The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘abortion

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We are going to be stuck with Donald Dump for the foreseeable future. Republicans will not impeach him. Nothing he can do will force them to abandon him. Even as the country tries to absorb Dump Jr’s e-mails confirming he met with a Russian lawyer with government connections to get dirt on Hillary Clinton – GOP collectively yawns. Mitch McConnell says he has no comment. Paul Ryan is MIA. John McCain is concerned and Lady Graham is disturbed. That’s as bad as the recriminations got. (Bernie Sanders, by the way, says we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. The strongest response came from Moe Scarborough who announced he’s leaving GOP to become an independent. Which is nice, but who cares?) The right-wing media has closed ranks around Dump and his abominations. Collusion with the Russians isn’t so bad, Breitbart and Fox have declared. Besides, shouldn’t Hillary Clinton be prosecuted, Sean Hannity asks?

The best response so far came from a surprising source: Trey Gowdy-Doody.

Someone needs to get everyone in a room and say, from the time you saw ‘Dr. Zhivago’ until the moment you drank vodka with a guy named Boris, you list every single contact with Russia,” Gowdy said, referring to the 1965 movie.

But Gowdy-Doody says he will investigate nothing via his House committee; he’s leaving it all to Bob Mueller.

Vice President Pence’s courageous response via his spokesperson was:

The Vice President is working every day to advance the president’s agenda, which is what the American people sent us here to do. […] The Vice President was not aware of the meeting. He is not focused on stories about the campaign, particularly stories about the time before he joined the ticket.

“Before he joined the ticket.” That’s Pence trying to have it both ways. Standing by Trump’s agenda and “Hey, don’t look at me, I just work here!” in case the story has legs. But considering each new story feels like the one that breaks the camel’s back and then it doesn’t… we shouldn’t expect this new story to be any different. Dump is here to stay. If he is to go, it can only be accomplished if Democrats take both House and Senate in 2018 (unlikely), and then the 2020 elections. Until then… we must fasten our seat-belts and get comfortable. The ride will continue to be bumpy.

Which brings me back to Mike Pence’s statement. “The Vice President is working every day to advance the president’s agenda.” What is this agenda? What is the future that Republicans want? It’s all bad. All bad. Mitch McConnell has postponed Senate’s August recess by two weeks, hoping to cobble a coalition that passes their healthcare abomination. Hopefully The Resistance continues the push-back and enough Rethugs are afraid enough of their constituents to vote Nay.

There is another story that came out last week from El Salvador that should chill all our spines because this is essentially the future Republicans want in the US too.

This week a court in El Salvador sentenced 19-year-old Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz following her conviction for aggravated homicide.

Hernandez says she became pregnant after being raped in the small community where she lived, according to her trial statements. She says she did not report the attack out of fear and did not realize she was pregnant.

In April 2016, Hernandez said, she felt strong abdominal pains and lost consciousness in the bathroom. She was taken to a hospital and treated for vaginal bleeding from an out-of-hospital delivery, but there was no newborn.

Authorities opened an investigation and later found the fetus. She was initially charged with having caused in abortion, which is illegal in all situations in El Salvador. The charge was later changed to aggravated homicide.

Hernandez said she did not know she had miscarried. She has been in prison since the incident.

GOP’s assault on women’s right to control their own bodies is decades old. They started fighting abortion rights the minute SCOTUS ruled on Roe v. Wade. They have never la-fg-c1-el-salvador-women-20150415wavered, they turned the issue into perhaps the single biggest cultural wedge issue in the country. And over decades they have chipped away at abortion rights bit by bit by bit. They have been great at branding (GOP always is), controlling the debate, redefining terms (“partial birth abortion,” for example) and seeing abortion rights erode. With Trump and Pence in the White House, and Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, abortion rights are as much at risk as anything else right now. We should look at El Salvador, where abortions under all circumstances – no exceptions – is illegal, as the future we might have in the US. In El Salvador judges rule abortions and miscarriages as homicide and sentence women to decades in prison. World Health Organization estimates that 68,000 women die each year as a result of unsafe/illegal abortions. This is an issue we must remain vigilant about because we know Pence has it in his sight.

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Morning Widdershins!  Our mission today, should we wish to accept it, is to cover free range Republicans, abortion, and Iran in one thousand words or less.  Let’s get at it.

Free Range RepublicansChickens

There’s a commonly held notion that free range chickens are far superior to other forms of chicken husbandry.  Truth is, free range chickens, having no territorial limits, are exposed to a myriad of diseases and maladies that territorially limited chickens aren’t.  As such, free range chickens represent a “clear and present danger” to the regular flock as was seen this spring when 38 million chickens were destroyed.

This paradigm represents exactly what we are seeing with free range Republicans.  For years now Republicans have been encouraged to range far and wide for their conservative nutrition without much discernment about its source.  A little talk radio scratch, some kernels from Fox, feed from conspiracy internet sites, and it is all good.  The free range Republicans are fat and well-fed.

Trouble is, all this “free ranging” has made these Republicans dangerous when attempting to bring them back into the fold around election time.  They don’t fit in.  They carry diseases of paranoia, anger, and conspiracy.  They don’t remember what it’s like to live in polite company.  There isn’t enough room in the barnyards so fights develop over the pecking order (couldn’t resist).

Is there any question why the Republicans find themselves splintered and diseased by the infection of a carnival barker?  The 25-33% of Trump support are these disaffected free range Republicans.  This flock, raised on anger, misinformation, conspiracy, and paranoia, will resist any attempt to meld back into the fold – why should they?  This 25-33% represents people who have cockfighting season tickets.

As Fox proved this week by its unilateral capitulation to Donny J. Trump, the chickens may have come home not to roost, but to roust the traditional leadership structure.  Over the weekend, Roger Ailes looked into the abyss and at the bottom was a large bus sitting atop just about everyone thrown there in order to make nice with “the Donald”.  I’m sure Ailes was asking himself the line from Blade Runner, “Painful to live in fear, isn’t it?”

Go all the way to the Right, then Jump

sperm and eggLast Thursday night’s debate was enlightening.  The greatest lesson from this gaggle of free range panderers was this:  Sex changes women – it changes them from self-determinative, sensate human beings to nothing more than inconsequential ambulatory incubators.

In the Rubio/Walker “testosteroned world”, there is no exception whatsoever to an abortion ban in the event of rape, incest, or the preservation of the life of the mother.  At long last perhaps we should be grateful for this grain of honesty.  I’ve long wondered how long these palatable exceptions would survive in the purist world of far Right free-ranging Republicanism.

While these exceptions are popular with upwards of 80% of the electorate, to allow these exceptions would be supplanting one group’s value judgment for the values of the always morally superior far Right.  Let me explain:  If women were allowed to make personal health care decisions based upon being victims of a crime, how can that discretion be stripped away when the sex was consensual.  In other words, it’s like being a little bit pregnant only in reverse.

While Rubio and Walker were crystal clear in their pandering to the free range Republicans, Mike Huckabee went even farther down the rabbit hole of hallucinogenic extremism by declaring something akin to “zygote-hood”.  Under his tortured view of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, at the moment of egg and sperm unification, full constitutional personhood attaches.  Talk about speed dating!

Huckabee’s assertions were outrageous, but if we were to be similarly outlandish, we might point to the provisions of the Third Amendment that states, “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner…”  In this culture war, Huckabee might want to consider the constitutional ramifications of housing these little zygote warriors in these ambulatory incubators commonly referred to as women.

Speaking of War…Bibi

Being long-memoried has its advantages.  It also has disadvantages like not allowing rank hypocrisy to pass without comment.  This is one of those times.

Last week President Obama made a statement that congressional Republicans were finding “common cause” with the Iranian hard-liners who liked the adversarial status quo.  Given the vociferous reaction from Republicans, you would have thought Obama had said something about their mothers “bleeding from wherever” given their knee-jerk reactions.

Countless free range Republican pundits were outraged and incredulous over such an assertion.  They whined that such a degenerate personal attack was unprecedented.  Let’s go to the tape of the run-up to the Iraq War shall we?  From the Bush White House:

December 2001:  Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies, and pause to America’s friends.

February 2002:  Divisive comments have the effect of giving aid and comfort to our enemies by allowing them to exploit divisions in our country.

May 2002:  After it became clear Bush had been warned of a possible attack in the making, “Democratic statements are exactly what our opponents, our enemies, want us to do.”

September 2002:  “The Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people.”

Foghorn LeghornI could go on and on about how Democrats were called unpatriotic, but you can read them all here and here.

This is the chicken feed upon which free range Republicans have been raised.  Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh have become richer than Croesus by putting this rot into the free range food chain.  The one question I would leave with them is the same question that plagued young Victor Frankenstein:  Was the greater evil in the creature or in its creation?

Take the conversation in any direction you might like.  Total words 983 – mission accomplished.

 

 

Sadly, the horrors of the massacre at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston were numbing.  It’s an all too routine occurrence in the country these days.  This time it was nine people in a church as opposed to a school with twenty first-graders and their teachers. Police Line flowers

Remarkably, it looks as if the northern Virginia battle flag will be withdrawn from the capitol grounds of South Carolina.  The swiftness of this action is unprecedented.  What is even more exceptional is that it took something this horrific for everyone to take a breath, realize the undeniable racist symbolism, and unshackle themselves from the lies told to justify the hatefulness.

It is remarkably sad that this is what it took to bring people to the point of just listening to facts — facts that haven’t changed in 53 years.  In 1962, the battle flag of Virginia found its way to the South Carolina statehouse after segregationists took it as their symbol of open rebellion against civil rights.  In this instance, the Stars and Bars had little to do with Civil War heritage – other than being a continuing subterfuge of tacit racism.

WhyIt took nine good people dying to spur a simple conversation based upon irrefutable facts – facts heretofore unacceptable and unspoken because they fell outside preconceived opinions.  If this is a lesson from the Mother Emmanuel massacre, wouldn’t it be extraordinary if it was a lesson capable of being applied to other divisive issues?  For instance:

What if people took a moment and considered that the Second Amendment did not guarantee any individual gun rights until the case of District of Columbia v. Heller?  What if there was a realization such an interpretation of the Second Amendment was considered laughable prior to 1977 and only after the NRA was taken over by cabal of gun manufacturers did such an interpretation gain traction?  There has never been a historical “right to bear arms” only an unflinching greed to sell more guns.  A greed not constitutionally sanctioned until 2008.Flag at half mast

Or what if people took a breath and realized abortion did not magically appear in 1973 by virtue of Roe v. Wade, but existed as a right from the beginnings of the country.  Under English common law, legal medical assistance was available for pregnancy termination until the time of quickening (first perceptible fetal movement usually at about four months).  Our incorporation of English common law formed the basis of our legal system and with it, the right to abortion services.

Or what if people were disabused of the notion that the biblical definition of marriage is synonymous with only opposite sex marriage?  As recorded, the biblical definition of marriage was in constant flux – from polygamy to taking the wife of a dead brother to forcing a rape victim to marry her rapist to prohibition of interracial or interdenominational marriages and that’s only a few variations of sanctioned biblical marriage.  “Traditional marriage” is merely the latest incarnation of a constantly changing cultural practice with same-sex marriage being far from the most shocking installment along its evolutionary trail.

Before Sunday's church service...

Before Sunday’s church service…

A little self-reflection would go a long way for everyone no matter what their political leanings might be.  Just think what would happen if Texans had to drive 550 miles, both ways, to exercise their “constitutional right” to buy a firearm — the equivalency of what a Texan woman must do now to exercise her constitutional right to access legal abortion health services?  Just think what would happen if older Americans, incapable of childbearing, were denied marriage licenses under the same logic used to bolster opposition to same-sex marriage?

Just think of the progress we could make if everyone would stop, take a breath, listen, and consider irrefutable facts before rushing to distort them in favor of baseless opinions.  It’s sad that nine people had to die at Bible study to remind us of something so remarkably simple.

Take the conversation in any direction you might want to explore today.

 

 

 

So we know that laughter won’t replace ACTUAL medicine, but sometimes it helps. A lot!

For example, you’ve got to love these women legislators who are trying to find ways to point out to the ignorant old white men who want to control them, exactly why what they’re doing is wrong, wrong, wrong. I wish I had half the creativity of these fine ladies. You go, girls!

• An Illinois legislator, Kelly Cassidy, proposed that men seeking Viagra be required to watch a video showing the treatment for persistent erections, saying “It’s not a pretty procedure to watch.”

• A Wisconsin legislator running for Congress, Kelda Helen Roys, proposed an amendment that any man seeking a prescription for Viagra have a cardiac stress test first.

• In Virginia, Senator Janet Howell proposed not just cardiac stress tests but rectal exams for men seeking Viagra. Howell’s amendment failed by two votes, part of the chaotic debate on the proposal to require transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.

• In Missouri, Representative Stacey Newman moved to restrict vasectomies except for men at risk of death or serious bodily harm.

• In Ohio, a bill introduced by Senator Nina Turner would require men seeking Viagra to see a sex therapist and receive counseling about “pursuing celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.”

• When a zygote-personhood bill came before the Oklahoma Senate, Senator Constance Johnson proposed an amendment that said ejaculating anywhere outside a woman’s vagina constitutes “an action against an unborn child.”

I think my favorite is the Ohio bill, because it captures so perfectly that queasy sense of 13th-century morality which permeates all these endless, hectoring condemnations of women for GASP! wanting to have sex without having children, or deciding not to GASP! carry a child to term when pregnant.

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Until she made her passioned and reasoned speech from the floor of the House, I confess to have never heard of Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

She addressed her remarks regarding the need for the continuation of funding for women’s healthcare to a male counterpart and raised the awareness for a time of her own misfortune in undergoing a medical procedure that saved her life owing to a complicated pregnancy. By her own admission and experience, she brought to the floor of the House, along with the attention of the nation, a woman’s perspective surrounding an issue that is replete with political overtones and religious rhetoric. A private concern that has been used as a political football since Roe v Wade became the law of the land.

As Jackie Speier correctly outlined, each case is individual. Most women do not take abortion lightly or approach this decision without much thought or consideration. So many variables are included that to begin to rank one above the other would be assuming a role most of us have no business to debate. Who are any one of us to decide what is best for another human being by wrapping this argument in terms that satisfy us alone? Don’t believe in abortion? Don’t have one. Simple as that.

But for some the very idea of female sexuality is something that requires laser like focus. Unless we seek to “tame” that aspect of a woman’s life by forcing her into a situation that supports our own point of view the “fight” will continue at any cost. Even putting the life of the mother at risk is not too much to ask as long as those “rights of the unborn” are carried out. And if it means that the state supercedes the rights of the individual then in the words of John Boehner, “so be it”.  This is what women are up against.  Men and women certain that they speak on behalf of “god’s will”.  

Make no mistake: this issue is a result of cultural conservatives consumed with religious yearnings. Their attempt to remake the world into some version of biblical interpretation crosses the line between the separation of church and state. Though they seek to restrain women’s rights by cutting spending that would enhance or save their lives, they see no problem in funding Faith Based Initiative programs that would further increase religious views into the very same Constitution they claim to uphold. These are the same folks who insist that our “freedoms” are being threatened as they themselves formulate laws restricting that freedom to choose.

Jackie Speier and the issue she addressed so eloquently from the floor of the House of Representatives will fade in a matter of days. This bill will find its way to the Senate where hopefully enough votes will prevail to ensure its defeat. But the Right Wing will find other ways to insert these restrictions into law and the Stupak Amendment was just a start. I can see “riders” being attached to every piece of legislation before this is over since the argument itself has never been put to rest. Privacy and the right of the individual has been gutted in favor of hackneyed religionists who are on a mission to usurp the meaning of separation of powers. This is the beginning of what a “Christian nation” will look like.

The present course of action from the current crop of lawmakers, men and women alike, are promising death and destruction to huge swaths of the public with the policies that are forcing upon us. The old, the sick, the unborn, the handicapped, women and children will indeed bear the cost of these narrow minded proposals.

Life is not either black nor white but the color that bleeds from both. The gray area where the struggle for a meaningful future resides.

There are times when you just don’t know where to begin. Times when articulation, or a turning of a phrase, becomes elusive because what is driving you to this point is sheer and utter disbelief.  The GOP in all its “cultural war” glory is indeed going after women in their latest attempts to further erode any and all legislation that would serve them in the matter of healthcare and choice.   The callousness of these acts is overwhelming.

How long have we been lulled into the mistaken belief that the abortion issue is merely a tool being used by the Right as an appeal to their conservative base and is used as just another handy “wedge issue” when it comes to ensuring votes? How many times have we been cautioned that no matter what, Roe v Wade is settled law and had the GOP wished it to happen, could have been overturned often enough in the last 30 years had they wished to do so? How many times do we need to be reminded that this issue is no longer in the hands of the moderate wing of the GOP but has become the major – and what would appear to be – the only issue that these Tea Party candidates seek to overturn?

While our attention has been focused on the revolution in Egypt, the brutal weather pattern that has encompassed the nation, the rise of the price of gasoline and food, and the current misbehavior of Charlie Sheen, a group of bible thumpers have been rewording the necessity for abortion services by imposing the word “forcible” to accompany any guarantee of medical treatment that a woman may seek. This horrendous act would put the female in the position of having to “prove” the disgusting circumstances of her condition by hindering her efforts at relieving herself of this travesty by reliving the deed and providing proof. Imagine that? They have also included a piece of legislation that would prohibit a medical abortion by a hospital even if the mother’s life is at stake. In other words, the woman becomes a chattel to the system through law.

Rape does not need any more of an explanation than what it is. We are talking about actual rape when a female “does not give consent” to the act but is forced into a role that is purely designed to pleasure a man and sate his appetites. It is a criminal act in and of itself. To force a female to carry to term the fetus of her rapist is beyond rationale, compassion, or human emotion. It is a degradation to suggest otherwise. Yet in the year 2011 that is exactly where these lawmakers are going with their twisted logic and unfortunately there are women out there who were more than willing to sign onto this piece of legislation drawn up by male counterparts and calling themselves public servants. Absolutely breathtaking in its creation.

Who are these people and how did they get to a place in our nation that would allow them to use women and girls as the object of their hate to this degree? Because hate is the only word I can find that would identify those who would impose this devastation upon another human being. What is more extraordinary is that these people, these fathers, mothers, sisters, found themselves where they are today by the votes of those who must have found commiseration in their campaign rhetoric. Few that I could see during the last election cycle hid their true feelings from the public so there is little excuse that they were hiding behind their public statements. It was always there, right out in the open, which leads me to believe that this nation is on a different path than what I would have once declared a society based on secular law. These laws, if passed, will bind women in chains.

Chains put there by a patriarchal society and aided and abetted by other women who accept this reasoning as just. Deprive a person of their human rights and you have slavery. There is no other way to express these outrages being planned by our legislators than the subjugation of another person by way of law. Deny a person the right to choose their own destiny, to choose how to act in their own self interests, to withhold medical treatment that should be judged private, and you have brought back into practice the 3/5ths equality we afforded a slave in earlier times. You have essentially licensed rape and incest if the burden of proof is placed on the victim of any age to plead for relief. Strip the individual of a sense of dignity and fairness and you have created a slave. No different from the women in countries who are forced into marriage and for whom we cry out for the right to enjoy equality. The buck stops here.

We are a nation of hypocrites. A nation that condones slavery. A nation that fails to honor the precept of equality yet demands it in others. A nation on a slippery slope of fanaticism. A nation that dishonors the very women who gave them birth.

To those who doubt the existence of the patriarchy you need only to look at what is happening in our nation’s capital to understand that it is alive and well. Bringing misery and suffering in its wake.

Read it and weep.

Does she really deserve to be there?

Does she really deserve to be there?

On International Women’s Day, the anti-choice movement almost succeeded in exacting the most drastic ovarian penalty yet against women of childbearing age who dare not to carry their children to term. Yes, it was thisclose to being a crime to miscarry one’s child in the great state of Utah. (The governor vetoed H.B. 12, but it passed both Houses in the State Legislature). La Macha writes in VivirLatino:

Now, let’s be clear here, of course this legislation is about ending or severely restricting a woman’s right to abortion. Of course this legislation is about controlling and even hating women (rather than opening up more choices for women’s reproductive health, let’s just make it illegal for them to be desperate!). And of course, the life of a fetus is far more important to many people making laws than the woman’s life is.

But along with the women hating anti-choice violence this law is enacting on women in Utah, this law (which looks as if it is going to pass) *also* has the (perhaps) unintended consequence of particularly targeting poor women of color–and even more pointedly, undocumented women.

(snip)

Because there seems to be no definition of what equates “legal” written into this legislation, that means any woman anywhere who for whatever reason miscarries–will be subject to criminal charges. And lest you think that prosecutors have ever shown restraint when it comes to pressing criminal charges against women who are making their own *often times very LEGAL* choices about their bodies, please, surf around the National Advocates for Pregnant Women website for a while. This organization of lawyers that defend pregnant women from criminal prosecution, has worked to defend women who have done such things as being pregnant and addicted to various drugs to refusing c-sections to being “uppity” in the birthing room.

It is not a “safe” thing to be a woman who is pregnant. And unfortunately, rather than feeling compassion for a woman who would willingly be beaten so that she doesn’t have a child (and maybe increasing funding for free reproductive health care options), we hate that woman, and do what we can to punish all women who would dare to be as desperate as she was.

I, too, have noted a distinct lack of empathy in the hearts of these “pro-life” activists towards women who are pregnant and who do not wish to carry their child to term. But this cruel insanity towards women who are UNABLE to do so, for whatever reason…well, I simply cannot fathom it. Don’t these people KNOW any women? Don’t they have sisters, mothers, cousins? Is it really that much of a stretch to think, “Hey, my niece had a miscarriage and it was really hard on her. Maybe I shouldn’t, like, THROW HER IN FUCKING JAIL FOR IT.” I admit to not being a Christian, but I have probably sat in as many church services as quite a few who so term themselves…and I seem to remember Jesus saying something about “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.”

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