Today is the 42nd Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Between work, and planning for this weekend’s FTBConscience 3, and coincidentally, tonight’s last minute quasi-emergency drive to the OBGYN with a friend who just went through a miscarriage and subsequent evacuation – the same process as an abortion – two days ago (she’s doing just fine), I ran out of time to do the super-awesome post that I had planned to do on Doe v. Gomez.

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Men Don’t Get Abortions

CN: Use of gendered pronouns. Words like men and women are blurry with respect to reproduction and pregnancy, but I am sticking with convention to address the claims and assumptions of this video.

It took me a few days to get around to watching this four-minute video because I knew that I didn’t have the even to deal with it. But tonight I’m feeling like I can do it. Let’s all do it – together!

We’re opening with a shot of a church and some somber but hopeful music. The videographer has spliced together the stories of three men, each one sitting in a church pew. They introduce themselves by name and then go on to share that they’re all Christians.

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RH Reality Cast

I’ve finally started listening to RH Reality Cast, and I’m enjoying the hell out of it. If if there’s one thing that I enjoy more than reading Amanda Marcotte’s caustic wit, it’s hearing her passionate take-downs of patriarchal, religious, and right-wing bullshit flow from my car speakers. A new half-hour episode airs every Monday, so it’s always an exciting, blood-boiling start to the week. This week Amanda warns us that Todd Akin is back in the news, this time wanting us all to believe that we just didn’t understand what he meant by “legitimate rape” (from his infamous quote in 2012), she interviews Teddy Wilson about the Operation Save America harassment and trespassing currently taking place in New Orleans, and of then there’s my favorite segment, The Wisdom of Wingnuts.

If you like hearing from strong women who don’t mince their words when they’re pissed off about attacks on reproductive freedom and sexual health, you might want to try out RH Reality Cast.

Planned Parenthood Solidarity Event

It’s that time of the year again! Good Friday marks the annual organized anti-Planned Parenthood vigil here in the Twin Cities and it’s celebrated with much somber walking, very pray, so clutching of rosaries and wow crosses outside of the St. Paul Planned Parenthood:

Anti-choice crowd hangs out by the fence and stares at the prochoice celebration with sadness, contempt, anger and pleading.

Anti-choice crowds line the fence and stare over at the pro-Planned Parenthood celebration with a mixture of anger, contempt, pleading, sorrow, curiosity and indifference.

And on the other side – a celebration of accessible and legal abortion, comprehensive reproductive options, sex education and outreach:

A line of Planned Parenthood supporters walking with signs of support.

This year a bunch of jerks – not satisfied with marching with their anti-choice brethren – decided to make a nuisance of themselves on “our” side of the rally. As always with these harassers, they’re not satisfied unless they’re edged right up to the public property line, which was particularly annoying because they were standing between us and our food trucks. Buttheads. These special friends had a penchant for screaming about hellfire and damnation. For the most part we all minded our manners, but me, Niki and our friend Chris couldn’t resist stopping for a quick photo op:


 Happy atheist trio mocks your angry sky fairy – Mwuahahaha!

We had happy music, warm drinks and supportive signs. We took pictures and laughed and raised money and cheered and ran to give hugs when we saw friends and supporters arrive to join in the march. It was a great time.

Me and fellow clinic escort Niki M. in our clinic escort vests.

Me and fellow clinic escort Niki take a photo at the march in our vests – shiny!

Happy Lich Jesus Day, everyone!

And this is why you’re not allowed to practice medicine.

Saturday was a rough one at the abortion clinic.

The crowds are getting might holy, what with Zombie Jesus Day just around the corner. The morning started out fairly easy; it was gray and drizzly and we thought that the weather might keep most of the protesters away. It seemed like that was going to be the case for most of the four-hour shift.

Then, about two and a half hours in, a crowd arrived from a local church. It was comprised of a number of families, including teens, young kids and a few babes en pousette. All in all, maybe 25 protesters.

2014-04-12 09.53.46A handful of the random visiting protesters who, in all likelihood, won’t be seen again until next Easter-time.

The teenagers seemed bored to be there, and had to be coaxed from their little huddle into walking down the sidewalk with their signs. At one point a little kid said, “Mommy, it’s cold – I want to go home.” To which Mom replied, “We live in Minnesota – of course it’s cold.” and went back to waving her gore porn at passing traffic.

This gentleman stood right at the property line and read teh bible at us for about 45 minutes, although he went off script a couple of times because those parts about Jesus condemning abortion…I don’t remember those parts (‘cuz they don’t exist – get it?). Seriously – dude made up scripture on the spot…just for little old us!

Middle-aged man reading from a bible.

Later his wife came over and lectured us about…actually I don’t really know…me and fellow clinic escort, Niki, managed to keep up a running conversation in spite of the caterwauling, and I only caught the occasional “killing babies”, “sin”, and “God.”

This morning also included a rare instance of Brianne Losing Her Temper And Engaging a Protester. One of the regulars who is known for taunting escorts was waving a four-month old infant at us, entreating us to look at how beautiful he is, and why would we deny a mother a beautiful baby like this, and would we kill this baby? I turned and snapped, “Stop using that child as a prop!” and immediately did an internal “D’oh!” and facepalm. Sure enough, the next few minutes were filled with the protesters gleefully exclaiming stupid stuff like “So you ADMIT that you think this is a child! What’s so different between him and the children that are murdered in there!?”

Just…engaging never gets you anything but more frothy-mouthed engagement.

*grumbles* And of course that’s a child, you nitwit. That a four-month old infant is a child is not the point of contention between us, dumb-dumb.

Yeah, rough morning.

Another head-explody moment came when one of the regulars caught sight of Niki’s awesome Surlyramic showing a “no coat-hanger” symbol on (like this), and said…

She actually said…

Hang on. Let me catch my breath for this…

She says, “What’s the difference between a coat hanger and curette?” Now, this is writing, and her tone might not be coming across just so, so allow me to clarify. This was a snotty, righteous “How come you’re against coat hangers but okay with curettes since they both cause baby murderin’?” kind of asking going on here.

Let me get this straight: You need me to explain to you the difference between a dirty, makeshift hook used by a desperate person on themselves, which might result in a penetrating or perforating wound to vagina or cervix, potentially leading to septicemia…and a sterile surgical tool wielded by a trained doctor in the course of an exceedingly safe, (currently) legal outpatient procedure, which is very unlikely to cause any physical trauma to the patient? You need me to explain that coat hangers are what happens when access to abortion doctors and curettes isn’t available? You really don’t see a difference between these two things?

Hand in your medical license right now, preacher-lady. Oh, that’s right…you don’t have one. Well thank Jebus for that. Now if you would just stop flinging around medical advice like you have specialized training in that arena…that would be great.

One happy thing was that between the rainy weather, the intimidating crowds and an odd scarcity of street parking, most of the patients seemed to choose to park in the ramp, which means they weren’t subjected to a lot of direct harassment. So that’s a good thing.

*wanders off muttering* …difference between a coat hanger and a curette? C’MON.

Domestic Goddess

On Monday night my teammate and I were making our shirts for tonight’s Pro-Choice Resources bowl-a-thon. While I was ironing, she ordered me to give her my best Domestic Goddess pose:

Me ironing and giving the camera the finger

Today is the LAST DAY to donate to my bowl-a-thon fundraising website.

Please, please, pretty please consider donating some money to this incredible group. Pro-Choice Resources is on the front lines working to ensure that people have access to sex education, birth control and safe and legal abortion. You can see the original, thoughtfully-written appeal in this post, and I’m re-copying the goals and awards for donating at the end of today’s post.

So far you all have contributed $150 dollars for PCR. What say we push that up just a smidge more before I hit the lanes at 7:30pm CST tonight?

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Goodies For Individual Donors:

Any Amount – I will send you a (photo of a) personal, hand-written thank you by email. Delivery goal: All emails delivered within one week of the end of the bowl-a-thon.

$25 or more – In addition to the above, I will send you a postcard thanking you for your donation (to anywhere in the world!). I would not have access to your mailing address via the PCR fundraising website, so I will put out a call for you to send me your address via email if you would like me to send you a postcard. Delivery goal: Date-stamped within two weeks of the end of the bowl-a-thon.

$50 or more – In addition to the above, I will devote a post to any question you’d like me answer or topic that you would like me to address. I make no promises about length or tone of the post, but on average I tend to devote between 500-1200 words to a topic that I find interesting.

Total Fundraising Goals:

If I raise the following amounts, I will do the following silly things:

$150 or more – I will post a photo of me with a bowling bowl, and wearing my team shirt (we’re “The Notorious P.I.D”)

$200 or more – In addition to the above, I will post a video of me granny-bowling and chanting “No back alleys in the night! For safe choices we will fight!”

$300 or more  – Both of the above, and I will do a dramatic armchair reading of some of the vile things that protesters say to patients and clinic escorts, and post a video of it.

$350 or more – The first three, and I will do the previously described reading in a smoking jacket with a pipe in my mouth and classical music playing in the background.

$400 or more – All of that stuff that I’ve already mentioned, and I’ll do the reading in a funny hat.

$500 or more – The first three, and instead of doing an armchair dramatic reading, I will have a friend do the dramatic reading while I act out the vile things that protesters say. And heck, we’ll turn it into a PSA about sidewalk bullying tactics.


Abortion is not a debate.

Those who debate abortion rights imply that there is something to debate. I walk a fine line when I discuss abortion rights and when I attempt to call out why anti-abortion and anti-bodily autonomy arguments are bullshit. But pointing out bullshit and explaining why it’s wrong is not debate. I know there is nothing to debate. Abortion must be legal. We must respect an individual’s right to do with their body as they will.

Faulty anti-abortion reasoning clouds heads. It is deliberate misdirection and outright lies, and it is intended to shift the focus from the fact that limiting abortion is a patriarchal-based effort to control women and what they do with their bodies. I want to help blow away the smoke and smash the mirrors. When I point out that an argument like “fetuses are people and deserve protection” is groundless, I hope that what’s left after all the smashing is, “Oh hey – those people just want to tell women how to behave and what they can do with their bodies.”

Pointing out bullshit is not admitting that there is anything worthwhile being said by those who said it. It’s simply calling out bullshit. We know that ignoring the dissemination of dangerous misinformation is not “taking the high road” – it’s letting dangerous misinformation be spread unchecked.

I understand the fear of not being allowed to control my body. I acutely feel the anger, frustration and resentment that comes from watching others debate a topic that affects me, but not them. I have had the pregnancy scares and the experience of being shamed for simply being female. I have spoken, listened and cried with women who have suffered the agony and desperation of an unwanted pregnancy. I have seen behind the mask of the gentle grandmotherly “sidewalk counselor” and heard the misogynistic bile that is spewed at women who visit abortion clinics. When I discuss the biology of pregnancy, or one meager facet of illogical anti-abortion rhetoric, it is not to enter into debate – it is to wage war.

The Secular ProLife Argument is Poop

Some people are upset with Dave Silverman for Saying Some Things. And with Hemant Mehta for Letting Some Things Be Written. I am one of these people, and for many of the reasons that others have posted. If you want to consider more whether “just asking questions” is a good thing, Stephanie Zvan wrote about this. And Greta Christina has a very good piece on who said what and why none of that shit matters and can we please stop telling those who are under the knife here to be “calm and reasonable” about the real threat to our basic human rights and the ability to make our own health decisions without government interference.

And now I’m going to fly in the face those who say that this isn’t a debate that we need to be having, and that we have already established that there are no humanist pro-life arguments worthy of consideration. I’m going to tell you why the secular pro-life argument is without merit because I haven’t really looked at it before now, and I cannot get over how simple it is to refute.

Human poop refutes the primary premise of the secular pro-life argument.

I know that this will annoy those of you who are enjoying the 3000-word, flowery and academic, reasoned and serious writings on the matter, but really…it all comes crumbling down with just a little bit of poop.

According to the Secular ProLife website, their position rests on four points:

1. The fetus is a human being.
2. There is no consistent, objective distinction between “person” and “human being.”
3. Human beings possess human rights.
4. Bodily integrity is not sufficient to justify most abortions.

I’m striking number four from this discussion because it is a moot point if the first three are struck down. Also, there are entirely different (read: fallacious, spurious, misogynistic) arguments used by Secular ProLife on their website to try to justify this premise. Those are for a different blog.

And before I get started, EVERYBODY LISTEN UP: These aren’t new arguments. The religious anti-choice groups have been making these same “secular” arguments since before Roe v. Wade – and we have answered them! The claiming of these arguments by atheists doesn’t make them any more valid now than they have been previously.

But onto the specific wording in the premises put forth by Secular ProLife:

The first two points are an argument to ambiguity. By conflating the terms “human being” and “human in origin” this specious word garble almost sounds like it makes sense.

Number two happens to be something with which many of us could agree; one might use “person” and “human being” interchangeably in certain circumstances. But using “human being”, when what you mean is “human in origin”, is deceptive and so obviously self-serving that it makes me queasy.

If you replace “a human being” with “human in origin” in the premises, you no longer have a convincing argument.

1. The fetus is human in origin.
2. There is no consistent, objective distinction between “person” and “human in origin.”
3. Things that are human in origin possess human rights.

The first sentence is true. Absolutely. No argument here. They got one right.

Do you know what else is human in origin? Sneezes, tumors, poops, excised warts and that clump of hair that collects in the shower drain catch. These “human” things are not granted human rights or personhood.

And oh yes, I know the prolife rebuttal to this argument: Unlike sneezes, tumors, poops, excised warts and that clump of hair that collects in the shower drain catch, an embryo has the potential to become a person. Bahahahaha! Really? This argument has been laughed at since the “abortion wars” began. An embryo has the “potential” to become a person. So what? So do sperm. So do ova. Let’s ban masturbation and menstruation! Don’t talk to me about “potential” – it’s an untenable position that has already been pounded into the dirt.

And the second argument is now patently false, as PZ Myers explains in his recent post on the subject. And this is not an argument to my FtB overlord’s authority, but an argument made by a subject expert in the field of evolutionary and developmental biology. He describes the biologically distinct difference between an undifferentiated embryo and a mature, developed, self-sufficient person. I would even bet that there is a scientific consensus about this difference among EvoDevo scientists (*gasps* she invoked scientific consensus!)

To recap:

  • The first premise, that a fetus is human in origin, is true but meaningless. In other news, fire is hot and water is wet.
  • The second premise is false – there is a difference between a person and an undifferentiated clump of cells.
  • The third premise is false. Because poop.

Now, I’m not naïve about the human stubbornness that will keep anti-choice atheists from going “OMFSM – poop! You’re so right! Why have I been shaming people who get abortions and wasting my life on this anti-abortion cause!? Here Brianne, let me contribute to your Bowl-A-Thon fundraiser for Pro-Choice Resources!” (Ahhhhh – see what I did there?)

But, there it is. Once again. The secular prolife argument has no legs upon which to stand. None. Zero. Their academic posturing hinges on the idea that human embryos are people with inherent rights. They are not. On a related note, Avicenna points out the real danger in attempting to apply academic reasoning to the real-world situations of those who must make reproductive healthcare decisions.

There are no arguments against abortion – secular, religious or otherwise – that justify legislating the healthcare decisions of autonomous individuals, hindering individual access to abortion, or of the ability of professionals to safely provide abortion care.


More on this from around Freethought Blogs (pardon me, my fellow bloggers, if I missed any. When did we get so big???)

Ophelia Benson has several posts on Dave Silverman’s statements at CPAC and on social justice and abortion in a broader context between March 10th and today.

Jason Thibeault writes about why he supports the criticism of Dave Silverman’s off-the-cuff, misleading comments about secular prolifers at CPAC.

Dana Hunter shows off the colorfully summarized secular prolife arguments, as written by Giliell,  professional cynic, and calls out David Silverman for throwing reproductive rights under the bus.

Zinnia Jones writes about the idea of competing arguments, and why some ideas (in this case, abortion) are open to disagreement within the atheist community, while others are not.

Lilandra at Ace of Clades writes about the disagreement within the secular community after Silverman’s CPAC statements and why entertaining anti-choice arguments isn’t good for people with a uterus or for our secular community.

Satan Makes You Stand

Today I was introduced to a lovely, quirky series called Adult Wednesday Addams. In honor of National Abortion Provider’s Day, which was on Monday – and because I just really want to share it with you – please enjoy Episode Six of Adult Wednesday Addams: Planned Parenthood.

Also, something really, really, really exciting happened on Monday: I met my first Pro-Choice Resources Bowl-A-Thon goal!!! Thank you to the five of you who gave some of your hard-earned money to help support Pro-Choice Resources. For the individual donations, I will be sending out several postcards, and I’ll be doing one custom blog post for the generous individual who donated over $50.

With $150 being raised so far, the first of my six total fundraising goals has been met! After the Bowl-A-Thon on March 20th, I will be posting a photo of me with a bowling bowl, and wearing my team shirt, “The Notorious P.I.D”.

AND I just raised my fundraising goal on my PCR Bow-A-Thon web page to $200. If I meet $200 I will post a video of me granny-bowling and chanting “No back alleys in the night! For safe choices we will fight!” I have goals set for $300, $350, $400, and if I should somehow manage to raise $500, I will make a YouTube PSA about sidewalk bullying tactics. To see all of my individual and total fundraising goals, check out this post from last week.

I sorta really wanna do that PSA, so I’m going to reach out again: If you want to support an organization that works to secure the right to comprehensive reproductive options, and provides abortion funds in Minnesota and the surrounding areas, public outreach throughout the United States, secular after-abortion support, and sex education for teens across the world – please consider sending a few bucks their way via my Bowl-A-Thon Fundraiser web page.

Very, truly, sincerely: Thank you.