Texas vs. Planned Parenthood (or Religion vs. Society’s Best Interests)

OK, first article I see in today’s paper, and why it pisses me off:

  1. Texas has successfully defuned Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas. Their propaganda point has consistently been “we don’t want tax dollars going to abortions.” However, it has been consistently reported that we already do not allow tax money to go to abortion services, and NONE of the PP clinics in the state funding program offered abortion services. From the article:

    “Lawyer Pete Schenkkan said Planned Parenthood officials will decide whether to press ahead with that trial in hopes of winning a permanent injunction that would reverse Texas rules excluding Planned Parenthood’s health clinics because they are affiliated with other Planned Parenthood groups that provide abortions or promote abortion rights.”This was *always* the issue—simply punitively punishing the clinics because they have a “PP” shingle over the door. It was never about keeping funding from going to abortions—that was an outright falsehood propagated to gain public support for the action.

  2. PP had to demonstrate two points in court. According to the judge, they were able to demonstrate that what the state was doing would harm women in Texas. What they didn’t show is that Texas didn’t have a legal right to do it. From the article:

    “Planned Parenthood, Yelenosky ruled, met only one of two legal hurdles when it showed that being excluded from the health program would probably cause harm to the organization and the low-income women it serves. However, he added, Planned Parenthood failed to show that it would likely prevail in a full trial on its claim that state law doesn’t give Texas officials the authority to exclude the organization from the program.”

  3. Texas had tried to say that other clinics will take up the slack for PP, but here is what the local paper found when they tried to set up an appointment with another clinic:

    “An American-Statesman spot check of 29 of 186 doctors and clinics listed in an area 30 miles around Austin found eight that weren’t participants or weren’t accepting new patients and two that offered only limited services.”“For example, a state health department website, intended to direct low-income women to participating health care providers, contains numerous mistakes, including practices that don’t provide contraceptive care.”Please note that women with a good income won’t be very impacted by this—only women who don’t have much in the way of resources. Imagine you’re poor, and rely on public transport (which sucks in Austin), you have a clinic you’re already set up with, and then you’re told Texas is just shutting it down for no good reason. Then you call and call and call, and can’t find a clinic taking new patients, and when you do make an appointment, you show up and they can’t renew your birth control prescription, because they don’t offer those “services.”

    The state does offer a phone number (866-993-9972) to help match women with clinics—but this is ALL so unnecessary. And as a result, fiscally, Texas now has to make up for federal funds we’re losing by doing this stupid, stupid thing.

  4. So, this morning when they said we need another bond package to pay for road improvements, I wanted to slap someone. If we don’t have funding to take care of necessary infrastructure improvements, is it really wise to pass legislation to punitively punish a clinic that is keeping to your rules, just to appease your religious base of constituents? Well, if you’re Rick Perry, the answer to that question is “of course.”

    “At the urging of Republican Gov. Rick Perry, Texas launched a state-run, state-financed Women’s Health Program on Jan. 1 after almost a year of unsuccessful efforts to remove Planned Parenthood from a program that had been 90 percent funded by the federal government. U.S. officials cut off that money on Dec. 31, saying efforts to exclude Planned Parenthood violated federal law on Medicaid spending.”

  5. When people ask me why I’m an active atheist and why I care about religion so much or what other people believe—this is why. If you care and want to do something about this, consider a donation to Planned Parenthood.

Rick Perry for Dick of the Year

There isn’t an official contest, but maybe there should be. I nominate Texas Governor Rick Perry for the Dick of the Year Award. Granted, Perry’s work was part of a team effort, with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, and a host of conservative Christian Texas legislators giving assistance. Rick and his pals have largely dismantled the Texas Women’s Health Program, a program for low-income women to get reproductive health care. The program has been about 9/10ths Federally funded. Part of the agenda there is to stop unwanted pregnancies as such pregnancies increase federal costs down the road to cover those pregnancies. It is good public policy. Or, rather, was.

The point of contention is that the program would fund Planned Parenthood to provide many of these services, much as it has done with public and private of funding. In the minds of Christians, though, “Planned Parenthood” is synonymous with “abortion.” Yes, Planned Parenthood does provide abortion services, but state and Federal funding are never used for this purpose. In fact, Planned Parenthood works very hard to prevent unwanted pregnancies through its education efforts and providing contraceptives.

Rick and the Christian chorus have argued that because money is fungible, giving any money to Planned Parenthood is effectively funding abortions. By that logic, tax breaks to or public funding of any Catholic organization is equivalent to government funding of an international pedophilia ring.

To make his point, Perry barred funding of Planned Parenthood from the Texas Women’s health program. Planned Parenthood sued, but lost.  Perry’s lawyers argued that to be acceptable to the state, Planned Parenthood would have to change their name and distance themselves from any abortion services. So this is a case of Christians using the power of the state to screw over an organization they have unjustly vilified.

The Obama Administration declined to have its Women’s Health Program hijacked by a bunch of Texas dicks and de-funded TWHP. Miffed, Perry and Abbott sued in Federal court to have the funding restored. Just this week, a Federal court ruled that their attempted exclusion of Planned Parenthood violated Health and Human Services guidelines and threw out their claim. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood has won a temporary Federal injunction from being barred from TWHP funding. I’ll bet someone’s feeling a little blue in the balls over this.  Thankfully, for Rick there will be little political fallout.  His conservative Christian base is cheering him on.

For now, Texas is left to fund the program on its own. Given Texas’ history of ideological sex ed in schools and state funding of Christian-based crisis pregnancy centers that provide manipulation instead of information, I’d be very surprised if Texas properly funded an effective program. Meanwhile, they are doing an effective job of dismantling women’s reproductive health in Texas.  Many smaller clinics have already shut their doors over funding uncertainties.

So Perry deserves the Dick of the Year award.  In a mad quest to prevent abortion, Perry and his Christian pals have sabotaged a public health organization (Planned Parenthood) and a Federal program that would have prevented unwanted pregnancies and women seeking abortions to end those pregnancies. It is well documented that legal restrictions on abortion do not reduce abortion rates, but they do increase the health risks associated with those abortions. Thus, abortion laws mostly serve to increase suffering and death under the pretense of morality. Perry clearly lacks compassion for the women involved, many of whom are poor.  About 3/4ths of women seeking abortion say that they lack the resources to raise a child.

I know of two solutions to the abortion problem. The first solution is to take the claims of Christians at their word and address the lack of resources. Christians say they have a special relationship with an all-powerful god who answers prayers. They also claim to care deeply about the welfare of the unborn child (at least until birth). They claim to follow Jesus, who cared for the poor. Churches even get tax breaks for their alleged charity. So the solution is simply set up a registry where pregnant women who lack the resources to have a child sign up to get financial support for themselves (as care giver) and the child until the child graduates from college or vocational school. In the case of a disabled child, care should be funded until death. Churches and their members would be taxed to provide the necessary funds. Think of it! Poverty would be reduced instead of increased. Christians would have a compassionate way of demonstrating the courage of their convictions. Children would have church and state support instead of the church using the state to punish them and their mothers.  Christian leaders could even offer up one of their own to be killed for women who die in childbirth (i.e. Exodus 21:23). They should want to be held to their God’s laws as an example to their flock.

How would churches find the money for such a program? Simple. They can pray and God will provide. Each Church’s petitioners would pray to God for reimbursement and there would be no net loss to the church. Churches promoting false religions or out of favor with God would not be reimbursed and their assets would be liquidated to cover their share of the program. The ministers of such churches could go out and make an honest wage that go toward the expenses. If that weren’t enough, members could be taxed. I can’t imagine a Christian wanting to have a child that they brought into the world starve or otherwise suffer due to their moral failings.

We know that this is not a viable solution, simply because Christianity is a fraud. We all know there isn’t a god that someone can pray to to get the things they want, despite Jesus’ claims to the contrary. If prayer worked, Christians could simply pray abortion away and not have to hijack the government and uteruses to make future tithers. Everyone knows that God can’t. God also can’t make more sycophant believers, so women’s reproductive organs have to be co-opted to perpetuate the fraud.

The only tools Christians have in their arsenal that really works are manipulation and thuggery.  If they can’t manipulate women into keeping their unborn child (such as through guilt, ultrasound baby pictures, or lies about mental health harm), they can always rely on thuggery, such as vindictive abortion laws, trans-vaginal ultrasounds, intruding in personal and medical decisions, forcing women to bear children they don’t want, risk their lives with child birth, and commit many of them (and their child) to a lifetime of poverty.  Rick Perry and his Christian pals are completely on board with this manipulation and thuggery, making Rick my nomination for dick of the year. To end the year, Rick Perry vowed to outlaw all abortion in Texas.

The second solution to the abortion problem is to make them safe and rare, through reproductive education, contraceptive availability, and family planning.  First world countries do this and they are successful at keeping their abortion rates down without being dicks to the women involved. Rick and his pals would never think to use a proven effective means of reducing abortion. Instead, U.S., Christian conservatives seemingly work to increase unwanted pregnancies, and then wonder why U.S. abortion rates are so high. They are all dicks, in my opinion.  They want the power to make a decision for someone they don’t’ know but they run away from the responsibility of such a decision.

It’s hard to understand these small minds and hearts.  If men like Rick want control over a vagina, they should have a sex change operation. Their god clearly knew they couldn’t handle control over even one.  Perhaps they’re so insecure over their own manhood that they have to cause women to suffer to feel good about themselves.  Perhaps Rick and his pals get some sort of sexual pleasure out of controlling other’s reproduction.  Regardless, he is nothing more than a dick and everyone should know that fact.

Whom does God really endorse, anyway?

Slacktivist pointed out that no less than four Republican candidates have claimed that God called them to run.  Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain all state regularly that they are in the race at least partly due to the wishes of the Lord.

I know this is never actually going to happen, but wouldn’t it be magnificently awkward if reporters would start asking the candidates about each other’s divine mandate?  You know, “So, Governor Perry, Representative Bachmann here has said that she regularly receives assurance from The Lord that she is meant to run.  Do you feel that she is incorrect?”

We all know that there is a big social taboo against questioning any candidate’s deeply rooted personal religious opinions.  But personally, I feel like the omniscient ruler over all creation ought to be a little bit more decisive about guiding an election, don’t you think?  In a world where God really existed and actively desired the election of one particular candidate, there might in principle be a single right answer to the question of who’s really God’s candidate.  It might, of course, be an undiscoverable answer; but if all these candidates are going around claiming they know they have God’s endorsement, at least three of them must be lying or mistaken, yes?  That ought to be a fairly obvious statement even for the most hardened theocrat.

And I’d like some follow-up questions, too.  Mitt Romney the Mormon is presumed to be the likely front runner right now; suppose he wins the primary?  Is somebody please, PLEASE going to go up to Rick Santorum and ask “So, Rick, you said that God wanted you to run, but that Mormon guy sure did kick your ass.  Why did that happen?”  And if Obama is re-elected, I’m dying for all four of them to answer the question about what the heck God was up to.

New Heights Middle School (SC) still doesn’t get it

So, we moved the blog and I’m sheepish about how to work this new-fangled thang. And Martin sends me a wrist-slap to say (basically), “Hey, you need to get over to the new blog and try it out, you lump!” So, now I’m at the point where I’m thinking “What do I talk about?” And three things immediately spring to mind that merit mention:

1. Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffers’ endorsement of Rick Perry that was just an open promotion to vote on purely religious grounds, completely disregarding or demonstrating unawareness of what “no religious test for office” means, and also no comprehension of the problems that arise from the unholy union of church and state. History alone should be sufficient, but if not, look at the many nations where they are under an active theocracy to get an idea of how well that works.

http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/10/pastor-calling-mormonism-a-cult-says-perry-welcomed-his-endorsement.php

2. A Muslim Advice website I came across that has both depressed and shocked me. I very strongly suggest everyone go and spend some time there and poke around to see how your life would change if you had to live a Muslim life. Consider what it might be like for people born into Islam (and Muslims believe you are born into it, just like Jews) for whom the indoctrination doesn’t sink in, or who come to a conclusion later that it’s not correct. What would it be like to know this is bullshit and still have to live this life? If I started listing all the letters and answers that disturbed me, this would become the Islamic Critique blog for the next 10 years.

http://www.zawaj.com/askbilqis/forced-to-get-married/

But I’m going with the last one, number 3, because it’s the easiest one to analyze, and as someone who is verbose in the best of cases, this is probably best. It simply doesn’t take a lot of words to describe what is wrong with this: A public school in South Carolina has stepped up to demonstrate, one more time, that Christians in the U.S. South just can’t get certain things to sink into their heads. No matter how many times you trot out their own Golden Rule to them, they seem to have a marked inability to actually understand it. They fully get the first bit, “Do unto others.” It’s the second part that gives them trouble, “as you would have done to you.”

http://atheism.about.com/b/2011/10/09/south-carolina-school-held-prayer-worship-rally.htm

New Heights Middle School in South Carolina brought in a Christian rapper and had the kids rap along about Jesus. Don’t get me wrong. I get that religious bands don’t have to do a show that would be considered religious, but in this case the reports are that it was clearly religious in nature. Is this even rare, though? How many times do we hear about public school sponsored prayers or rallies in the Bible Belt? The two most common criticisms are the illegality of it and the pure lack of understanding by the families that this is even a problem on a basic good will level. Those most likely to comment on these stories with stupidity such as “Good for the school!,” would be the first ones to have a total melt down if the rapper had been promoting some other religious view. So, they appear to “get it” when you put them in the shoes of people outside their religion; but, the moment you put them back in the majority Christian seat, the lesson dissipates like so much smoke into thin air—a sort of religious amnesia?

OK, so let’s try this again, Muslim rapper OK? No, that would be an outrage. Then the Christian rapper is an outrage, get it? No. OK, so let’s try this again, Hindu rapper OK? No, that would be an outrage. Then the Christian rapper is an outrage, get it? No. And so on, and so on, and so on.

This is the danger of “I’m right and they’re wrong” when it comes to religion. It completely destroys perspective and the capacity to judge one’s own behaviors as problematic for others. When something would completely outrage and piss you off if someone else did it, there is no reason it should be a mystery or shock to you when others are outraged or pissed off when you do it to them. It’s just not hard enough to cause this sort of cognitive difficulty. “How would that make YOU feel?” is a tool used to teach toddlers how to think before they act. There is just no explanation for so many adults being unable to grasp such a simple concept. Beyond “it’s not legal,” their own basic human decency should kick in and help them understand what is wrong with what they’re doing. Even their own religion commands them to consider this. They label it their “Golden Rule,” but they still can’t seem to actually understand it. They “get” that the non-Christian thinks, as they do, that the other guy is incorrect (or even just that they could be incorrect), but in their heads, THEY’RE right. And, so, if “I” was wrong, and “you” were right about what god wanted, then I’d want “you” to promote “the truth” to “me.” And so, when it comes to Christian perspectives over those of others, in a nation where a majority is Christian, in a very sick way, they ARE following the Golden Rule—shoving “the truth” down the throats of everyone else who is “wrong” and who needs “the truth.” I think, in a twisted way, they think they’re helping and not being offensive assholes.

Of course, I could be wrong, as someone else suggested on another strand, and they could just be passive-aggressive people who want to piss people off. That certainly wouldn’t be anything new on the religious scene, either.

Rick Perry: lying, meretricious asshole

There. Let it never be said I didn’t have gift for bluntness.

If he wasn’t already a big enough tool for appointing young-earther Dan McLeroy to head up the State Board of Education — an act comparable to appointing a person who believes automobiles are powered by big wound-up rubber bands to the presidency of General Motors — Texas’ kendoll governor Rick Perry has now, according to today’s Austin American Statesman, written a book blasting the ACLU, “liberal elites,” and anybody else who doesn’t belong to his golf club, and he’s done it to raise money for the Boy Scouts. Pompously titled On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For, Perry’s polemic essentially reveals that he thinks the most important and precious of those fine American values is hating anyone different. But of course, it’s only because they’repersecuting the poor widdle Christians! Right?

You got to love this button mashing bullshit:

Whether it is protecting the rights of pornographers, molesters, perverts, terrorists, garden-variety thugs, or those merely hostile to a belief in God, the ACLU is there to provide aid and comfort, in addition to a well-funded legal arsenal.

Hey, nice one there, asshat! Slip the atheists in with the perverts, terrorists, and “garden-variety thugs”! Tell me, who’s the one making “unwarranted attacks” here?

If the blurbs in the Statesman article are anything to go by — and the article itself defines “puff piece” to a tee — the book is a veritable buffet of straw man attacks against the aforementioned “liberal elites” (is Perry suggesting there’s nothing “elite” about the circle he runs in?), who apparently prefer to “worship the false idol of self.” Well, I’m not sure if I belong to said group of elites or not by Perry’s determination, but since I believe in elitist ideas like equal opportunity and treating your fellow man with respect and dignity (note: this does not mean I refrain from criticizing stupid beliefs and idiotic thinking), I guess I must. So I can only say that I certainly don’t worship anything, let alone myself, but even if I were inclined to be the mindless worshipful sort, I would at least know that I exist, as opposed to the “idol” in the sky Perry and his ilk favor.

Then again, there are passages where Perry seems actually to have a clue.

The faith that permeates the lives of so many middle Americans is often derided as a crutch for weak people…. They think the public simply doesn’t know better and is easily manipulated by the emotional appeals of troglodyte, conservative commentators.

Et tu, Ricky?