This is a Public Service Announcement to the guys out there. Not all guys mind you. This isn’t addressed to the conservative fuckwits out there. They aren’t open to listening to what I have to say (I mean come on, I’m a black, gay, progressive atheist who advocates for inclusivity, diversity, and feminism…not exactly the kind of person those nincomfucks perk their ears up for). This is addressed to the other men. The moderates, the liberals, the progressives. You know who you are. You’re the guys who are not down with the GOPs racism and its candidates who talk about deporting massive numbers of undocumented immigrants. You’re the ones who have several gay friends whom you’ll go out to gay bars with. And you definitely-DEFINITELY-consider yourself a supporter of women’s rights. Why, when you first heard of the Hollywood wage gap, your exasperation went through the roof! You thought that Hollywood actresses should receive the same compensation for their hard work as their male counterparts. So of course you were pleased as punch when Bradley Cooper decided to help his female co-stars by lending his voice in their fight for equal pay. And I just bet you feel bad for all those times when you were younger and hooted and hollered at women as they walked by you on the street. You feel bad bc you watched the Hollaback video and it opened your eyes to the horrible treatment women and girls endure for simply existing in public. Further, I bet you’re probably one of those guys who believe the allegations of the 55+ women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, rape, and sexual harassment over the course of the last four decades. And you wish that scumbag were in jail where he belongs. All of that is a good thing. You should be supportive of women’s rights, bc you should give a shit about the people around you. But there is one area of women’s rights you have difficulty supporting: abortion rights.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (one of the many GOP presidential candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the presidency) is once again filling the airwaves with his unique brand of ignorance. You’ll remember Carson as the guy who said that being gay is a choice because straight people who leave jail are gay, that white liberals are the most racist people there are, that the Affordable Care Act is the worst thing that has happened to the United States since slavery, and compared supporters of President Obama to Nazi’s. In response to the heavily edited anti-choice propaganda videos recently released by the Center for Medical Progress, Carson told Iowa radio talk show host Jan Mickelson:
Continue reading “Ben Carson lies again, film at 11”
For many supporters of a woman’s right to an abortion, the issue is not “are fetuses sacred” or “do fetuses have a right to life”. Rather, it is about a woman having the right to decide whether or not she wants to continue her pregnancy. Her body, her choice. Bodily autonomy, in other words. The vast majority of stories I’ve read about abortion rights involve attempts by anti-abortion advocates (many of whom are men-though not all) to rob women of their right to make decisions about their bodies (yes, I’m aware they don’t view abortion in this way, but they ought to and this is one of the reasons their position is fucking awful). This is usually accomplished through legislation in the form of onerous and medically unnecessary requirements for abortion providers, fetal personhood laws, mandatory ultrasounds (aka rape by the state), ridiculous 48 or 72 hour waiting periods, parental consent laws, or laws aimed at making late-term abortions illegal. Until recently, I’d never heard of anyone violating the bodily autonomy of a pregnant woman by forcing her to have an abortion. But that’s exactly what one man in Norway recently did:
“The only way out”? That’s B.S.
If this guy didn’t want to be a father, he should not have had unprotected sex. Surely he is aware of the existence of condoms?! Barring the use of a rubber, what about a vasectomy? Some men choose that route so they don’t have to worry about getting their partner pregnant. He had other ways out, but chose not to exercise proper judgment. Instead, he opted to violate his ex-girlfriend’s bodily autonomy by forcing her to have an abortion against her will.
“He had tried several times to convince me to have an abortion but it was not an option for me,” the 20-year-old woman told the court.
Lacing the smoothie with abortion pills was the man’s second attempt to make is ex-girlfriend lose the child, The Local reports.
The man had purchased the pills over the internet and attempted to induce a miscarriage early on in the pregnancy by telling the woman they were painkillers.
When this did not result in a miscarriage, the man purchased a second batch of pills, claiming he was concerned after reading online that an unsuccessful abortion attempt could lead to a child being born with deformities.
After the woman drank the smoothie she experienced severe abdominal pain and later miscarried.
It was discovered by the woman’s doctor that her miscarriage had been induced by a high dose of abortion medicine.
The man told the court he felt “like a total shitbag” when the severity of his actions dawned on him.
Dude, you aren’t “like a total shitbag”. You ARE a shitbag.
Conservative ideology is so often based on misrepresentation, half-truths, outright falsehoods, and appeals to mythical sky daddies (and where you find conservative ideology, you frequently find sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of bigotry). From their claims that Trickle Down Economics is a reasonable economic concept for anyone who is not uber-wealthy, to their opposition to public assistance programs which keep millions of people from living in far worse poverty than they already are, to their claims that marriage equality will bring about the downfall of USAmerica, to their claims that trans women are really just men who want to attack girls and women in public restrooms, to their warmongering, to their…you get the point by now.
One topic I’ve found conservatives to be consistently wrong on?
Conservative columnist J. Kenneth Blackwell of The Washington Times is no exception. In a recent column, titled ‘Aborting Black America‘, Blackwell complains that the focus of the Black Lives Matter Movement is misplaced.
“Black lives matter” has become the slogan of anti-police protests across the nation, but the target of the protests is so misplaced that the motives of the so-called civil rights leaders behind the movement must be questioned. Do they really care about black lives? Or are they cynically exploiting isolated incidents, such as the death of Michael Brown, to inflame the black population and advance their own political interests?
Today, on the somber anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, it’s time for black leaders to face up to the real danger threatening black lives in America. It isn’t the police. According to an anti-police brutality organization, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, 313 blacks were killed by “police, security guards and vigilantes” in 2013. It isn’t even black criminals, who, as Rudy Giuliani famously pointed out on “Meet the Press,” are responsible for 93 percent of violent deaths among blacks. Sources estimate that between 6,000 and 8,000 blacks are murdered each year.
Blackwell clearly doesn’t understand what the Black Lives Matter Movement is about. While not everyone in the movement shares exactly the same goals (imagine that), one of the primary objectives of the activists is the reform of the criminal justice system. Contained within that are other goals, such as:
- greater accountability of police officers
- a significant reduction in police brutality and the use of excessive force
- a end to racist policies like Stop & Frisk, Broken Windows, and jump-outs
- greater police transparency
- sensitivity training of police officers in the hope that they base fewer of their decisions on unconscious stereotypes
- an elimination of the wartime mentality adopted by many police departments across the country
- an end to the 1033 program by which police departments acquire military-grade equipment
- a retraining of USAmerica’s lawyers and judges so that they have a greater understanding of how racial biases against People of Color affect the outcome of courtroom decisions
- a fairer approach to policing that doesn’t disproportionately target People of Color
(the above is not intended to be a comprehensive list)
Note that none of those goals are anti-police. Given the sheer number of people in the movement, there are bound to be some who are anti-police. Overall though, the Black Lives Matter Movement is not anti-police. Blackwell would know this if he actually researched the topic he’s discussing. If he did, he might turn up something like, oh, this:
I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements.
Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.
Then of course, he trots out that tired, well-worn cliché of black-on-black violence (I notice he both conflates violence with murder and offers no sources for his 6,000-8,000 figure). It’s more of a myth than a cliché, actually. While it is true that 93-94% of Black victims were killed by Black offenders, 84% of white victims were killed by white offenders. Blackwell dishonestly focuses on black-on-black murders, possibly in an attempt to make it appear as if Black America has some unique problem, while ignoring the fact that murder is intraracial.
Not content to simply misinform his readers about violence and murder statistics in the African-American community, Blackwell decides to show he’s also ignorant about biology:
No, the greatest danger to blacks is found precisely where we ought to be safest: in our mothers’ wombs. In 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 138,539 black babies were aborted.
That should read 138,539 black fetuses (or embryos depending on what stage of development they were in when the pregnancy was terminated). After all, babies are born. Yes, laypeople use the term baby interchangeably with fetus, but from a medical perspective, they are not the same thing. Within the womb of a pregnant woman, the correct term (after 8 weeks of gestation) is a fetus. Once they are born and exist outside the womb (and not infringing on the bodily autonomy of the pregnant woman), they are called newborns, infants, and yes, babies.
Even Wikipedia gets it right:
An infant (from the Latin word infans, meaning “unable to speak” or “speechless”) is the very young offspring of a human or animal. When applied to humans, the term is usually considered synonymous with baby or bairn (Scotland), but the latter is commonly applied to the young of any animal. When a human child learns to walk, the term toddler may be used instead.
The term infant is typically applied to young children between the ages of 1 month and 12 months; however, definitions may vary between birth and 1 year of age, or even between birth and 2 years of age. A newborn is an infant who is only hours, days, or up to a few weeks old. In medical contexts, newborn or neonate (from Latin, neonatus, newborn) refers to an infant in the first 28 days after birth; the term applies to premature infants, postmature infants, and full term infants. Before birth, the term fetus is used.
Moving on, Blackwell says:
Thankfully, abortion is on the decline in America, down 3 percent between 2007 and 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Strikingly, the number of surgical abortion clinics has plummeted, from 2,176 in 1991 to 551 today. Nevertheless, the CDC report that in 2010, a staggering 765,651 abortions were performed in the United States. Black women continue to have the highest abortion rate of any ethnic group, with a gruesome 483 abortions for every 1,000 live births.
Note his use of the emotionally loaded term gruesome. He’s clearly pandering to his audience, a readership that likely agrees with his views on abortion. I wonder if he’s aware that onerous regulations placed upon abortion clinics by anti-choice politicians have been the reason these clinics have closed down? In Texas alone, more than 80% of abortion clinics have been forced to close in the last few years thanks to laws ostensibly meant to protect women and children, but which, in reality make their lives increasingly more difficult. Even if he knows about statistics like that, I imagine he’s happy. After all, we’re talking about someone opposed to abortion and who doesn’t care whether a woman wants to be pregnant or not. Oh, and if Blackwell is so concerned about African-American women terminating their pregnancies (which he really shouldn’t be, that’s a medical decision between the woman and her healthcare provider, it’s none of his goddamn business), then he should look into the reasons why Black women are seeking abortions. According to a 2008 Guttmacher report:
This much is true: In the United States, the abortion rate for black women is almost five times that for white women. Antiabortion activists, including some African-American pastors, have been waging a campaign around this fact, falsely asserting that the disparity is the result of aggressive marketing by abortion providers to minority communities.
The Issues4Life Foundation, for example, is a faith-based organization that targets and works with African-American leaders toward achieving the goal of “zero African-American lives lost to abortion or biotechnology.” In April, Issues4Life wrote to the Congressional Black Caucus to denounce Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its “racist and eugenic goals.” The group blamed PPFA and abortion providers in general for the high abortion rate in the African-American community—deeming the situation the “Da[r]fur of America”—and called on Congress to withdraw federal family planning funds from all PPFA affiliates.
These activists are exploiting and distorting the facts to serve their antiabortion agenda. They ignore the fundamental reason women have abortions and the underlying problem of racial and ethnic disparities across an array of health indicators. The truth is that behind virtually every abortion is an unintended pregnancy. This applies to all women—black, white, Hispanic, Asian and Native American alike. Not surprisingly, the variation in abortion rates across racial and ethnic groups relates directly to the variation in the unintended pregnancy rates across those same groups.
Black women are not alone in having disproportionately high unintended pregnancy and abortion rates. The abortion rate among Hispanic women, for example, although not as high as the rate among black women, is double the rate among whites. Hispanics also have a higher level of unintended pregnancy than white women. Black women’s unintended pregnancy rates are the highest of all. These higher unintended pregnancy rates reflect the particular difficulties that many women in minority communities face in accessing high-quality contraceptive services and in using their chosen method of birth control consistently and effectively over long periods of time. Moreover, these realities must be seen in a larger context in which significant racial and ethnic disparities persist for a wide range of health outcomes, from diabetes to heart disease to breast and cervical cancer to sexually transmitted infections (STI), including HIV.
Holy factual information Batman!
Do you mean to tell me that if African-American women had greater and easier access to contraception the need for abortion services might not be so great? Someone let J. Kenneth Blackwell know so that he working tirelessly to ensure African-American women have access to affordable contraception, thereby reducing the number of abortions, something he is clearly worried about.
Blackwell continues with:
The bottom line? I’ll say it again: 138,539 black babies, nearly one baby in three, were killed in the womb in 2010. According to the CDC, between 2007 and 2010, innocent black babies were victimized in nearly 36 percent of the abortion deaths in the United States, though blacks represent only 12.8 percent of the population. Some say the abortion capital of America is New York City. According to LifeSiteNews, the city’s Department of Health reported that in 2012, more black babies were aborted (31,328) than born (24,758). That’s 55.9 percent of black babies killed before birth. Blacks represented 42.4 percent of all abortions.
He really is worried about the number of abortions African-American women are having. I wonder how much he actually cares about these fetuses though. Does he support paid maternity leave so that pregnant women can take time off after they give birth and not stress about a lack of income? Does he support universal child care so that new mothers can reenter the workforce and provide for their children while having the comfort of knowing that their child will be cared for? Does he support a robust social safety net so that low-income mothers who are jobless can provide for their children? Does he support vaccinations for children? There is far more to supporting women and children than whining about the termination of fetuses.
If I sound a bit callous with regard to fetuses, it is, to a degree, intentional. I support the right of all women to make their own decisions regarding their reproductive health. That means I support a woman who chooses to carry a fetus to term (in which case, I hope for the best for both the woman and her fetus) just as much as I support a woman who wants to end her pregnancy (in which case, I’m not concerned about a fetus). My primary concern (as should everyone else’s) is with the needs of the woman in the situation. She is an existing person. She has hopes, dreams, fears, desires, emotions, intelligence, and all the other markers of being a human person, which is something that a fetus does not have. True, a fetus is biologically human, but it is not a human person. None of the qualities of personhood apply to a fetus. Nor should they. When anti-abortion advocates call for fetal personhood measures they either don’t know or don’t care (I suspect the latter) that a living, breathing human being will be forced to carry a fetus to term. They don’t know or don’t care that such personhood measures mean that the needs and desires of the pregnant woman would become secondary to the “needs” and “desires” of a fetus. Since fetuses are not self-aware and have no needs and desires (not in the sense that an extant human being does), who is going to determine what is best for them? A bunch of male politicians (and a few female ones too) who think they have the right to determine the conduct of a pregnant woman?! I find that loathsome.
Now, where were we?
Legalized abortion is working out exactly as Margaret Sanger intended. Sanger, the founder of the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, was part of the eugenics movement back in the 1930s. Her goal was to use abortion to cull what she considered inferior races from the human gene pool. According to Sanger, “Colored people are like human weeds and are to be exterminated.” She opened her first abortion clinics in inner cities, and it’s no accident that even today, “79 percent of Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities are located in black or minority neighborhoods.”
Searching for the source of the Margaret Sanger quote turns up a 2006 book (available on Amazon) called The Pivot of Civilization. Not having read the book, I can neither confirm nor deny that she actually said that. If she did, then yes, that’s pretty fucking racist. If she didn’t then this would be another case of a conservative fabricating information to fit an agenda (or perhaps taking information out of context). That comment aside (because it isn’t relevant to whether or not African-American women should have access to abortion services), Blackwell’s comments sound eerily similar to remarks made by former USAmerican presidential candidate and all around asshole, Herman Cain (actively working to make the lives of other human beings worse is a textbook definition of an asshole to me, and Cain tries very hard to do that). In a 2011 interview on CBS’ Face the Nation, Cain said:
Schieffer: … you said that it was not Planned Parenthood, it was really planned genocide because you said Planned Parenthood was trying to put all these centers into the black communities because they wanted to kill black babies –
Herman Cain: Yes.
Scheiffer: — before they were born. Do you still stand by that?
Cain: I still stand by that.
Schieffer: Do you have any proof that that was the objective of Planned Parenthood?
Cain: If people go back and look at the history and look at Margaret Sanger’s own words, that’s exactly where that came from. Look up the history. So if you go back and look up the history — secondly, look at where most of them were built; 75 percent of those facilities were built in the black community — and Margaret Sanger’s own words, she didn’t use the word “genocide,” but she did talk about preventing the increasing number of poor blacks in this country by preventing black babies from being born.
Regarding the claims by Blackwell and Cain about the locations of past (or present) Planned Parenthood clinics, well, surprise, those claims are not true:
Cain also claimed that “75 percent of [clinics] were built in the black community.” But we found no evidence that that was true in Sanger’s time, and it’s not true today.
Sanger’s first clinic, opened in 1916, was in Brooklyn in a neighborhood called Brownsville, which was 80 percent to 85 percent Jewish in 1910 and 1920, according to author Wendell E. Pritchett’s “Brownsville, Brooklyn: Blacks, Jews & the Changing Face of the Ghetto.” Cathy Moran Hajo writes that the neighborhood was “populated largely by Italians and Eastern European Jews” in “Birth Control on Main Street: Organizing Clinics in the United States, 1916-1939.” She says that Sanger didn’t choose to open her first clinic in Harlem, where infant and mother mortality rates were similar to those of Brownsville.
In fact, early birth control clinics didn’t welcome black women with open arms, Hajo writes: “In the 1920s and early 1930s, African Americans had far more limited access to birth control than did white women. Not only did many clinics discriminate against black women, but the regions with the largest black populations had fewer clinics.”
Sanger opened a clinic in Harlem in 1930, and, as mentioned, the “Negro Project” began in the late 1930s.
That doesn’t support Cain’s implication that Sanger’s “objective was to put these centers in primarily black communities,” or that “75 percent” of clinics were in such neighborhoods. It should also be noted that these early clinics were focused on providing birth control, and Sanger herself warned of the dangers of abortion. “While there are cases where even the law recognizes an abortion as justifiable if recommended by a physician, I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization,” she wrote in her 1920 book “Woman and the New Race.”
Cain’s claim also isn’t true today. Tait Sye, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, told us in an email that “73% of Planned Parenthood health centers are located in rural or medically underserved areas.” Not all of those would be predominately black communities.
Also, the Guttmacher Institute reported this year that 9 percent of abortion clinics in the U.S. are in neighborhoods in which 50 percent or more of the residents are black. That’s according to the group’s “census of all known abortion providers.”
Blackwell could have easily dug up this information rather than parroting more right-wing talking points, but well, he is a conservative asshole with an agenda. Let’s continue looking at that agenda:
We mustn’t forget that babies aren’t the only victims of abortion. Sadly, more and more of the mothers are suffering and dying as well. Though many people continue to deny it, the link between abortion and breast cancer has been amply documented, and this deadly consequence of abortion is plaguing greater and greater numbers of black women.
Oh golly, the dreaded link between breast cancer and abortion. Note that despite this “ample documentation”, Blackwell provides no credible source for this assertion. In point of fact, he is WRONG. There is no causal link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer. This is a flat-out lie. J. Blackwell could have found this out easily if he actually did his homework.
His article continues its descent into a feces filled toilet with the following distortion:
Sanger relied on black ministers to act as Judas goats leading their sisters to abortion mills. According to LifeSiteNews, Sanger wrote in 1939, “We do not want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten that idea out if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”
When placed within the correct context (rather than removed from it as Blackwell has done), one can easily see that Sanger had no intentions of “exterminating the Negro population”:
Sanger, who was arrested several times in her efforts to bring birth control to women in the United States, set up her first clinic in Brooklyn in 1916. In the late 1930s, she sought to bring clinics to black women in the South, in an effort that was called the “Negro Project.” Sanger wrote in 1939 letters to colleague Clarence James Gamble that she believed the project needed a black physician and black minister to gain the trust of the community:
Sanger, 1939: The minister’s work is also important and he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.
Sanger says that a minister could debunk the notion, if it arose, that the clinics aimed to “exterminate the Negro population.” She didn’t say that she wanted to “exterminate” the black population. The Margaret Sanger Papers Project at New York University says that this quote has “gone viral on the Internet,” normally out of context, and it “doesn’t reflect the fact that Sanger recognized elements within the black community might mistakenly associate the Negro Project with racist sterilization campaigns in the Jim Crow south, unless clergy and other community leaders spread the word that the Project had a humanitarian aim.”
It goes on to characterize beliefs such as Cain’s as “extremist.” The project says: “No serious scholar and none of the dozens of black leaders who supported Sanger’s work have ever suggested that she tried to reduce the black population or set up black abortion mills, the implication in much of the extremist anti-choice material.”
Funny how removing the proper context transforms the quote to suit Blackwell’s needs. Such dishonesty on his part.
Blackwell concludes with:
Abortion is the greatest threat to black lives in America today. People who claim to represent the black community while also abetting the black holocaust — abortion — are hypocrites. Any “civil rights leader” who genuinely believes that “black lives matter” should be working to see that every black baby is accorded the very first civil right — the right to life.
As I said above, if he is so concerned with African-American women terminating their pregnancies, then he needs to support efforts to bring affordable contraception into the hands of the Black women who want and need it, rather than complaining about all the dead fetuses. In doing so, and in using distortion or outright lies to support his position, Blackwell demonstrates he has no interest in dealing with facts and reality. Which pretty much sums up the GOP.
A round-up of links related to the ongoing global battle for women’s equality.
If catcalling is harmless, why did this man get stabbed 9 times defending his girlfriend from street harassment?
“It barely missed my spinal cord in the back by just a few inches, so luckily this wheelchair is not permanent, thank God,” he said. “I punctured my right lung from behind.”
Schwartz was stabbed nine times Saturday morning walking home from a friend’s house, with his girlfriend. They were near Larkin and Ellis streets when he said a man started catcalling and making obscene comments.
“At first we tried to just ignore it, just kind of walk away and make our way home, cross the street and try to take a different path,” he said.
But the man started following them and Schwartz braced for a fight.
“It turned violent very quickly, punches thrown,” he said. “Next thing I know, I kinda had a knife in the back of my neck.”
The suspect was picked up in a silver sedan and got away. Between witnesses and police Schwartz got help and was taken to the hospital. His mother came in from Tucson, Ariz. as fast as she could.
“It’s a terrifying experience for a parent or probably anybody who hears about it,” Schwartz’s mother Claire Schuren said.
If catcalling and street harassment are harmless, why did any violence occur at all? This is why the advice to ignore the problem doesn’t always work. Sometimes ignoring the problem results in violence. Sometimes it doesn’t. There’s no way of knowing what will happen in a given situation. Instead of telling women how to handle street harassment, efforts need to be made to teach people not to harass women on the street.
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A court in the UK ruled that drinking while pregnant is not a crime.
The case was brought by a local authority applying to the government’s criminal compensation authority for damages on behalf of a seven-year-old girl in its care who has severe disabilities after her mother drank heavily while pregnant.
“We have held that a mother who is pregnant and who drinks to excess… is not guilty of a criminal offense under our law if her child is subsequently born damaged as a result,” the ruling said.
The local authority’s lawyers had argued that the mother was “reckless” in her behavior by drinking up to half a bottle of vodka and eight cans of strong lager a day while she was pregnant.
While they do not suggest the damage was deliberate, they say she discussed her drinking with professionals and “went on to take the risk.”
The ruling centered on whether a fetus can be considered a person under English law.
Thankfully the court found that a fetus cannot be considered a person. Which really isn’t that hard a conclusion to reach if you base your conclusions on evidence. A fetus does not possess agency, nor self-awareness. A fetus has no sense of the passage of time and exhibits no behavioral control. There may not be a comprehensive list of agreed upon characteristics that defines what a person is, but there are many qualities associated with personhood. Aside from being biologically human or having the possibility of becoming a person, no fetus possesses any of the qualities necessary to be deemed a person. As such, it has no rights (and for the abortion argument, it still wouldn’t matter if the fetus was a person with rights; no human being has the right to use another’s body without their consent).
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After analyzing data from nearly 55,000 women who received abortion care under California’s Medicaid program, researchers at UC San Francisco concluded that hardly any of them had serious complications within six weeks of their procedure. Just 126 cases necessitated follow-up care for surgery, a blood transfusion, or other conditions that require hospital admission.
Other studies, including data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have also confirmed abortion’s safety. We already had some evidence, for instance, that giving birth is about 14 times riskier than having an abortion. But the new UCSF study goes a bit further than previous research by tracking the complete data on all of the health care used by women who have received abortions. Since many women have to travel long distances to end a pregnancy, the UCSF researchers also examined women’s follow-up care at facilities closer to where they live.
Despite the mounting evidence in this area, the notion that abortion may be dangerous for women is a pervasive assumption that has bolstered the passage of dozens of state laws tightening restrictions on clinics and doctors. In a press release announcing their findings, the study authors indicated that they hope the new study “will contribute to the national debate over abortion safety.”
“Abortion is very safe as currently performed, which calls into question the need for additional regulations that purportedly aim to improve safety,” said Ushma Upadhyay, an assistant professor at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a leading research program based at UCSF.
Leading reproductive rights groups echoed that sentiment, pointing out that anti-abortion lawmakers are making decisions that don’t align with reality.
“The science says abortion is safe, but time and time again elected officials are ignoring the facts and jamming through abortion restrictions under a false guise of ‘safety’ when they actually endanger women,” Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.
Sadly this won’t stop anti-abortion proponents from pushing for further abortion restrictions. These are people who pay no heed to the evidence. All they care about is shaming and controlling women.
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A woman in London said she was sexually harassed by an Uber driver who asked if she liked blow jobs and offered to pull down a side street and perform “sucky sucky” on her during her route.
The unidentified woman, who shared emails of her exchange with Uber about the incident with Newsweek, described the March encounter as scary. According to Newsweek, she first contacted Uber after the hellish ride telling the company “Driver was very forward and quite creepy. Asked me if I wanted him to go down on me. Not cool.”
A marketing manager who responded to her complaint via email apologized, referring to the incident with the driver as an “intrusive experience.” The marketing manager then told her the company was “already investigating this with [the driver] and I can assure you that the necessary actions will be taken to avoid a similar incident in future.” The email she received from the company concluded with a thank you to her from bringing the issue to their attention. “[While] painful to hear, it’s the best way for us to address any incidents like this,” it stated.
Dissatisfied with the company’s lukewarm response, she wrote a longer description of what occurred:
She described how, having initially got in the back of the cab the driver invited her to sit in the front, which she agreed to do, feeling car sick. He then started asking about her relationship status before using increasingly inappropriate language:
“Towards the end of the journey he was asking if I liked blow jobs, saying that he was very good at going down on girls or giving “sucky sucky” to girls and did I want him to do it to me. He even suggested that he could pull over into a side street and do it now if I wanted, which was I think the scariest part of the drive.”
She detailed how, as a woman alone in the car, she felt very uncomfortable and if she hadn’t trusted the Uber name she would have got out the car. She concluded the email:
“I am aware that this kind of thing becomes very much a he-said, she-said kind of deal, but I did want to make you aware of it as I feel that people really trust the Uber name (as I do) and my trust was completely violated. I am pretty relaxed and outgoing and I feel that I can take care of myself, and if I felt so uncomfortable I dread to think how a more timid girl would have felt. I won’t be taking this any further but I do implore you to take this quite seriously as I worry for other women who could find themselves in a similar situation.”
She then received another response from a different Uber representative, which said the company was “shocked” to learn about her experience. According to Newsweek, the email stated “while things like this should definitely not happen in the first place, in the unlikely event that they do occur we have the full details of the driver, trip and rider on our systems so that we can immediately investigate any concerns raised.”
The company then offered her a £20 ($31) credit, signing the email “Sorry again for such an un-Uber experience.”
Such a response is what I’d expect if a driver didn’t arrive on time or damaged someone’s luggage, not following a driver sexually harassing a passenger.
* * * *
Chris Rock called out Ben Roethlisberger on Tuesday night, reminding the media and the public that Bill Cosby isn’t the only celebrity whose history of rape allegations was swept under the rug.
During a media screening for his new film, Top Five, Rock called Roethlisberger “the original Cosby,” alluding to the quarterback’s history of rape allegations. Immediately after the comment, Rock realized his comment would probably catch some heat. “That’s horrible,” he said. “That’s gonna go everywhere.” (You can watch a clip of Rock’s comment at TMZ.)
This one is different though. It’s called Gender & Society and is a peer-reviewed journal focused on the study of gender.
Gender & Society is a peer-reviewed journal, focused on the study of gender. It is the official journal of Sociologists for Women in Society, and was founded in 1987 as an outlet for feminist social science. Currently, it is a top-ranked journal in both sociology and women’s studies. Gender & Society publishes less than 10% of submitted papers. Articles appearing in Gender & Society analyze gender and gendered processes in interactions, organizations, societies, and global and transnational spaces. The journal primarily publishes empirical articles, which are both theoretically engaged and methodologically rigorous, including qualitative, quantitative, and comparative-historical methodologies. Gender & Society also publishes reviews of books from a diverse array of social science disciplines.
Here is a sample of a few recent posts:
My encounter with Maria helped to shape my interest in knowledge about reproductive health, because I wondered how many other people shared her concerns and were making decisions about women’s health and well-being with partial information or misinformation. Together with my co-authors, I set out to investigate what Americans know about abortion. We carefully reviewed the literature for the scientific consensus on different aspects of abortion and other reproductive health topics, then we created a survey that asked respondents to evaluate statements based on best possible evidence. We administered this survey to 639 randomly selected men and women aged 18–44 via an online survey.
We found that Maria (who was not included in this survey) was not alone in holding misinformation. Of the 14 items about knowledge of abortion, contraception, pregnancy, and birth in the survey, only four were answered correctly by a majority of respondents. Only one question – whether or not abortion until 12 weeks gestation is legal – was answered correctly by more than two-thirds of respondents, and 17% of respondents couldn’t answer it correctly. (Seven percent mistakenly thought that abortion until 12 weeks gestation was illegal, and another 10% didn’t know if it was illegal or not). Surprisingly, women were no better at answering questions about the health risks of abortion than men. In fact, women were less likely than men to know that the health risks of abortion are less than those of giving birth.
Most of the arguments about Frozen’s progressive gender representation revolve around a few key themes and occurrences in the movie. These are: 1) Disney rejects the “happily ever after” heterosexual romance trope in this movie, 2) Elsa is a powerful idol of women’s empowerment with a message of independence, 3) Anna is another strong woman role model who is independent, adventurous, and brave. Is Frozenreally as progressive as these arguments claim?
According to the first argument Disney is mocking its earlier versions of princess stories by portraying the idea of falling in love at first sight as foolish especially since Hans turns out to be a scheming prince. But is the heterosexual romance trope missing? Certainly not. Most of the movie revolves around Anna and Kristoff’s relationship, and we do see it culminate in a kiss. Further, it seems that Anna and Kristoff haven’t known each other for more than two days! Thus, Anna and Kristoff’s relationship certainly falls within Disney’s previous versions of romance.
The next argument is framed around Elsa, who is seen as a powerful and independent woman who learns to love her power instead of concealing it. Yet, her storyline undermines that message. For instance, we see that once Elsa goes into exile, she unleashes her power, which is symbolized by the fantastic ice palace she builds for herself. However, we see shortly after, that her power and independence start to turn her evil. This is evident when she nearly murders two men—by almost impaling one, and trying to push another off the mountain, and when she sends a snow monster after Anna. It is only when she returns to her village and uses her powers for people’s entertainment (by building an ice rink), that she is in fact accepted by people. This is a version of femininity that is soft, safe and selfless; it is about pleasing and nurturing people, and not about building monuments that celebrate one’s power.
The final set of arguments for the progressiveness of Frozencenter on Anna. Anna is adventurous and brave. However, Anna is never supposed to be taken seriously by us. She seems adventurous because she doesn’t seem to know any better, not because she is a capable young woman. The comic relief most often comes from her being child-like, and not physically capable.
Over the past few weeks, I have been poring through the spate of social media (here, here, here, and here, for example) focusing on debates and tensions between anti-feminism, trans-exclusionary radical feminism, and trans feminism about who gets to count—as women, as feminists, as radical, and as lesbians. The fact that these debates coincide with the latest iteration of the contentious Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival only makes them more timely and salient. During this same time, I learned that some of my own published research (here and here) on cisgender women partners of transgender men had been cited extensively by Sheila Jeffreys in her latest work (here). Within this text, Jeffreys frequently misgenders the partners of my research participants as women and refers to them as “transgenders” or “female-bodied transgenders” (p. 114). Jeffreys poaches verbatim quotes from my research participants and frequently writes “[sic]” in instances where participants use “he” or “him” to refer to their trans partners. When Jeffreys does use pronouns such as “he” or “him” to refer to the trans partners of my research participants, it is always surrounded by shudder quotes. These editorial gestures reveal Jeffrey’s appraisal of trans men’s illegitimacy as men. In one instance, Jeffreys describes the gender identities of the partners of my research participants as “carefully constructed myths” (p. 118). Jeffreys cherry picks my data for quotes to bolster her claims about the hurtful potential of gendered (and especially transgender) identities, omitting all context—particularly that which does not square with her claims.
In the course of conducting research for my new book (here), I discovered an astonishing diversity of queer spaces. Researchers, however, emphasize the experiences of gay men, and in doing so, they erase the lives of lesbians. To set the stage, consider the words of sociologist Manuel Castells. “Lesbians, unlike gay men,” he says, “tend not to concentrate in a given territory.” He thinks that they “do not acquire a geographical basis.” Gender differences between men and women are to blame. “Men have sought to dominate,” Castells continues, “and one expression of this domination has been spatial.” On the other hand, “women have rarely had these territorial aspirations.” For gay men – as men – “to liberate themselves from cultural and sexual oppression, they need a physical space from which to strike out.” Lesbians – as women – “tend to create their own rich, inner world and a political relationship with higher, societal levels.” This perspective leads Castells to conclude that “they are ‘placeless.’”
Lesbian geographies exist.
Politicians love to interfere in a woman’s right to choose. It’s always under the pretense of “guarding the sanctity of life” or “protecting the life of the unborn”. There’s never any regard for the woman carrying the fetus. Never any concern for her well-being. Such is the case, once again in Missouri:
Overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a measure tripling the waiting period for an abortion is one of several priorities for Republican lawmakers this week during the veto session.
Nixon, a Democrat, was uncharacteristically critical of the bill, saying its lack of an exception for victims of rape and incest was a “glaring omission” that was “wholly insensitive to women who find themselves in horrific circumstances.”
Bill handler Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said he’s confident both chambers will override the veto.
“We’ve got the votes, so unless some of the Democrats in the Senate decide to filibuster, it’ll go through just fine,” Sater said.
The Senate passed the bill on a party-line vote of 22-9, one shy of the 23 needed for an override. The House passed it 111-39, more than the 109 needed for an override. The Senate’s missing Republican vote belonged to Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, who was absent because his mother died.
He supports the bill, saying he doesn’t “think waiting is too much to ask of someone before they terminate a life.”
It’s far too long if a woman does not want to be pregnant any longer. See, this is the problem they have: they aren’t looking at women as thinking human beings capable of making decisions about their bodies (with the informed opinions of their doctors). THAT, and they think an embryo or fetus is something special. They’ve no regard for the right to bodily autonomy, nor the right to self defense (the latter is granted by the former) for women. It’s sickening to see a fucking fetus valued more than an existing woman.
Access to abortion services can range from relatively easy to virtually impossible, depending on where a woman lives. Some countries (including the oh so democratic and progressive and wonderful and gah gah gag me with a spoon United States) ostensibly allow legal abortions-but anti-abortion activists have been successful in closing many clinics or throwing up tremendous obstacles to this basic right of all women. Other countries like those in Latin America, Africa, or Asia often have severe restrictions on abortion, or the procedure is outright banned. Thankfully, there are determined people like Rebecca Gomperts who, through the use of modern technology and a strong desire to reduce the suffering of others, have helped women across the globe terminate their pregnancies on their own terms. In this article, read about Gomperts first attempts to help women obtain the abortion drugs misoprostol and mifepristone (formerly RU-486), the obstacles she faced and continues to face in her attempt to use the internet to assist women in obtaining abortion inducing drugs, and the frustration felt by women around the globe who want nothing more than to end their pregnancies (you’ll want to kick back somewhere comfortable-the article, well worth reading, is lengthy):
Gomperts is a general-practice physician and activist. She first assisted with an abortion 20 years ago on a trip to Guinea, just before she finished medical school in Amsterdam. Three years later, Gomperts went to work as a ship’s doctor on a Greenpeace vessel. Landing in Mexico, she met a girl who was raising her younger siblings because her mother had died during a botched illegal abortion. When the ship traveled to Costa Rica and Panama, women told her about hardships they suffered because they didn’t have access to the procedure. “It was not part of my medical training to talk about illegal abortion and the public-health impact it has,” Gomperts told me this summer. “In those intense discussions with women, it really hit me.”
When she returned to the Netherlands, Gomperts decided she wanted to figure out how to help women like the ones she had met. She did some legal and medical research and concluded that in a Dutch-registered ship governed by Dutch law, she could sail into the harbor of a country where abortion is illegal, take women on board, bring them into international waters, give them the pills at sea and send them home to miscarry. Calling the effort Women on Waves, she chose Dublin as her first destination.
Ten women each gave Gomperts 10,000 Dutch guilders (about $5,500), part of the money needed to rent a boat and pay for a crew. But to comply with Dutch law, she also had to build a mobile abortion clinic. Tapping contacts she made a decade earlier, when she attended art school at night while studying medicine, she got in touch with Joep van Lieshout, a well-known Dutch artist, and persuaded him to design the clinic. They applied for funds from the national arts council and built it together inside the shipping container. When the transport ministry threatened to revoke the ship’s authorization because of the container on deck, van Lieshout faxed them a certificate decreeing the clinic a functional work of art, titled “a-portable.” The ship was allowed to sail, and van Lieshout later showed a mock-up of the clinic at the Venice Biennale.
As the boat sailed toward Dublin, Gomperts and her shipmates readied their store of pills and fielded calls from the press and emails from hundreds of Irish women seeking appointments. The onslaught of interest took them by surprise. So did a controversy that was starting to brew back home. Conservative politicians in the Netherlands denounced Gomperts for potentially breaking a law that required a special license for any doctor to provide an abortion after six and a half weeks of pregnancy. Gomperts had applied for it a few months earlier and received no reply. She set sail anyway, planning to perform abortions only up to six and a half weeks if the license did not come through.
When Gomperts’s ship docked in Dublin, she still didn’t have the license. Irish women’s groups were divided over what to do. Gomperts decided she couldn’t go ahead without their united support and told a group of reporters and protesters that she wouldn’t be able to give out a single pill. “This is just the first of many trips that we plan to make,” she said from the shore, wrapped in a blanket, a scene that is captured in “Vessel,” a documentary about her work that will be released this winter. Gomperts was accused of misleading women. A headline in The Telegraph in London read: “Abortion Boat Admits Dublin Voyage Was a Publicity Sham.”
Gomperts set sail again two years later, this time resolving to perform abortions only up to six and a half weeks. She went to Poland first and to Portugal in 2004. The Portuguese minister of defense sent two warships to stop the boat, then just 12 miles offshore, from entering national waters. No local boat could be found to ferry out the women who were waiting onshore. “In the beginning we were very pissed off, thinking the campaign was failing because the ship couldn’t get in,” one Portuguese activist says in “Vessel.” “But at a certain point, we realized that was the best thing that could ever happen. Because we had media coverage from everywhere.”
Without consulting her local allies, Gomperts changed strategy. She appeared on a Portuguese talk show, held up a pack of pills on-screen and explained exactly how women could induce an abortion at home — specifying the number of pills they needed to take, at intervals, and warning that they might feel pain. A Portuguese anti-abortion campaigner who was also on the show challenged the ship’s operation on legal grounds. “Excuse me,” Gomperts said. “I really think you should not talk about things that you don’t know anything about, O.K. . . . I know what I can do within the law.” Looking directly at him, she added, “Concerning pregnancy, you’re a man, you can walk away when your girlfriend is pregnant. I’m pregnant now, and I had an abortion when I was — a long time ago. And I’m very happy that I have the choice to continue my pregnancy how I want, and that I had the choice to end it when I needed it.” She pointed at the man. “You have never given birth, so you don’t know what it means to do that.”
Two and a half years later, Portugal legalized abortion. As word of Gomperts’s TV appearance spread, activists in other countries saw it as a breakthrough. Gomperts had communicated directly to women what was still, in many places, a well-kept secret: There were pills on the market with the power to end a pregnancy. Emails from women all over the world poured into Women on Waves, asking about the medication and how to get it. Gomperts wanted to help women “give themselves permission” to take the pills, as she puts it, with as little involvement by the government, or the medical profession, as possible. She realized that there was an easier way to do this than showing up in a port. She didn’t need a ship. She just needed the Internet.
Gomperts no longer works from a boat. Eight years ago she started Women on Web, a “telemedicine support service” for women around the world who are seeking medical abortions. She and a small staff share a one-room office in Amsterdam on a residential street, where red-and-pink flowers bloom on the balconies of brick buildings. Early in July, I went to visit the space, which has six workstations with computers, a few shelves and a filing cabinet with the sticker “Trust Women.” A large window opens onto a courtyard, where a Cupid fountain bubbles.
Davis writes in Forgetting to be Afraid that she had an abortion in 1996 after an exam revealed that the brain of the fetus had developed in complete separation on the right and left sides. She also describes ending an earlier ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo implants outside the uterus.
Davis disclosed the terminated pregnancies for the first time since her 13-hours filibuster — a parliamentary maneuver that required her to talk non-stop to try to run out the time on proposed legislation — last year over a tough new Texas abortion law.
Both pregnancies happened before Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, began her political career and after she was already a mother to two young girls.
She writes that the ectopic pregnancy happened in 1994 during her first trimester. Terminating the pregnancy was considered medically necessary. Such pregnancies generally aren’t considered viable, meaning the fetus can’t survive, and the mother’s life could be in danger. But Davis wrote that in Texas, it’s “technically considered an abortion, and doctors have to report it as such.”
Davis said she and her former husband, Jeff, wound up expecting another child in 1996. After a later exam revealed the brain defect, doctors told her the baby would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state if she survived delivery.
“I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do,” Davis writes. “She was suffering.”
p class=”story-body-text story-content”>You may remember Wendy Davis from her nearly 12 hour attempt to filibuster Senate Bill 5 back in June 2013.
At this point, I really wish Richard Dawkins would STFU. In July he said:
Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.
I find this deplorable. Rape is a vile act whereby one or more people exert power over another person-usually a woman-in an act (or acts) of a sexual nature. It is non consensual and violates the autonomy of the victim. That is what all rapes are. The addition of another crime on top of that doesn’t change the horrible nature of the rape. It’s still horrible. Any form of rape is horrific. Additionally, one should not generalize the effects of rape. Such an act has a different effect on different people and for some, date rape might well be far worse than stranger rape at knifepoint. That is a determination to be made by the victim of a rape-not by anyone else.
Recently, Dawkins opened his mouth and said something stupid-again:
The scientist Richard Dawkins has become embroiled in another Twitter row, claiming it would be “immoral” to carry on with a pregnancy if the mother knew the foetus had Down’s syndrome.
The British author made the comment in response to another user who said she would be faced with “a real ethical dilemma” if she became pregnant and learned that the baby would be born with the disorder.
Dawkins tweeted: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”
There is nothing moral or immoral about bringing a child with Down’s Syndrome into the world. Such a child has the chance to live a fulfilling life, no matter what Richard Dawkins thinks. I imagine he is thinking of some particular hardships that a child with DS might face in life, but honestly, there are all manner of hardships that people can face in life. Should that be the basis for deciding whether to bring someone into the world or not? It can be. On an individual basis. If a woman decides for herself that she doesn’t want to bring a child into the world that has DS because she doesn’t feel she could adequately care for such a child, that’s her choice to make. If she decides *to* bring a child with DS into the world, that should be her choice to make. Either way, there is no question of morality. There’s no right or wrong in this equation. Dawkins’ problem again, is making a blanket statement about an act that is very much up to the individual woman in question. Women do not need anyone telling them that their decision to carry a pregnancy to term or abort a fetus is an immoral one (nor do they need anyone telling them it’s a moral one). No one needs to pronounce judgement on the choices a woman makes with her body.
Now he’s said something thoughtless-AGAIN (I’m sensing a pattern):
Blogger said woman’s rights over own body extend to abortion even if fetus conscious & writing poetry in womb. I profoundly disagree.
The ‘blogger’ in question is PZ Myers. In a post he wrote back in 2012 (Dawkins is just now reading this?), PZ wrote:
We can make all the philosophical and scientific arguments that anyone might want, but ultimately what it all reduces to is a simple question: do women have autonomous control of their bodies or not? Even if I thought embryos were conscious, aware beings writing poetry in the womb (I don’t, and they’re not), I’d have to bow out of any say in the decision the woman bearing responsibility has to make.
Women have the right to bodily autonomy by virtue of being humans. That right provides the foundation for their right to an abortion. They don’t lose that right to a fetus, even one that writes poetry. No one has the right to make use of anothers’ body without their permission.
p class=”lead”>(anyone uncertain of why bodily autonomy provides the foundation for the right to an abortion ought to read this)
(originally posted as a note on my Facebook page)
A lot of people who claim the label ‘pro-life’ are also pro-war (which ends a lot of lives), pro-capital punishment (which ends a lot of lives), and anti-welfare (which improves the quality of life for millions of people). If someone is going to claim to be pro-life, they need to be consistent, and I’ve yet to see someone who is. The ‘pro-life’ movement has been co-opted by religious extremists for the purpose of regulating and controlling womens’ sexuality. It’s maddening bc they’ve managed to steer the conversation about women’s rights away from, well, women’s rights. They’ve tried to and succeeded in turning the conversation into “the rights of the unborn”, without successfully arguing for those rights. People have rights. Human persons. Personhood is not granted until a fetus is born. There are specific qualities that determine personhood, such as self awareness, the capacity to feel pain, agency, and the possession of rights and duties. These aren’t comprehensive qualities, and they aren’t all agreed upon, but human beings with personhood do possess them. Fetuses do not. More importantly though, the concept of bodily autonomy, which underlies our right to self defense, is overlooked or dismissed by anti-abortion proponents. Bodily autonomy is the right of all human persons to determine what happens to and with their bodies. Every single human has that right. This is a fundamental human right. To deny any human the right to bodily autonomy is to deny them their humanity. This is exactly what anti-abortion proponents do. No, they don’t word it that way, but that’s the end result of what they’re advocating for: women not being able to decide what to do with their bodies. That is not a right that ends when women get pregnant. Additionally, fetuses should not possess more rights than women. No human being can be forced to donate blood or give organs against their will. Our bodies. Our choice. That means even if it will save the life of another, no one can force us to donate our bodies. This is a right pregnant women have too, yet anti-abortion advocates say that women should be forced to donate the use of their bodies to a fetus, whether they want to or not. That is unethical and unconscionable. I am passionate about women’s rights. Especially the right of all women to an abortion-with no restrictions.