xenologer: (vagina)
Friends, I was linked to the most amazing thing this morning. I can only hope you will be as delighted as I was. See, anti-choicers seem to be even more off the rails than I had suspected; if you know me at all you know this must be pretty impressive.

It is.

Kevin Swanson is amazing.
I’m beginning to get some evidence from certain doctors and certain scientists that have done research on women’s wombs after they’ve gone through the surgery, and they’ve compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.

RH Reality check explains why this is wrong but I feel like they are missing the sheer joy of it. This is nothing short of hilarious. If you have a uterus and have ever used birth control, you are the host of a teeming internal nightmare, an unconsecrated fetus graveyard!



This is beyond misogyny. Misogyny is ordinary. It's tired and boring and DONE. This is a brave new world and we are moving with the times! Misogyny is passé. Nobody cares anymore. It's 2013 and it's time for gynephobia. Wombs are scary and haunted! There could be anything in there!!! Sluts (by which we obviously mean any women on birth control) aren't just dirty and ruined, but they're probably full of disquiet fetus ghosts all up in their slutty slutslut snatches.

Kevin Swanson's account of the latest research into the eldritch terrors inside of women that we call wombs is like obstetrics and gynecology written by the authors of American Horror Story (spoilers) or Jim Balent.

xenologer: (Lisbeth)
So Elisabeth Cornwell spoke at the Reason Rally. The video is behind this link. My commentary is reproduced on that page, but I wanted it here as well to boost the signal on this, because it is not okay. It is not.

Trigger warning: mention of sexual assault.

The systematic degradation of women's control over their own bodies and lives is not just bad, it is monstrous. It is an act of war, as rape is an act of war. There are even a lot of parallels to how female slaves were treated, because they were considered always-accessible subhuman incubators for the valuable property of their masters, much as a disposable class of unsupported children is valuable for rich white dudes today who benefit from trapping other communities in generational poverty. There are a lot of parallels, and even if it was a little hyperbolic... I expect hyperbole at a rally.

There is a problem, though. I was there at the rally and I listened to Cornwell talking about how women in America are being enslaved then invoke the alleged ideals and opinions of Thomas Jefferson, to convey how appalled he would be by this kind of inroad toward theocracy. I realize that this is a thing easily forgotten by white people in this country, but Jefferson actually personally himself enslaved women. You know who made their reproductive choices? Jefferson did after he bought them. Sure, he'd potentially stand with the white women in the audience in their struggle for reproductive freedom, but if you think he'd stand with the women of color, I don't know where you got your history education. More likely you just didn't consider that what he did to black women reflects as strongly on his character as what the theocrats are trying to do to you now.

This is a problem.

How much more strongly can someone imply that black women aren't real women, their enslavement not pressing until it is shared by white women? I can think of no other reason why Jefferson's status as a famed enslaver and rapist of slave women should be overlooked so that he can be called upon as an ideological ally to modern women, except that to some people his serial rapes and violations of the reproductive autonomy of *black* women were less important as a measure of his character than his excellent insights about religion.

We did a good job on diversity of speakers and guests at the accompanying convention this year, but if you want to be mindful of not seeming like a movement run by white people for white people, please be mindful of whom you're asking your audience to idolize. We're talking about a guy whose reputation for raping slaves and forcing them to bear his children is so legendary that there are entire geneology projects dedicated to tracing just his descendants among people of color.

Jefferson's political theory was a good place to start (particularly when it comes to his views on religion), but it's a terrible place to finish and we sure as heck shouldn't retreat back to it to stop the enslavement of women. So let's keep that in mind before we canonize the man and ask the women of color in the audience to look up to the guy who raped so many of their great-great-grandmothers and forced them to carry and bear his "property" against their will. Maybe some of his nasty personal/"business" habits are overlookable by a financially secure white activist, but the fact that you can overlook it doesn't mean other people are going to be able to handwave it so easily.

I appreciated the rally and had a lovely time both there and at the convention. The sense of community was beautiful and necessary. It's just sad that it had to be undermined by something like this at a time when we are all clearly making an effort toward including the full range of atheists in all our diversity.
xenologer: (vagina)
There's no reason to have arguments about whether abortion is okay and when and how and all that jazz if at the end of the day we're all willing to agree to disagree and let everybody control their own bodies and consent or deny consent to medical procedures based on their own consciences.

As long as we can respect each other's consciences, at the end of the day we're all on the same side. I don't have a problem with anybody else's personal view on abortion as long as they're willing to let me control my own medical decisions.

These conversations only get ugly when an anti-choicer walks in, because you can't have a respectful conversation as an equal with someone who doesn't think you're morally mature enough to control your own medical choices. If someone doesn't believe that I'm qualified to make my own medical choices, then whatever they say, they don't respect me, and why should I expect that someone who thinks so little of my ability to reason is actually paying attention to my reasoning when I present it?

But as long as we're all willing to say, "Your choice wouldn't be my choice and that's okay because I will fight for your right to be the one with the final say," then we're all friends. That's important to remember. There is an "agree to disagree" position. There is an "I respect your opinion and your values" position. It's called being pro-choice.
xenologer: (vagina)
This is my obligatory reminder to the internet that I am an angry feminist madwoman who believes that the person who has the final legitimate say on whether a pregnancy continues is the person who is pregnant.

Why people need to stop telling me that life begins at conception because that's when babby gets soul. )
xenologer: (vagina)
Had to get up really early to be at the state house this morning, but it was worth it. I was testifying against a bill in a committee hearing to defund Planned Parenthood in Indiana, and I got to be the first of the opposition to speak (right after the lady from Right to Life, sitting there with her mouth all pinched up tightly as a cat's asshole).

I'm pretty proud of how I did, and I think I helped. One of the Planned Parenthood lobbyists asked me to email her my testimony so that they could use it as an example of How It Is Done (eeeeee!) and so I thought I'd relay it to y'all as well.

My name is [my name], here on behalf of Planned Parenthood, mostly because of how much I owe of my own health and success to Planned Parenthood. I'm the first woman in my family to get a college degree. My parents were supportive, but we're a military family and as you're all aware, people don't enlist for the money.

My parents were proud, but when it came to the financial end of a $120,000 education, that was entirely up to me. I had no money left over for doctors. I literally endorsed my paychecks and physically handed them over to Butler University.

It would have been easy to sacrifice my health for the sake of being the first woman to finish, but thanks to Planned Parenthood it wasn't necessary. They clearly don't believe young women should have to choose between an education and basic preventative care, and Planned Parenthood are the people doing something about it.

I'll be 25 in a month and I've only had one routine pelvic that wasn't provided at reduced cost by Planned Parenthood. For years, that made Planned Parenthood the only place I could afford to get checkups. I had one shot to get a degree, and I was willing to put everything else second.

I still did do it. My late great-grandmother, who was a young woman during the Depression, got to see our family, after almost eighty years, produce a woman with a college degree. We're talking about a woman for whom birth control pills might as well have been magic. I wasn't stopped by poverty. I wasn't stopped by the looming threat of pregnancy derailing this dream for yet another generation.

If not for Planned Parenthood, I might have been. I see in this legislation a clear statement that women in my position should have to choose between our health and our education, that I should have had to choose: either I can have doctors or knowledge but not both.

It's 2011... and we can give women better options than that. Planned Parenthood are the people offering better options.

Reliable access to preventative care and birth control were the difference between the women in my family for the past eighty years and this woman now. When you're asking yourself whether you approve of Planned Parenthood's impact on this state, you are asking yourself about me.

Do you approve of Planned Parenthood's impact on my life? Or don't you?

Because Planned Parenthood gives women access to a legal procedure that some people may wish you could keep them from having, are you really going to let my success story be one of the last?

This bill has to go, and by saying so here today I hope to repay in small part the debt I owe to this organization. I'm proud to give this act of testifying and my tax dollars for Planned Parenthood and the patients who need them. Thank you for your time.


There's a chance the bill will indeed fail, because the Democrats on this committee are people I pretty much trust not to be horrible shits. I also don't think it'll pass because they try this every damn year. However, both the House and Senate in Indiana are controlled by Republicans, so there's no saying for certain what fuckery they'll get up to.

I'm going back tomorrow, and this time the mister is coming with me. I mentioned offhand to the Planned Parenthood people that he's a pharmacist, and they told me the House added a bill regulating a RU-486 in a particular very stupid way to the committee schedule at the last minute. I got an emphatic Facebook message from the Planned Parenthood lobbyist ("CALL ME" and her phone number. "Right now?" "YES."). She wants him to be available to read a statement on the bill written by one of his former professors and answer questions if the representatives have them.

The Planned Parenthood lobbyist who alerted me to all this told him that we're her new favorite couple. We're my favorite couple, too. The couple that cockpunches the patriarchy together stays together, yeah?
xenologer: (Default)
You want to talk about abortion, fine. You want to look at numbers to make sure your impressions are in line with facts, awesome! That's great! But please remember that this is more than an intellectual question, with more at stake than how many angels can dance on the head of a fucking pin. People who are calmly and curiously discussing just exactly how to take away my rights, and to precisely what extent they can get away with it, should not proceed to get pissy and huffy with me when I point out that real people are involved. Seriously.

I am not violating the rules of proper debate by appealing to emotion. I am reminding you that when you make policy, you may harm real people. You should face the fact that they exist, and if you're going to hurt them knowing they're there? Fine. At least I'll know that you're doing it fully conscious of and comfortable with the damage you are causing. Call my rights an acceptable loss if you like, but do not look down on me for polluting the perfectly-detached academic nature of your debate.

My rights are not an interesting curiosity or a diverting puzzle to me, you fuckheads. You are playing games with my life, and the lives of people like me, and the lives of people who aren't like me, and you had better believe I'm going to remind you that we're real people and not merely statistics for you to play with.

I hate that every discussion of abortion turns women into numbers based on how their pregnancy happened, proceeded, and was resolved. I hate that every time I protest being reduced to a number based on the circumstances of my reproductive history, men and even women in the thread will get upset, like I'm missing the point of the discussion.

I am fucking not missing the point. You are missing the fucking point. You're missing the point because you have the culture-granted privilege to sit and talk about this like the consequences don't matter, simply because the consequences will be happening to people you don't care about.
xenologer: (Default)
You want to talk about abortion, fine. You want to look at numbers to make sure your impressions are in line with facts, awesome! That's great! But please remember that this is more than an intellectual question, with more at stake than how many angels can dance on the head of a fucking pin. People who are calmly and curiously discussing just exactly how to take away my rights, and to precisely what extent they can get away with it, should not proceed to get pissy and huffy with me when I point out that real people are involved. Seriously.

I am not violating the rules of proper debate by appealing to emotion. I am reminding you that when you make policy, you may harm real people. You should face the fact that they exist, and if you're going to hurt them knowing they're there? Fine. At least I'll know that you're doing it fully conscious of and comfortable with the damage you are causing. Call my rights an acceptable loss if you like, but do not look down on me for polluting the perfectly-detached academic nature of your debate.

My rights are not an interesting curiosity or a diverting puzzle to me, you fuckheads. You are playing games with my life, and the lives of people like me, and the lives of people who aren't like me, and you had better believe I'm going to remind you that we're real people and not merely statistics for you to play with.

I hate that every discussion of abortion turns women into numbers based on how their pregnancy happened, proceeded, and was resolved. I hate that every time I protest being reduced to a number based on the circumstances of my reproductive history, men and even women in the thread will get upset, like I'm missing the point of the discussion.

I am fucking not missing the point. You are missing the fucking point. You're missing the point because you have the culture-granted privilege to sit and talk about this like the consequences don't matter, simply because the consequences will be happening to people you don't care about.
xenologer: (smash patriarchy)
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Oh, absolutely. If we can't agree on things like my basic human rights, we're living in totally different universes (and you're evidently living in one where women aren't human like men are human), and I'm not obligate to share yours with you.

So yeah. Anti-choicers can go be friends with women who don't care whether their friends respect them as human beings. But to me it's important.
xenologer: (smash patriarchy)
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Oh, absolutely. If we can't agree on things like my basic human rights, we're living in totally different universes (and you're evidently living in one where women aren't human like men are human), and I'm not obligate to share yours with you.

So yeah. Anti-choicers can go be friends with women who don't care whether their friends respect them as human beings. But to me it's important.
xenologer: (smash patriarchy)
So in all states, you can choose to get a license plate whose fees support the fight against breast cancer, environmental causes, a college or university, whatever. In Florida, there's a license plate for people who want to take a stand against this newfangled notion that the government doesn't control a woman's body, and the money goes toward so-called "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" (you know, those places where they tell you that you'll never be able to have a baby after an abortion, your abortion will give you breast cancer, you'll hate yourself for the rest of your life, and lie to you about the biological capability of an embryo to feel pain).

These people are responding by attempting to pull together support for a pro-choice license plate.

Here is where you can donate to help them along, if you have a couple of bucks. Florida needs it. Lest you think this cannot be done, Montana did it.
xenologer: (smash patriarchy)
So in all states, you can choose to get a license plate whose fees support the fight against breast cancer, environmental causes, a college or university, whatever. In Florida, there's a license plate for people who want to take a stand against this newfangled notion that the government doesn't control a woman's body, and the money goes toward so-called "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" (you know, those places where they tell you that you'll never be able to have a baby after an abortion, your abortion will give you breast cancer, you'll hate yourself for the rest of your life, and lie to you about the biological capability of an embryo to feel pain).

These people are responding by attempting to pull together support for a pro-choice license plate.

Here is where you can donate to help them along, if you have a couple of bucks. Florida needs it. Lest you think this cannot be done, Montana did it.
xenologer: (it are fact)

The most common way to frame the discussion of abortion is in terms of "pro-choice" versus "pro-life," obviously implying that one cannot value both a woman's autonomy and "life," whatever that means.

I've never liked this way of framing things. Most pro-choice people are also pro-life, but not all pro-life people are pro-choice. The conflict here is over choice. The question here is not "is life good" but "is it good for a woman to choose for herself whether to have an abortion." So the argument is more properly framed as "pro-choice" versus "anti-choice."

But not on BeliefNet, evidently.
 

After my first post in the abortion discussion forum, I received a warning. My tone was fine, and all I did was point out that--contrary to the OP's rant--there was indeed an anti-choice ticket (since using laws set down by Alaska's legislature doesn't actually say anything about the head of its executive) in addition to the pro-choice ticket.

This violates the rules, the post was deleted by justme333, and I was warned. I sent an email to the mod, and here is the text of it:

I noticed that I was just warned and had a post removed because I did not frame the abortion debate using the terms you prefer.

"Finally, the only terms allowed in the description of positions for this board are Pro-Life and Pro-Choice."

Do you understand why there are many people who object to framing this issue in terms of one side which is in favor of "life" and one which is not? There is a very good reason why I do not describe the anti-choice position as "pro-life," most notably that it is not my life they are protecting.

I find it hard to believe you would not be aware of this issue of terms and why it is important, so I suppose the real question is why you object to this terminology so strongly that you will not even let anybody post using it. It is not offensive, it is not inaccurate. It is, in fact, a well-established and well-accepted way of framing the issue, which scholars in these matters use for a very good reason.

Except, evidently, on your board. Why?

I don't anticipate getting a satisfactory answer. The only reason anybody objects to the terms I'm using is that they resent the loss of a moral high ground they never earned, that of being the side that values "life." 

But who knows. Perhaps I'll be surprised. Doubt it though.

I still find it amusing that everywhere I go on the internet, I get into trouble because someone higher up doesn't like the substance of my views, and has no interest in the reasoning behind them. This is a particular problem when I'm forcing a mirror on someone that shows them the way I see them... and they don't like what they see. Rather than give my views a moment to be entertained and evaluated, they just do their damndest to shut me up.

Ah well. This is the internet.

xenologer: (it are fact)

The most common way to frame the discussion of abortion is in terms of "pro-choice" versus "pro-life," obviously implying that one cannot value both a woman's autonomy and "life," whatever that means.

I've never liked this way of framing things. Most pro-choice people are also pro-life, but not all pro-life people are pro-choice. The conflict here is over choice. The question here is not "is life good" but "is it good for a woman to choose for herself whether to have an abortion." So the argument is more properly framed as "pro-choice" versus "anti-choice."

But not on BeliefNet, evidently.
 

After my first post in the abortion discussion forum, I received a warning. My tone was fine, and all I did was point out that--contrary to the OP's rant--there was indeed an anti-choice ticket (since using laws set down by Alaska's legislature doesn't actually say anything about the head of its executive) in addition to the pro-choice ticket.

This violates the rules, the post was deleted by justme333, and I was warned. I sent an email to the mod, and here is the text of it:

I noticed that I was just warned and had a post removed because I did not frame the abortion debate using the terms you prefer.

"Finally, the only terms allowed in the description of positions for this board are Pro-Life and Pro-Choice."

Do you understand why there are many people who object to framing this issue in terms of one side which is in favor of "life" and one which is not? There is a very good reason why I do not describe the anti-choice position as "pro-life," most notably that it is not my life they are protecting.

I find it hard to believe you would not be aware of this issue of terms and why it is important, so I suppose the real question is why you object to this terminology so strongly that you will not even let anybody post using it. It is not offensive, it is not inaccurate. It is, in fact, a well-established and well-accepted way of framing the issue, which scholars in these matters use for a very good reason.

Except, evidently, on your board. Why?

I don't anticipate getting a satisfactory answer. The only reason anybody objects to the terms I'm using is that they resent the loss of a moral high ground they never earned, that of being the side that values "life." 

But who knows. Perhaps I'll be surprised. Doubt it though.

I still find it amusing that everywhere I go on the internet, I get into trouble because someone higher up doesn't like the substance of my views, and has no interest in the reasoning behind them. This is a particular problem when I'm forcing a mirror on someone that shows them the way I see them... and they don't like what they see. Rather than give my views a moment to be entertained and evaluated, they just do their damndest to shut me up.

Ah well. This is the internet.

xenologer: (dolorosa)
I have blogged before over here on what I think of the so-called "rape exceptions" in anti-choice legislation. To grab an excerpt:
"Well, they should have thought about that before they started having sex," you might say. It's a common enough argument. If women don't want to get pregnant, they shouldn't engage in risky behavior like sex. Most people will agree that a woman who is raped or molested at a young age is not "to blame" for her sexual activity, and as a result an abortion is okay in these cases.

But here's what this really says. A woman who doesn't choose to have sex deserves the choice of whether to keep an unwanted child. A woman who does choose to have sex does not deserve the choice of whether to keep an unwanted child. What makes this misogynist is that it takes a moral imperative ("good women don't sleep around") and uses it as a framework to give "bad" women fewer rights than "good" ones.
I was reading something that made another point about this exception, and it's here. The author mentions those anti-choicers who're willing to admit that rape is terribly sad but "why should the baby have to pay for someone else's wrong?" She rightly questions just whose wrong we're looking at here, suggesting that the figure blamed is seldom the father who didn't wear a condom, but the woman who "wrongly" took an interest in sexual activity.

And here's an excellent question, one that is asked but seldom by people who seriously offer an answer. What about the woman? Whose choices should she suffer for, and to what degree?
I know, it’s a radical thought, but really: what of them? Why should they have to pay for someone else’s wrong? What about their lives? Don’t they matter a damn bit? Or again, are we just assuming that they are partially at fault for the wrong committed?

Of course, anti-choicers will argue that we’re looking at disproportionate interests/rights. The “baby” has a life; the woman just has “convenience” and her lazy, selfish desire to not have a physical reminder of her traumatizing experience every second of every day for 9 months, not to mention a child created by that rapist at the end of 9 months.

In fact, regaining control after a rape experience really can be about a woman’s life. Thankfully, I don’t know the trauma of having been impregnated as the result of rape. But I do know the trauma of rape itself. And I know, or can read in tons of readily accessible literature, about how rape takes away a sense of control over one’s body. It can, in fact, heavily make one question who that body belongs to.

And anti-choicers want that answer to be the government. In spite of the fact that the right to an abortion after rape really can be about a woman’s life — since a woman may be easily made suicidal over a forced pregnancy as the result of rape, or simply traumatized forever because of it — anti-choicers think that a fetus’ rights overrule it. When forced to choose between the life of a fetus, and the life of a woman (and often thereby her fetus due to simple biology), anti-choicers choose the fetus time and time again.

Once again. The unborn always take precedent for an anti-choicer over the already-born. Whose suffering has worth to you? Whose life has worth to you?

This is why the anti-choice position is not pro-child. It is anti-woman. That's why we don't call them pro-life, because it sure as hell isn't my life they're fighting for, nor is it yours. They'd sacrifice you in an instant if it meant that those dirty fornicating whores get what they deserve, subhumans who should have kept their damn legs closed, or not had that third drink, or not worn that skirt, or screamed a little louder, fought a little harder.

It's not about protection; it's about punishing women who step out of line--a line drawn by misogynist factions of our culture more concerned with keeping women in their proscribed "traditional" gender role than with keeping women safe.
xenologer: (dolorosa)
I have blogged before over here on what I think of the so-called "rape exceptions" in anti-choice legislation. To grab an excerpt:
"Well, they should have thought about that before they started having sex," you might say. It's a common enough argument. If women don't want to get pregnant, they shouldn't engage in risky behavior like sex. Most people will agree that a woman who is raped or molested at a young age is not "to blame" for her sexual activity, and as a result an abortion is okay in these cases.

But here's what this really says. A woman who doesn't choose to have sex deserves the choice of whether to keep an unwanted child. A woman who does choose to have sex does not deserve the choice of whether to keep an unwanted child. What makes this misogynist is that it takes a moral imperative ("good women don't sleep around") and uses it as a framework to give "bad" women fewer rights than "good" ones.
I was reading something that made another point about this exception, and it's here. The author mentions those anti-choicers who're willing to admit that rape is terribly sad but "why should the baby have to pay for someone else's wrong?" She rightly questions just whose wrong we're looking at here, suggesting that the figure blamed is seldom the father who didn't wear a condom, but the woman who "wrongly" took an interest in sexual activity.

And here's an excellent question, one that is asked but seldom by people who seriously offer an answer. What about the woman? Whose choices should she suffer for, and to what degree?
I know, it’s a radical thought, but really: what of them? Why should they have to pay for someone else’s wrong? What about their lives? Don’t they matter a damn bit? Or again, are we just assuming that they are partially at fault for the wrong committed?

Of course, anti-choicers will argue that we’re looking at disproportionate interests/rights. The “baby” has a life; the woman just has “convenience” and her lazy, selfish desire to not have a physical reminder of her traumatizing experience every second of every day for 9 months, not to mention a child created by that rapist at the end of 9 months.

In fact, regaining control after a rape experience really can be about a woman’s life. Thankfully, I don’t know the trauma of having been impregnated as the result of rape. But I do know the trauma of rape itself. And I know, or can read in tons of readily accessible literature, about how rape takes away a sense of control over one’s body. It can, in fact, heavily make one question who that body belongs to.

And anti-choicers want that answer to be the government. In spite of the fact that the right to an abortion after rape really can be about a woman’s life — since a woman may be easily made suicidal over a forced pregnancy as the result of rape, or simply traumatized forever because of it — anti-choicers think that a fetus’ rights overrule it. When forced to choose between the life of a fetus, and the life of a woman (and often thereby her fetus due to simple biology), anti-choicers choose the fetus time and time again.

Once again. The unborn always take precedent for an anti-choicer over the already-born. Whose suffering has worth to you? Whose life has worth to you?

This is why the anti-choice position is not pro-child. It is anti-woman. That's why we don't call them pro-life, because it sure as hell isn't my life they're fighting for, nor is it yours. They'd sacrifice you in an instant if it meant that those dirty fornicating whores get what they deserve, subhumans who should have kept their damn legs closed, or not had that third drink, or not worn that skirt, or screamed a little louder, fought a little harder.

It's not about protection; it's about punishing women who step out of line--a line drawn by misogynist factions of our culture more concerned with keeping women in their proscribed "traditional" gender role than with keeping women safe.
xenologer: (prophet)
Here's the thing that I feel should be clearly stated anywhere the pro-choice position is being discussed.

We have a word for people who personally believe abortion is wrong and would never feel right about getting one, but who also don't feel comfortable denying that option to women. We don't call them pro-life. We call them pro-choice.

I'll wait for a moment while some of you pick up the pieces of your shattered identity.

We cool?

Let's take another angle. Does this sound like you?

You are personally not a fan of abortion, but you think that banning it is also not good, which means you aren't trying to deny women a choice. You just think one choice is right and would prefer they make that one.

If your answer is "yes, I agree with that," then you are pro-choice, despite a dislike (or even a deep loathing) for abortion.

This hasn't occurred to everyone, because many people are used to hearing "pro-choice" as code for "pro-abortion" or even "pro-infanticide." This isn't the dichotomy we're looking at, no matter how many anti-choice groups try their damndest to frame it that way. Pro-choice means just what it sounds like: we are in favor of letting women choose, and anti-choicers are against letting women choose.

It really is that simple. If a woman chooses not to get an abortion, no pro-choicer can disrespect her for it, because she took her choice and did what she felt was right with it. Pro-choicers love choice, not abortion. I am pro-choice, and that means if you choose to live your life without abortion because you think it is wrong, I'm totally down with that. You're an adult, and that means you should be treated like a morally-mature human being. That means I must respect your choice.

So guys. If you think abortion is wrong, there's still a good chance you're pro-choice. You're only anti-choice if you are so scared women will "choose wrong" that you feel the law should deny them an opportunity to make a choice at all. Most of you probably aren't really anti-choice. This revelation may hurt at first, but it's true.

"Pro-life" is code for anti-choice, and anti-choice is a much more accurate term for the position. "Pro-choice" is not code for "pro-abortion," whatever you may have been told. It means "everybody gets to choose between birth or abortion. Yes, that means you."

As I said to a friend of mine, "You have kids and I don't. This says something about our respective choices, but neither one of us wants to DENY the other that choice, just because we'd make different ones."

For those of you who are already pro-choice despite finding abortion distasteful, I know this is old stuff to you. But a lot of people have honestly never heard "pro-choice" used in a context where it didn't mean "pro-infanticide." And that's not what the term means. It means what it sounds like, and if we use it that way there are a lot more pro-choicers out there than I think even they realize.

I agree with those who are pushing to make this a debate about "pro-choice" versus "anti-choice," because I think you'd find very few pro-choicers who aren't also pro-life. They just want everybody to choose for themselves.
xenologer: (prophet)
Here's the thing that I feel should be clearly stated anywhere the pro-choice position is being discussed.

We have a word for people who personally believe abortion is wrong and would never feel right about getting one, but who also don't feel comfortable denying that option to women. We don't call them pro-life. We call them pro-choice.

I'll wait for a moment while some of you pick up the pieces of your shattered identity.

We cool?

Let's take another angle. Does this sound like you?

You are personally not a fan of abortion, but you think that banning it is also not good, which means you aren't trying to deny women a choice. You just think one choice is right and would prefer they make that one.

If your answer is "yes, I agree with that," then you are pro-choice, despite a dislike (or even a deep loathing) for abortion.

This hasn't occurred to everyone, because many people are used to hearing "pro-choice" as code for "pro-abortion" or even "pro-infanticide." This isn't the dichotomy we're looking at, no matter how many anti-choice groups try their damndest to frame it that way. Pro-choice means just what it sounds like: we are in favor of letting women choose, and anti-choicers are against letting women choose.

It really is that simple. If a woman chooses not to get an abortion, no pro-choicer can disrespect her for it, because she took her choice and did what she felt was right with it. Pro-choicers love choice, not abortion. I am pro-choice, and that means if you choose to live your life without abortion because you think it is wrong, I'm totally down with that. You're an adult, and that means you should be treated like a morally-mature human being. That means I must respect your choice.

So guys. If you think abortion is wrong, there's still a good chance you're pro-choice. You're only anti-choice if you are so scared women will "choose wrong" that you feel the law should deny them an opportunity to make a choice at all. Most of you probably aren't really anti-choice. This revelation may hurt at first, but it's true.

"Pro-life" is code for anti-choice, and anti-choice is a much more accurate term for the position. "Pro-choice" is not code for "pro-abortion," whatever you may have been told. It means "everybody gets to choose between birth or abortion. Yes, that means you."

As I said to a friend of mine, "You have kids and I don't. This says something about our respective choices, but neither one of us wants to DENY the other that choice, just because we'd make different ones."

For those of you who are already pro-choice despite finding abortion distasteful, I know this is old stuff to you. But a lot of people have honestly never heard "pro-choice" used in a context where it didn't mean "pro-infanticide." And that's not what the term means. It means what it sounds like, and if we use it that way there are a lot more pro-choicers out there than I think even they realize.

I agree with those who are pushing to make this a debate about "pro-choice" versus "anti-choice," because I think you'd find very few pro-choicers who aren't also pro-life. They just want everybody to choose for themselves.
xenologer: (end of the world)
You can find this on Digg here. If you like it, please Digg it. Maybe more people will see it.

PART ONE: GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION

Remember how the Department of Health and Human Services was arguing that a doctor's desires should trump their patient's medical needs?

The public comment period on that is not quite over. It ends in a couple of days. If you have not yet sent in a comment, you should. You can review the issue here, and the action info is as follows:

Send an email to consciencecomment@hhs.gov, with the subject line "provider conscience regulation." They are publishing these comments right now, because it is in a 30-day public comment period.

I had a conversation with a pro-choice friend of mine about this, and for those of you who aren't accustomed to seeing this from a civil rights point of view, the following might be helpful. A lot of you on my friends list are already likely pro-choice, but here's the case I'd like to make to those of you who are not.

DHHS wishes to reclassify many forms of birth control as abortion. How do they do this? By defining "life" at fertilization and not implantation. Now, these are both completely arbitrary points to pick, but I'll tell you the implications of each one.

If we rule that life begins at implantation, we can sell forms of birth control such as oral contraceptives, transdermal contraceptives (the patch), IUDs (which is actually hormonal as well), and various other non-barrier methods. This is because part of what they do is prevent a fertilized egg from sticking to the inside of the woman's uterus. Keep the fertilized egg from implanting and it flushes out with her next period just like any other egg.

If we rule that life begins at fertilization, every non-barrier method I can think of short of full sterilization becomes abortion. This is a problem because it removes control of a woman's reproduction from her own hands (a pill that she takes, a patch that she wears, an IUD that she has inserted) and gives it mostly to men (a condom that he wears). This means that women are less capable of engaging in responsible sexual activity.

PART TWO: PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

"Well, they should have thought about that before they started having sex," you might say. It's a common enough argument. If women don't want to get pregnant, they should engage in risky behavior like sex. Most people will agree that a woman who is raped or molested at a young age is not "to blame" for her sexual activity, and as a result an abortion is okay in these cases.

But here's what this really says. A woman who doesn't choose to have sex deserves the choice of whether to keep an unwanted child. A woman who does choose to have sex does not deserve the choice of whether to keep an unwanted child. What makes this misogynist is that it takes a moral imperative ("good women don't sleep around") and uses it as a framework to give "bad" women fewer rights than "good" ones. This classification obviously operates based on the idea that women can and should be judged according to moral standards they do not share; if they shared the position that consenting women don't deserve reproductive freedom, they wouldn't be asking for abortions.

But these women have their own moral standards. A woman who chooses to have sex does not give up her conscience (despite what many particularly vicious misogynists may assert). What DHHS is saying is that if a woman seeks an abortion after having consensual sex, it doesn't matter if she thinks it's right. She isn't qualified to make that decision, and her doctor has every right to veto it by denying her access to the abortion she wants.

I don't think I'm being overdramatic when I say this: if a woman isn't qualified to make a moral choice about "appropriate" sexual conduct because she might "choose wrong," why are they allowed to make moral choices anywhere else? Why are women voting? Shouldn't every woman's vote be subject to a veto by someone who's afraid she'll "vote wrong?"

PART THREE: A MINOR INCONVENIENCE?

The next argument I hear a lot is that women don't have to raise these children. They can choose to give it up for adoption and move on with their lives without having to kill a fetus. This argument is based on the assumption that "no cost pregnancies" are not only possible, but universal.

This is flawed. Pregnancy is a very costly experience. I don't care how many times you've seen the movie Juno; women cannot expect that their every medical and emotional need will be catered to by wealthy supportive patrons. Here's what really happens.

Carrying a bearing a child disrupts a woman's education if she still needs to finish it.

There are also incredible medical expenses involved with proper pre-natal care.

There's also the fact that if your job doesn't allow maternity leave (and unlike many European countries, America doesn't require employers to provide this), any time spent in the hospital could cost you your job. This is not just your means of supporting yourself. It's probably also your means of paying for the aforementioned expensive prenatal care.

Make no mistake. This is what an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy looks like. There are problems with someone else having the power to subject women to these circumstances, particularly since most women will be facing those circumstances alone. In a perfect world, those wouldn't be problems. But if you make laws as though we are living in a perfect world, you're not the one who'll suffer. Women will suffer. I should hope that matters enough to you to affect your decision.

Making law as though women who don't want children have it in their power to prevent conception 100% is making law in a land of fantasy (particularly with DHHS trying to restrict women's access to hormonal birth control). It's a nice fantasy. I'd like it a lot, too, if I could prevent pregnancy 100%. But if you make policy as though we are living in that perfect world when we are not, it won't be you who suffers. It will be women, and the children born to these now-disadvantaged and disenfranchised mothers. Pretending the world is better than it is will not make everything better. It will hurt people, and crowing that those nasty sluts had it coming does not erase that fact.

The only reason I can see for picturing the world this way and making law this way is to make you (and the "American Taliban" in general) feel like you've shown everyone how moral you are. If that's the needs those laws are serving, it becomes very very important to me how many people those laws will hurt.

And y'know what? When you're willing to hurt that many people just to codify your morals, I will never believe you are moral. You just want to be seen that way, by others and yourself. As a moral person, I call bullshit on that. As a woman, I call double bullshit on people who're willing to ruin my life and the lives of women like me just to feel special, like their morals are the only ones important enough to be made law.

Yes, women like me. Here's where we get to the personal anecdote section.

PART FOUR: I AM A FILTHY SLUT...

I have been in a relationship with the first person I ever had intercourse with for four years now (as of Sunday). We use two forms of protection every time we have sex. Our relationship is stable, and so is our economic footing (sorta). A pregnancy would halt Brian's education and my job search. A pregnancy would rack up medical bills neither of us can pay for (and neither can our families). A pregnancy would destroy us.

We're careful. We're responsible.

We are doing everything we can to prevent me from conceiving.

If I become pregnant, there are people who would deny me an abortion because I chose to have sex, and I deserve the worst case scenario when/if it comes around. I deserve to lose my job and not further my education. Brian deserves to have his education halted. We both deserve staggering debt from medical bills, debt we may never get out of. Above all we deserve the strain on an otherwise-healthy relationship.

And why?

Because I chose to have sex, and irresponsible people deserve to have their lives ruined. If I'd been raped, my rights would remain intact. But if one standard of morality gets codified into law, and that standard of morality judges me a bad woman who should have to bear an enforced pregnancy... what can I do?

You want to talk about prevention? I'm trying to prevent a worldview that treats adult women like minors (children, guys) or livestock who are unqualified to make "the big choices," like when they'll breed. I'm trying to prevent a worldview that could ruin my life from getting a toehold in my government.

PART FIVE: ...AND WHAT ARE YOU?

What do you want for American women? Does it have anything to do with their wellbeing? Or hadn't you really thought about it? There's more to morality than "protect babies." Sometimes you have to concede an obligation to the human beings around you who're trying to live out their lives. The real question is whether a potential human is more important to you than a living one, just because the living one happens to be a woman.

If you're comfortable with that, truly comfortable with it, leave a comment. I need to know who you are so that I can seriously reconsider your respect for me as a human being.
xenologer: (end of the world)
You can find this on Digg here. If you like it, please Digg it. Maybe more people will see it.

PART ONE: GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION

Remember how the Department of Health and Human Services was arguing that a doctor's desires should trump their patient's medical needs?

The public comment period on that is not quite over. It ends in a couple of days. If you have not yet sent in a comment, you should. You can review the issue here, and the action info is as follows:

Send an email to consciencecomment@hhs.gov, with the subject line "provider conscience regulation." They are publishing these comments right now, because it is in a 30-day public comment period.

I had a conversation with a pro-choice friend of mine about this, and for those of you who aren't accustomed to seeing this from a civil rights point of view, the following might be helpful. A lot of you on my friends list are already likely pro-choice, but here's the case I'd like to make to those of you who are not.

DHHS wishes to reclassify many forms of birth control as abortion. How do they do this? By defining "life" at fertilization and not implantation. Now, these are both completely arbitrary points to pick, but I'll tell you the implications of each one.

If we rule that life begins at implantation, we can sell forms of birth control such as oral contraceptives, transdermal contraceptives (the patch), IUDs (which is actually hormonal as well), and various other non-barrier methods. This is because part of what they do is prevent a fertilized egg from sticking to the inside of the woman's uterus. Keep the fertilized egg from implanting and it flushes out with her next period just like any other egg.

If we rule that life begins at fertilization, every non-barrier method I can think of short of full sterilization becomes abortion. This is a problem because it removes control of a woman's reproduction from her own hands (a pill that she takes, a patch that she wears, an IUD that she has inserted) and gives it mostly to men (a condom that he wears). This means that women are less capable of engaging in responsible sexual activity.

PART TWO: PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

"Well, they should have thought about that before they started having sex," you might say. It's a common enough argument. If women don't want to get pregnant, they should engage in risky behavior like sex. Most people will agree that a woman who is raped or molested at a young age is not "to blame" for her sexual activity, and as a result an abortion is okay in these cases.

But here's what this really says. A woman who doesn't choose to have sex deserves the choice of whether to keep an unwanted child. A woman who does choose to have sex does not deserve the choice of whether to keep an unwanted child. What makes this misogynist is that it takes a moral imperative ("good women don't sleep around") and uses it as a framework to give "bad" women fewer rights than "good" ones. This classification obviously operates based on the idea that women can and should be judged according to moral standards they do not share; if they shared the position that consenting women don't deserve reproductive freedom, they wouldn't be asking for abortions.

But these women have their own moral standards. A woman who chooses to have sex does not give up her conscience (despite what many particularly vicious misogynists may assert). What DHHS is saying is that if a woman seeks an abortion after having consensual sex, it doesn't matter if she thinks it's right. She isn't qualified to make that decision, and her doctor has every right to veto it by denying her access to the abortion she wants.

I don't think I'm being overdramatic when I say this: if a woman isn't qualified to make a moral choice about "appropriate" sexual conduct because she might "choose wrong," why are they allowed to make moral choices anywhere else? Why are women voting? Shouldn't every woman's vote be subject to a veto by someone who's afraid she'll "vote wrong?"

PART THREE: A MINOR INCONVENIENCE?

The next argument I hear a lot is that women don't have to raise these children. They can choose to give it up for adoption and move on with their lives without having to kill a fetus. This argument is based on the assumption that "no cost pregnancies" are not only possible, but universal.

This is flawed. Pregnancy is a very costly experience. I don't care how many times you've seen the movie Juno; women cannot expect that their every medical and emotional need will be catered to by wealthy supportive patrons. Here's what really happens.

Carrying a bearing a child disrupts a woman's education if she still needs to finish it.

There are also incredible medical expenses involved with proper pre-natal care.

There's also the fact that if your job doesn't allow maternity leave (and unlike many European countries, America doesn't require employers to provide this), any time spent in the hospital could cost you your job. This is not just your means of supporting yourself. It's probably also your means of paying for the aforementioned expensive prenatal care.

Make no mistake. This is what an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy looks like. There are problems with someone else having the power to subject women to these circumstances, particularly since most women will be facing those circumstances alone. In a perfect world, those wouldn't be problems. But if you make laws as though we are living in a perfect world, you're not the one who'll suffer. Women will suffer. I should hope that matters enough to you to affect your decision.

Making law as though women who don't want children have it in their power to prevent conception 100% is making law in a land of fantasy (particularly with DHHS trying to restrict women's access to hormonal birth control). It's a nice fantasy. I'd like it a lot, too, if I could prevent pregnancy 100%. But if you make policy as though we are living in that perfect world when we are not, it won't be you who suffers. It will be women, and the children born to these now-disadvantaged and disenfranchised mothers. Pretending the world is better than it is will not make everything better. It will hurt people, and crowing that those nasty sluts had it coming does not erase that fact.

The only reason I can see for picturing the world this way and making law this way is to make you (and the "American Taliban" in general) feel like you've shown everyone how moral you are. If that's the needs those laws are serving, it becomes very very important to me how many people those laws will hurt.

And y'know what? When you're willing to hurt that many people just to codify your morals, I will never believe you are moral. You just want to be seen that way, by others and yourself. As a moral person, I call bullshit on that. As a woman, I call double bullshit on people who're willing to ruin my life and the lives of women like me just to feel special, like their morals are the only ones important enough to be made law.

Yes, women like me. Here's where we get to the personal anecdote section.

PART FOUR: I AM A FILTHY SLUT...

I have been in a relationship with the first person I ever had intercourse with for four years now (as of Sunday). We use two forms of protection every time we have sex. Our relationship is stable, and so is our economic footing (sorta). A pregnancy would halt Brian's education and my job search. A pregnancy would rack up medical bills neither of us can pay for (and neither can our families). A pregnancy would destroy us.

We're careful. We're responsible.

We are doing everything we can to prevent me from conceiving.

If I become pregnant, there are people who would deny me an abortion because I chose to have sex, and I deserve the worst case scenario when/if it comes around. I deserve to lose my job and not further my education. Brian deserves to have his education halted. We both deserve staggering debt from medical bills, debt we may never get out of. Above all we deserve the strain on an otherwise-healthy relationship.

And why?

Because I chose to have sex, and irresponsible people deserve to have their lives ruined. If I'd been raped, my rights would remain intact. But if one standard of morality gets codified into law, and that standard of morality judges me a bad woman who should have to bear an enforced pregnancy... what can I do?

You want to talk about prevention? I'm trying to prevent a worldview that treats adult women like minors (children, guys) or livestock who are unqualified to make "the big choices," like when they'll breed. I'm trying to prevent a worldview that could ruin my life from getting a toehold in my government.

PART FIVE: ...AND WHAT ARE YOU?

What do you want for American women? Does it have anything to do with their wellbeing? Or hadn't you really thought about it? There's more to morality than "protect babies." Sometimes you have to concede an obligation to the human beings around you who're trying to live out their lives. The real question is whether a potential human is more important to you than a living one, just because the living one happens to be a woman.

If you're comfortable with that, truly comfortable with it, leave a comment. I need to know who you are so that I can seriously reconsider your respect for me as a human being.
xenologer: (omg)
No. No no no no no.

HHS Moves to Define Contraception as Abortion

In a spectacular act of complicity with the religious right, the Department of Health and Human Services Monday released a proposal that allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman's access to contraception. In order to do this, the Department is attempting to redefine many forms of contraception, the birth control 40% of Americans use, as abortion.

(snip)

Up until now, the federal government followed the definition of pregnancy accepted by the American Medical Association and our nation's pregnancy experts, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which is: pregnancy begins at implantation. With this proposal, however, HHS is dismissing medical experts and opting instead to accept a definition of pregnancy based on polling data. It now claims that pregnancy begins at some biologically unknowable moment (there's no test to determine if a woman's egg has been fertilized). Under these new standards there would be no way for a woman to prove she's not pregnant. Thus, any woman could be denied contraception under HHS' new science.

The other rarely discussed issue here is whether hormonal contraception even does what the religious right claims. There is no scientific evidence that hormonal methods of birth control can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. This argument is the basis upon which the religious right hopes to include the 40% of the birth control methods Americans use, such as the pill, the patch, the shot, the ring, the IUD, and emergency contraception, under the classification "abortion."

See also Abortion, Birth Control Opponents May Get Federal Protection. Gays, Not So Much

Hospitals, clinics, researchers and medical schools would have to sign “written certifications” that they won't discriminate in any way against people or institutions that oppose abortion or some forms of birth control or refuse to perform them. This includes oral contraception and emergency contraception and is apparently an attempt by the radical religious right to classify oral contraception as abortion. Naturally, the Bush administration is eager to help out.

So, the inner city women's clinic employee who refuses to talk to patients about birth control? Can't touch her. The hospital pharmacist who refuses to fill prescriptions for birth control? She can't be fired or disciplined. The doctor who refuses to give emergency contraception to a rape victim for "religious reasons?" Give that man a promotion.

He goes on to mention that this is the administration that doesn't believe in preventing discrimination against homosexuals.

Is it clear enough yet? Is it clear enough yet that you are more important and valuable to the Bush administration before you're born than afterward? Is it clear enough that this administration is not done jerking us around yet?

There's some more information about this at Medical News Today.

Mary Jane Gallagher, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, said, "The proposed definition of abortion is so broad that it would cover many types of birth control, including oral contraceptives and emergency contraception." She added, "We worry that under the proposal, contraceptive services would become less available to low-income and uninsured women." Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said, "Why on earth is the Bush administration trying to discourage doctors and clinics from providing contraception to women who need it?" Christina Pearson, a spokesperson for HHS, declined to discuss the draft rule. "We don't normally comment on whether we are considering changes in regulations," Pearson said (Pear, New York Times, 7/15).
Just no, to all of this.

No. No, no, no.

You need to email some people and even call some people if you can.

First, emails. This page has a tool to email your members of Congress. Pester them to pester everyone else.

And then!

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt
Office Phone: 202-690-7000 or 202-205-4708
Email: mike.leavitt@hhs.gov
Fax: 202-690-7203
Correspondence Secretary: 202-690-6392

April 2016

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