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Unbefreakinglievable.

A Virginia Legislature Delegate is headed off at the pass by a deluge of e-mail. What pissed everyone off? A proposed bill that would make it a Class I Misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and a $2,500 fine for any woman who fails to report a spontaneous miscarriage (euphemistically referred to as 'a fetal death') in her own home to the police within 12 hours.

The power of the internet is - a little scary.

But very, very heartening.

It even seems to have visible effects of the political process.

http://democracyforvirginia.typepad.com/democracy_for_virginia/2005/01/legislative_sen.html

Be sure to click the update link posted at the top of the page.

Holy expletive deleted cow.
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Okay, so you don't actually get to buy one of these web-toed, babbling bible-bangers - but you can see that a worthwhile organization can profit from one - and all for a cause that will keep them sleepless and gnashing their teeth in ecclesiastical fury for ages - and what better kind of gift is there than that?

Turn a Prostester into a Pledge for Planned Parenthood!

Link courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] flemco, bless 'im.
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From Snopes, in regards to, not the appointment, but the re-appointment of Dr. Hager:

===========================================

In December 2002, W. David Hager was one of eleven physicians appointed to the Food and Drug Administration's Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs, a commitee whose job it is to evaluate data and make recommendations on the safety and effectiveness of marketed and experimental drugs for use in obstetrics, gynecology, and related specialties. Dr. Hager is a part-time professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University Kentucky College of Medicine and a well-known specialist on gynecologic infections, and therefore at first blush his appointment to this committee would seem a good fit.

However, he is also vehemently pro-life and has vigorously played a part in the campaign to get the FDA to withdraw its approval of mifepristone (RU-486), a drug that terminates pregnancies. He is indeed the author of a number of books in which he's advocated prayer and the reading of the Scriptures as cures for medical ills.

Dr. Hager makes no bones about his beliefs but says they won't compromise his judgment: "Yes, I'm pro-life. But that's not going to keep me from objectively evaluating medication. I believe there are some safety concerns (about mifepristone) and they should be evaluated."

Contrary to the claim made in the now widely-circulated e-mail decrying his appointment, Dr. Hager says he does not deny birth-control prescriptions to unmarried women. However, Time magazine reported that "In his private practice, two sources familiar with it say, Hager refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women."

The appointment is a done deal, and Dr. Hager is now part of this committee (although, perhaps as a result of the controversy raised by this message, he was not appointed to chair the committee).

In June 2004, Dr. Hager was reappointed to the committee for a further year. Immediately after the re-election of President Bush, the e-mail decrying the appointment of Dr. Hager was circulated anew.

================================================

Sucks.
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From my e-mail. And I'm sorry to say, I don't think even a mass influx of angry e-mail would make any kind of difference - why the fuck would Bush start listening to anyone opposes him now, as opposed to before he convinced himself of his supposed 'mandate?'

This is an evil fucking world we live in, folks.
========================================================

Subject: The Bush Agenda for women

OK. Its time once again to take a stand. The Pres is at it again.

And so it begins...

Hager FDA appointment: President Bush has announced his plan to select Dr.W. David Hager to head up the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA)Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. This committee has not met for more than two years, during which time its charter lapsed. As a result, the Bush Administration is tasked with filling all eleven positions with new members. This position does not require Congressional approval.

The FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee makes crucialdecisions on matters relating to drugs used in the practice of obstetrics, gynecology and related specialties, including hormone therapy, contraception, treatment for infertility, and medical alternatives to surgical procedures for sterilization and pregnancy termination. Dr. Hager is the author of "As Jesus Cared for Women: Restoring Women Then and Now." The book blends biblical accounts of Christ healing women with case studies from Hager's practice. His views of reproductive health care are far outside the mainstream for reproductive technology. Dr. Hager is a practicing OB/GYN who describes himself as "pro-life" and refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women.

In the book Dr. Hager wrote with his wife, entitled "Stress and the Woman's Body," he suggests that women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome should seek help from reading the bible and praying.

As an editor and contributing author of "The Reproduction Revolution: AChristian Appraisal of Sexuality Reproductive Technologies and the Family," Dr. Hager appears to have endorsed the medically inaccurate assertion that the common birth control pill is an abortifacient.

We are concerned that Dr. Hager's strong religious beliefs may color his assessment of technologies that are necessary to protect women's lives or to preserve and promote women's health. Dr. Hager's track record of using religious beliefs to guide his medical decision-making makes him a dangerous and inappropriate candidate to serve as chair of this committee. Critical drug public policy and research must not be held hostage by anti-abortion politics. Members of this important panel should be appointed on the basis of science and medicine, rather than politics and religion. American women deserve no less.

There is something you can do. Below is a letter to be sent to the White House, opposing the placement of Hager. Please copy all the text of this email and paste it into a fresh email; then sign your name below and SEND THIS TO EVERY PERSON YOU KNOW WHO IS CONCERNED ABOUT WOMEN'S RIGHTS.

Every 10th person please forward e-mail to president@whitehouse.gov

I oppose the appointment of Dr. W. David Hager to the FDA Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. Mixing religion and medicine is unacceptable in a policy-making position. Using the FDA to promote a political agenda is inappropriate and seriously threatens women's health. Members of this important panel should be appointed on the basis of science and medicine, rather than politics and religion.

American women deserve no less.

1. Chuck Higgins, Santa Fe, NM

================================================================

I applaud you, Chuck. You have more faith than I do.
my_window_seat: (Moi)
WARNING:

I'm gearing up to write another paper for school.

This one's on abortion.

You know, I'm not going to try to go into my personal ideas or convictions about abortion.

The fact of the matter is, because I can't.

Because I don't know how I feel about the issue.

Except to say, this is -

This is not going to be an easy paper to write.

Just one thing before I let this one alone for the evening - and this should in no way be taken as an indication of my opinions about abortion, pro or con, whatever, it's just thoughts I'm having while spending time going through material on both sides of the issue, and it's just so -

Well for example, I ran across a list of pro-life responses to pro-choice arguments, and it goes like this -

Pro-choice argument: Abortion helps solve the problem of overpopulation.
Pro-life response:

The current birth rate in America is less than what is needed to maintain our population level. In 1957, the average American woman in her reproductive years bore 3.7 children. Taking into account all causes of death and the increases in average life span, zero population growth requires that the average woman bears 2.1 children. Since 1972, the average in America has been 1.8 children – a figure that is below zero population growth. In fact, any increases since 1972 have been due to immigration.

What about elsewhere? There are now 6 billion people on Earth. The planet's population will most likely continue to climb until 2050, when it will peak at 9 billion. Other predictions have the world's population peaking at 7.5 billion in 2040. In either case, it will then go into a sharp decline. With fertility rates low and anti-foreigner sentiment rising in Europe, the United Nations recently released a study that suggests Europe will need mass migration from the Third World to populate it. The report, written by the United Nations Population Division, states that South Korea, Japan, Europe and Russia are facing population crunches. If Japan continues its current abortion policies and fails to raise its average birth rate of 1.4 children per married couple, will have fewer than 500 people by the year 3000 (see "The Overpopulation Lie"). By 2050, the population of Russia will reduce to 150 million. In the 1970s, Russia's population rivaled America's, at more than 225 million people.

Finally, the entire population of the world could be placed in one gigantic city within the borders of the state of Texas (with a population density less than many cities around the world).


How can I look at pictures of the mangled corpses of aborted fetuses and be sickened and appalled and saddened, and yet it's the anti-over-population argument that completely sends my mind into a tailspin?

And would you understand what I mean if I say that it makes me feel like something less than human to say that - that I find knowing distortion of truth more horrifying, at this moment, than the idea that the act of abortion may in fact actually be the purposeful destruction of a potential human life?

Huh. I didn't want to venture into potentially conflict-causing territory with this entry, but being eyeballs deep in this stuff, it's hard not to say something controversial.

Seriously, though. I'm not making this stuff up.

Here's the link, just for the "Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments" part of a site that I don't recommend you casually wander further into, if you don't want to go screaming mad:

http://www.abortiontv.com/AnswersToProChoice.htm

I guess they have to have some kind of answer to the pro-choice argument that "Abortion helps solve the problem of overpopulation" - but I can't say that I have any respect for either of them - the argument or the answer.

Both reek of ignorance. Criminal, unpardonable ignorance.

I'm not going to say how I feel about abortion.

Because I don't know how I feel.

I know what I can say, though.

I can say that I will never look at a woman who has had an abortion and think of her as a "baby killer". Anymore than I would look at a war veteran and think that.

How different is it, really?

One way or another, somebody dies. A person, a piece of tissue, a part of a person who wonders if the choices that they've made make them less of a person -

And yet, life goes on.

People live and die every day. Lives begin and end, and fairness isn't part of who wakes up tomorrow and who doesn't.

There are choices, and there are consequences to every choice. Abortion, adoption, single parenthood, marriages made, not for love, but to satisfy convention, careers that require commitments, relationships that don't have anything near the tensile strength required to sustain not two, but three lives, histories and personal pasts that can preclude an individual's ability to see themselves as capable of the responsibility for another living, breathing, needing, deserving human being -

I don't know how I feel.

But one thing I do know -

I do not want to be lied to.

If I were to decide that abortion is something that is wrong, I am only going to be convinced by truth, not by contrivance. Not by emotionally-weighted distortions of reality.

And if I were to decide that - it would be my choice. Not my choice for anyone else. It would not give me the right to look at anyone else and say, what you've done is wrong.

Because if I ever did, I would have to say - you aren't the only one who's had to make hard choices.

We've both been in the same war, my friend.

I've been on both sides.

I have no more enemies.

I only recognize fellow casualties.

This semester is taking me to new depths of hell, I think.

Last week I sat in the hallway before class, listening to some happy moron babbling about how their writing assignment was to "imagine being given a wish by the Wish Fairy!"

I get to choose between such light and airy topics as female genital mutilation or abortion, food riots in Italy or polygamy in Mali.

Between this class and Poli-Sci, school feels so - personally revealing, emotionally threatening, potentially explosive - and as much as it's twisting my brain inside-out right now, I don't feel like I have the choice to look away from what I don't want to see anymore.

So you see - I'm having a little bit of a hard time with this semester...
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I should have tried to write this earlier, but Mannie called and distracted me for a few hours with yet more stories about Things I Think I Could Have Lived Without Knowing About the Gay Culture. Such as, the website dedicated to describing and rating the various merits of 'cruising' spots in every town and hamlet in the world. Yay, verily. I give you:

Squirt.org

Yeah. I'll never sit on another public park bench again. EVAR.

Anyway...

What's really been on my mind for the last few hours is the whole Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life thing. Because of the proposed Unborn Victims of Violence bill that's currently under the ham-handed fist of Dubyah, I've had to seriously think about how I feel about the whole thing. And I come away knowing even less of how I feel, rather than being able to clarify my own opinions.

Except during those early years of ignorance spent as a (shudders) Born Again Christian in my youth, I've pretty much always been a Pro-Choice person. What I am now - I am really have a hard time saying.

I just don't know.

Not that it really relates in any other than my ongoing tendency to generalize and stereotype people that I choose to dislike, namely, knee-jerk fundamentalists - but I find it interesting that the same people who are rabid Pro-Lifers also tend to be Pro Death Penalty. How this kind of contradiction is rationalized in some people's minds escapes me. Part of the whole Old Testament mentality, I guess; an eye for an eye and all that. But how is it more justifiable to scream and holler about the rights of the unborn and the sanctity of all life while at the same time being totally okay with the concept of legalized murder of an adult human being? I'm not saying let's all kiss and make up with the the guy who just raped a nun or murdered a bunch of co-eds in their dorm room or anything, but really - who gave you the Scepter of Justice and deemed it okey-doke to decide who lives and who dies?

I mean, I'm just sayin'...

But anyway, this new bill "recognizes the unborn child as a second victim when he or she is killed or injured during the commission of a violent federal crime." While it seems straightforward on the surface - it's technically just there to allow a person who has committed a crime against a pregnant woman to be charged for two counts rather than just one - it's very obviously a step towards the movement to grant full rights to a fetus - and of course, to repeal legalized abortion.

And this is the start of where I get tangled up in my thought processes.

On the one hand, I think about instances where a girl or woman is, I don't know a better way to put it, a victim of her own biology. A rape or incest victim who then finds out that she is pregnant. Or a teen who hasn't had the benefit of the kind of parenting that would give her the appropriate choice-making capability to avoid becoming pregnant. Or the classic case of a mother's life being endangered by giving birth.

When I was listening to a story about this issue on NPR, the person being interviewed on the Pro-Choice side was having a very hard time trying to talk about the people directly affected by the proposed bill. She talked about how she certainly empathized with the mothers who have lost their children because of cases like this - they were attacked and lost their babies, and felt the loss of a child that they would never know.

Where it really got sticky with me was when she was trying to show the difference between this kind of case, where a woman who obviously fully intended her pregnancy had lost the child because of a criminal act, and a case of a woman having the right to terminate a pregnancy - and to distinguish between the two types of situations, she made a reference to the difference between a 'wanted child' and an 'unwanted child'.

The only way my brain could interpret it was that, if it wasn't wanted, it was a pregnancy, if it was wanted, it was a child.

I really don't know how to wrap my brain around this one.

If you really want to stretch the analogy, who can blame the Nazis for killing Jews? As far as the Nazis were concerned, Jews weren't really people, so where was the harm in killing them?

Yes, I know it's a very big leap in logic - but then again, is it?

The whole Pro Choice thing is based on the idea that a woman should have the right to be able to choose what happens with her own body. On the surface, I can't argue with that at all. And science hasn't yet been able to prove that a fetus has anything that resembles thought processes - or if they have, I don't know about it. Not that that means anything, ignorant as I am...

But is it only passage through the birth canal that validates human life? You're not really 'human' until you've had your passport stamped?

Where do you draw the line?

sigh

In a better world, I'd like to see more time and thought put into making this whole choice business something that has to be wrangled with much less. I'd like to see young women grow up with a healthy sense of self, common sense, and the ability to defend themselves whenever necessary. I'd like to see young men raised with the same respect for women that they want extended to themselves. I'd like to see both raised with the fortitude to act responsibly - and the willingness to accept responsibility for their actions, whatever the consequences may be.

But what about the victims? And who exactly are they?

And what, really, is the difference between a 'wanted child' and a 'fetus'?

I can't make up my mind on this one. On the one hand, I don't want to live in a country where women are once again dying from backroom abortions and are made to feel that they have no rights to their own bodies and what happens to them.

On the other hand, there's again that question - who, really, has the right to decide who - or what - is really human?

The only thing I could think of, is that I can only be responsible for my own actions. I already have to take responsibility for the choices that I have made. And I am a person who has already faced the choices presented here. And I have to live with the results of these, and many other choices.

But as far as how I feel about things now, at this stage of my life? Do I want to be a person who decides who has the right to live or die?

If someone attacked me, right now, I would certainly fight to try to save my own life. But would I rather kill another person in order to save my own life?

Honestly, I'd like to say, no, I would rather not. Even if the other person was a baby-raping Hun who just wanted to stab me and rid me of my wallet - I don't think I want to be the person who decides that my life is more valuable than theirs. That, in the end, I will have proved that their destruction for my safety was the right choice.

Could I live up to that sacrifice? Couldn't it be that that person would eventually change their life and become a valuable contributor to the world in the end - even more valuable than me, sloth that I am?

And an 'unwanted pregnancy'. A cluster of cells, without conscious thought or volition. Nothing but tissue - but with the same kind of potential for good or evil as anyone already fully-formed and living right next to me at this very moment.

I guess that all I can say is, I don't want to make the choice for anyone other than myself, unless I absolutely have to. I don't want to take responsibility for any life other than my own - or tell anyone else that my choices are right for them, either.

This spawns - and yes, that was an unfortunate, but entirely unintentional, choice of verb - a whole different train of thought. One that I'm not even going to go into here.

I. Think. Entirely. Too. Much.

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