Better sorry than safe

12 04 2013

A bit obvious, but still, points for the follow through:

~~~

h/t PZ Myers, Pharygula; credit apparently to breanieswordvomit.tumblr.com





“Abortion doesn’t unrape you”

13 12 2012

Trying to convince Americans to support a no-exceptions abortion policy?

Yeah, that’s gonna work.

(Sofia Resnick, The American Independent/RH Reality Check; h/t Cienna Madrid, The Stranger)





Voices carry

23 08 2012

It’s a joke, but it’s not really a joke.

The whole Abortion Rights Militantthing, I mean. Yes, the capitalization and the ™  are completely unsubtle winks at my sardonic (re)appropriation of what is meant as a slur, but I ain’t jokin’ in my damn-near-absolutism on matters of law.

This absolutism, however, extends only as far as the law; the morality, the sentiment regarding abortion is another matter. I might recognize the decision to terminate a pregnancy as morally licit, but that doesn’t make it easy.

(In fact, the complications of the decision are precisely why legally it is best left to the woman—but I don’t want to sidetrack myself like I did last night, so I’ll just leave it there. Nor will I stray into a discourse on the evolving status of the blastocyst-embryo-fetus. . . .)

Nope, let me give this one over to sympathy for the beliefs of those who think abortion is always or almost always morally wrong, that the termination of a pregnancy means the killing of a child.

I don’t share that view, but it’s not wholly alien to me, either. No, I can’t get too worked up about embryos, but a fetus, the fetus is something else, and the further along the fetus, the more baby-like the fetus appears.

By the second trimester it’s not yet a human being, but it’s so clearly on the way to becoming one that I understand—I feel—a certain sympathy toward this small creature. It’s not one of us, not yet, but it could be, it could be.

If given a chance, she could become a human being; how could I not be moved by that possibility?

In teaching my bioethics course on assisted reproductive technologies, I cover selective reduction of multi-fetal pregnancies. These aren’t technically abortions—the idea is to kill some of the fetuses in order to save the rest, as opposed to ending the pregnancy entirely—but this procedure, generally performed at the end of the first trimester, seems to me essentially tragic. The woman (and her partner) want children, but their best chance of preserving the possibility of having some of those children is to destroy the possibility of some of those children. Again, how could I not be moved by the intertwined possibilities of beginning and end?

And I guess that’s where I both sympathize and part ways with those who are pro-life. I look at a fetus and see possibility; they look at a fetus and see a child, already here. I wonder at what could be; they wonder at what is.

Sometimes I can glimpse what they see right in front of them, sometimes I can imagine that the fetus is a child reacting in terror and pain to the ending of her life, and I can understand why those who are pro-life see abortion as murder, and its legality as a kind of sanctioned genocide. How horrible to think that we in the US allow over a million babies to be murdered every year.

But then I blink and what I see is not a child but the possibility of a child—and the actuality of the woman. And I think how horrible for the state to take away the control of her life, how horrible for the state to treat women as if they don’t exist.

Thus the final sympathy with those on the other side of the issue: we are each genuinely horrified by the state-sanctioned disappearance of human beings. We just don’t agree on which human beings.





People who need people

23 08 2012

No no no no no no no.

Just in case it wasn’t clear from my last post, I am against any and all laws seeking to limit access to abortion: Waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, parental notification, time limits—all of them, every damn one of them.

I come by the label Abortion Rights Militanthonestly.

I have also argued for the morality of abortion, that is, that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is, by default, a moral one, albeit of the ontological sort. In other words, because the woman is a moral actor in making decisions about her life, then the decision of whether or not to gestate a fetus into human being is inherently a moral decision.

On a practical level, however, it’s not necessarily a moral decision. If, for example, the woman feels that continuing with the pregnancy is so unfathomable that there seems no choice but to terminate, that there is no deliberation because there is nothing to deliberate, then it might be said the decision to terminate is amoral or beyond morality. It might even be immoral if, say, a woman chose to terminate in order to punish someone else, but, again, the mere fact of ending a pregnancy, of killing an embryo or fetus, is not, to me, inherently immoral.

Which brings me to Shauna Prewitt.

Huh? you say.

Shauna Prewitt got pregnant as a result of rape and decided to continue the pregnancy and raise the child (now a seven-year-old girl). She wrote An Open Letter to Rep. Akin describing that, yes, pregnancy after rape is possible, and that the belief that it is not may underlie some state laws which allow—unfuckingbelievably—the rapist custody and visitation rights to the child.

Prewitt deserves all kinds of praise for her willingness to rely on her own fraught experience in calling out morons like Akin (and a certain blue-eyed cheddarhead. . .) and for her efforts to change those unfuckingbelievable laws.

But does she deserve praise for carrying the pregnancy to term? I don’t know.

Clearly, if the choice to end a terminate can be a moral one, then the choice to continue a pregnancy can be moral.

That sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? As if it should be so obvious that continuing a pregnancy is moral that to ‘concede’ the point seems a kind of backwards-day game? But hang with me: Prewitt continued her pregnancy because she felt attached to the fetus:

You see, to my surprise, I did not altogether hate the life growing inside of me. Instead, I felt a sort of kinship, a partnership — perhaps the kind that only develops between those who have suffered together — but, nevertheless, I felt a bond.

She goes on to note that the decision to continue the pregnancy and raise her daughter wasn’t easy, but it was the right one for her. Ontologically, she made a moral decision.

Is it a moral decision in a more day-to-day sense? Sure. Yeah, things are fucked up on this earth, but when have they not been? And while we humans may have played no small part in that fucking up, we’re not all bad; bringing in new people beats the alternative.

Anyway, note as well the role that desire played in her decision: Prewitt decided to gestate the fetus which became her daughter because she felt a bond, because she felt “enlivened” by the life inside of her. She had the baby because she wanted to.

Does action in accordance with the fulfillment of desire nullify the morality of that action? Well, the argument that passion drives reason has a long history in philosophy, but that we act on our desires, because we do what we want does not mean those doings are morally tainted. If that were the case, then morality would have no place for humans, and we would have no place for morality.

So how do we adjudge the morality of decisions shot through with desire and need and fear and hope and confusion? How do we say that this decision to do what we want is moral and that decision to do what we want is not?

I’m not  sure. This blog post has gotten way away from me—I was going to write about my sympathy for the position of those who think abortion is murder and admit of my own ambivalences—so at this point I just want (!) to bring this to a close and go to bed.

I don’t have answers. I don’t even have a way to the answers, beyond that of saying that, perhaps, the place to begin is by paying attention to what people have to say about their own lives, and how they come to live with themselves.

~~~

ETA: It’s now Thursday morning and even though I haven’t had nearly enough coffee, I’m awake enough to observe that I do, in fact, have a way to the answers (or, at least, a way to the way): that’s kinda what the whole “we might as well try” series is about.





Not me baby I’m too precious—fuck off!

20 08 2012

As a registered Abortion Rights Militant, I can only sit out so many stupid comments and bad-policy debates involving the ninja body skills and the secrete secretions of women. Thus, I sigh and pick up the broadsword and head once more into the breach.

Current Missouri Representative and Senatorial candidate (and member of the House Science and Technology committee!) Todd Akin deserves every last bit of scorn, derision, and contempt heaped upon him. I see no reason to offer him the benefit of the “mispeak” doubt, not least because, as Garance Franke-Ruta pointed out, this particular kind of ignorance pie has been passed around at more than one pro-life party:

Arguments like his have cropped up again and again on the right over the past quarter century and the idea that trauma is a form of birth control continues to be promulgated by anti-abortion forces that seek to outlaw all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. The push for a no-exceptions anti-abortion policy has for decades gone hand in hand with efforts to downplay the frequency with which rape- or incest-related pregnancies occur, and even to deny that they happen, at all. In other words, it’s not just Akin singing this tune.

This particular Abortion Rights Militant favors exactly the same number of laws for abortion as she does for any other surgery—which is to say, none—so it is unsurprising that I oppose any laws regulating abortion after rape. I understand why other pro-choice folk emphasize the need for options in case of rape—the idea that the state would take away a woman’s right to control her body after the right to control her own body was taken away by a criminal is horrifying—but it unfortunately it a)  plays into the argument that completely innocent victims deserve to choose whether to continue a pregnancy, but dirty dirty sluts who want sex deserve punishment in the form of a baby (aka, a “gift”); and b) that maybe those completely innocent victims are, in fact, not so innocent and thus also should be punished with the gift-baby.

You can see both parts in play in Akin’s comments as well as in Franke-Ruta’s round-up of reactionaries: If women were really legitimately forcibly raped, they wouldn’t get pregnant; if they get pregnant, well, then, maybe they wanted it just a lil’ bit.

Loudly unsaid, of course, is that any woman who wants and has sex deserve to get whatever’s coming to ‘em us—except, perhaps, orgasms.

Anyway, this vampire bit of “logic” is unlikely to collapse into dust no matter how many times it’s staked, so I’ll keep my weapons handy—all to defend, the Right, the True, and the Pleasurable.





Vagina

18 06 2012

Vagina.

Vagina vagina vagina.

Vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina.

Vagina.

It is a word for a female body part. Using it signals neither a lack of decorum nor a temper tantrum.

h/t: Think Progress, stories by Amanda Peterson Beadle (and another) and Annie-Rose Strasser





Happy anniversary, kinda

22 01 2012

It’s the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. There may not be many more.

The decision has been politically attacked, and has been honeycombed by any number of succeeding Supreme Court decisions, but as of today, it still stands.

This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment‘s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment‘s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent. Specific and direct harm medically diagnosable even in early pregnancy may be involved. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it. In other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved. All these are factors the woman and her responsible physician necessarily will consider in consultation. . . .

Although the results are divided, most of these courts have agreed that the right of privacy, however based, is broad enough to cover the abortion decision; that the right, nonetheless, is not absolute, and is subject to some limitations; and that, at some point, the state interests as to protection of health, medical standards, and prenatal life, become dominant. We agree with this approach.

–Justice Harry Blackmun, writing for the majority.

I am, as I’ve written numerous times previously, an abortion-rights militant, to the point of opposition to any state regulation of abortion beyond that regulating the safety of medical procedures generally.

Still, I consider Roe v. Wade a victory for the rights of women, and when it is overturned or so hollowed out that it effectively collapses—something which I think will happen, likely before its 50th anniversary—I will mourn its passing.

Today, however, I celebrate it.





Mayan Campaign Mashup 2012: Santorum’s choices

8 01 2012

In 1996, Rick Santorum’s wife Karen had a difficult pregnancy.

The health of the fetus severely compromised, she decided to undergo surgery to correct the problems; this surgery led to a life-threatening infection, which in turn led to a course of antibiotics which had the (known) effect of starting labor. Doctors then gave her a drug to bring the labor along, resulting in the early delivery of a 20-week old fetus the Santorums named Gabriel.

Prior to the surgery, Karen Santorum was adamant that she wanted doctors to do everything possible to try to save the pregnancy; even after she agreed to take the antibiotics, she and her husband hoped that the fetus could be saved, to the point that Santorum initially refused the Pitocin which sped up labor. However, Santorum admitted that had labor not resulted, she would—reluctantly—have agreed to an abortion to save her life.

The fetus, named Gabriel, lived for two hours. After his death, the Santorums took him home to their then-three (they now have seven) children so that they could  “absorb and understand that they had a brother.”

Karen Santorum later wrote on book on the experience, Letters to Gabriel, and the experience apparently reinforced her husband’s views against abortion.

Three points:

1. It is good that Karen Santorum had the choice to decide how to deal with a difficult pregnancy, including the choice to risk her own life.

The person who has to live with the consequences of any decision ought to be the one to make that decision.

2. It is a dicey matter to criticize how people mourn. Eugene Robinson and Alan Colmes have come in for a great deal of criticism for mocking the Santorums for bringing the dead fetus home. While both Robinson and Colmes seem more weirded out by rather than contemptuous of the Santorums, they both imply that Santorum’s action reflects poorly on his ability to lead.

I have nothing good to say about Santorum, not one damned thing, but I also strongly believe in judging public officials by their public actions. Even shitty politicians get to have a personal life, whatever the shape of that personal life may be.

And as an aside, I don’t know how weird it is to bring a loved one’s corpse home. In most cases, of course, this isn’t an option, but into the 20th century in the US many of us dealt with our own dead. Perhaps there were those in the community who were called upon to help wash and prepare the body, but death in the home was not uncommon.

And in some sense both the right-to-die and the hospice movements (which are usually in political opposition) have reacted against the depersonalization of death in their efforts to allow people a decent death at home. I am among those who would prefer to bring death home, to see death as the end of life, not separate from it. Whatever my view of the status of the fetus, I don’t know that the urge of the Santorums to bring what they considered their son’s body home is really all that strange.

It seems quite human.

3. Anything goes, winning is the only thing, whatever you can get away with—I don’t take back a word of it. While I might think it politically dicey to bring up Santorum’s actions in this matter, I don’t think it’s out of bounds, mainly because I don’t think anything is out of bounds. My own personal beliefs on the respect for privacy have nothing to do with observations on political tactics, and in political campaigns, anything that can be used, will be used.

This is even more the case when you refer to your personal life in order to score political points. If, like Santorum, you use you and your wife’s ordeal to buttress your political attacks on abortion, then you transform that ordeal into political fodder, fodder which may now legitimately raked over and flung back at you.

There’s a big foggy territory between the personal and public for politicians. Yes, their minor children (and grandchildren) are used in photo ops and they may make occasional jokey references to something that their kids said or heard, but such uses are stylistic tropes, and are generally ignored, as are generic references to family in order to humanize oneself. When the politician goes deep into, say, a family tragedy, whether we see the person as been courageous and honest or cynical and conniving, and how the story can be used politically, likely depends on our views of the politician in the first place.

This is where the the “can be used/will be used” meets the “whatever works”: Will going after your opponent’s personal life help or hurt your campaign? If bringing up his personal life helps you, you do it; if it is likely to spark a backlash and hurt you, you don’t. That’s it.

It is noteworthy that those who criticized the Santorums’ decision are pundits, not anyone connected to any campaigns. The other candidates or their strategists might also think this is (further) evidence for his unfitness, but they will keep their lips zipped because there is nothing to be gained and too much to lose. That calculus is what regulates their behavior—period.

The point is to win.





All ur uteri are belong to us

25 06 2011

Can’t say I’m at all shocked by this:

Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the US more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals.

“Women are being stripped of their constitutional personhood and subjected to truly cruel laws,” said Lynn Paltrow of the campaign National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). “It’s turning pregnant women into a different class of person and removing them of their rights.”

Bei Bei Shuai, 34, has spent the past three months in a prison cell in Indianapolis charged with murdering her baby. On 23 December she tried to commit suicide by taking rat poison after her boyfriend abandoned her.

Shuai was rushed to hospital and survived, but she was 33 weeks pregnant and her baby, to whom she gave birth a week after the suicide attempt and whom she called Angel, died after four days. In March Shuai was charged with murder and attempted foeticide and she has been in custody since without the offer of bail.

In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the state’s “chemical endangerment” law. Introduced in 2006, the statute was designed to protect children whose parents were cooking methamphetamine in the home and thus putting their children at risk from inhaling the fumes.

It’s only the logical extreme of a movement which counts fidelity to extremism as a marker of integrity.

Anyway, read the whole thing, by Ed Pilkington at the Guardian.

h/t The Slog





You who are not-me suck

12 06 2011

I’m not much of a fan of the “all people not-me are stupid/evil/greedy/hypocritical/whatever” mode of observation, nor do I think much of the name-calling (sheeple, Repugs, libruls, etc.) which passes for witticism these days.

That said, there are those whose words and deeds do indicate a specific cast of mind which justly be called contemptuous of their fellow citizens:

1. Those who, like Rick Santorum and those who put up billboards blaming “the abortion industry” for killing black and Latino babies and every fucking politician who’s ever advocated, voted for, or signed into law mandatory fetal ultrasound,and bullshit non-medical medical scripts regarding the status of the fetus and the made-up [as opposed to real: there are real] risks of abortion, clearly do not think women matter.

Do not believe we can think.

Do not believe we know what’s going on in our bodies.

Do not believe we are capable of thinking about the future.

Do not believe we possess any decision-making powers whatsoever.

Do not think our lives matter.

On this last point, I give you Senator John McCain and his air quotes when talking about the health exception for abortion, and, even more recently, the former senator and current (or almost) presidential candidate Rick Santorum:

SANTORUM: When I was leading the charge on partial birth abortion, several members came forward and said, “Why don’t we just ban all abortions?” Tom Daschle was one of them, if you remember. And Susan Collins, and others. They wanted a health exception, which of course is a phony exception which would make the ban ineffective.

A “phony exception”: that’s nice. Because no woman has ever risked either her health or her life, has ever been disabled or killed as a result of a pregnancy or delivery.

(I do have to note this delicious bit of turnaround, however: the very same Hyde Amendment which prevents federal funding for abortion also bans states from blocking funding for abortions to terminate pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.)

2. The attitude of Paul Ryan and all the supporters of his budget plan, as well as those at the Heritage Foundation who proposed that the feds

Eliminate marriage penalties from federal programs. Married couples tend to be better off financially than their single or cohabitating counterparts. Policymakers should encourage such beneficial economic decisions by removing financial disincentives to marriage from tax and welfare policies.

As Matt Yglesias pointed out, “the basic logic seems badly flawed. Married people are better off than unmarried people, so we need to give the married people extra subsidies?”

The logic, however, is impeccable: those who have more should get more, those who have less should get less.

In both cases, there is a smugness regarding not only the rightness of one’s position but also contempt for those on the short side of that position.

Goddess knows leftists can be smug and contemptuous Fuck that. It’s late and this is a rant and I ain’t got the patience for a game of spin-the-sinner.

Stomping on people with less power than you in order both to keep them powerless and to remind them of your power over them says less about them than you. It says you’re contemptible.

It says you suck.

h/t Matt Yglesias, HuffPo, ThinkProgress








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