On Rape, Legitimately

Earlier this week, Representative Todd Akin, a Republican from Missouri, was discussing his views on abortion when he said, “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s [pregnancy from rape] really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

Understandably, a bunch of people flipped out. We’re not talking “take shelter until this blows over” freak out, we’re talking intense, election losing freak out, and rightfully so.

Just for the record, the body does not have any “ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” What methods does Mr. Akin imagine the female body might have to avoid pregnancy? I’m curious. Click here for an article discussing the science behind rape and pregnancy. You’ll note that around 32,000 pregnancies occur as a result of rape each year.

So, realizing that this comment wasn’t just going to be hidden under the rug, Mr. Akin responded. From the New York Times:

Mr. Akin quickly backtracked from his taped comments, saying he “misspoke.”

“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview, and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,” Mr. Akin, who has a background in engineering and is a member of the House science committee, said in a statement. “I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life, and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.”


I highly doubt that’s going to make it any better, Mr. Akin.

As a country, we spend an awful lot of our time and energy discussing and fighting about abortion, but I’m not entirely sure that we spend enough time trying to understand abortion. If you’re feeling curious, why not go over here and check out some stats?

But let’s skip the abortion debate, because we’ll get trapped into that abyss of conversation and lose our way.

Let’s talk about rape.

I am guilty of spending a large part of my life believing that rape was just uncomfortable, like bad sex. I didn’t understand. I still don’t, since it’s not something I’ve experienced, but I have a much better idea now.

I knew about rape as a child because I spent so much time buried in magazines like Time, Newsweek, and Reader’s Digest. During the 90s, I feel like there were a lot of news stories focusing on rape – particularly during and after political conflicts and wars abroad. That, coupled with the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal, really cemented the idea of the vulnerability of women during times of war and the idea that rape is tied in with power and masculinity.

But my understanding of rape was still clinical and journalistic. It wasn’t until I was ten or eleven or twelve (somewhere in there), and received a book of murder mysteries for Christmas that I started to understand. In one of the stories, there was a rape and murder of a young girl. I won’t go into detail. It was graphic. It terrified me. I wrapped the book and hid it in the bottom of my desk drawer because every time I looked at it, I had nightmares. That was my first visceral reaction to the idea of rape.

Then came high school, followed by college. We were in a feminist class, I think, and the professor showed this scene from the movie A Time to Kill, which really put it in perspective for me. I don’t know why it was this that did it, or why it’s haunted me ever since, but in that moment, somewhere in a dark classroom, I felt my heart tear open and begin to ache as the understanding spread through my body to settle deep inside my mind.

Rape is not just bad sex. Rape is destructive, violent, painful, terrifying, and scarring. We as a society do so little to protect and comfort victims. You’ll notice that it’s comments like this one by Mr. Akin, or the one by the officer in Toronto who said that women should avoid dressing like sluts to avoid being raped, that really set us off. They’re the comments that create awareness, promote discussion, and prompt change.

But even so, the change comes too late for so many. The rapists take shelter in the gray areas of the law, and often walk away without having to face consequences due to lack of evidence, or a “he said, she said” argument. Rape is covered up, hidden, made a secret. The victims are left shattered and alone, abandoned by their peers due to lack of understanding and social stigmatization.

Instead of working to protect the result of rape, why are we not working to end rape? Why are we not trying harder to educate our children about the consequences of rape, about the actual definition of rape, about date rape, about assuring consent? Why are we not working to provide a save haven for victims? Why are we not working to end the shaming that we put on the shoulders of victims?

I was the result of a one-night stand. I could just as easily have been the result of a rape. Am I glad that I exist? Of course. But imagine what might have happened to my birth mother had she struggled to support herself and her child (baby me!). Where would we be now?

Something that these lawmakers (so often male) neglect in their utter dismissal of the magnitude of rape as a crime is also the magnitude of the aftermath. Personally, if I were to be raped and become pregnant, I would be furious if I were to be suddenly expected not only to carry that child to term, but then take on the financial burden of raising that child. Would I be able to be the best mother possible for that child? Would I be able to provide for us adequately? Would I need social services like welfare to help me?

Let’s not regress to where we’re arguing about what counts as “legitimate” rape. Let’s focus on eliminating rape. Let’s focus on providing services to the victims. Let’s move forward. Let’s provide choices and options, but most importantly, let’s remember that rape victims are so much more than their reproductive organs. They are people who deserve our respect, rather than our insistence that we not punish the child. (It’s an argument that gets made over and over again, along with “so and so was the result of rape, and look at them.”)

And for god’s sake, is this not THE prime example of why we need more science and sex education in schools?!

P.S. Check out these Onion articles. They’re sad, but pointed and definitely worth reading.



On Humanity, Realistically

I am not fun to watch movies or shows with. My friend Anne will tell you that I begin asking questions immediately and don’t stop. It’s as though I can’t just wait and see. (I can’t. I read the last page of romance novels before I read them even though I know exactly what’s going to happen from the outset.)

I got the new boy started on Game of Thrones this weekend. I am hooked. I love the intrigue, the strategy, the double-crossing, the cliff-hangers. (Just kidding, there’s nothing worse than an episode fading to black just as something critical happens.) I watched the first few episodes with him, and told him to stop where I’d left off. We resumed last night, I slept through the second episode of the second season, and then, revived by my late evening nap, stayed awake through another two.

The show is sort of medieval fantasy, so it’s far removed from our present reality. But it’s a   story that is beautifully applicable to our current times (as history and epics so often are). At one point, there are a bunch of prisoners in a terrible situation (when are a “bunch of prisoners” not in a terrible situation?). Daily, one of them is chosen and then tortured and killed.

I find myself blanching at the thought. Somewhere deep inside me begins to feel pain, a singular discomfort. It’s the same reason I can’t watch the Saw movies, the same reason I had to hide the book of 100 Little Murder Stories (or something similarly titled) that I was gifted during my youth, the same reason I will never forget the episode of Law and Order: SVU where the transgendered inmate is brutally beaten and nearly killed: I can’t stomach the thought of a human being doing terrible things to other human beings, for any reason at all.

The idea of murder is so romanticized, our glorification of violence so tolerated and accepted, so expected. James Bond does it so well, he does it for a noble cause, he kills those who “deserve” it. There is something heroic about the whole affair, something so clean and cold and detached that you sympathize with the killer and champion his efforts.

For me, it’s not the just murders that offend me, it’s the sadistic that stuns me. The fact that human beings, for one reason or another, are so able to cause pain and misery, inflicting cruel punishment for little or no reason at all. I can’t imagine what would possess someone to derive pleasure from those actions.

I look at the warning signs: people abusing animals, etc. I look at the black cats that fill our shelters. I look at my own black cat, who was feral until someone decided he’d be an excellent house cat. I think about someone hurting him. (I think about the sad yowl he let out when I accidentally cut his nail too short – the yowl that haunts me and makes me feel terrible.) I can’t imagine it. I can’t imagine it for even a single moment.

I think of our disregard for life. It’s a societal epidemic, our lack of respect for others. I am guilty of the same, Chicago-me flipping off cab drivers that zig and zag through the crowded intersections. In those moments, those cab drivers aren’t people. They’re terrible caricatures in cabs, determined to destroy my commute.

Is that how it begins? I wonder. (Obviously it’s not.) But at what point does the casual disregard turn into something more sinister? Is this the ignition point? The gateway? (Again, it’s not.) But as we move toward a more individualistic society, forgoing the “it takes a village” mentality for the “do it yourself, crush all others” mindset, are we losing a vital piece of our humanity? Are we losing shared experiences, community, and ultimately, the true value of this life?

We can study the causality all we like. At the conclusion of our studies, our research, our newly enacted laws attempting to restrict and mitigate their movements, we will still find that people – human in constitution just like ourselves – will go to great lengths to hurt and injure and ruin other people. We cannot stop this.

It will continue in perpetuity. It breaks my heart. It hurts my soul.

I’ve been enjoying the different perspective that the boy (I can hardly bring myself to say his name, I’m so excited about this and I’m terrified to do anything that could potentially destroy it….like getting a lover’s name tattooed right across your chest only to go home and find that they’re leaving you for someone else) brings to my understanding of life as I know it. I’m finding that even though he’s fairly conservative, we have a lot of shared views.  We’ve been able to discuss politics without our conversations falling into the traditional tropes that seem to define oppositional discussions. He’ll call me a hippie and I’ll call him a gun-owner and we’ll kiss and continue our conversation. (I guess that is exactly the traditional trope you’d expect…) He’s logical and rational, and I am thrilled by the opportunity to pick his brain and ask endless amounts of questions. I’m thrilled by his responses. I’m open to his ideas and experiences. I see what he knows as an area that I’m lacking in, and I’m determined to understand his mindset and his opinions.

I watch him play video games. (I am an amazing not-yet-girlfriend, if I must say so myself.) I do the same gasping and squeaking, nervous for him as I watch his character fight off strange post-apocalyptic demon-creature-things, and I watch as their bodies disintegrate into nothingness, leaving weapons and money and health for his character to pick up. I champion his efforts, and yet, I’m left wondering about the disconnect between this pixelated violence and the violence on a global scale.

Are we hurting our young people by allowing them to perceive these kills so coldly? The real effects of death and war and bloodshed are far greater than these valiant missions in video games. I’m not anti-video game, not by any means; I’m not saying that they are THE social ill, but I am saying that I think they are symptomatic of our cultural neglect of the soul.

They’re just as bad as my willingness to cut off a cab driver who’s trying to squeeze into my lane. They’re just as bad as our neglect of shelter animals, our blind-eyes turned away from the neighbors who punish their children too harshly, our blanket declarations of individualism – the glorification of the “self-made man” in a world that no longer allows for the opportunity of the American dream nor respects the contributions of the global workforce.

Life is everything you’d imagine it to be. Life is personality, drive, hopes, dreams, fears, goals. Of course there’s no way to identify with everyone, but in trying to truly  understand people, there is so much to be learned.

How can personal, societal, national growth happen unless there is learning, understanding, community? Every body breathes. Every body desires, wants, needs. It’d be good to remind everyone of that simple fact, especially as the body counts continue to rise worldwide – from all sorts of crime and conflict – and the world continues to struggle between turning a blind eye and striving for peaceful solutions for all. It is far more difficult to work for love and understanding, but I feel that the benefits would far outweigh the alternative.

On the Supreme Court and Socialism, Quite Happily

I heard the news about the Supreme Court’s ruling on health care in the car on the way to work this morning. I am thrilled. We are one step closer to joining the ranks of the countries that have affordable health care. Now, if only we could get rid of that pesky “for profit” part…

The cries of socialism are ringing, though. On my way into my office building, a co-worker told me that one of the guys who eats breakfast was ranting about how we’re turning into a nation of socialists.


But it got me thinking about people, specifically. Our democratic model is supposed to allow for involvement by all citizens. Of course, the better educated and motivated the citizens are, the better the democracy, which in theory will work in the best interests of its people.

There was a man standing on the corner on my way to work. He caught my eye because his Hawaiian shirt did not match his checkered shorts. He was holding a sign that said, “Honest work for honest pay.” It also listed his phone number.

There’s another man, wearing some sort of identification badge (as a way to legitimize his request) who stands on the corner where I turn onto the main thoroughfare as I leave work. He’s there every day, even in the hot sun, and his sign says that he’s an Army veteran and a father of four, willing to work.

When I was a child, the signs read, “Anything helps,” or “I’m not going to lie, I need a beer,” and while I don’t mean to make light of the homeless epidemic that has been a problem for longer than I’ve been alive, which is entirely related to our own lack of mental health care -particularly for our veterans – and other necessary services, I find the fact that the signs’ messages have changed to be an indicator of a far deeper problem.

Who are we as a society to put profit before people? Have we forgotten about the “general welfare“?

When a baby is born, it is a helpless individual in need of constant attention. While most of these babies grow up to be adults, the paths that they take (both willfully and unwillingly) are greatly divergent from their shared beginnings as infants in need of clean diapers, a warm bed, and food.

Somewhere along the way, some of these people seem to have forgotten that our fragile existence is dependent upon reliance on others. Reliance on others sounds like hippie nonsense, but it’s not. Every individual possesses unique strengths that serve as an asset to the communities in which they live. A community that is able to utilize these assets in the best manner possible has far greater strength and is a far more vibrant place to be.

People are quick to make assumptions when they see someone standing on a street corner holding a sign that begs for work. I urge you to imagine how you would come to that decision. It’s not a dignified action, the begging, and people know that. They have weighed their options and come up with nothing, and so, standing on the corner with a sign is their last attempt.

Say what you will about people who receive assistance from the government (and in doing so, I urge you to consider the bailouts of banks and large corporations as something similar, just for perspective), but at the core of everything lies the concept of humanity. If we desire to create a society driven by the pursuit of sustainability and progress, we must remember that each and every citizen matters, regardless of their ability to accumulate wealth or their social standing.

In our rush to actualize the American dream, we started valuing white collar jobs, and in doing so, began to devalue labor. Human labor is a necessary force for sustained growth and the success of a nation. People want to work. They want to feel as though their work matters.

Business can be successful when people matter, but the desire to drive the profit margin ever higher must cease. I work for a company that proves that human is more important than anything else. We have been providing software for decades (longer than I’ve been alive), and have maintained and grown the business without sacrificing the integrity of the people who work here. My boss always says, “We are not what we do,” and he lives by that. He once had to get up in the middle of a very important demonstration of our product to go attend to his family, and he did so without hesitation. I respect that.We work together, as a community. We share ideas, inspirations, and celebrate the good news. We are a support network during times of grief and sadness. This is a unique kind of company, and I’m glad I work here.

I’m arguing for or against socialism, but I’m arguing that as a country, we’ve begun to neglect of the most important facets of our society: our people.

The United States is no longer the greatest nation in the world. What we lack in education, human services (including health care), and global respect, we make up for in incarceration rates, defense spending, and bravado. In order to keep ourselves relevant on the world stage, we must learn to compromise between the corporation and the individual. We are a government “by the people, for the people,” and it’s time that we started remembering that.


On Anatomically Correct Language, Vaginally

This news stunned me. Literally.

June 15, 2012 at 11:02 am

Michigan reps silenced for use of ‘v-words’

Comments about sexual parts, procedures during abortion debate cause controversy

  • By Chad Livengood
  • Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — House Republicans tried to silence two female Democratic lawmakers Thursday for floor outbursts a day earlier referencing male sterilization and a female sex organ.

The majority party prohibited state Rep. Lisa Brown from speaking on the floor Thursday after she ended a speech the day before against a bill restricting abortions by referencing her female anatomy.

“I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no,’ ” said Brown, D-West Bloomfield.

State Rep. Barb Byrum, D-Onondaga, also wasn’t recognized to speak Thursday for a disturbance she caused on the House floor Wednesday when the GOP majority wouldn’t allow her to propose a ban on men getting a vasectomy unless the sterilization procedure was necessary to save a man’s life.

Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas, R-Midland, made the decision to prevent Brown and Byrum from speaking on any of the slew of bills the House was racing to pass before adjourning for the summer.

As the party in power, the Republicans can decide who gets to speak and what issue — just as the Democrats did to them when they were in power two years ago.

“My concern was the decorum of the House, not of anything she said,” Stamas told The Detroit News.

“I ask all members to maintain a decorum of the House, and I felt it went too far yesterday,” he said.

Speaker Pro Tem John Walsh, R-Livonia, gaveled Brown out of order for saying “no means no” — because it suggested Brown was comparing the abortion legislation to rape, House GOP spokesman Ari Adler said.

“It has nothing to do with the word vagina,” Adler said.

Some male Republican representatives, however, said Brown’s comments were vulgar, “inappropriate” and “offensive.”

“What she said was offensive,” said state Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville.

“It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company,” he said.

During a Capitol press conference Thursday, Brown noted “vagina” is the “medically correct term” for the female organ at the center of the Legislature’s ongoing abortion restriction debate.

“If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating vaginas?” Brown said. “What language should I use?

“We’re all adults here.”

House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, would not address the controversy that had become a national news story by late Thursday.

“I think we’ve made plenty of comments about her inappropriate behavior,” Bolger said.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” Thursday night, Brown maintained she did nothing wrong.

“I followed the House rules,” said Brown, noting the incident has helped her raise campaign donations.

Democrats said the GOP’s action was more evidence of Republicans trampling women’s rights.

“The war on women in Michigan is not fabricated — this is very real — and it comes at the highest levels of state government,” said Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing.

Whitmer made the comment in a YouTube video appearance with state Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, posted Thursday in response to the House abortion bill.

As the controversy brewed Thursday, Republicans launched into public relations damage control, emphasizing Byrum and Brown could speak in the future as long as they abided by the rules.

“As a woman and mother, I was personally offended by Rep. Lisa Brown’s disgraceful actions during Wednesday’s floor debate,” state Rep. Lisa Lyons, R-Alto, said in a statement released late Thursday.

After passing a bill with new regulations for abortion providers, the House tabled another bill Wednesday that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks with a narrow exemption for the life of the mother.

Byrum indicated she wants to give men the same treatment House Republicans proposed for women who may be unable to terminate an unwanted pregnancy under House Bill 5713.

House Republicans also wouldn’t let staByrum speak on the House floor Thursday.

Byrum, D-Onondaga, caused a disturbance on the House floor Wednesday when she wasn’t allowed to introduce an amendment to the abortion regulations bill banning men from getting a vasectomy unless the sterilization procedure was necessary to save a man’s life.

“If we truly want to make sure children are born, we would regulate vasectomies,” Byrum said.

When House Speaker Pro Tem John Walsh, R-Livonia, wouldn’t recognize Bryum to propose her amendment, she began shouting at him and stormed out of the chamber.

“You should have let me speak. … I represent the same number of people you do,” Byrum told Walsh.

From The Detroit News:http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120615/POLITICS02/206150373#ixzz1xtly27z0

Regardless of where you stand on the abortion issue, or even this bill, the events that transpired should ignite an anger somewhere deep inside you. (Even my cervix is enraged.) This goes far beyond abortion.

The word “vagina” may scare people, but that’s because those people are cowards.

During a Capitol press conference Thursday, Brown noted “vagina” is the “medically correct term” for the female organ at the center of the Legislature’s ongoing abortion restriction debate.

“If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating vaginas?” Brown said. “What language should I use?

“We’re all adults here.”

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120615/POLITICS02/206150373#ixzz1xtoxbqTT

Adults? I don’t think you should be an adult to know words like “vagina.”

When I was two (or not quite two), my little brother was born. My parents brought him home. Apparently, I started anatomy lessons early. While my mom was changing his diaper one day, I asked her what “that” was. When she told me, I went down the hall saying, “Penis, penis, penis”  over and over again. She laughs when she tells the story. “You weren’t going to forget that,” she says.

My family wasn’t scared of anatomically correct words, and rightly so.

I hardly think that understanding the proper words for referring to “private parts” are going to cause children to become immoral beasts. But then again, the way certain members of the GOP are pushing their agenda of ignorance, you’d think that they’d rather have us never mention those words at all. (…because we’ve been so great at stopping kids from accessing information in general with the advent of the internet, and all).

Speaker Pro Tem John Walsh, R-Livonia, gaveled Brown out of order for saying “no means no” — because it suggested Brown was comparing the abortion legislation to rape, House GOP spokesman Ari Adler said.

“It has nothing to do with the word vagina,” Adler said.

Some male Republican representatives, however, said Brown’s comments were vulgar, “inappropriate” and “offensive.”

“What she said was offensive,” said state Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville.

“It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company,” he said.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120615/POLITICS02/206150373#ixzz1xtpz9k84

What? Vulgar? The word “vagina”? I bet Callton is a real hoot at dinner parties. What else makes his list of vulgar words? Here’s a great list of words that sound dirty but aren’t.

The feminist who lives inside me is begging me to rant about the choice of diction in Rep. Callton’s statements. Firstly, “mixed company” generally (although I’m sure that at some point, it will be proposed that we amend “mixed company” to include only men and fetuses) includes women, and most of those women have are in possession of a vagina. They probably aren’t scared to say it.

I don’t just casually drop it in conversation, but then again, I generally don’t drop other anatomical parts unless necessary. “I seriously bruised my coccyx yesterday.” Or, “They had to X-ray my pelvis for signs of bone deterioration.” (I don’t know, it could happen.)

Having someone refer to “vagina” as vulgar is insulting. Women have spent the better part of human history being associated with dirty and unpleasant connotations because they possess them. To say that saying “vagina” is offensive is offensive to me. (Say that sentence three times fast.) As a human, I am not offensive. My vagina is not offensive. It’s not vulgar, or crude. It’s a part of who I am. It’s a part of half the United States (give or take a few). Ask Georgia O’Keeffe; she – albeit only potentially, and even then, only subconsciously – totally got it.

Marketers spend billions of dollars telling woman that we’re offensive, that we’re unclean, that we’re not perfect, so I’d prefer to not add the stress of having a legislator reinforcing that message.

Attempts at “respecting” women by legislating their personal choices and keeping them from hearing words like vagina are very reminiscent of a time not so long ago when women weren’t allowed to vote. Or own property. Or get divorced. Or refuse to have sex with their husbands.

Tell me I’m jumping to conclusions, fine. But I fear that we’re regressing. I fear that this county, which once stood for freedom and progress, now stands for freedom and progress…for a select few. And sadly, I don’t see myself as being included in those select few. I’m a woman. I’m an educated woman. I matter. When a member of my gender is discriminated against and sanctioned for standing up and speaking her mind, I will take offense.

Oh, speaking of sanctions…one of the motives given for barring Lisa Brown from speaking was “…concern was the decorum of the House.” Ha, well it’s not like she interrupted a speech or anything. (I’m talking about you, Joe Wilson.)

Disgusting. (More or disgusting than a vagina, obviously.) This trend of legislating against women is one thing, but the trend of silencing our voices is worse. It’s a grave offense. Limiting our ability to speak on issues that obviously pertain to us is oppressive.

Oppression, you say?

I’m going to stay away from the whole sexuality deal today, because this post just got long, but let me remind you that abortion has a root cause. And that’s usually sex. Consensuality (not a word, but whatever) and other issues aside, sex that causes pregnancy involves a man and a woman. Man and a woman. This is not just on the women. But I am obligated to at least remind you of the slut-shaming that happens before, during, or after sex. Sometimes no sex is involved for such insults and categorizations. Women’s sexuality is scary.

I googled this cartoon (because it has lived in my mind for a long time), and came across this post, in a blog called “Obliged to Offend.” The last paragraph of this post says, “Female sexuality can at times be subversive and powerful. It is for this reason that many men feel threatened by the presence of a woman expressing it. They feel that she has the greater degree of sexual choice and power so they try to control or dominate her. This is not, as some believe, confined strictly to the remnants of old-fashioned male sexism or the devout followers of monotheistic religion. Beauty and sexuality are a threat to orthodoxies of all stripes because they are an expression of our animalistic ancestry which cannot be levelled out or extinguished by force. Political creeds, however emancipatory their rhetoric, are also very often rationalisations of deeper emotional problems.”

It is my opinion that we are currently experiencing a wave of backlash resulting from the feminist movements that marked the late 19th and 20th centuries. We see women becoming more and more powerful. We are more educated, more involved in the workforce, and more independent.

In the search for equality, we have unintentionally upended the traditional male roles. They are lost, confused, unsure. (Not all, but quite a few. Trust me, I’ve been dating since I was fifteen. I have considerable experience interacting with them.) Marriages are declining, and they’re happening later. Now that women are focusing on their careers and their whole selves, they are less inclined to find a husband and procreate as soon as possible in order to meet hegemonic expectations for a normal family structure and life trajectory.

Personally, I still strive for a husband. And children. And that whole traditional white fence dream. But I’m determined to find someone who respects the shit out of me, who supports my decisions and my dreams, and who wants the same things out of life that I want. For me, there is no problem with combining female strength and wife-ness. (I’ll need some serious help or at least compromise on the traditional wife duties, though. I can’t clean to save my life. Or cook.)

I’m sorry that the root of this mad legislating and silencing and anti-women rhetoric might lie in the fear of powerful women (hence the emphasis on the cultural breakdown of the traditional family structure and the fervent attempts to rectify these perceived wrongs and immorality), but I’m not sorry. Just as women have had to adjust, compromise, and grow in order to accommodate their new opportunities (we still end up doing most of the housework and child-rearing; we just have to do it after we get off work), men should do the same.

Masculinity doesn’t have to be defined by the ability to produce income. Or the ability to dominate or control a woman. Masculinity can be a lot of things. Men should, well, man up and get to work figuring out how they can come to terms with women playing ball on their level. Because women aren’t going to stop fighting for equality, for respect, for rights. At the end of the day, we are all human beings with feelings and individual strengths. We need to work together in order to achieve any sort of forward progress.

But let’s start by being able to say “vagina.” Baby steps.


On Rick Santorum, gratefully

News has come today that Rick Santorum is expected to suspend his presidential campaign and support Mitt Romney.

While I’m not a huge Romney fan (not just because of the incident with the highway and the dog), I’m even less a fan of Rick Santorum. I’m glad he’s going to be leaving; I’m glad that he can no longer continue to bait the emotions of voters and participate in the reality show-esque circus that has become our election process.

However, I hope that his departure from the race isn’t because of his daughter Isabella’s health. I sincerely hope that they do the best they can to keep her comfortable and to provide for her. I’m glad that she has a family that seems to care for her so well and love her so much.

Santorum Expected to Suspend Presidential Campaign

Updated: Tuesday, 10 Apr 2012, 11:19 AM MST
Published : Tuesday, 10 Apr 2012, 11:05 AM MST

(NewsCore) – Rick Santorum is expected to announce he is suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination at an event in Gettysburg, Pa., Tuesday, FOX News Channel reported.

Santorum was scheduled to hold a press conference at the Gettysburg Hotel at 2 p.m. ET.

The event comes amid growing pressure on the former Pennsylvania senator to drop out of the race and back the Republican front-runner, Mitt Romney.

Santorum’s chances for the nomination had dimmed considerably following Romney’s decisive sweep of the Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C., primaries last week. The former senator fueled further speculation about his possible exit from the race by leaving the campaign trail for several days over the long holiday weekend.

Here’s more about Isabella and a bit about Trisomy 18, her genetic condition:

Santorum’s daughter to leave hospital

Former Sen. Rick Santorum’s daughter Isabella was released from the hospital Monday night, a spokesman tells CNN. The GOP presidential candidate interrupted his campaign Friday, when his 3-year-old daughter was hospitalized for reasons the campaign did not disclose.

Isabella suffers from a chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 18, where extra genetic material is present on chromosome 18. The extra material interferes with normal development, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“We appreciate the outpouring of support and prayers,” said spokesman Hogan Gidley. “The prayers worked, she’s doing much better, so we’re thankful for that.  It puts things in perspective.”

Santorum expects to return to the campaign trail Tuesday.

Santorum has been outspoken and candid about his family’s struggle against Trisomy 18, as he did when he sat down for a Red Chair interview (above) with CNN back in November.

Trisomy 18 occurs in about 1 in 5000 live births, according to the NIH, but many fetuses with this disorder do not survive a full pregnancy.

The NIH describes Trisomy 18 as “a relatively common syndrome,” which is 3 times more likely in girls than in boys. It causes severe developmental and medical problems, including heart defects and defects to other organs prior to birth, shortened breast bones and club feet. Unlike Down syndrome, where a child has 3 copies of chromosome 21, developmental issues in Trisomy 18 are linked to medical complications that are more potentially life-threatening in the early months and years of life, according to the Trisomy 18 Foundation.

Children with Trisomy 18 sometimes can’t cough or clear their throat so fluid will accumulate in the lungs, making them susceptible to respiratory failure.

In the past, Isabella has had pneumonia in both her lungs.

About 90% of children born with Trisomy 18 die within their first year of life, but a small number have gone on to reach adulthood into their 20s and 30s, although they’ve been severely impaired.

“She has a disorder called Trisomy 18, which we were told is incompatible with life,” Santorum told CNN in November. “Well, we’re showing that that’s not only not true, but it is really the center of our life.”

On Ignorance, blissfully.

Um, I thought the goal of pro-lifers was to protect life from its conception instead of trying to blow up not only small clusters of cells growing inside of women but other people who may happen to be in the clinic too.

This is why abortion arguments and such make me so incredibly angry. As a society, we have an obligation to protect our people. We have an obligation to speak our minds (not blow up buildings to make a point). We have an obligation to participate actively and engage in politics and all-things government related. Instead, I feel like people jump on the social-issues bandwagon just because their pastor talks about it at church on Sunday. They believe what they feel in their hearts, what they know in their hearts to be the word of God.

Um, hello? I don’t care what your God says. What I care about is the Constitution. What I care about is how we as a society are working together for positive change, forward progress, that whole bit.

We’ve regressed to the point that we’re no longer able to discuss politics in a civilized manner.

We’re no longer intelligent enough to talk politics at all. In my opinion, that’s why we’ve reverted to fighting so desperately for social issues rather than the much larger (and arguably more important) issues of economics that are plaguing our country. We’ve chosen to be ignorant, to place our futures in the hands of Congress and the people pulling their Senator’s strings, the big corporations that are funding campaigns and driving policy decisions. It’s sickening.

We’ve stopped looking past the superficial facade that our candidates present. We’ve stopped caring about anything except their sex scandals and their family lives. Why? What good has it done?

And we – the American people – are blind to it, because we simply haven’t taken the time to learn anything about our own policies. We long ago stopped reading bills. We long ago stopped trying to take an active role in the decisions that our leaders make about our future as a people.

And that’s when everything started to go to hell, pardon the expression.

Stop listening to candidates who talk solely about social and religious issues. Better yet, keep listening, but listen better. Listen to what they’re not saying. And for those of you who vote solely on religion, remind yourself of a few things: Jesus didn’t hate people, Jesus didn’t react violently to people he didn’t like/was afraid, Jesus helped people.

We have to stop hiding from our own fears under blankets of grateful ignorance. They’re making everything worse. Stop worrying about abortion, gay marriage, whether or not the President spent too much time talking about basketball. Start worrying about bigger picture shit, like the fact that we won’t have a government to crucify if we continue along the path we’re on. We’re not a superpower any more. We are not #1. We need a huge slice of humble pie and some reflection about what we’ve done that’s landed us in this nasty situation. (and by nasty situation, I mean the fact that we stand overloaded with debt and war and overwhelming internal discontent and that some of our citizens are even suggesting that we invade yet another country. That’s hilarious, in the worst way.)

Start reading about what’s actually going on in your government. Start trying to understand the policies that we make. Understand our budgets, our structures, our strategies. Give it ten minutes a day. Look deeper than what you see on TV. Look past the sweater vests, the snappy campaign ads, the promises.

Vote according to what you know in your heart to be true, but first, fact check those feelings.

[by the way, violence usually isn’t the answer. To any question. Bombing a Planned Parenthood is sick. I don’t care if they perform abortions there. They do abortions at your local hospital – are you bombing them, too? No. And you wouldn’t. Reminder: 3% of what PP does is abortions (are abortions? subject-verb agreement issue here). 97% is other stuff that’s important. Like STI testing. Like birth control. You may not support abortion, but you shouldn’t try to stop those who do from having them. It’s not your life. Stop interfering. Also, I just love Wisconsin. They’re the home of custardlist.com, Kopp’s, and the Cheese Castle. How could you bomb such a beautiful (if politically contentious) state?]

Wisconsin Planned Parenthood Bombing Draws FBI Vow To Protect Public Access To Abortion Clinics

Posted: 04/ 4/2012 11:54 am Updated: 04/ 4/2012 11:58 am

Planned Parenthood Bomb

In the wake of the Planned Parenthood bombing in Grand Chute, Wisc., the Federal Bureau of Investigation has reaffirmed its commitment to protecting women’s access to reproductive health facilities.

Teresa Carlson, special agent-in-charge of the FBI’s Milwaukee office, announced the arrest of 50-year-old Francis Grady for “arson of a building used in interstate commerce” and “intentionally damaging the property of a facility that provides reproductive health services” on Tuesday. She said in a statement, “The FBI will always investigate and bring to justice anyone who resorts to violence as a means to harm, intimidate, or prevent the public’s right to access reproductive health services.”

Around 7:30 p.m. Sunday evening, a bomb was placed on the windowsill of a Grand Chute Planned Parenthood clinic — one of the three Planned Parenthood facilities in the state that offers abortion services. The bomb went off, causing a fire at the clinic that damaged one of the exam rooms. No one was hurt.

Grand Chute law enforcement was able to track down Grady after his white SUV, which was spotted leaving the scene shortly after the bomb went off, was involved in a traffic accident nearby. Grady is scheduled to make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Green Bay at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

U.S. Attorney James Santelle, Eastern District of Wisconsin, will be prosecuting Grady. He said in a statement:

“When the Congress passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act in 1994, it specifically empowered law enforcement to respond to those who engage in violent and other obstructive behaviors that interfere with access to reproductive services. The complaint that we filed today in federal court not only responds to the particular conduct of Francis Grady in committing arson at and causing damage to the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Grand Chute, but it also signals the continuing, strong commitment of federal, state, and local authorities to ensure access to clinics — and to seek criminal penalties against anyone who would compromise that right.”

source: Huffington Post, regrettably 

On Gay. On Suicide. On Bullying.

It’s been awhile, I know. Work keeps getting in the way of the rest of my life.

But alas, I’ve got something to say that’s important enough for me to give up some time to say it.

Jacob posted a link to a Rolling Stone article on my Facebook wall. (I think we still get a subscription to the magazine, but I hadn’t read it, so this goes to show that I’m out of touch with everything.)

It was about bullying and gay teens. While I think the article has some serious flaws (look at me, being all critical), I do think that it raises some serious questions about problems with having policies specifically related to homosexuality in our public schools.

But more than that, I (never thought I’d say this) partially agree with one of the anti-gay groups when they say, “…much of society seems not to be looking closely and openly at all possible causes of the tragedies.” Granted, they did precede that by saying “Because homosexual activists have hijacked and exploited teen suicides for their moral and political utility…” so that still makes them really insensitive and downright hateful.

We do need to really examine these tragedies. Being a child, an adolescent, a young adult: it all really sucks. I had such a rough time because of bullying in grade school – I remember crying and begging to go a new school. I withdrew quite a bit in high school but came out of it just fine. Bullying isn’t just about gay kids. Bullying is about anything, everything. Kids are really cruel. And it blows, for everyone involved. People carry those emotional scars with them long after the bullying has ended.

So let’s talk about parenting, because that’s where those little seeds of hatred get planted, nourished, and encouraged to grow. These parents hold certain political ideologies, certain religious beliefs, and live by an individual moral code. It stands to reason that their children will as well, having grown up hearing their parents espouse their beliefs, complaining about taxes, etc. That’s not the problem. The problem is when parents fail to explain to their children that there are other (equal) ways of thinking. I respect your beliefs; I respect your rights; I cannot respect your hatred, no matter where it comes from. We’re all guilty of putting a blanket over the “other” and forgetting that those people all believe those things because it gives them strength, hope, faith, solace, comfort, joy.

But at what point does my right to believe in whatever I want stop? At the point at which it infringes on someone else’s right to believe in whatever they want. This is why schoolyards are going to remain a political battleground.

They say that knowledge is power and it’s true. I don’t know why we’re against teaching our kids anything. At one point in the Rolling Stone article, a woman named Barb Anderson is quoted as saying, “Open your eyes, people. What if a 15-year-old is seduced into homosexual behavior and then contracts AIDS?” I wasn’t aware that we’re still under the impression that only the gays get AIDS. Yes, 61% of new HIV infections are found in “men who have sex with men” or MSM, according to the CDC. (I always read MSM as metro-sexual men, so that’s problematic for my brain.) But 23% of all new infections are in women. And the race most affected? Black men.
How many people know this? How many people can pull this out of their heads? Not knowing breeds fear and fear breeds the sad situations we’re seeing today. Fear breeds death, hatred, bigotry, disgust, anger. Fear does not bring about positive change, cooperation, or community.

I just don’t know why we’re not teaching our children everything that we can teach them. Creationism, evolution, reincarnation – we should be teaching it all. French, algebra, history, banned books: learn it all! I’m much more comfortable arguing with someone who’s chosen to believe what they believe than I am arguing with someone who’s had their beliefs molded and shaped for them. Schools should be a place of academic achievement, not fear. Teachers report being afraid to address the bullying situations that may be based on perceived or real homosexuality because they don’t want to lose their jobs. So these kids are left alone and helpless to cope with bullying that they don’t understand and can’t control.

Youth is a very fragile time. Even though these people are quickly growing into young adults, they’re not there yet. They need to be taught. Educated. Supported. Mental health issues among teenagers are increasing. Depression, suicide, eating disorders and behaviors are becoming increasingly more and more common.

The US lacks the mental health resources to treat the growing number of kids displaying symptoms. The social stigma surrounding mental health prevents a lot of progress and instead, causes much more harm to our society than a progressive dialogue would. (I’m not known for my avoidance of issues, but I’ve been avoiding talking about my own ADHD diagnosis and treatment for fear of negative repercussions.) We medicate, medicate, medicate. I don’t agree that that’s a great solution to any problem, mental health related or not. But it is too bad there’s no medication to make insensitive, insecure teens blind to differences.

But that’s exactly it: these teens (both the ones doing the bullying and the ones being bullied) are insecure. They’re trying to establish their own identities while being assaulted by their own hormones on a daily basis. They’re trying to figure out where they fit in the world, and they’re using anything they can for guidance. Instead of knowing that their bullying might stem from their attempts to appear more masculine, they think that this bullying makes them more powerful, respected, admired. It doesn’t. It makes them weaker than they’d be if they approached these in-school social situations more logically. But they don’t know that, because no one has ever explained all of that to them. Let’s start teaching sociology in the fourth grade and see how far that gets us. If kids could understand more about what they’re feeling and experiencing, they’re far more likely to make the mature choices not to engage in behaviors. But instead, they’re left to fend for themselves, trying to make sense of everything without appearing weak. Newsflash: we’re all weak. We all need help, support, and guidance.

Feel-good seminars and classroom discussions aren’t going to help either. The message that these kids are getting is that being gay is all butt-sex and glitter. While that’s simply not true, they don’t have any real-life context for understanding homosexuality. In reality, being gay is just like being straight. Couples wear ugly sweaters and make dinner and fight about who’s going to take out the trash. Short-shorts aren’t the norm. But how are these kids going to understand that when we won’t talk about it, teach it, or protect the gay kids from being attacked? Oh wait, there’s always TV. (That’ll help.) Our examples are terrible representations of what gay is.

Gay. Bullying. Suicide. They go hand in hand and they exist separately. In order to get to the bottom of this to stop our kids from killing themselves or driving others to kill themselves, we need to take a long, hard look at the messages that we’re sending to them.

If I ever catch my kid(s) bullying, or engaging in any behavior that I find predatory, disrespectful, or downright offensive, there will be hell to pay. The parents of the kids who say things like, “You’re a fag and you deserve to die,” should be held accountable for the actions of their children. This is a really good example of when it’s okay to ask “What would Jesus do?” Your religions, whatever they may be, do not say that it’s okay to hurt other people. They do not say that it’s okay for you to taunt, tease, punish, and terrorize your peers.

Instead of fighting about what we can’t teach, let’s just teach it all. Let’s teach everything and let our kids learn to think for themselves. Let’s expose them to everything we can expose them to. Let’s make them cultured, intelligent, young people who have adventured, and failed, and come to understand the ways that the world works.

Let’s fight to end teen suicides. Let’s fight to end bullying. But more than that, we need to fight to give our kids the coping skills to handle these things when they do happen. We need to address these issues openly, so that when a kid thinks about committing suicide, they are able to reach out to someone who can help them. So that when a kid thinks about putting another kid down just so he/she can feel better about him/herself, that kid will think twice.

I know that it gets better, but they don’t. It’s up to us to guide them all through.

On Virginia and Adoption

So Virginia wants to let state-funded (but private) adoption agencies discriminate based on the belief system of the agency? Doesn’t the government protect against that sort of discrimination?

Obviously, adoption is important. It so often gets overlooked. About a third of the kids currently sitting in Virginia foster care hope to eventually be adopted. Granted, those adoptions aren’t going to be arranged through these private agencies, but we’re talking about allocation of government funds. I say take funding away from any organization that wants to practice discrimination (in violation of federal law) and put that funding back into the badly broken foster system so that those kids can have a chance at a family.

You can’t guarantee that a set of potential parents that fits the “ideal” picture of a family is going to end up as an”ideal” set of parents. I mean, my family – heterosexual, white, Catholics – ended up divorced and really grumpy. What was once a rosy image of the perfect family was eventually shattered – just like half of the other rosy pictures of hetero families in the US. But G-d forbid we let the gays adopt! They’ll turn this country into a hub of immorality and sin! It’s like one commenter wrote sarcastically: “But what if the kids catch the gay?” What if, indeed.

Virnia adding ‘conscience clause’ to adoption laws

By ,

RICHMOND — Virginia will likely become the second state in the nation — after North Dakota — to allow private adoption agencies to turn away parents based on sexual orientation or religious and moral beliefs.

The General Assembly is considering a measure that would add a “conscience clause’’ to Virginia law that would allow state-funded, faith-based agencies to choose which parents are suitable for adoption based on the agencies’ beliefs.

Daniel Gri and James Abbott, who adopted two sons in California, say that through the proposed guidelines their adopted home of Virginia is further hampering gay people from adopting.

“It makes it seem like it’s not about sexual orientation,” said Gri, who lives in Oakton. “That’s a technique anti-gay organizations use.’’

But supporters of the legislation say it would protect religious freedom by ­allowing birth parents to choose an agency — and as a result, adoptive parents — who adhere to their religious beliefs.

“This measure will chisel into law the principle that people of faith can adhere to their convictions without fear of reprisal from those who would discriminate against their religious beliefs regarding how we should raise our children,” said House Deputy Majority Leader C. Todd Gilbert(R-Shenandoah).

The legislation’s fate became clear after Republicans took control of the state Senate and gained an even heftier majority in the House. The House voted overwhelmingly to pass the measure last week, largely along party lines, while the Senate is expected to vote this week.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) is expected to sign the legislation. He has repeatedly said that faith-based organizations should be able to make their own policies.

Virginia has 77 private agencies, 16 of them faith-based. They placed 557 of the state’s 2,503 adoptions last year, according to state figures. In total, the agencies and 120 local social services departments received $144 million in state and federal funds for child placement last year.

Who can adopt, and who can’t

The bill does not change who can adopt. State law does not allow unmarried couples — homosexual or heterosexual — to adopt. But it is possible for single people, including gays, to adopt.

For gay-rights group Equality Virginia, the ACLU and others, the legislation merely perpetuates discrimination.

“Let’s just speak the truth and tell it like it is,’’ Del. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria) said. “This legislation is about ensuring that foster placement agencies that do not want to place children . . . with same-sex couples are able to do that.’’

Democrats, outgunned in the newly Republican-controlled legislature, have unsuccessfully tried to amend the legislation and pass their own bill, which would have banned discrimination by agencies that receive state funds. Nine states prohibit discrimination in adoption.

“Any bill that sanctions discrimination is unfortunate and misguided,’’ said Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico), who attempted to amend the bill last week.

The bill would prohibit the state from rejecting or revoking agencies’ licenses because they turn away prospective parents. Currently, about 4,407 children are in foster care in Virginia. About 1,300 of them have a goal of adoption.

Supporters of the measure say it merely puts into law a standing practice that has been in place in Virginia for decades.

“A majority of Virginians recognize that these agencies are critical to providing the best possible outcomes for children,’’ said Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation. “This legislation . . . allows these important agencies to continue doing the vital work they’ve been doing for decades.’’

But opponents say the bill goes far beyond just faith-based agencies to all private agencies, far beyond just adoption to foster care and far beyond religious reasons to moral reasons.

“This is establishing a whole lot of new precedent that we have not had before or seen before,’’ said Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, general counsel to Equality Virginia and a former chief deputy attorney general.

The bill codifies a decision by the State Board of Social Services last year to allow faith-based organizations to reject prospective parents based on gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and family status. The federal government protects against discrimination based on race, color or national origin.

The proposed regulations, part of a massive overhaul of adoption rules, are to take effect May 1.

‘Focus’ on the child

“Our focus is really on the best placement of the child,’’ Virginia Social Services Commissioner Martin Brown said.

About 2,279 same-sex couples are raising about 4,558 children in Virginia, according to the Family Equality Council, a gay-rights organization. Most were adopted in Virginia, allowing only one parent to have custody.

Fifty-five percent of Virginians say that gay couples should be able to legally adopt children, according to a Washington Post poll released last year.

Fifty-nine percent of Virginians say that state-run agencies should not ban prospective parents based on sexual orientation, while 35 percent say they should, according to aQuinnipiac University poll, also released last year. But that same poll indicates that Virginians are split on whether church agencies should be able to do that — 48 percent to 45 percent.

“Virginians expect any public agency or agency licensed by Virginia to treat all the state’s citizens fairly and justly and serve their best interests,’’ the Family Equality Council said in a statement.

But Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), who does not think single or gay people should be allowed to adopt, said the law is needed so that faith-based organizations do not close down, as they have in other states, including Massachusetts.

“These agencies should be able to practice the ethical views of their organizations,’’ said Marshall, who adopted three children with his wife through Catholic Charities.

Gri and Abbott, legally married in California, adopted their children — Caleb, 14, and Alfred, 11, — through government foster care, not a private agency. They grew up with religion and are active in a church in the District.

But while they both say they are more than likely to vote for conservative candidates because of their pro-business, low-regulation approach, they believe legislators may be wrong on this issue.

“I think definitely this law is not in the best interest of the children,’’ Gri said.

source: The Washington Post

On Ranting, as usual

oh there’s some hardcore liberal bias here, so don’t think I’m trying to represent any position but my own and don’t be too upset if we disagree – it’s bound to happen:

I’m getting myself super worked up about this whole Komen-defunding-Planned-Parenthood deal. It’s not a big deal. It doesn’t directly affect me. But seriously? I’m never going to participate in, donate to, or eat another Komen-labeled anything. Not that I actively chose their products in the past (I am not the best eater of yogurt nor the biggest fan of pink), but now I’m consciously going to avoid. And perhaps I can flex my nasty letter writing muscles and do some direct complaining. They also spend a ridiculously low amount of their actual funds on research. 20%-ish?

I’m probably going to get breast cancer some day (from what I know about my medical history – which isn’t much – my birth mom, biological grandmother, and several of her sisters have all had it/died of it/have it right now). Of course I want a cure, but we’re silly to think that cures come from organizations.
The backlash against the Komen foundation has been insane. Donations to Planned Parenthood are way up. If I wasn’t broke as shit, I’d be all over that. I decided many years ago that when I finally get enough money to be generous with it, it’s not going to my alma maters, it’s going to Planned Parenthood, because they are absolute rock stars at what they do. I’m so sick of hearing about how horrible they are.

I hope that young women everywhere are able to continue to access care that their primary care providers may have denied them; I hope that young women of all colors and religions and income levels can continue to access healthcare including cancer screenings, STI-testing and treatment, and birth control, especially when they don’t have access to a primary care provider like I do.

Why? Because it’s important. The work that Planned Parenthood does isn’t just abortions (do I actually need to repeat myself again? Only 3% of their services go to abortions. That’s roughly 300,000 abortions per year. But guess what? That’s only about a third of the total number of abortions provided in the US. Where is everyone else having those?).

The reason I bring this up is because I was reading a Catholic website (trying to get all sides’ opinions) and they had huge charts about how 96.3% of services provided to pregnant women were abortion-related. Okay, I’ll take that. Yes, there is a disparity between abortion numbers and adoption numbers. I’d argue that that’s pretty consistent with the rest of the US as well. But does this Catholic website take into account the other forms of adoption such as from government agencies (41% of adoptions in 2008), kinship adoptions, foreign adoptions, etc? Probably not.

And how many un-pregnant women and men and people are using Planned Parenthood to access other resources? 3 million people go to Planned Parenthood every year. 3 million is a lot more than 300,000. By providing resources to the community including contraception, Planned Parenthood is helping to ensure that there will be fewer unintended pregnancies and thus fewer abortions as a result.

Here’s why I support Planned Parenthood 100% – and this has absolutely nothing to do with the Komen debacle. It’ll all blow over. Komen will continue to be the shining pink face of breast cancer walks everywhere and Planned Parenthood will continue to be the source of so much distress for  conservatives the uninformed everywhere:

[I’m sort of uncomfortable about posting this story online – to be honest, I think I’ve posted this before but can’t find it in the archives, and at the same time, I’m even more uncomfortable knowing that people perceive Planned Parenthood to be this horrible, evil organization that exists solely to kill babies. So this is why I’m putting this out there.]

I wasn’t quite 18 yet, which means I was somewhere between 16 and 17. I wanted birth control. When I asked my pediatrician’s nurse practitioner for a prescription (without telling her why I wanted it – Was it heavy periods? Was it hormonal reasons? Did I just want to take hormonal birth control because everyone else was doing it? Was I having sex?), she told me that doing so would put her “between a rock and a hard place.”

What she was referring to was my father, who has always been overbearing and inappropriate at the most inconvenient times. As soon as I started high school, he became convinced that I was having all sorts of sex (I wasn’t. I didn’t kiss a boy until I was almost fifteen) and consequently, had been squawking about it to anyone who would listen and making it nearly impossible for me to date (this, of course, backfired horribly and led to me putting myself in dangerous-ish situations on more than one occasion: sneaking out, hanging out with undesirables, etc).

I was well aware that Colorado law allows minors to consent to a prescription for birth control without obtaining parental consent or having to even notify a parent or guardian about it. When she told me that no matter what I said, she wouldn’t write me a prescription for birth control, I was furious. I still am. I never went back to that doctor’s office, even though I’d been going since birth.

That’s why, even to this day, I do not stand for doctors of any sort denying women information or care based on their own personal beliefs or fears. I also do not believe that doctors and providers (including nurses, etc) should be anything but professional. I had a friend go to her gynecologist and ask for routine STI testing only to be asked, “Why? Have you been exposed?” I told her to immediately find a new doctor. Call it overreacting but I call it ridiculous that you should have to answer any sort of seemingly-accusatory questions. I have doctors who I absolutely adore. They respect me; they don’t question me when I say, “Hey, throw an HIV test onto my blood work!” They respect that I’m active about my own health – regardless of whether it’s ADHD, STI-testing, the sniffles, the cut on my finger that should have had stitches 16 hours ago….(the last one was a joke…that was me not being proactive and facing the consequences).

I went to Planned Parenthood. I did it after school one day when Mike had practice so I knew I had some time. I was terrified. I was not getting the prescription so that I could have reckless, unprotected sex. I was not pregnant. I was just looking for something that my own doctor was unwilling to give me, but something that I knew I had a legal right to obtain and use.

My experience there was absolutely amazing. The staff was so nice to me. I think they absolutely understood how scared I was (I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions) and I think they went the extra mile to make sure that I had the most positive experience possible. I got my prescription. I got birth control. And it was in a no-stress, no-judgement, no-pressure situation.

My mom eventually found out that I was on birth control. She was furious. But she wasn’t mad that I was on it; she was mad that I had gone alone. She was mad that I was paying for it all by myself. She was just as mad at my doctor’s office as I was and she helped me to become a part of the practice that I currently attend (do you attend a doctor’s office? visit? reluctantly stop by sometimes?). I think that a lot about that experience helped solidify our relationship. It was a little bit rocky during high school – think ages 15-17. She was open and willing to talk about issues that I’d never realized I could talk to her about. She never judged me or criticized my opinions or decisions. She supported me so much then and continues to do so today. I honestly think that without those frank discussions, we wouldn’t have the relationship we do now. It’s stronger than it’s ever been and I’m so grateful to know that I can call her and tell her anything. She may not agree with it (she’ll definitely tell me when she doesn’t) but she’ll listen. And knowing that she respected me enough back then to know that I was making informed decisions about my own health is something that still makes me incredibly happy.

That’s why I love Planned Parenthood. I have only been there maybe twice in my life, but those two times were the most positive experiences I could have had. I’m grateful that they were there for me, and even though I hope my children will never have to go behind my back to get access to care, I hope they’re still there, just in case.

On Obama’s Awesomeness for Today

Yay! I love this:

Victory! Obama Stands Up to Bishops and Protects Birth Control Coverage

January 20, 2012 by  · Leave a Comment

Great news! Despite months of fierce lobbying by the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Obama administration announced today that it would not exempt Catholic hospitals from the Affordable Care Act requirement for insurance plans to cover employees’ birth control. The news, which comes on the first day of Trust Women Week, is a welcome victory for feminists.
Back in November, feminists were concerned that President Obama might cave in to the Bishops’ pressure to exempt religious institutions. If the Bishops had their way, it would have meant that organizations that aren’t actual churches–such as colleges, universities and hospitals–would get out of covering birth control in insurance plans for their students and employees, despite an HHS ruling last August that birth control constitutes preventive care and should be covered with no copay. Feminists–including Feminist Majority President (and Ms. publisher) Eleanor Smeal–have loudly urged the administration not to let Catholic Bishops deny no-cost birth control coverage to millions. Here is Smeal’s response to today’s announcement:
At last—concern for women’s health trumps pressure from the Catholic Bishops. Millions of women who may have been denied access to birth control with no co-pays or deductibles will now have full access. I am especially pleased that college students at religiously affiliated institutions will now have coverage for birth control without co-pays or deductibles under their school health plans beginning in August 2012.
Birth control is the number one prescription drug for women ages 18 to 44 years. Right now, the average woman has to pay $50 per month for 30 years for birth control. No wonder many low-income women have had to forgo regular use of birth control and half of US pregnancies are unplanned. This decision will help millions of women and their families.
Some religious institutions will be given a one-year extension–from August 2012 to August 2013–to implement the no-fee coverage. Here are the details of the ruling:
  • Insurance plans that already cover birth control, including those of religious institutions, must do so with no co-pays or deductibles starting August 2012
  • All student insurance plans at religiously affiliated universities must cover contraception with no co-pays or deductibles beginning August 2012
  • Non-profit religious institutions that do not currently cover contraception have until August 2013 to do so with no co-pays or deductibles
  • Only women who work directly for a house of worship, such as for a church, synagogue, or mosque itself, are exempted from this required coverage
Photo of President Obama from Flickr user lednichenkoolga under Creative Commons 2.0