Pray For No Babies, But Condoms Work Better

One of the earliest articles I wrote about was the nature of abortion in the Philippines and in particular what it would mean for an America entranced by the usage of abstinence only education and reduction of women’s access to medicine.

But in the wake of Sandy Hook and the Delhi Rapes a little piece of good news went unheard of…

The grasp of the Catholic Church has weakened, the Philippines recently passed a bill which legalises the provision of contraceptives, a move that the Catholic Church has declared as “promotes promiscuity and destroys life”. The Philippines with a population of 94 million and roughly 30 million people in poverty often struggled with family planning and indeed live in a place where the job market is so saturated that they are forced to export workers in order to make ends meet.

Half the pregnancies in the Philippines are unwanted and a third end up aborted in a country where abortion is illegal. This means that the abortion rate is 1 in 6 despite abortion being illegal. It was considered the home of the back street abortionist.

Poverty, Overcrowding, Homelessness, Crime and Saturated Job Markets are all problems the Church have not helped with and indeed the Church are planning to fight this new law (Well Done Ratzinger! As if you don’t have enough problems in the world without faffing around stopping people from getting condoms!) with a law suit in the works.

In the words of a street vendor called Labadan “You can pray to God for no more babies, but the condom works better”.

There are still battles to be fought so go show your support.

Thou Shalt Not Tell Half Truths

I am not a part of the Con brigade here (The Conference Brigade… Not the FTB version of Hustle) so I rarely get to show people one of the major issues in pseudoscientific reporting.

One of the major problems of reporting of medical literature is the “half truth”. Medical Literature and Research is boring. It’s a method of transferring factual data, not a method of holding your audience. It is statistics and flibbertigibbet. No one wants to hear that. They want answers! ANSWERS!!!

And some of the answers they get from literature are only half the story. This is a real piece of medical research that indicates that women who don’t carry a pregnancy to term often die. Up to 80% more likely to die. I can see why it’s true. But to claim it’s due to Abortion is pure idiocy.

The paper they quote is real, but the logic they use is frankly moronic.

For starters? The real way of reading a paper includes seeing who did the study. If the Pope produced a study about how condoms make your penis smaller would you believe him? The Elliot Institute (do not laugh at their website… Laughing at the website is verboten!) are responsible for this. For those unwilling to click on the link (It’s a website that looks like something I made circa 2001. Not the website of the scientifically minded. Any Steve with a website can start an institute. Doesn’t mean it’s recognised…) I have some choice sections to post here from there.

Our coalition seeks to address different concerns raised by unregulated human engineering with a single solution that will appeal to people from all walks of life: conservative or liberal, rich or poor, devout or indifferent, theist or atheist. 

Many, perhaps most, of our members are and will be motivated by the view that human life is sacred.  For these members, the idea that human nature is being altered and human embryos are being destroyed in science experiments, drives their support.

Others are chiefly concerned about the threats to public health, the environment, or the economic and social consequences of unregulated human engineering.  Some of the secular supporters of our effort may even be willing to accept some modification of the human genome, once it is proven to be safe.  But virtually all in this group believe voters, not just biotech entrepreneurs and eugenic utopians, should have a say about if and when we enter into the “Brave New World” of genetically altered human beings.

Many people will share have both religious and secular concerns.  The organizers of the coalition believe that both concerns are valid and should be considered, respected, and appealed to in our efforts to raise public awareness and concern about these issues.”

AKA they are pro-lifers masquerading as scientists. Any fucker can be a bio-medical ethicist. Hell, I was taught by one who seriously considered the ethical ramifications of the british technology to produce human chimera embryos using cow eggs with a human genome to be a worrying trend where these could give rise to monsters. I had to point out that any of these “chimeras” that grew to adulthood would be no different from us. They would be humans, and not required to live in my maze.

I said we shouldn’t laugh at the website. But it’s so very hard to if they put up pages like this. Because this stops being “research” and starts being a smear campaign.

Again… Some choice quotes…

“Chimeras [human-animal crossbreads] or parahumans might legitimately be fashioned to do dangerous or demeaning jobs. As it is now, low-grade work is shoved off on moronic and retarded individuals, the victims of uncontrolled reproduction. Should we not program such workers ‘thoughtfully’ instead of accidentally, by means of hybridization?” — Dr. Joseph Fletcher

Not a scientist. Joseph was actually a professor of Divinities. He later converted to Atheism from Christianity. And no I don’t think he said this. Ever. This may be a “Lady Grey Darwin Recant”.

“Science is moving at such a fast pace that scientists have proven that they can create headless mice through removal of genes in the embryo that control development of the head. But the body would have the capacity to keep the organs functional for use as transplants…. Embryonic stem cells, which holds promise of cure of any organ, is but a slow move towards immortality.” -Dr. P.B. Desai

Or you know. We could just grow the organ. That’s the point of the research. It takes 18 years to grow a human to full size… By that time most people would be dead. This clearly is a very stupid way of doing things. We would have to learn how to increase the speed of development. Or you know… Learn how to differentiate cells and either use 3D printing technology (something we already use for creating new ears and noses and have successfully done with the human bladder) to recreate full functioning organs. Or just learn how to grow organs independent from the body…

These are a selection of quotes by scientists pulled out of context and with no rhyme or reason. In short? It’s a pro-life “institute” that does “research” and thinks scientists and doctors are “mad” for often saying things which make sense. Bias… A lot of Bias.

Now go back to the article. How many alarm bells are ringing. Do you know why they are ringing? Congratulations you are thinking skeptically. But since the majority of my readers probably don’t understand how they came to these “figures” a little explanation is needed.

  • Our maternal mortality in the west is frankly miniscule. Yes yes yes! Here we need to ignore the pro-choicers who make a big fuss about childbirth being super deadly and face facts. It’s not. Not in the west. Yes, there are a few deaths but frankly Measles has a greater mortality rate and people STILL consider that harmless. We have utilised medical science to reduce maternal mortality rates to a very very very small number.
  • Now what’s the problem with very very small numbers? If one person per 1000 died in child birth and 1.8 people per 1000 died in abortion then you have an 80% increase in mortality. It’s actually not that high, it’s just portraying a small increase in a form that makes it seem like women are straight dropping dead from all those abortions. There are 12 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. When compared to abortion this means that 22 women die per 100,000 abortions (according to this article) in ten years after the abortion. Another ten? That’s it? It’s a difference of 0.01% in terms of mortality rates. And it is explainable as to why this occurs.
  • Another issue here is WHY women have abortions. The vast majority are due to “I don’t want to have a child”. They are fine. There are however a group of people who have to have abortions for medical reasons. Plenty of those are rather deadly and will kill you. You actually have predisposed a group to higher mortality rates by not excluding women who have had medical abortions due to illness. Because if you have cancer and a baby and have to undergo chemotherapy then you may get an abortion. The chemo may not work, you may metastatise and die. HIV, Cancer, Genetics… All play a part here. We are ignoring baseline mortality here because we are going to assume the baseline mortality is the same these are “extras”. Both women in the abortion and natural child birth groups die at the same rate of the same causes with the abortion group having few more extra deaths due to things that required abortions. The incidence is 1 in 10,000. That’s ludicrously small.
  • Another indicator that that’s behind this is that miscarriage is also considered an “abortion”. Wait what? Miscarriages are a completely different issue and serial miscarriage is pathological and indeed very depressing. It’s also indicative of other pathology which can cause deaths. You cannot compare the two things as the same.

Ultimately? Biased. Lies, damned lies and Statistics. This is the use of statistics to befuddle the casual reader and pollute the diatribe of the abortion debate by giving pro-lifers a seemingly secular “institute” to produce pro-life papers. No serious experimental medical and science group ever lists “mad scientists”.

 

Faith and Begorrah

Well faith certainly. As of now most of us have heard about the death of Savita Halapannavar who was denied life saving medical care. For those who haven’t? Savita required an abortion. Not because she wanted one but because she needed one. She had a medical condition where her cervix prematurely dilated. Now there are some cases where you can save the child (my cousin’s kid is one such child. Medication and surgical stitches to keep the os shut if you must know.), but this was not such a case. After trying everything, Savita agreed that an abortion was in her best interest. She was denied one by the laws and indeed doctors at an Irish hospital. She was told that “This is a Catholic Country”.

Savita contracted septicaemia and died. Because doctors were unwilling to terminate a foetus even one that was going to die ANYWAYS due to the open Os. If this had occurred in England, Wales or Scotland she wouldn’t have had any issue. She was at just 18 weeks. The child is completely unviable so that argument doesn’t hold water (Brains and hearts are all well and good, but lungs only develop by week 24 which is why the cut off between late and early abortion is at 24 weeks in the west. It’s at 28 weeks in India and many third world nations due to a lack of technology.). This wasn’t late term this was a cut and dry case. Where the science of medicine actually indicates that abortion is the correct medical procedure to resolve this case. Savita actually tried to delay the abortion for as long as possible too but her attempts failed and she was resigned to losing the pregnancy. There is in fact a law in Ireland indicating that this procedure should be done. To therefore deny her the the right to an abortion is frank lunacy. Your faith as a doctor should not exceed patient welfare particularly if the law is on the patient’s side.

This is a Catholic Country. Really? And how has that worked out for Ireland which has listed some of the worst kinds of abuse of the catholic church. Everything from the Magdalene Laundries to the Christian Brothers (Two infamous organisations that were complicit in the systematic physical abuse of generations of children. Where perceived sin and guilt were used to harass children into blind obedience.) and the well known paedophile priest scandals.

One would think that Ireland would learn to be better than all that. To embrace science and logic without the men in robes telling them what the fuck they should do.

“This is a Catholic Country” should be a statement of apology and embarrassment. Not one of pride. All this has demonstrated is the shocking nature of faith. That people are willing to believe in fairy tales to the point where they do things because their personal imaginary friend has told them to and they have made an entire constitution that acknowledges this imaginary being. That’s not a mark of respect, that’s a mark of a delusion albeit one that we widely accept as normal. If any man said “I do this because the tooth fairy tells me to” he would be ridiculed.

There are countless ways to acknowledge life. Catholicism doesn’t give a flying fuck about the quality of life of it’s adherents. Fitting for a religion that prides itself on torture, but Catholicism seeks to make life as miserable as fucking possible. The treatment for pain is an opiate right? Never mind the addiction. Or the crippling constipation. Or the inability to think clearly. If your primary problem in life is that “life sucks” then Catholicism is great! But so is Heroin. Neither are good for you. They just stop you giving a fuck about how sucky your life is.

Ireland is great! It’s a first world nation (even after bullshit like this). People don’t have anything to be sad about. So you just need to invent things to make people miserable. The abortion ban is this. The church has fought against abortion, divorce and contraception.

It’s time for Ireland to go cold turkey. Ireland does not lose it’s nature if it stops listening to celibate men obsessed with sex, robes and stupid hats. You can be catholic in your own house and church and mind, but not force your ludicrous god on others. Hell! If you feel so strongly against abortions then don’t get one. Stick to your guns then. But to stop others?

Legalise abortion, ban the church from the law.

[Edit = added stuff about the case for those who were unaware]

Rights of the Silent Majority – Femme? Fatal!

It’s all in the punctuation after all. This is the first FTB post on the Silent Majority theme. I try and group posts under various themes, so that people roughly know whats in the post. I quickly found out that not everyone is interested in every topic.

One of the amusing bits about human evolution and indeed human demographics is that our genders aren’t equal in terms of life expectancy and survivability. In nearly every country across the globe women outlive men. This actually means something very interesting.

There are more women on the planet than there are men. It’s a slight majority at the moment. 51% of people on the planet are women. They are the majority, albeit a silent one.

Reproductive rights are a contentious subject in India for a different reason than they are in the USA. Contraception is cheap, subsidised and easily available. India is facing a crisis on the scale of the holodomor or worse. India has too many people. We aren’t talking about “the breaking point” in a few years, the breaking point has passed.

Today in India I have power for only 22 hours a day. The hospital where I am posted has it for 14 to 16 hours a day. A cousin lives in a place where there are 18 hour cuts. There are so many people that electricity is running out. India needs to lose close to 50% of it’s population to be stable and around 70 to 75% to have a stable self sustaining first world demography.

This is a titanic goal. India has 1.2 billion people on it. It’s got enough people inside it’s boundaries to populate most continents comfortably.

So in India we have contraception. It is cheap, plentiful and easily available. Most hospitals and clinics give out free condoms. The IUD is available for cheap. The pill is available in more urban areas. There are government incentives to get tubectomies and vasectomies. The One Child Ideal is flogged heavily but the overall message still hasn’t reached everyone. It’s a good thing…

But what’s the contentious issue? India is one of the few countries on the planet where there are fewer women than men. The age demographic in my age group is 1:8.5 for every 100 men there are 85 women. India’s women are vanishing at an alarming rate.

The reason? It used to (And Still Is) Female infanticide. Female babies meet with an inordinate amount of accidents. They often die young. Often the logic is not that it’s murder but saving the child from suffering. The mother not wanting the child to suffer. A lot of the time it’s death by negligence. But that’s falling. Prosecution of such cases is good after all. But what’s the reason for the fall?

Abortion.

Gender selective abortion is rife in the north of India. Lack of oversight and corruption means that it is easy enough to get information regarding the foetus and terminate a female child. This has led to an increase in trafficking of women as brides from the eastern parts of India, Nepal and Bhutan. It is estimated that 50 million female foetuses were terminated over the decade resulting in this demographic shift. It’s a practice seen in the west too amongst indian communities.

So what does India have to do? The current law states that the pre-natal ultrasound screenings should not include gender. Indian parents do not know if the child is a boy or a girl until the child is born, or atleast they shouldn’t know. However they are still finding out. It’s not hard to sneak a peak at the ultrasound after all, and in a country infamous for it’s corruption, there are probably clinics that let patients know the gender of their child for a fee.

It’s not religious, it’s cultural. The three major religions of India (Hinduism, Christianity and Islam) all demonstrate this problem. It’s mainly in the north but it is seen in the south too where the treatment of women is better. It’s the misuse of useful technology. It’s a republican’s wet dream, a group of people misusing abortion for pointless and almost frivolous purposes.

In medicine you have 3 types of treatment. Personal, Social and National. How you treat the patient, the community and everyone. The ultrasound restriction treats at the level of the patient. But for the community? For India?

Only a complete destruction of the notion that girls are not wanted. That the entire sexist culture of India needs to be destroyed and replaced for the better. It doesn’t have to be “western” in origin. It can actually exceed the equality of western culture. After all, India manages to break down the western barrier between male and female engineers, IT and mathematics students. Why can’t it do the same for this?

Toddsplainin

Trigger Warning – Content that follows the jump contains a discussion of Rape and indeed Todd Akin’s comments…

I don’t think I need to repeat what everyone else thinks about Todd Akin’s “Legitimate Rape” comment, but needless to say it’s quite possibly one of the most idiotic things said by someone in a position of authority this year.

Needless to say that this has attracted a lot of flak, not just for the sheer callousness of such a statement but because it is a trigger to the countless people who have been raped and demonstrates the kind of thinking many rape victims have to face from people who literally have no idea about rape.

Now, most of us men aren’t subject to sexual assault. Many women however have. So we don’t know what women feel towards the event. Many people are forever traumatised by it and any statement such as the one made by Akins causes a negative reaction. And here is the thing why we write “trigger warning” and the like on posts. Because it warns those who suffered about the content within a post and that they are continuing knowing what the contents are.

The reaction of people who were raped to a trigger is perfectly legitimate because the people traumatised by the event can respond to a trigger by different and unique methods. You cannot tell a combat PTSD sufferer that his fear of balloons is idiotic and then pop balloons at him. Likewise you cannot tell a rape survivor (and PTSD sufferer) that their reaction (no matter how ludicrous it seems to you) is incorrect. Because you don’t see what the person sees.

Unfortunately Mark Goldbatt from Patheos doesn’t seem to grasp that when he tries to explain why the Eve Ensler’s statement – “as if to imply there was such a thing as ‘illegitimate’ rape. Let me try to explain to you what that does to the minds, hearts and souls of the millions of women on this planet who experience rape. It is a form of re-rape.” is wrong. He calls it a “Pathetic” letter. Again I must point out that Mark indulges in some pretty vile moves so Trigger Warnings galore…

This is the first I’ve heard about “re-rape.” Maybe it’s an elusive concept, and maybe only rape survivors like yourself can grasp it; I know I’ve mulled it over for several days, but I still can’t fathom how a two-bit politician putting his foot in his mouth is the psychic equivalent of your own description of the original act: “I want you to close your eyes and imagine that you are on your bed or up against a wall or locked in a small suffocating space. Imagine being tied up there and imagine some aggressive, indifferent, insane stranger friend or relative ripping off your clothes and entering your body—the most personal, sacred, private part of your body—and violently, hatefully forcing themselves into you so that you are ripped apart. Then imagine that stranger’s sperm shooting into you and filling you and you can’t get it out.”

Well, I think I grasp the idea since Eve explains it in her article. That at its core the Akins comment makes women feel like the only way that their rape is legitimised is at the behest of a man who arbitrarily determines what isn’t and is rape. That there is a concept where rape is acceptable or a part of reality (How many women are told that they were raped because of the clothes they wear or because of alcohol?).

It’s not “putting his foot in his mouth”, it’s a serious error of character where a man with no grasp of human biology and psychology has deemed it fit to make a statement about those two issues and this is a man in power who has routinely made it a sticking point to argue about women’s health rights and champion a reduction in the rights of women to access basic gynaecological healthcare.

So I’m sitting here weighing those two things—a congressman saying something stupid versus a crazed attacker violently penetrating my body—and for some reason I can’t get the scales to balance. Still, I know there must be something to what you’re saying because, well, you’re Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, and because I’ve read enough feminist theory to know that men don’t “get” certain things . . . even though, of course, believing that women don’t “get” certain things is grounds for a lawsuit.

It’s not stupid. It’s a cruel and callous statement made thoughtlessly by a man who genuinely believed that women’s uteruses are magic. This is a man who has fought relentlessly to prevent access to abortions and whose argument in context was made to exclude women who were raped from having abortions by claiming that the women who got pregnant from rape “weren’t really raped”.

Still, I have to tell you, Eve—do you mind if I call you Eve? I don’t want to misspeak and inflict still more horrific violence upon you—there’s something, well, disproportionate about your response to Akin’s buffoonery, something that goes beyond a standard election-season gotcha, beyond even your attempt to tar Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan with Akin’s remarks on the grounds that the two of them were among 227 co-sponsors of a May 2011 bill called “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” That bill included the phrase “forcible rape”—which the FBI has been using for decades, and which Akin now says he meant rather than “legitimate rape”—in order to distinguish rape involving physical violence, or the threat of physical violence, from rape in which the victim may express outward consent—such as cases of statutory rape when, for example, a 19-year-old boy has sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend.

It then takes on this really creepy tone where he tries to treat Eve not as someone who has made an argument but as someone who literally is so fragile and thin skinned about rape that she brooks no discussion whatsoever.

And the legitimate rape isn’t as much as a faux pas as many people think. What the problem is its combination with the notion that in cases of “legitimate rape” the woman can shut down a pregnancy (possibly though magic). That’s what was crazy, because he was flogging the notion that women who were raped and have children due to that were pregnant because they on a small level were to blame. That they are LIARS. That’s why they are pregnant. You can explain “Legitimate vs. Forcible” and try and weasel your way out of that but the female body doesn’t have any way to shut down forcible rape any more than it has the ability to fly.

Statutory rape is an entirely different beast and there is date rape or rape through the use of coercion where consent may be given out of a lack of choice.

The bill’s sponsors say they were attempting to address a loophole in the Hyde Amendment that bans the use of federal tax dollars to pay for abortions. Under current law, Medicaid funds can cover abortion costs when the pregnancy is the result of a rape or incest. By including the phrase “forcible rape,” the sponsors wanted to prevent the use of Medicaid to pay for abortions for minors whose outwardly consensual sex nonetheless met the legal definition of statutory rape.

Oh! That make
s it completely acceptable! #Sarcasm

It just means that the people involved were planning to throw rape victims under a bus if they weren’t threatened or if they were under age. Minors cannot give consent, which is the entire fucking point of statutory rape; you cannot say that statutory rape is not technically rape.

Other outwardly consensual sex? Date Rape, Consensual Sex That Goes out of Control, Coercion and Altered State of Mind Rape. Those aren’t “legitimate rape” right?

Whatever you think of the wisdom of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” its intent was clearly to strengthen the Hyde Amendment. . . . Oh, I’m sorry; you don’t think so, Eve? You read it as something more sinister, something akin (no pun intended) to the way “rapists played with us in the act of being raped—intimidating us, threatening us, muting us. Your playing with words like ‘forcible’ and ‘legitimate’ is playing with our souls which have been shattered by unwanted penises shoving into us, ripping our flesh, our vaginas, our consciousness, our confidence, our pride, our futures.”

Yes it is. The Hyde Amendment is a shocking piece of legislation akin to saying “Fuck Women’s Health”. It was put into power by a bunch of men who think a block of cells is the same as a human being. It’s a pointless piece of legislation designed to harm women’s health while claiming to be moral. Even if we ignore that for the most part it reduces the reproductive choice of women while placing monetary penalties on one gender primarily for the act of sex, it also forces raped women to pay for abortions (or rely on charity or state level programs which may or may not be available) which is a dick move. Yes, you may not agree with giving women money to have abortions. But if you think women ENJOY having abortions then you probably think that people enjoy having their teeth pulled.

(As an aside, Eve, I notice that you keep referring to women’s “souls,” which you specifically differentiate from their minds and hearts. If a woman’s “soul” is distinct from her mind and heart, what does it consist of? Where does it come from? Oh, and when does it arrive? You see where this is going, don’t you?)

She is using the romantic version of a soul. The idea of a combined personality that makes Eve who she is that explains her state of mind and personality. It’s a poetic construct, when she uses it. It means that rape damages who she is. And that it has changed her for the worse. And it’s high lunacy for an Evangelical Christian to doubt this statement considering Mark Goldbatt believes in an actual physical soul that can be affected by his deity of choice and that will be rewarded with stuff if he believes in Jesus and doesn’t believe in science, gays and women’s health. To mock someone else’s idea of a soul is hypocrisy. 

Likewise, you hear a more sinister subtext in Akin’s mindboggling suggestion that women rarely become pregnant as a result of rape because, as he explained, “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Generations of female slaves and their biracial children might beg to differ, of course. But I keep hearing that as mere biological ignorance. You, on the other hand, noticed something else in Akin’s words: “It would seem you were saying that getting pregnant after a rape would indicate it was not a ‘legitimate’ rape.”

The biological ignorance means that Akin should not be allowed to make any decisions with regards to women’s healthcare at all. It’s not biological ignorance so much as a massive failing of the education system. It can happen in third world nations, but this is fucking America. If you are willing to elect men who are clearly morons to power then your country is going to be run by morons. This is basic goddamn high school biology indicating that Todd Akin requires basic biology and sex education of the proper kind. Generations of Female Slaves? That’s where you are getting your answer from? Not the wide variety of women who have become pregnant from rape?

No, Eve heard right, that’s what it implies. That a man who was setting out to reduce the rights of women to access healthcare and believed that they shouldn’t receive that healthcare because their vaginas and uteruses functioned through magic. That this was a man who legitimised rape if you got pregnant. It is a horrific thing to hear from a man who is planning to run for office.

That can’t be strictly what he meant since he said cases of conception from rape are “really rare” (not “nonexistent”) because the female body will “try to” (not “always”) shut down the fertilization process. But isn’t there another, more (how shall I say this?) charitable way to look at it? Isn’t it at least possible that Akin, like many pro-life advocates, struggles with the consistency of his beliefs in the agonizing case of pregnancies resulting from rape and incest? That he struggles so much he’ll grasp at any explanatory straw, trust any nugget of pseudo-science, telling him that such cases are exceedingly rare, that women’s bodies somehow mystically repel evil sperm.

Because rapists only hit menstruating women? Conception from rape is not common in the west due to access to condoms (many rapists have used them) and because women have access to the morning after pill and the like which they do use post rape.

However if one pays ANY attention to Africa or any other place where rape is widespread or used as a weapon then one notices an inordinate amount of children born to women who are raped.If he is a pro-lifer then he has demonstrated a completely idiotic grasp of women’s reproductive health and should not have any say in the healthcare of women because he is a fucking moron. He is demonstrating pro-life idiocy and actively spoke out loud things that are being told to young children across America in lieu of proper sex education. This attitude is not one that’s new, but it is not one you wish to hear from someone at that high a level of government.

As I’m sure you’re aware, Eve, the most intellectually consistent pro-life position doesn’t allow exceptions for rape or incest . . . and forcing pro-life advocates to admit this fact is always a good way to score political points. But must we seize every opportunity to score political points? Aren’t we all emotional, as well as intellectual, creatures? Don’t we all struggle with hard cases? Don’t we all occasionally grasp at straws hoping the hard cases will just go away?

Really? This is like shouting “Barrack Obama is a Nigger” then trying to claim that the ensuing labelling of yourself as a racist is an attempt to score political points. The mildest complaint about Todd Akin that I can think of is that he doesn’t have an internal filter that stops him from saying idiotic things. And that’s the MILDEST.

This isn’t a hard case. This isn’t even a case at all. This is like banning hysterectomies for women with cervical cancer because it will ruin their reproductive organs. It’s a medical procedure to prevent an event that may ruin a woman’s life.

Grasping at straws? It’s not grasping at straws, at its best its a testament to the idiocy of pro-choice and its worse its an attempt to legitimise the notion that pregnancy through rape means a woman wasn’t really raped.

Is it really necessary for me to point out that pro-choice advocates face their own problem of consistency in the case of partial birth abortions? To point out that the most intellectually consistent pro-choice position permits the killing of b
abies—not just miniscule embryos, not just tadpole-like fetuses, but hand-squeezing, eye-blinking, air-sucking babies? Isn’t the most consistent pro-choice position that sentient, medically viable babies can, at the request of the mother, be killed until the moment of their delivery, and arguably until the cutting of their umbilical cords? Don’t pro-choice advocates agonize over consistency, and occasionally grasp at straws, when it comes to the hard case of partial birth abortions?

Partial birth abortion is an abortion of last resort usually done to prevent the birth of congenitally defective children or terminate a pregnancy that has exceeded statutes on women who are not going to be benefitted from the pregnancy. It’s a horrific procedure for everyone involved and necessary for women who have to deal with either the birth of a child that is going to be horrifically damaged and in pain or if the pregnancy actively threatens the life of the mother. And it’s a choice. No one is FORCING you to have a late term abortion. And yes many of the partial birth abortions are products of incest and rape where traumatised women are afraid to come forward because of arseholes like Todd Akin requiring a late term abortion at least for the woman’s sanity.

95% of all abortions take place in the first 12 weeks of conception. The remainder after 20 to 24 weeks (20 weeks is the well baby ultrasound visit that can detect congenital anomalies). The few that occur after 24 weeks are rare. Like less than 1% rare. Mark Goldblatt doesn’t grasp what choice means. At the request of the mother? It’s not done at the request of the mother. It’s done under medical circumstances. The rules with regards to late term therapeutic abortion generally require a doctor’s recommendation. A healthy mother with a child will be encouraged to tough it out for 8 more weeks and deliver at term and most such Obs/Gynae who do the procedure do not do it on women who just “want one”. And most women don’t want one, they want the option being there should the need to use it arise. No one WANTS to terminate a late term foetus, they HAVE to.

A choice means that you can decide. It’s simple, there are two ice creams. Vanilla and Chocolate. You can pick which you want. No one is forcing you to abort your baby; it’s just a choice that is available. You can risk your own life and carry to term. Yes you can walk around feeling smug and superior that you survived a risky pregnancy without terminating your child. You can even attribute it to your imaginary friend of choice and feel superior to all the women who didn’t make your choice.

But what you cannot do is take that choice away from women.

What I’m asking, Eve, is whether the debate over abortion—which is how we got here, remember?—must always be fought over the most agonizing cases. Must it always be couched in overwrought rhetoric and larded with purple prose? Must it always be “the Republican war on women” versus “the Democratic war on the unborn”? Must the sides forever see one another as “those people who want to force rape victims to bear their rapist’s child” and “these people who want to permit the killing of living, feeling babies”?

No it need not. It can be fought with economic and common sense reasons. However the problem is there is no common sense option from pro-life. It’s a movement entrenched in fantasy and ignorance. There is literally no sane argument for a movement that thinks that pro-choice means compulsory abortion.

Don’t we all just need to take a deep breath now and then and let nonsense speak for itself?

By which you mean that we shouldn’t criticise idiots.

This is high hypocrisy! Mark Goldblatt clearly thinks that Eve Ensler’s article is nonsense. Shouldn’t he follow his own advice?

Here is some advice, don’t defend Todd Akin. Don’t tell rape victims that they are being stupid for “feeling angry or hurt or uncomfortable around people who make such a remark”. Don’t reduce the choice of women to access healthcare.

Above all. Engage your brain and think about your actions not in terms of whether a 2000 year old book written by bronze age shepherds and compiled by a Roman Emperor agrees with you; but how your actions affect other people. Otherwise you end up trying to defend a terrible viewpoint based on the notion that it’s what a bunch of people who didn’t know how a woman’s reproductive system function would have wanted. 

Hypothetical Games

A friend and me once read a book by Yann Martell called Beatrice and Virgil. We both looked forward to it since Yann stated that his influences were Art Spiegel’s Maus which is one of my favourite graphic novels ever and one I encourage people to read.

But we didn’t like it, mainly because of the heavy holocaust allegory which portrayed humans as basically evil for wishing to live. It ended in a series of games which ask hypothetical questions like whether you could kill a child if your life depended on it. Of scenarios that occurred during the holocaust where under duress humans behaved in ways that speak badly of humanity (of particular ire is the scenario given where children were trampled by adults trying to rise up above the gas in the gas chambers). For me it struck an uneasy tone, of implying humans are basically evil inside. For me it ignored the various people like Schindler who tried to save as many people as possible. And all the various people who risked life and limb to save people from the Holocaust.

She didn’t like it because she was a Belarusian Canadian of jewish origin and to her this was a cheap attempt to get some shocks in by co-opting the holocaust to sell. It would be like writing a purposefully shocking book about 9/11 to get people to read it in her mind.

I found the games faulty, no man can ask such a yes or no question. Because of the nature of such events, hypothetically we would all lift the children above our heads rather than die trying to stand on them. But thinking about it could we kill the children ourselves in a more humane way to prevent them from suffering? Could we attempt to fight back?

Ultimately we don’t know, we aren’t in that situation. We are all capable of amazing heroism, its just a case of whether we can act when the time comes. And Yann forgets that. That the man who runs away from the enemy and the man who runs towards them aren’t all that different, both are probably just as scared of the situation. A hero to me is merely one who does his job and duty when no one else was willing to. And anyone can be that person, I hope that if a situation like that arises I won’t freeze or run but will do the right thing.

Ray Comfort has not understood this reality. He thinks that hypothetical situations are sensible thing. I say that they are about as useful as asking “Who would Win? Batman or Superman?”

It’s 1943. A German officer has a gun pointed at you. He wants you to get into a bulldozer and drive it forward. In front of the bulldozer is a pit in which there are 300 Jews who have just been shot. Some of them are still alive. He wants you to bury them alive! If you don’t do what he says, he is going to kill you and do it himself. If you do what he says, he will let you live. Would you drive it forward?

Yes you would. You cannot save them. No one can. If you refuse you will join them. You basically are stuck between doing this horrid deed then subverting the system to save people from this fate or being a dumbass and making a statement that gets you shot. The world is not absolutes Ray. I would hope that I would have the common sense to comply with this order and the compassion to go inform the other Jews of what’s happening and help them avoid this by getting those who are about to be killed to volunteer for factory work (one of the ways Schindler saved people). I would have tried to make a difference. A lot of germans did make differences in small ways like this because that’s what they could do. Should I ever be in that situation I would wish that I could do the right thing and try and save as many lives as possible rather than throw mine away in a pointless gesture. And if saving those lives means that I have to be the one that buries them alive then so be it. I hope that situation never arises, but if it does I hope that I have the courage to take that burden on myself.

It’s easy to be Big Damn Heroes in theory but in practice it’s a lot harder. Especially when one’s not just pointing a gun at your head but when you have no real choice but to commit an atrocity. This specific scenario is one of those “no choice situations”.

Yes, Ray seems sickened that I could bury someone alive, but the qualifier is not mentioned or emphasised. And worse he states that he doesn’t care if you said you would not drive forwards because he doubts your resolve.

From this Ray supposedly seemlessly moves onto Abortion (I will be reviewing his movie later this week) as if murdering Jews is the same as a bunch  of cells. He preys on people’s ignorance, portraying all abortions as  late term ones rather than ones that are done fairly early on. The vast majority of abortions are in the first few weeks of conception where the foetus looks like a bunch of cells. Most people in the west are hopefully well educated enough to understand the signs of pregnancy and most terminations occur at 5th to the 8th week of conception. Nearly 75% infact. A further 20% by the 12th week and then it actually dies down a lot with it rising around the 20th to 22nd week (it coincides with the age where you can detect a lot of congenital anomalies).

It’s shameless, it links the suffering of a group of real people to the death of potential. Those cells aren’t a person yet, they are a potential person. If removed from the body they would die, at this point they are nothing more than a developing bunch of cells, incapable of survival. They aren’t yet a person in the sane definition of the word.

Basically Ray wages a war on women under the hypothetical game and using the fear of being classed as a Nazi.

But never fear, two can play at Ray’s silly games..
.

Nazi Mother’s Cross

The Nazis gave this medal out to mothers who had more than eight children. The nazis also banned abortion and were suitably pro-life about it in their own little way. Anyone caught giving an abortion to an Aryan Woman would be sentenced to death. (1943).

Remember the Nazis were christian and they were pro-lifers just like a certain Mr. Comfort. It’s also a good lesson on why hypothetical games are pointless in determining what people would really do in a no win situation. It’s also an object lesson in doing your research particularly if you are trying to compare your opponents to nazis.

(edit – I watched the movie. It’s basically this rehashed with the problem that he probably has had to mine for stupid people. There are far too many people in the USA who have family members who fought in the second world war to not know who Hitler
is… I am sure if  I went around Australia I could find some people like that too. And asking Neo Nazis what they think about Hitler is like asking cats what they think about tuna.)

A Taste of Things to Come – The Rise of the Back-Street Abortionist

“The assault on Planned Parenthood is unjustified. It is penny-wise and pound foolish. The law strictly and clearly prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion services. The Republicans’ elimination of funding for Planned Parenthood, will in the end cost more than it saves by ending the ability of millions of American women to receive family planning services, breast and cervical cancer screenings and preventative healthcare at cost-efficient Planned Parenthood centers. And the denial of simple birth control and family planning services may well increase both the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in our country.”

-          Bill Clinton
American women have lost a great deal of freedom in the past few weeks. All across the USA various states are planning to either reduce funding to bodies such as Planned Parenthood or to try and make abortions more difficult to perform and obtain. Most recently, South Dakota has passed laws to reduce the period of abortion to just 20 weeks. Women have to undergo a series of unnecessary and traumatic procedures just to decide what to do with their own bodies.

In addition the Republican majority has voted to cease funding Planned Parenthood, a service that is a provider of female health services such as cheap obstetrics and gynaecology programmes, vaccination and child wellness information, contraception and abortion. It also encourages breast examination and scanning for breast cancer. You can claim it is cost cutting but these programs save money in the long run by prevention of disease rather than cures.
The arguments boil down to the presence of a human soul. Some say it’s divinely manifest to human beings at birth. Others specify an arbitrary month from which the baby is considered alive. I say it’s an illusionary concept brought on by the wish that we could live forever. The soul is the idea that our consciousness can transcend death and live forever maintaining our experiences and personalities. However, we know that it’s just an illusion brought on by the complexity of our brain and the fact that we are self aware. Our personalities, our thoughts our experience are all part of the hardware of our brains, consisting of millions of neurons. We know that damage to these neurons changes our personality and our ability to control our body. The human soul is sadly wishful thinking and the desire to preserve our mind beyond death, an extension of the desire to live forever and escape the failure of flesh. 
An abortion is a terrible thing; in an ideal world we wouldn’t need any. No woman WANTS an abortion unless necessary. The people deciding the fate of women’s reproductive health are men who have no idea of the thought that goes into an abortion and the cost of said abortion on the woman’s body and indeed on her own psyche. Not to mention they have no idea of the cost they are now forcing women to pay by forcing them to term and making them jump through the various hoops in a decision that is already difficult. Making it more difficult just hurts women rather than saving the children.  
The men who support this movement do so often out of blind faith or worse without understanding the issues. The women who support the pro-life movement often cannot see a reason why any other woman would choose to end a foetus’s potential life. It’s a movement of privilege and of a lack of perspective in the reality of the world.
However we do have a world where there are some countries where abortion is illegal and sex education are talked of in hushed tones and in the words of abstinence rather than contraception and rhythm methods rather than the oral contraceptive pill. It is from here we can see what a world with no access to tested sex education and contraceptions is really like.
Internationally, the struggle for abortion rights continues. From 1994 onwards the right to abortion has been regarded as part of the Reproductive Health and Rights as laid out at the International Conference on Population and Development. It is estimated that roughly 19 million non-medical abortions a year occur and that roughly 13% of maternal deaths are due to such an abortion. In addition there are huge medical bills generated by treating women who have had complications from such an abortion. Across most of the world little priority is given to reducing unplanned pregnancy and reducing unsafe abortions by increasing contraception and education. In fact in a lot of the world there exist entities that seeks to prevent such information, most famously the Catholic Church.
Specifically in the Philippines, where the catholic church’s campaign to ban contraception and active campaigns to prevent their use also coincide with a massive anti-abortion drive with the provision of medical abortions being illegal. 
·         In the next 30 years, it’s estimated that the population in the Philippines will double to 170 million people. In perspective this is half the population of the USA on an area of land slightly smaller than Italy.
·         It is estimated that 35% live in the slums and below the poverty line. Often living on rubbish dumps and in landfill sites and with little to no hope of a solid income. Starvation is common with many families eating less than 3 meals a day.
·         Close to 40% of the population are under 15 and this demography is rising. Many families have more than two children.
·         A doctor is required to prescribe contraceptives and can chose to not do so. Doctors are often encourage
d to tell their patients to use catholic approved methodology both by their churches and by their superiors and many government clinics ban dispensation of condoms. However many doctors provide such services illegally.
·         The church believes that there is no real problem with this even proudly stating that because of the huge population, the Philippines is a major source of man power the world over. Many politicians in the government believe this and enforce bans to encourage the pro life movement. The Philippines actually has a problem where there are insufficient local jobs forcing the economy to be reliant on overseas investment from it’s own nationals.
·         They are less forthcoming about the treatment of the Philippine people in the Middle-East where they are often treated as little better than slaves or whether a population export business is really sustainable in the long run.
·         For the American Religious Right Wing, it has become a testing ground for their hypothesis on family planning. Many pro-life support groups fund education in “natural” contraception and abstinence education here. Operation Outcry is one such centre which spreads misinformation.
·         Groups such as Likhaan Centre for Women’s Health used to receive aid from the US government. The Rise of the Bush administration caused a cut to the international aid budget to organisations that encouraged contraception over abstinence. 
·         Despite abortion being illegal, there are medical practitioners who provide safe clandestine abortions. Sometimes at cost, sometimes for charities risking their licenses and jail terms to ensure women are safe. The cost of such an abortion is between £40 to £60, which is a large sum of money when you live on a garbage dump.
·         Despite this the vast majority of abortions that occur are performed by local healers and are via abdominal massage which can cause incredibly painful abortions and severe damage to the uterine wall that can cause death. These are done without anaesthesia and any modern medical support. It is the equivalent of being punched in the stomach.
·         Many hospitals do not report abortion attempts to the police. It would scare the few women who do come in and increase the death toll.
Some of the testimonials I have found looking through literature from Likhaan and their involvement with Unreported World are heart breaking, I have reprinted some.

“Remy has had two attempts at abortion, where she tried to induce abortion by massaging her own abdomen, but she gave birth each time to a son. The third time she took bitter herbs and threw herself out of a window. When that didn’t work she continued to massage her abdomen until one day she felt her water break and watched blood flow down. She blacked out from the pain. She bitterly wished she had access to contraceptives earlier in life. In the eyes of the church, she had committed a crime, a mortal sin by killing her own flesh and blood. She couldn’t afford to have this child; she already had two children she could not afford to feed. To bring a third into this world would have been a crime in itself.”

“The abortionist is not medically trained; she says she learnt how to do the procedure when working with another doctor who used to perform back alley abortions. However she can only do abortions upto 8 weeks, beyond that and the procedure becomes dangerous.  The girl she is treating is crying, even though she is under anaesthetic for the loss of her baby. The baby is 11 weeks old, this time she is lucky but other have had to be taken to the hospital”

“Many women are scared of coming to the hospital, many leave it so late that they are on the verge of death. Most are bleeding profusely, have infections or are septic. Often have tried to induce abortion using a sharp bamboo stick or a guava tree branch or consumed cytotan which induces contractions”

It is estimated that nearly 400,000 abortions take place annually here with nearly 80,000 women hospitalised yearly, and that 12% of maternal deaths occur due to unsafe non-medical abortion. (sourced from Juarez, Fatima et al.)
This was in 1994; it is believed that the number has risen every single year. It is impossible to hold any survey without risking the women involved and the abortion providers themselves are operating outside the law. The back street abortionists see themselves as providing a essential service and alleviating suffering by stopping that of the others despite being staunch catholics themselves.
These are not crimes of hatred but the efforts of loving mothers who don’t wish to bring a child into a world where they cannot feed and clothe the child. Each one is wracked by incredible guilt due to the actions of their faith without realising the cause for their suffering is the catholic restriction on contraception, education and aborti
ons. Many of the women believe that the fact they survive the harrowing abortion process is testament to the fact that God forgives them for their sin and that god understands why they did it. To them undergoing their back street abortions is literally putting their lives in God’s hands. 
What would we see in the USA? How many doctors would take to providing abortions in places where it was banned? How many nurses and how many quacks? How many women will have to throw themselves down stairs or from windows?
This may be the future of women in the USA and indeed all over the world if we don’t fight for the right. Take a stand, because the entire world is watching what you do.

If not, stories like this will stop being distant occurences and start being a lot closer to home.

Rights of the Silent majority – Danielle Deaver


All across the world we as human beings are fighting for the rights of the “silent majority”. Women tend to outnumber us men, and rather than make grandiose comments about how useful/useless the other gender is, I would rather there be a world where there is no discrimination on gender at all.
Afghani women are fighting for the simple right to let foreign groups run their halfway houses for abused women. Because the afghani government thinks those houses are encouraging women to run away and be difficult. The republican party fights against basic rights of a woman to decide when to terminate her own pregnancy.

With this in mind I submit to you the case of Danielle Deaver

I am quite inured to suffering. Medical students learn to empathise with our patients then shelve it away somewhere so we can sleep at night or have lives. It’s not always perfect as the medical profession is one of the professions with the highest affliction of PTSD and various stress addictions but we try our best. I have seen and smelt an autopsy (the pristine surfaces of CSI would quickly become a charnel house of blood and decomposition gases). I have held to date 3 infants who died in my hands due to something completely out of the mother’s control. But the worst thing I have seen is the anguish that a mother goes through while making the decision. I am of the opinion that we need the truth, The abortion law should extend to 28 weeks and late term abortions be a medically sanctioned procedure if the baby or mother is at risk post 28 weeks. We should inform her of the alternatives to ensure she knows. In addition we should ensure our children know what sex is like and what happens and how to use contraception from a sensible age.

There has been little to no drive by the medical profession to weigh in on the topic, we know very well when the various parts of the body develop. It was taught to me after my anatomy classes and is vital to understand how the body develops and how common birth defects occur. Calling a foetus a human being that requires a right to live is all well and good but you forget that we also have a right to die. And in a lot of cases that right remains with the mother.

It does not matter if the baby is alive in utero, what matters is what it can do outside. Not having lungs is a no brainer. 28 weeks was stated because that is where the baby can viably survive outside amniotic fluid. 
This child died painlessly but traumatically. Let it die in peace, let the mother have no excess nightmares and let doctors be allowed to give relief.