Friday, April 17, 2015

Men Debating Abortion Moves Forward

In an excellent summary of the insane debate going on in the South Carolina Senate over H 3114, the bill that would ban abortion at twenty weeks, we have the cretins explaining science and morality.  Lee Bright continues to tear his little heart out over the thought that 20-week fetuses are feeling pain.  No doubt he spends many nights lying awake thinking about those same fetuses being denied the right to experience sexual pleasure in the womb.  Danny Verdin, another example of imaginations gone wild, can't get past the pain a fetus must be going through during an abortion.

Jeez guys, you must have been a riot in your high school biology classes.  Should we really have men who are so prone to hysteria that they readily distort facts be making legislative decisions about... well, anything?

And while they relate to a fetus as though it is a cute little kitty, they have absolutely no concept of pain in reality.  The pain of a woman whose pregnancy has gone horribly wrong.  The pain of carrying a fetus who has severe abnormalities to term, and then giving birth to an infant who also will THEN live in pain until death.  The pain of a woman being unable to care for herself or other family members because she is being forced to carry a life that it has been determined will require the draining of resources, emotional and financial.  The tragedy of forcing life when maybe God has created a system wherein some pregnancies fail so that others can flower.

False science and hysteria rule the day in Columbia.

But we have some fearless souls on the other side who are attempting to bring reason and proper analysis to this fascist enterprise.

Senator Joel Lourie sums it up:

“We’re a bunch of men sitting up here trying to tell a woman whether it’s right or not to terminate a pregnancy at 20 versus 24 weeks. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves that we’re going to impose our own value system and interfere with the relationship between a woman, her physician, her spiritual adviser and her family.”

We're not even talking about the fact that that infinitesimal percentage of doctors who have testified as "experts" in favor of this bill have had center stage against professional organizations like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  We've had testimony by people who have said they "just know" a fetus at twenty week feels pain.  Proud to be a member of such an august legislative body that would consider that "evidence."

But then there's God.  The legislators themselves have toned down the religious rhetoric, substituting it with false science claims so that they can pretend they are keeping church and state separate.  But there has been more than enough religious fervor that has crept in via "witnesses."

So that the argument is not really whether a woman should be allowed to decide for herself about terminating a pregnancy.  It is really about the fact that because some women of faith chose to have the baby, all women should be prevented from having a choice.  It is because small-minded hypocrites like Lee Bright want to be heralded by the church as the man that saved "unborn babies" from being "killed" while defending abusers rights to carry guns.  It is about misogynists like Danny Verdin telling us that allowing exceptions to a 20-week abortion law for rape and incest would be encouraging women to lie.

Basically, it is the ugliest of motives, control of women, combined with voyeurism and government surveillance, that gives continued voice to these abortion bills.

This twenty week abortion ban, that in a world ruled by reason and true concern would have been laughed out of any governing body, will come for a Senate vote soon.  The criminal domestic violence bill, which would truly save lives, is being held hostage while those same "pro-life" legislators fight about whether abusers should have their guns taken away.

But we can still be heard.  We can thank and encourage those Senators who are fighting for women's right to reproductive health and privacy, and we can write and call our own State Senators to tell them in no uncertain terms to vote no to this bill.

Thanks to Brad Hutto and Joel Lourie and others who are fighting to keep the government out of women's private lives.

Go to the Statehouse website to send an email to let each senator know how you feel about this bill.

This is the email I sent to all senators:

I urge you to vote NO on the bill that would prevent women from deciding on whether to have an abortion after twenty weeks. Science has proven that at 20-24 weeks a fetus has not developed the ability to experience pain.

Also, this is an extremely rare procedure (estimated 30 per year) which occurs in the course of wanted pregnancies where fetal abnormalities are detected.

This should be a decision between a woman and a medical professional.  Government intrusion in such a private and personal matter is unacceptable.

Vote NO on H 3114.

I hope you will all join me in making your voice heard.

Read more here:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Time for Racism Is Nearly Over, Now Get Ready for Misogyny

You know it's hard to make my head spin these days.  But that it did when I heard that Wayne LaPierre, hypocrite and warmonger extraordinaire, said the following at the NRA's national convention:

"Eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough."
Since the quote made it internationally, it appeared I wasn't the only one who noted that Mr. LaPierre had outdone himself in the categories of ignorance and gall.  The demographically symbolic head of the NRA -- old, white male -- must have chosen his words carefully, so that most of those hearing the speech would cheer at the attack on both current and potentially future presidents without really understanding just how over-the-top it was.  That's our Wayne, too smart for the common folk.

But those who really heard the words, and thanks to New York Times reporter Nick Corasaniti who tweeted them, are no doubt still considering their significance.

As we talk about racism and continue to politely ignore misogyny, it is just astounding that LaPierre would be so blatant.  Not too many steps removed, in fact, from using the words "nigger" and "bitch."  Which I imagine he feels free to use in a smaller room.

Is this election season going to be one where overt hatred of women is going to be allowed and accepted the way the not-too-veiled birth certificate "controversy" was part of the anti-Obama rhetoric?  While reporters are chasing Hillary around and debating the correctness of her lunch choice, will anyone address the sexism that is already flying?  Will we allow through our silence jackasses like Wayne LaPierre to disqualify Clinton by virtue of her sex?  Will we be silent when ugly comments and photos circulate social media?  Or will we start shouting in outrage?

Because with LaPierre's crack, we should already be shouting.  It's not going to get any better.  Hillary can handle it; she's been proving that for decades.  But we as a country cannot.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Underground Racism

It seems fair to say, despite the pontifications of Chief Justice John Roberts, that racism has not come to an end.  I wonder why nobody has asked him to share his wisdom regarding the shootings of black men by white police officers.  It must have something to do with that ginormous buffer zone the justices have protecting them from the actual real world.  Which also explains why we would never expect Clarence Thomas to have to worry about white cops.

It was inevitable that we in South Carolina would have our turn in the national spotlight over a police shooting.  In fact it happened too briefly a year ago, and other times before that.

I was surprised to hear an MSNBC reporter yesterday note that of over 200 police shootings in South Carolina, none were convicted of a crime.  I recalled the terrifying dashcam video of last summer's shooting of an unarmed black man who was reaching for his license and registration after being stopped for not having his seat belt on.  It turns out that the officer involved was fired and charged with assault and battery, but not yet tried.  It seems we need to keep a close eye on that case.

Because it should be obvious to anyone other than five members of the Supreme Court that racism is alive and well.  And not just in the south.  The stereotypes of dangerous black men and black women who live high off the welfare system haven't died; they had just gone underground.  It may be that it took a black president to bring the paranoia out in the open.  And it took authorities like the majority of the Supreme Court to give their blessing to racially motivated aggression.

Where was all that racism before it became legal to deny blacks the right to vote via the voter ID bandwagon and selectively limiting polling places, hours and locations?  And we hadn't had quite such a rage against people on welfare and food stamps since Ronald Reagan's bullshit about the welfare queen in the Cadillac.  While the media was enjoying the Obama birth certificate nonsense, the racists were beginning to crawl out from under their rocks.

As a white woman, I can testify to the fact that there has always been racism.  Because every now and then, someone would say to me something along the lines of "You know what they're like."  Wink, nudge.  I find it bizarre, and yet, if you're like me, when it's happened to you white folk who are reading this, you may not have said, "No, I don't," or, "Yeah, probably like me."  We don't confront the crazies because, well, they are crazy.  After all, they've made assumptions that all we white folk are like they are and believe what they know to be fact.  So, like me, you probably backed away from the conversation, maybe discretely shaking your head as you went.

We know the racists are out there.  We know the stereotypes.  The only way to change that nonsense is for white and blacks to live, work, go to school with each other.  We've known that for a long time.  And yet even when schools are integrated it is pretty likely that the social groups aren't.  And even a liberal democrat such as myself finds that I am in a social group with white women.

So we self-select.  But we still need to talk among each other.  We need to share space.  And most important, we need to stop the racists from perpetuating the racist myths.  We need our politicians to stop playing to our fears.  We need to insist that our judges don't hold ridiculous stereotypes.  We definitely need to screen those who hold racist beliefs out of our police forces and our schools.

My mother used to tell the story of a teacher in her elementary school (circa 1925) who hated Italians.  She thought they were dirty and stupid.  As my mother walked down the stairs, this teacher gave her a little kick to help her along.  We've mostly all been there.  These days it's the Hispanics who are called dirty and stupid.  Segregating ourselves from others who are different, stereotyping those we don't know well enough to understand, this may be the human condition.  But we are all in a position to step up and stop the nonsense when it happens.  The media needs to do it, the courts need to do it.

But I don't see that on the horizon.  Fox News, the right-wing politicians, and big corporate powers like the Kochs have too much to gain by fueling the hate.  Until our authorities step up, as Lyndon Johnson did when he said no to racism and put his full power behind the American law and a true belief in equality, we will have to whip out the cell phones and make the cops wear body cams.  It won't end racism, and the cameras won't be enough.  We've had blacks shot and strangled on camera, and the cops gotten off by not-so-grand juries and prosecutors who were on the side of the cops.  It will take vigilance, protests, media focus to stop the killing of innocent blacks that has gone on throughout the country's history.  It is good that the tragic killings of Trayvon Martin and of Michael Brown in Ferguson woke us up from our delusions.  But we need to understand that those talks that dads have with their black sons about the police have always gone on, and we need to know that the society that makes that necessary has got to change. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Big Anti-Abortion Rally in the SC Senate

On Wednesday, April 1, the South Carolina Senate is going to hear not one, not two, but four anti-abortion bills.  This will be the Medical Affairs Subcommittee, at 9 a.m. in 207 Gressette.  The bills are: H 3114, S 25, S 28, and S 130.  These are all basically the same bill, the 20-week ban that pretends to be science by claiming that fetuses at 20 weeks can feel pain. 

Is this a last ditch effort to pass one of these god-awful bills before recess?  It has the feel of a back-room plot, with old white men smoking big smelly cigars, doesn't it?  Just determined, before the break for the big religious holiday, to do something to get a wink and a back-slap from their Guy in Heaven.

I would like to understand why there are four of the same bills floating around, some with the same sponsors.  It makes no sense, which is at least consistent with the content of the bills.  Maybe it's a case of dueling egos, but if there is a rationale for flooding the Senate with copies of the same bill, I sure would like to be on top of it.

Let's just hope that a couple of the sane members of this subcommittee are planning some evasive action.

Here's one thing, though.  We can't expect our guys to fight this ugly fight without our support.  And we need those nasty women-haters to know we aren't going to sit by while they plan to keep us barefoot and pregnant.

So we need to call and email.  Every one of them.  Once, twice, as often as possible.

You know those anti-abortion wackos that block the Charleston Women's Medical Center?  The ones who show up at ACLU meetings, Planned Parenthood events, and pretty much any other place where people might gather to talk about preserving individual freedom?  They are tireless.  There aren't all that many of them, but the way they show up, Zelig-like, they seem to be everywhere.

That is the presence -- and the passion -- that we need to project.  Politicians may be bought, and they may have their own pet projects that disregard the needs of their constituents, but if you make enough noise, they will worry about their futures.  And those guys in the Senate who do support women's reproductive freedom and privacy need to know there are gazillions of us behind them, cheering them on.

So here's the thing.

Women of reproductive age, and the men who are also affected by these attempts to control their lives, need to shout the loudest, because they have the most to lose.  Be sure to tell these young women and men exactly what is going on this Wednesday.  The 20-week abortion ban seeks to prevent women from making critical medical decisions about their welfare and that of their families.  After the anti-abortion gang was able to get 24-week abortions banned with their "partial birth" false science, the 20-week abortion ban was next on their checklist.  And be assured that if this becomes law, they will be energized and will pursue ever more restrictive measures.  The goal is not just total ban on abortion, but a ban on contraception as well.

If you can be there on Wednesday, do it.  Your presence at the statehouse will be noticed.

Whether you are there or not, call and / or email the members of the Medical Affairs Committee.  You can do that from by going to the Senate link, and then to the email link.  You can send individual emails, or an email to all Senate members.  I don't think it's possible to overdo your voice or your message.

You can also go to this ACLU link:

Feel free to add your own words to the prepared text.  And don't worry about how well you write; it is the message that matters.

If there is enough noise, it is possible that some committee members will be less eager to push these bills through.

Finally, spread this message through Facebook, Twitter, and your email lists.  The sad truth is that when these terrible bills do pass, it is a surprise to far too many of us.  Let's not let that happen.

And let's not let Lee Bright and Wendy Nanney dictate what happens in our doctors' offices.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The NRA's Hissy Fit

I was catching up on my news watching over the weekend, and an article on Rachel Maddow's 3/20 show caused me to do a double-take:

And even having watched it several times, it still brings tears to my eyes.

This is the reality of gun ownership slamming into America's fantasy.  It is an amazing experiment.  It is more effective than anything the creeps at the NRA have come up with.

And so the NRA and other gun organizations have (no pun intended) gone ballistic.  They are in full whine.  And the irony of it all is quite a thing to see.

They are talking about deceptive advertising and breaking New York City gun laws.  They bring up violations of city codes about displaying guns.  They question whether the city used public funds.

It turns out, the group that conducted this research in gun marketing, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, dotted their i's and crossed all their t's when they planned this experiment.  All legal.  Which won't stop the NRA from trying to find a way to destroy the group.  But as I am writing this blog, there have been 3,180,543 youtube views, and there are likely to be millions more.

On a day when I was feeling pretty discouraged by all the attacks coming from the right-wing in so many areas of individual rights, this was a great victory.

Here in South Carolina this week, on Tuesday, the House is going to be taking up S 3, the Senate's version of the Criminal Domestic Violence bill.  In light of our shameful statistics on domestic violence and shooting deaths -- more than 61 percent of women killed by domestic violence were killed by guns -- Senators Katrina Shealy and Larry Martin included a prohibition on convicted abusers owning or having in their possession a gun.  Although the bill was inevitably watered down to give judges discretion in ordering this prohibition on a case-by-case basis, the bill is still far stronger than the House version, H 3433, which has no language prohibiting guns.

So here we are, with S 3 already passed by the Senate and introduced into the House.  But the House appears to be ignoring S 3 so that they can be credited with passing the inferior H 3433, which will go before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday.  I surely don't understand the fighting over territory that sees so many bills duplicated, but I do believe it enables our legislators to muddy the water enough that they can do damage and take credit at the same time.  Which appears to be the plan here.

That's why it is important to contact House representatives immediately and tell them that we expect them to pass a Criminal Domestic Violence bill that includes strong gun prohibitions.  This is not a Second Amendment issue.  This is about not allowing violent individuals to have easy access to weapons.  This is about protecting families, women and children, and yes, men, from violent individuals the very best way possible.

The video produced by States United to Prevent Gun Violence should be enough to convince us that we can win this fight.  But our legislators need to hear from us.  Today, and as long as it takes.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Abortion Opponents Rehearsed and Camera Ready

This is what I thought about as I tossed and turned for several hours last night:

H 3114, the deceitfully titled, "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," went before the SC Senate yesterday.  That afternoon, The State ran a video of a woman -- and her daughter Savannah's -- testimony.  Wendy Duke is dignified and well-spoken, and her remarks were carefully prepared.  She has written an inspirational book about her daughter's first years, and she is a blogger.  She introduces her daughter early on, and 14 1/2 year old Savannah comes to sit by her while her mother continues.

At 21 weeks, Ms. Duke's doctor informed her that there were potentially severe fetal abnormalities.  At first glance, it sounds like the recommendation was based on the fact that one leg would be significantly shorter than the other.  Listen carefully, though, because it turns out there was also "significant brain abnormality," so the recommendation to consider an abortion was more than responsible and justified.

Before she turns the microphone over to Savannah, Duke concludes, "At 21 weeks gestation, this former fetus' personality had already been established."

Well, no.  And therein lies what is outrageous about this testimony.  An emotional appeal mixing feelings with facts, combining the terms "fetus" and "personality" as though they actually made sense together, just does not belong in the South Carolina legislature.

Duke's comments were followed by a brief religious screed by her daughter.  The camera panned on an anti-abortion pin that she wore prominently, with a photo of something that looked more like a premature infant than a fetus, saying, "20 week preborn child -- Please protect me."

National anti-abortion organizations advising the states have been careful not to frame legislation in religious terms and rather resort to nonsensical  medical terms, hence "pain capable" and my favorite, "pre-born."  We have heard legislators across this country claim such idiocy as because male fetuses have erections it is an obvious indication of pleasure, so therefore must feel pain.  We have been constantly inundated with claims that the fetus appearing to flinch in response to stimuli assumes pain, although pain receptors have not yet been developed.

And here we have the testimony of a truly inspirational parent, and her truly amazing daughter, claiming that without this proposed law, her daughter would not exist.  Also not true.

But it is well orchestrated and heart-wrenching.  And here it is on video, and making it to the State website.

If you read to the end of the piece, though, you will find testimony by another woman, Jennifer Lane, describing the tremendously difficult decision she had to make in similar circumstances.  With a five-year-old daughter, she had to make decisions based on not just the severe brain abnormalities, but also on whether she could care for a child with such limitations while also caring for her young daughter.

It is apparent that Ms Duke had the resources to give great amounts of time, pay for years of medical treatments, and nurture her disabled child without sacrificing her own health.  She was able to provide well for her daughter, and to give her all the support that would assure she would excel in her endeavors.  She is an exceptional woman, but she also had the freedom to assess her situation and make the best choice for her.

Yet here she is judging other women, each with unique situations -- financial, familial, emotional -- by testifying that there should be a law preventing them from being able to make the choice that she was allowed to make.

To their credit, the subcommittee has asked for medical professionals to make recommendations on an amendment for exceptions for fetal abnormalities and the health of the woman.  On the other hand, it assumes that this procedure has been done excessively and frivolously and that a law is needed.  And they also seem to have accepted the erroneous claim that this ban is necessary because of fetal pain.

In any event, the subcommittee will be meeting again around April 1, a fitting time for fools to meet.  And it will give me a few days to catch up on my sleep. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Racism, Sexism or Cancer?

On March 10, the topic on the new Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore was women and power.  He has a segment called "Keeping it 100" wherein he asks weird questions designed to put guests on the spot, and then decides whether their answers have been totally honest.

One question was "racism, sexism, or cancer" (minute 18)  if you could eliminate two, and the other would proliferate, which two?  And Wilmore helpfully suggested that one of them should be cancer.

Guest Chloe Hilliard had to agree, and then decided that the other would have to be racism, because that would affect generations.  Or some such nonsense.

That, in a nutshell, is why women continue to be abused, neglected, used and mistreated.  We are half of all those other subgroups yet, after generations of enlightenment, we continue to believe that every other interest group is more important than ours.

I wondered how refusing to keep women safe from abusive partners did not affect children and their futures.  Or denial of a living wage, food stamps and health care did not reverberate into the community and the following years.  Equal pay for equal work?  How about privacy and freedom in deciding about whether to get pregnant, or remain pregnant?  Is the humiliation and suffering brought upon women by social policy really less important than that of other groups (which, again, overlap with the group labeled "women").

There have been short periods -- the fight for suffrage, the women's movement of the 70's -- in which we stood up and proclaimed that we are as important as any other issue.  And then we gained a few rights, thanked those with the power to grant them, and went back to being polite and grateful.

I wonder how bad things will have to get for women, how many women shot or beaten, how many women imprisoned for having abortions -- or killed by back alley ones, how many women sick, starving or homeless before we rise up again and say no to the arguments explaining why we should bow to higher priorities.

Time to stop compromising.  Time to stop trying to prove how reasonable we are based on our moderate and rational requests for the right to abortion and birth control.  Time to stop suffering.

This is how I would have answered the question of "racism, sexism, or cancer."  I would have chosen eliminating racism and sexism.  Because cancer cuts across the board; that means that everyone will be invested in doing something about it.  And none of the rest of us should have to sacrifice our individual rights so other groups can enjoy theirs.