IS THAT? When did I become the adult who looks at decoupaged pumpkins and thinks, “Oh, how adorable, Marge.” Oh, and they aren’t even real pumpkins. They’re Funkins. Yuh-huh. Funkins. As in look it up in your Funkin Wagnalls. These wallpapered Funkins MUST BE MINE.

I wonder is Mod Podge biodegradable? If you used a real pumpkin you could eat the guts and compost the rest. I’ll put that on my list. I’m not ashamed to say I often get funky with the Mod Podge.

Also? This.

 

Why You Need To Care About Personhood

8 Sep

I don’t even know where to start. So I guess I’ll start with a story.

In March of 1993, Dr. David Gunn, an OB/GYN practicing in Pensacola, FL was shot three times in the back and killed by anti-choice terrorist Michael Griffin.  It was said that Griffin was under the sway of a man called John Burt. Burt had claimed to be “spiritual advisor” to a group responsible for bombing several women’s clinics. In 1991, Burt purchased land next to the Pensacola Women’s Medical Services Clinic where Dr. Gunn practiced, and Burt and his followers used this land to raise holy hell without violating obstruction laws. Burt was known to carry a jar containing “Baby Charlie” which he claimed was an aborted four-month-old fetus.

Griffin, after fatally wounding Dr. Gunn, gave himself up to police who were called to respond, not to a shooting, but to a protest on clinic grounds. It has been reported that after stalking Dr. Gunn, Griffin said, “Don’t kill any more babies,” and then shot Gunn  three times at point blank range. For those with short term memory issues, I’ll remind you that Joe Scarborough first represented Griffin at trial. Yes, THAT Joe Scarborough. He also worked for Griffin’s family, free of charge, supposedly to protect them from the media. Later in 1993, Scarborough turned Griffin’s defense over to another lawyer. After a four hour deliberation, Griffin was found guilty. He is currently serving a life sentence in Okaloosa Correctional Institution.

The murder of Dr. Gunn and the escalating violence surrounding women’s clinics spurred the Freedom of Access to Clinics Act, introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy. While protecting protesters’ First Amendment rights, this act, among other provisions, protects women from being physically barred from entering a clinic.

Burt, for his part, was linked to the murder of another doctor as well as Dr. Gunn. Like Griffin, he had ties to the Ku Klux Klan. (Both men claimed to have left the group due to an incompatibility with Christian doctrine) In 2003, Burt was arrested for molesting a child in his Our Father’s House which was ostensibly a home for runaway girls and unwed mothers. He is currently serving an 18 year sentence. After a civil trial, the Gunn family was able to take possession of the land adjacent to the clinic.

Why am I telling you this? I spent a lot of time in Pensacola and lived there for about four years. When I moved into Pensacola proper, I lived about three blocks from that clinic. They were forced to erect giant privacy fencing and utilize escorts wearing bright yellow vests to get patients in and out of the clinic. Every day I passed protesters. Occasionally I would roll my car windows down and listen to the hate and vitriol spewed at women doing nothing more than going to the doctor.

I also identified with David Gunn, Jr. who is just a few years older than I. I could not imagine what it was like to be in my early 20’s and have lost my father. Especially to have lost him for nothing more than doing his job. My best friend and I went to the benefit concert L7 and Pearl Jam played the year after Dr. Gunn’s death. Later we went to a candlelight vigil for Dr. Gunn. I remember being struck at the passion, the eloquence with which David Jr. always spoke.  I don’t know that I could have been that self-possessed. Scratch that, I know I couldn’t have. I think of him from time to time because he took something so horrible, so disgusting, so personally difficult, and turned it into something positive. And I have to say, I admire the hell out of that.

I just got back from a public hearing in Mississippi about this Initiative 26 that’s on the ballot in November. Now, before you go accusing me of sticking my nose into Mississippi politics again, I will tell you that what happens in Mississippi matters to women everywhere. What happens in Missouri matters to women everywhere. Same with Kansas, Colorado, or Georgia.  Once Roe V. Wade became the law of the land, the anti-choice movement realized they were not going to get far bullying women on the national level. They were going to have to work at the state level. And work they have.

The Mississippi Secretary of State’s office has produced informational pamphlets for the three ballot initiatives. Initiative 26 reads as follows:

Ballot Title: Should the term “person” be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof?

Ballot Summary: Initiative #26 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to define the word “person” or “persons,” as those terms are used in Article III of the state constitution, to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.

What this initiative seeks to do is to give fertilized eggs, zygotes, all the same civil rights you and I have. An embryo would be a person. A cluster of cells would be a person. Now, people like lobbyist Brad Prewitt, Executive Director of the yes on 26 Campaign Coalition, say that there is no doubt when life starts. It starts at fertilization. And they want to argue that point a lot. Personally, I’m not going to argue with him. If you have cells dividing, that’s a life of some sort. In his argument for 26, he states that the Supreme Court noted if “personhood” of the embryo were established, the abortion rights case would collapse. So in a Hail Mary political move, anti-choice zealots have decided to twist both science and the Constitution and call a fertilized egg a person. A sentient being.

Let’s say that you are against a woman’s right to choose. On the surface, this sounds like a great amendment, right? No more abortion in the state. It goes further than that. Say goodbye to your IUD. Say goodbye to the birth control pill. Say goodbye to in vitro fertilization (IVF). In fact, you might as well say goodbye to reproduction. What doctor—or more to the point, what doctor’s malpractice insurance—is going to want to treat a pregnancy with a chance of miscarriage? If you miscarry, and 26 has amended what it means to be a person, you’ve just murdered someone. Is your doctor just as responsible as you are for this murder? Did your doctor not stress all the things that could cause miscarriage? Maybe she should have put you on bed rest for nine months with a feeding tube and a catheter? That way you wouldn’t have to stress yourself getting up and down.

Sound ridiculous? How is that more ridiculous than calling a clump of cells a person?

Anything that interferes with an egg’s implantation into the uterus would be criminalized as an abortifacient. Mirena, for example, would be criminalized because it thins the lining of the uterus to interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg. While the main way in which hormonal birth control works is by preventing an egg from being fertilized, there are other mechanisms. Cervical mucus is thickened as a natural defense against sperm reaching the egg. It also thins the lining of the uterus. This is the reason birth control pills and the new generation of IUDs are prescribed for women with heavy periods and debilitating cramps. A thinner lining of the uterus means less to pass during a woman’s period. Personhood would take that option away from you. I’m sure it’s no biggie for you to skip a few days of work every month. Oh, I know. You can take some heavy narcotics for the pain! I’m sure that wouldn’t interfere with your work at all. Especially if you were like a nurse or something. No biggie. Just eat more red meat to keep your iron level up.

If you are a woman who has taken her sexual health very seriously by using condoms to prevent both pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted disease, you’re not safe either. Personhood would make the “morning after pill” illegal. So if the condom broke, oh well. You shouldn’t have been slutting around in the first place. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble carrying that fetus to term and then giving the baby up for adoption.

Personhood Colorado has said the great thing about personhood is that, “it will make sure that children in the womb are treated exactly the same as children outside the womb.” I suppose that means rather than just going to work pregnant, every day will be “Take Your Fetus To Work Day”. Or maybe it means they just want to ignore the fetus as much as they ignore the result of an unplanned pregnancy. At the Mississippi Secretary of State’s public hearing on personhood Tuesday, I learned there are orphanages all over the place. Just drop that baby off at one of those.

The personhood movement is one more way anti-choice zealots want the government to regulate what goes on in your home. And, yeah, I’ll go here: It’s another way men say to women, we know what’s better for you than you do. The anti-choice movement says it’s against big government. And it is. As the saying goes, they want government small enough to fit in my uterus.  Big government is not, apparently, keeping the state out of my bedroom. Oh, I see. It’s small enough to fit in my bedroom.

Personhood proponents say that people like me have a “Chicken Little” mentality. I won’t disagree with that, actually. If that’s what they want to call concern about my reproductive freedoms, I’ll give them that one. My whole life I’ve watched my government—local and federal—turn its back on women’s health issues. So when a bunch of men decide they know what’s better for my family than I do, I start getting a little concerned. (No woman spoke in favor of 26 at the hearing I attended) I’ve been struggling with exactly what I wanted to say about the attack on reproductive health being anti-woman and anti-family. I’d like to share this from We Took Over The World. He was able to clearly articulate what I’ve been struggling with.

Where are the vocal pro-lifers, standing up for the right to life of the already born?

Being pro-life should mean being in favor of protecting all human life, not just those that haven’t yet made it out of the womb. If we want to have a credible discussion of a pro-life nature, it has to include all human life. An honest discussion of whether or not America is “pro-life” would include fetuses, the potential mothers who might accidentally kill themselves during a back alley abortion if they don’t have access to the procedure…and those in this nation who are not fortunate enough to afford to provide reasonable nutrition to themselves and their families.

In reality, everyone in America is pro-life to some degree, but we can’t find common ground by legislating extremes. Cutting off Planned Parenthood funding under the auspicious guise of protecting a fetus is not pro-life when underserved women lose access to their primary healthcare provider.

If we’re going to be a better country, we have to find a unified pro-life stance upon which we can all agree. One that protects as many lives, born and unborn, as reasonably possible.

I think that’s it right there. I don’t know people who are really for abortion. I know people who want the right to make the choice to do what’s best for their families. I AM pro-family. I AM pro-choice. Life means something more than just a collection of dividing cells, but that’s what these personhood initiatives say. And that’s the truth. Personhood takes life to the ultimate scientific extreme. It leaves out free will , it leaves out the moral compass anti-choice people are so fond of talking about, it leaves out our souls—that non-physical thing which makes me ME.  Personhood says you are no more than a beating heart. That is about the most anti-life stance I can think of.

The Teaser

7 Sep

There’s good crazy and there’s bad crazy. You know what I mean. Some crazy is just harmless. Like your cousin Mervin who sits in the corner and stuffs buttons up his nose. He’s generally a harmless fellow. Yes, there was that one time he thought mouse droppings were magic beans and tried to trade them for bubble gum at the A&P and they had to call security. But that was more a misunderstanding than anything, right?

Yesterday I was witness to some bad crazy. I have talked very briefly about these so-called “personhood amendments” that have been cropping up across the country like pimples on a teenager. Mississippi has managed to get one of these amendments on the November ballot, and I went down to a public hearing to see for myself what was going on. And in the interest of full disclosure, let me tell you that I went at the invitation of THE GREAT SATAN,  Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR). We had a lovely trip down to Cleveland, Mississippi. We snacked on pickled placenta and the blood of virgin church choir altos. I personally turned the folks in the car next to us at the gas station into lesbian hookers after forcing them to have abortions. Even though they weren’t pregnant. Or women. It was, in other words, a typical day in the life of a Planned Parenthood supporter.

I went because these initiatives are gathering steam. I went because if it happens in Mississippi, it could happen in Tennessee. You think it won’t? In April, the Tennessee Senate approved Senate Joint Resolution 127. This resolution asks the voters of Tennessee (in 2014) to reverse the Tennessee Supreme Court’s decision that the Tennessee Constitution protects a woman’s right to abortion.

In fact, the General Assembly seems to be able to make anything about abortion. PPGMR just received a grant to fund a project to help eliminate syphilis. Senator Stacey Campfield of Knoxville wrote of the $75,000 grant, “With the money shell game Planned Parenthood does that equates to a heck of a lot of free abortions.”

So the rest of the week is devoted to keeping the U.S. out of my uterus.

I’ll be talking more on why you should care about personhood. I’ll be talking about the backers of these initiatives. Like the guy who wants to form an independent Christian nation. He tried to get his supporters to build a theocracy in South Carolina which would then secede from the U.S. Or there’s the lobbyist for Yes On 26. He once told The Commercial Appeal, “Careers are all about accumulating and disposing of relationships. Sometimes you accumulate; sometimes you dispose.” So you can see he’s totally behind supporting whatever it is he’s supposed to be supporting this week.

So, why should you listen to me? Oh, why not? I’m a nice lady. No one is paying me for my opinion–no matter how hard I’ve begged. Okay, I will admit to taking a bottle of water from Planned Parenthood yesterday, BUT I WAS REALLY THIRSTY,Y’ALL! I want you to have real information about what your government has in store for your ovaries. Plus, I’m not lying–some of this stuff is too funny not to share. For example, I found out yesterday that Planned Parenthood was inspired by Hitler! Yeah, who knew? Oh, and did you know there are orphanages all over the place to take these unwanted children the government is going to force us wimmins to birth? You can’t swing a cat without hitting an orphanage! And all women’s health comes down to is abortion. It’s true. They’ve found us out. All it takes for women to be healthy is an abortion. There. I said it. The secret is out.

The anti-choice movement has been incredibly successful at creating smoke and mirrors. They are desperate. But their desperation is loud and well-funded. I don’t want to resort to smoke and mirrors. I think you are smarter than that. Right now, I want to be very firm about where I stand. I don’t want to be accused of having any hidden agenda here. I stand with Planned Parenthood. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I believe any time cells divide there is life. I believe every woman in this country has a right to accessible, affordable health care. I do not believe government knows what’s best for my family. I believe big government is big government–doesn’t matter if it’s on the state or the federal level.

Most of all, I believe if you don’t speak up for yourself, someone else will do it for you.

 

Some Old-Fashioned, Self-Satisfying, Narcissistic Blogging

24 Aug

Here’s the thing.

I wrote this post a little while ago about a murder in Mississippi and the piece got a little attention. And by a little, I mean it got the kind of circulation of a solid, medium-sized city newspaper. I don’t know that it was viral, but it at least had a fever. And it was kind of weird for me because I don’t normally write about serious things, and when I do write about them, I do so from a rather snarky, cynical, slightly skewed perspective.

For example, I need to take this Michelle Bachmann person seriously, but she makes it so damn difficult. I mean, the woman says Planned Parenthood wants to be the Walmart of abortions. That right there is comedy gold. That ALONE keeps me entertained for hours on end. Does that mean she thinks Planned Parenthood wants to start outsourcing abortions to third world sweatshops? She thinks they should buy plastic speculums instead of stainless? Maybe have a nice greeter at the door? Oh, wait. They have that already. Although they are forced to wear flack jackets since uninsured women going for pap smears are the biggest threat to our way of life since the hem rose above the ankle. Maybe they should be the Sam’s Club of abortions and you must have a membership, but you can get samples of cheesecake while you wait. The woman is batshit and doesn’t know how to pronounce chutzpah. Here’s another Yiddish word for her: farkakte. As in, “Michelle Bachmann’s presidential bid is farkakte.”

God bless these fake conservatives. Comedy gold. Like remember that time at that Rand Paul rally someone from the camp across the lake sneaked in? And the Rand Paul supporters stomped on her and started yelling for the police? That was great. Not the stomping part. The irony. These are people who think income tax is illegal, but they still want all the benefits gained from taxes. Like police.

Then there was that time Lindsey Graham said he thought that freedom of speech stuff  was neat and all except when we’re at war. Freedom is slavery! You know, the Supremes ruled that corporations are people. So their speech is protected just like mine. So when Boeing wants to change its slogan to Boeing: Because Big Wars Mean Big Profits or Blackwater decides to change its name yet again and becomes War Express: Your War Delivered, I’m sure he’d rally against that as anti-American or warmongering or something. Oh, wait. I forgot my sarcasm font. Corporations are the champions of the little people, silly!

And there was that time Juan Williams got freaked out by Muslims in clothes. ‘Member that one? That was a good one. I actually like Juan Williams. I appreciate his honesty and his desire to have real, substantive debate. But really? You expect me not to touch that one? Please.

Or what about that time Sarah Palin wrote that book? I wrote seriously about that and had to take to my bed for several days after. It hurt. It was a pain that could only be soothed with massive infusions of Coke Zero and Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies. Oh, and vodka. It did take a little vodka. Which was awesome because at one point I really COULD see Russia from my house. Even though I live in Memphis.

And right now I’m going to talk about these ridiculous “personhood” amendments. You guys know about this? Hold on to your girdle, Myrtle, this one’s a doozy. These initiatives want to define zygotes as people with all the civil rights you and I have. Ergo, forthwith, and heretofore, abortion would be illegal. As would the morning after pill and, as best I can tell, IVF and hormonal birth control pills.

Mississippi actually managed to get this on the ballot in November. I’m not sure how this is happening because the Mississippi Constitution specifically prohibits changing the Bill of Rights through the initiative process and I can’t figure out how this is not doing just that. But, well, I’m just a lady and what do I know about what’s best for me and my family?

Oh! And then there was that ridiculous poll that said Mississippi Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal. That one was almost impossible to write about with a straight face. I believe I decided the problem was that the automated instructions said to “press” a number if you agreed. We don’t “press” in the South unless you’re talking about trousers. We “mash”.

You know, here’s the thing. I sound like a bleeding heart liberal, but I’m really not. I’m a throwback. I’m pretty conservative. It’s true. Old school conservative. I DON’T believe in morality through legality. Just because you don’t like something, doesn’t mean you get to enact a law to make it illegal. I’m not saying I advocate anarchy. Don’t get all oh, but what about rape? Don’t we need a law for that? Or what about robbery? Should that be okay? Only the weak with no intelligent input make those kind of broad arguments. And I happen to think if you’re reading my blog, you must be pretty bright, amirite?

But all this bullshit is making me tired. It’s all squeaky wheel theory. Most of the people I know, friends or not, fall somewhere in the middle. I mean, yeah, I’ve got that one aunt who REFUSES to believe Obama is a citizen and thinks the moon landing was faked. Extremists get print. Which is the more entertaining interview: Hillary Clinton rationally discussing the push for democracy in MENA or Oily Taint Orly Taitz screaming about fake birth certificates?

All this to say that my little blog has been picked up in Serious Writing Circles and I’ve been asked to comment on a few things by Serious People Working For Serious Organizations. And I might or might not comment. Dunno yet. Well, I have made my mind up about a couple. Stay tuned for more on that. But here’s the thing. I take the issues I write about seriously. Okay, I don’t really take Cosmo’s sex tips seriously. Got me there. I don’t take myself too seriously. It’s boring. There are plenty of people with self-important attitudes to go around. So don’t make me your spokesmodel if you don’t want me to poke a little fun at the situation.

And do not, under any circumstances, get me started on fake feminists. Evah.