The Obama administration moved on Friday to undo a last-minute Bush administration rule granting broad protections to health workers who refuse to take part in abortions or provide other health care that goes against their consciences.
The Department of Health and Human Services served notice on Friday, through a message to the White House Office of Management and Budget, that it intends to rescind the regulation, which was originally announced on Dec. 19, 2008, and took effect on the day President Obama took office.
Reaction to the move on Friday made it clear that the issue remains an emotional one. “We are encouraged by the Obama administration’s recent effort towards ensuring that patients have the ability to access necessary, widely used and accepted medical services,” said Mary Jane Gallagher, president and chief executive of the National Planning and Reproductive Health Association.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Well, here is some bad news. 94 percent of schools in Texas teach only abstinence. Even worse, the materials used are full of misinformation and downright lies, including using suicide as a scare tactic.
One program predicts non-virginal students' miserable future, "You know people talk about you behind your back because you’ve had sex with so many people ... Finally you get sick of it all and attempt suicide." There are fun skits about suicide, too. In one, titled “Jumping Off the Bridge,” the moral of the story is put like so: "Giving a condom to a teen is just like saying, 'Well if you insist on killing yourself by jumping off the bridge, at least wear these elbow pads -- they may protect you some?'" (Got it: Handing out condoms = assisted suicide.)
Pre-martial sex is also touted as a murder-suicide. Confused? So am I.
In response to a question about having pre-marital sex, an abstinence-only education video warns: "Well, I guess you’ll have to be prepared to die. And you'll probably take with you your spouse and one or more of your children." (Noted: Pre-marital sex = murder-suicide.) Boys are warned that they might kill their girlfriend by having sex: If you give her HPV, she'll "probably end up with a radical hysterectomy, cervical cancer, and possibly death." (So, you know, sure, go ahead and have sex, you murderer.) A curriculum for wee little sixth-graders exclaims: “WARNING! Going on this ride could change your life forever, result in poverty, heartache, disease, and even DEATH.” Another cautions in all-caps: "FOR OUR YOUNG PEOPLE TO ENGAGE IN SEX NOW IS LIKE PLAYING RUSSIAN ROULETTE WITH ALL BUT ONE CHAMBER FULL!"
If a school wants to teach abstinence only sex education, it may not be something I personally support, but I can see where some parents might see sex education as something they should be teaching their children instead of the school. However, to threaten the teenagers with murder and suicide is just really, really wrong. Do any of you remember your sex ed classes? I recall mine from senior year of high school. The teacher taught us about all of the birth control methods and how an egg and a sperm meet and the stages of conception and pregnancy. But, she always stressed that the only way to 100% prevent any STDs and pregnancy was abstinence. I got the message. Why isn't this an acceptable teaching method in all schools?
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Kate at Broadsheet wrote today about a legislative bill that recently passed the house in North Dakota and is on its way to the Senate. The bill defines a fertilized egg as a human being, granting them the same Constitutional protection that you and I have.
Rep. Dan Ruby, sponsor of the measure, says, "This is very simply defining when life begins, and giving that life some protections under our Constitution -- the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Well, he's right that it's a very simple definition of when life begins. Unfortunately, the question is tremendously complicated, no matter how forcefully you insist that it isn't.
Kate refers to 12 questions that Feministe posted for pro-lifers who believe that life begins at conception. The questions are immensely complicated, and I don't think any pro-lifer who thinks life begins at conception can answer them. For example, would a fertilized egg get a Social Security number? How will we track how many citizens there are? How will we track the death rate, since a large percentage of fertilized eggs don't implant themselves in the uterine wall? I especially like these:
3. Should every “human” death be investigated? If so, how? As it stands, if a person dies (and especially if they’re found dead), there’s often some sort of investigation, especially if there’s reason to believe that another person caused their death. So, first, how do we recover all the “bodies” of the fertilized egg-people? Do we insist on checking every pad and tampon for evidence of human life? Every pair of panties? Every toilet bowl? And if we find a fertilized egg, should the police be called? I mean, if you find a baby in a dumpster, you call the police. If you find a used tampon in the trash, should you do the same thing? If a woman goes to the hospital for a miscarriage, should she be investigated as a potential murderer or child abuser? Should there be laws about the proper disposal of dead egg-bodies, the way that there are laws regulating the disposal of born human bodies?
4. Pro-lifers claim to value each and every human life, from the moment of conception. That’s why, they say, they want abortion to be illegal — because it kills a person. And there are indeed a lot of abortions. But the abortion rate pales in comparison to the rate of fertilized eggs that don’t implant and “die” by being naturally flushed out of the body. Yet there is not a single pro-life organization (at least that I can find) dedicated to finding a solution to this widespread, deadly epidemic. The “death rate” of unimplanted fertilized egg-persons almost certainly far exceeds the abortion rate and the death rate from AIDS combined. Why the silence? Why no mass protests or funding drives or pushes for research?* Where is the concern for the fertilized egg-people?
6. What responsibilities and legal consequences should pregnant women face? Should Child Protective Services be able to step in if a pregnant woman does something that could potentially damage the fetus — like eat tuna or drink coffee or exercise heavily? What if a woman isn’t pregnant, but makes her body inhospitable to a fertilized egg — say, for example, that she uses birth control, which thins the uterine lining and makes it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant? What if she’s anorexic? Some anorexics may be able to ovulate, but may not be able to sustain a pregnancy, or even have enough nutrients to allow for implantation. Can such a woman be prosecuted or otherwise punished for creating an environment that was deadly for an egg-child? What if a pregnant woman had a miscarriage, and it could be linked to some behavior — going skiing or flying or not eating properly? We already prosecute pregnant women when they use drugs during their pregnancies. If a pregnant woman otherwise does harm to her fetus, should she be prosecuted for child abuse? Neglect? If she miscarries, can she be tried for homicide?
There are plenty of people who want to pass legislation that defines a fertilized egg as a person so that they can make abortion illegal. It's impossible. These questions cannot be answered, and if fertlized eggs were to be legally defined as people, we'd most likely have a police state that will have to monitor every pregnant woman (or possibly every woman's) daily behavior. I'd like do see the representatives who voted on the North Dakota bill answer all of the questions posed by Feministe, but I'll bet they can't.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
A frightening, although not uncommon, story about how young people who can't afford insurance are getting by in New York:
When Robert Voris last had health insurance, in 2007, he stockpiled insulin pumps, which are inserted under the skin to constantly monitor blood-sugar levels and administer the drug accordingly. He said the tubing for the pump costs $900 a month, so lately he has instead been injecting insulin with a syringe. But Mr. Voris, 27, a journalism student at the City University of New York who works at a restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn, is constantly worried about diabetes-induced seizures like the one that sent him to the hospital last summer. (Because it happened at work, his boss covered the ambulance and other bills.)“That’s definitely the concern: what happens if I have to pay for this?” he said. “And the answer, I guess, is credit cards. Hopefully it won’t happen until I find a job that actually gives me insurance, which probably won’t happen anytime in the near future, given the way the economy works.”
Monday, February 16, 2009
Yesterday I went with two of my favorite bloggers, MsInformed and MediaMaven, to see HJNTIY. As someone who enjoyed the original Sex and the City episode and the book, I was looking forward to seeing this movie for a long time and I enjoyed it. You can read an excellent review here, but instead of reviewing the film myself I’d rather just point out some parts I had some beef with.
Ginnifer Goodwin plays Gigi, a well-intentioned young woman who comes off a little desperate and needy to the men she dates. She goes out with Conor who doesn’t call her, so she calls him, and when he doesn’t return the call she “stops by” a bar that he frequents. There she meets Alex, played by Justin Long, who happens to be Conor’s roommate. She spills the beans to him why she’s really at the bar, and Alex becomes the voice of the HJNTIY book. Over the course of the movie he gives her advice on how each man she dates is displaying some signal of not being interested, some obvious (“I’m going out of town for awhile so I won’t be in touch.”) to the not so obvious (“If he gives you his business card he’s not interested”).
Alex, in all his infinite wisdom, tells Gigi to forget all those stories women hear about their friends sisters friend who met a guy at a bar, he never called, then they ran into each other three weeks later and they ended up getting married. These stories are the exception, Alex says, and Gigi is the rule. If they don’t call, they’re not interested.
When Gigi throws herself at Alex, interpreting his friendship as romantic interest, she is denied. She then calls out Alex on his dating behavior, using the old “you put up all these walls so that you don’t get hurt” line. It’s been done before, and it always irks me. First of all, the book constantly states that men are simple: if they like you, they will call you, if they don’t like you, they will not call. Is he cheating on you? He doesn’t really like you. Does he not want a relationship with you? Guess what? He doesn’t like you. The book seems determined to keep women from thinking that men are complicated with issues that keep them from love, yet Gigi’s comment to Alex states the exact opposite. According to her statement, he doesn’t want to date her not because he doesn’t like her, but because he is just emotionally unavailable- something I’m sure plenty of women have told their friends who end up waiting by the phone.
And when Gigi displays so called “psycho” behavior- calling a guy and hanging up, driving by where she knows he will be, coming up with ridiculous excuses to see him- she is labeled a nut job. However, when Alex does all those same things to Gigi, we find out that’s because he ACTUALLY cares about her. Of course! When women do it= crazy, when men do it= love!
The ending that would most go with the actual theme of the book He’s Just Not That Into You would have Gigi and Alex never getting together, and she would meet someone who was interested in her from the very beginning. Alex and Gigi’s storyline, however, contradicts the entire premise of the book.
The formula of the film was generally predictable: the woman who wants the ring gets it, the woman searching desperately for love finds it, and the cheaters get their due by ending up alone and miserable. However, I found it an enjoyable movie, with plenty of laughs and a happy ending. But, just like with every book that is turned into a film, my advice is to read the book first.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Megan at Jezebel brings to our attention an open letter that Charlotte Hilton Andersen at the Huffington Post wrote to Rhianna, in response to the assault charges against her boyfriend, Chris Brown.
What follows is part of Megan’s own experience reporting a rape intertwined with Andersen’s letter. It’s incredibly depressing since our justice system that they went through is obviously completely fucked up. Megan describes how female victims of domestic or sexual assault are treated like criminals or liars during their prosecution. It’s disgusting, really, and a very important read.
“Everyone will ask you questions. Some will sympathize with Brown. I'm telling you this as a girlfriend. It doesn't matter how clear-cut your case is - and domestic violence is often anything but - there will be people that think you brought it on yourself. That somehow, somewhere there is something terrible enough you could have said or done (and you know those rumors have already started and are flying fast and furious courtesy of the Internet) that would justify a sound beating.”
The first person who suggested I might have been culpable — before the prosecutors got around to doing it — came less than 24 hours after it happened. She said that perhaps if I hadn't have had so much to drink... I can't imagine hearing from a relentless cavalcade of voices that I did something to engender the violence perpetrated on my person. Hearing law enforcement suggest it was bad enough.
And, regardless, it's going to pretty much suck whatever she decides. I hope that, for her own sake, she doesn't let back into her life someone that would physically assault her. I hope that if she opts for that trip through the meat-grinder we ironically call our justice system she finds it less painful and horrific than the rest of us do. But, at the end of the day, she's one more victim, and the system isn't going to be changed by the victims inside of it or by one more victim reporting. It's only going to be changed when the people who haven't been there and aren't there stop lecturing about what us victims should do or should have done for the good of society, and start pressuring the system to make changes for the good of society and for victims. Otherwise, we're just a bunch of whiners that didn't get what we wanted.
Yeah, I heard that one from the prosecutors, too.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 09, 2009
The Kindle 2.0 is out. I'm only semi-interested, and you can read in this post why I don't have much desire for the Kindle. My interest lies in the advancements of e-readers, though, because as soon as they make one where I can rent books from my local library electronically, I will be much more inclined to purchase one. I rarely buy books anymore, so even at a discounted price on the Kindle books still wouldn't be worth it for me. But I must say, at least the new one is less ugly.
Kindle: Amazon's Wireless Reading Device
I knew that once No Doubt announced their reunion it was only a matter of time before these guys came back. I'm so pumped. When I first heard Enema of the State when I was 13 (probably too young to be listening to it really, but what's done is done) I remember loving them on first sound. Their new album might need to be all mature and crap since they all have kids and spouses/ex spouses, but I still hope there will be some songs about beer and getting laid, just for old time's sake.
And now for an old school shot:
Friday, February 06, 2009
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
There has been a lot of talk about the woman who recently gave birth to octuplets. There is a lot of mystery around her since she hasn’t spoken out, which is why all the questions have been popping up, but those questions have been getting a bit creepy as of late.
Some are saying she’s “obsessed with children,” and she just did this because she wants her own television show like 17 Kids and Counting with the Duggars or Jon a Kate Plus 8. Others are asking how any doctor could implant eight embryo’s when the risk for women and their unborn children increases after just three. Even environmentalists have spoken out, saying that have more than two children is “irresponsible.” Some people have pointed out that now with 14 children, will they all be able to get the attention they deserve from their single parent? Kate Gosselin (from Jon and Kate Plus 8) has talked about how some days go by and she has to think if she hugged Colin or asked Joel how his day was- with eight young children she sometimes doesn’t even have time for that. If it’s that difficult with eight, how much harder must it be with 14?
There are a lot of questions. And the mother, 33-year-old Nadya Suleman, still hasn’t come out to the media to talk about her situation. I truly hope that she didn’t decide to have all of these children just to get a television deal, because the people that will suffer most in that scenario are the kids. However, what interests me most is the type of media coverage this woman is getting. I can’t help but wonder if she had a husband and/or was wealthy if she would be getting this attention at all.
Rumors have floated that she lives with her parents and that they are bankrupt. She isn’t married. If there was a man in this picture, would everyone be judging her as much and questioning her choice? And if there was no worry about her going on public assistance, would anyone really care? Multiple births still make the news but they are not as shocking as they once were, so if this woman didn’t have these particular circumstances-lower income, single mother- would that first news story about her octuplets have been the last?
It’s interesting to see how the media and audience celebrate the Duggar’s and the Gosselin's and how they are reacting to Suleman. The Duggar’s are an evangelical Christian family that’s part of the “quiverfull” movement- they have chosen to have as many kids as God will bless them with. In their case, the older kids play a big part in taking care of the younger ones as they come along. The Gosselin's don’t mention any religious reasons for their multiples, just that after the birth of their twin girls they tried for “just one more” through in-vitro and got 6 instead. What makes their reasons for having multiple children any different than Suleman’s, and how come they weren’t subjected to such analysis? It could be that because the Duggars follow a certain religion it keeps people from judging them a certain way because once you say “religious reasons” it affords you some protectiveness in our society. But regardless, these are all people that have brought multiple children into the world, and the two coupled parents with a good income get a television show and are loved by America, and the single mom gets berated for making such a selfish choice.
There is still a lot we don’t know about Suleman, and it seems that more information comes out each day, which is why I haven’t posted about this until now. Regardless of what happens, hopefully all those kids will come out of it happy and healthy.