Indiana does something right for a change!

They’re no longer requiring students to be taught cursive writing in public schools. Instead, students will learn to be proficient at typing.
The smug 5th grader in me wants to write my former teacher and say, “Ha! So much for ‘You need to know this if you want to get into college. You’ll have to use cursive every day there!'” Preferably I’d write it in cursive, to illustrate how my cursive handwriting still looks like that of a 5th grader thanks to never using it.

Anyway, congratulations Indiana on this progressive achievement. Now, if only you’d join us in the 21st century in regards to other issues. You know, little things like women’s health, gay marriage, fair teacher pay…

(Via Joe My God)

The few cool places in Northwest Indiana

After that crabby last post, I feel compelled to post something positive about my trip. I really did enjoy myself. I had a great time visiting family and friends and playing lots and lots of golf. But other than that, Northwest Indiana is notoriously boring. If you ever find yourself stuck there, here are a couple places to check out:

- Three Floyds Brewpub. Great beer and even better French fries (I’m probably going to be lynched for saying that). Plus I love the quirky décor. Awesome murals and artwork everywhere, and always a bizarre B movie playing on one of the walls.

- Beer Geeks. Not as cool as Three Floyds, but still worth going if you can look past the hipster-y name and sign (broken nerdy glasses, really?). Good selection of beer, reasonable price, and murals of people like Darwin, Stephen Hawking, Spock, and Doc Brown all enjoying beer together. Randomly ran into a Secular Student Alliance affiliate leader there who I met once at last year’s conference. Smaaaaaall world.

- Aurelio’s Pizza. I live in a Chicago suburb, so there’s great pizza everywhere. I’m sure Aurelio’s isn’t the best you can find, but I like it. They have a bunch of places around Chicago, but one really close to my house. It’s thin crust and has a sweet sauce that makes it really unique, which I love but not everyone does. I always make sure to get some when I come home.

…Yes, it is a very short list. We don’t even have our miniature golf/go-kart place anymore. It was bulldozed to make way for a strip mall that never went up, thanks to the economy.

Indiana: Police can now enter your home whenever they want

What. The. Fuck.

INDIANAPOLIS | Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.

In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer’s entry.

Seriously, were my family’s votes the only thing keeping this state from going totally insane? Did three liberal people moving plunge the state into complete madness? Aaauuuggghhhhh!!

If that article isn’t upsetting enough to you, you should check out Feministe’s summary of the effects of Indiana’s new abortion laws and defunding of Planned Parenthood.

You’re welcome.

Despair and hope in Indiana

The bad news first:

Indiana is on the way to becoming the first state to prohibit Medicaid patients from visiting Planned Parenthood clinics after the Senate today approved a bill that would cut off taxpayer money to the Planned Parenthood of Indiana because it performs abortions.

“The taxpayers will no longer fund an organization that provides abortion as part of their services that they give to the public,” said Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, who introduced the bill for the sponsor, Sen. Pat Miller.

The Senate voted 13 to 35 to approve HB1210, a wide-ranging abortion bill that would cut off federal taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood of Indiana.

The bill also sets 20 weeks as the cut-off when a woman can no longer seek an abortion. The current cut-off is viability, which a doctor determines, usually around 24 weeks. It codifies into law the idea that a fetus feels pain at 20 weeks and it requires doctors to tell women seeking abortions certain information, such as that abortion is linked to infertility.

Aka, lie and harm thousands of women in the process. Good going, Indiana!

If you’d like a small respite from the rage, I’d like to direct you to this delightful feminist rant by a 10 year old girl from Avon, IN. A small glimmer of hope that Indiana doesn’t suck the intelligence and independence out of everyone. But at the same time, a sad reminder of the kind of misogynistic environment this little girl is growing up in.

A long time ago I knew a very similar little girl – she moved away from that backwards state the moment she could.

More Indianapoplexy

Here’s the article from the ACLU:

On December 23, 2010, Shuai, a 34-year-old pregnant woman who was suffering from a major depressive disorder, attempted to take her own life. Friends found her in time and persuaded her to get help. Six days later, Shuai underwent cesarean surgery and delivered a premature newborn girl who, tragically, died four days later.

On March 14, 2011, Shuai was arrested, jailed, and charged with murder and attempted feticide. Had Shuai, who is being represented by National Advocates for Pregnant Women and local attorneys, not been pregnant when she attempted suicide, she would not have been charged with any crime at all.

Of course, no one would deny that what happened in this case is terrible and tragic, and probably no one feels that more than Shuai herself. But this case is about so much more than whether attempted suicide should be a crime — in Indiana it is not — and the death of her daughter; its implications go much further.

The state is misconstruing the criminal laws in this case in such a way that any pregnant woman could be prosecuted for doing (or attempting) anything that may put her health at risk, regardless of the outcome of her pregnancy.

That’s right: according to the ways the laws are being applied here, the state of Indiana believes that any pregnant woman who smokes or lives with a smoker, who works long hours on her feet, who is overweight, who doesn’t exercise, or who fails to get regular prenatal care, is a felon. And the list of ways these laws could be construed to unconstitutionally prosecute pregnant women goes on and on.

Allowing the government to exercise such unlimited control over women’s bodies, decisions, and every aspect of their lives, and to send them to jail when they disapprove of a woman’s behavior, would essentially reduce pregnant women to second-class citizens by denying them the basic constitutional rights enjoyed by the rest of us.

Moreover, what does it say about our society — about our obsession with incarceration and using the criminal justice system to treat public health issues, and with controlling women’s lives and treating women as if they were somehow separate from their own pregnancies — that we would give a life sentence to a woman who tried to kill herself, just because she did so, in a moment of utter despair and distress, at the end of a wanted pregnancy? Is this (or any) punishment really appropriate here? Does anyone really think this will somehow deter desperate and distraught pregnant women from attempting suicide in the future?

If, as a society, we truly cared about healthy moms and babies, our focus would be on how we can support pregnant women, not how we can manipulate our criminal laws, and undermine basic constitutional principles, to find new ways to punish them.

Sigh. I’m too dragged down by this stuff to have anything to add.

I need a term for Indiana-induced rage

Because shit like this keeps happening:

On Wednesday, House Representatives of the Indiana state considered a controversial anti-abortion bill, introduced by state Rep. Eric Turner (R), that would make abortions illegal in the state after 20 weeks. Representatives were also considering a bill amendment, proposed by Rep. Gail Riecken (D), that would make exceptions for “women who became pregnant due to rape or incest, or women for whom pregnancy threatens their life or could cause serious and irreversible physical harm.”

You know, pretty common sense exceptions.

There’s just one problem with the amendment, argued Turner, the original bill’s sponsor: Women would then have a “giant loophole” where they could simply lie about being a rape or incest victim and procure an abortion anyway.

The amendment was voted down 42 to 54 and the anti-abortion bill itself passed the House 72 to 23.

Fuck.

I really don’t know what else I can say about this sort of shit. I know I may not live there anymore, but I care about my friends and family – fuck, I care about strangers who are having their rights and fucking dignity ripped away by people like Eric Turner.

The only thing giving me hope for Indiana is that there are amazing people like Rep. Linda Lawson (D), a sex crimes investigator for six years, who managed to passionately defend the women of Indiana in a situation where I would have been speechless.

Fuck.

Motherfucking Indiana

Seriously, we’re just on a roll, aren’t we? First no gay marriage, then ridiculous abortion restrictions…and now one of our Representatives, Mike Pence, is out to remove all government funding for Planned Parenthood. And it passed in the House.

I know this happened a couple of days ago, but I’ve been in conference la la land, so you get my rage a little delayed.

Feministe summarizes perfectly why we should care:

By law, federal funds haven’t paid for abortions since the 1970s, so the House hasn’t voted to cut abortion funding. They’re cutting funding for the entire Title X program — funding for contraception, cancer screening, STI tests, sex education, mammograms, HIV testing and diagnosis, and pregnancy screening and counseling. Title X is the only federal program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and preventive health services, particularly low-income families. Last year, 5 million people benefited from the services funded by Title X.

Planned Parenthood is the target of this legislation, and American women the primary victims. This isn’t about abortion — it’s about cutting access to health care for women. One in five American women has used Planned Parenthood’s services. The vast majority of care — more than 90% — offered at Planned Parenthood health centers is preventative. Every year, Planned Parenthood carries out nearly one million screenings for cervical cancer — screenings which save lives. Every year, Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses give more than 830,000 breast exams — exams which save lives. Every year, nearly 2.5 million patients receive contraception from Planned Parenthood — a service which prevents enormous numbers of unintended pregnancies and, by extension, an enormous number of abortions. Every year, Planned Parenthood administers nearly 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV — tests and treatments which save lives, extend lives, preserve fertility, and maintain reproductive health.

Fuck. Republicans. And Indiana, for spawning this filth. I am more and more ashamed to be associated with this state.

If you want to show your support for this amazing organization, you can sign Planned Parenthood’s open letter to Congress here.

Goddamnit Indiana

This is not a good week for my old state. First, we’re even closer to having an amendment to the Indiana constitution banning gay marriage. Because you know, a law isn’t good enough when you’re homophobic.

Now? New abortion restrictions have just won committee approval.

HB1210, authored by Rep. Eric Turner, R-Marion, was originally drafted as a measure forcing abortion doctors to tell their patients that “the fetus may feel pain” and forcing patients to view an ultrasound picture unless they said in writing that they did not want to.

An amendment by Rep. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, added many more provisions, including one forcing the health department to produce materials saying abortion can increase the risk of breast cancer, another saying patients must be told about opportunities for child care and child support payments and a provision saying abortions could not be performed after 20 weeks except to save the mother’s life. The amendment was approved 8-5.

[…]Messmer’s amendment says a relative of the woman, a county attorney or the attorney general could file an injunction against a doctor who performs or attempts to perform an abortion after 20 weeks.

“If you have an abortion provider providing post-20 week abortions across the state, it may take the attorney general,” Messmer said. His measure also includes a provision saying that life begins when an egg is fertilized.

What. The. Fuck. I wish I was surprised, but frankly I’m not. At least there are some sane voices in Indiana:

Lawson and other Democrats said the supporters’ testimony was based on faulty medical information. Planned Parenthood representatives said abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer and that scientists and doctors have found fetuses cannot feel pain until well after 20 weeks.

A representative of the Jewish Community Relations Council testified that Jews do not believe life begins at fertilization — they believe it begins at birth — so codifying Messmer’s definition would write religion into state law.

Opponents questioned whether the purpose of the law was really to make women more informed or more safe.

“I’ve heard it before,” Lawson said. “They’re not going to change my mind. They’re bullies.”

Props to Lawson (who’s a representative from my home town’s congressional district) for calling out these people for who they truly are, Planned Parenthood for actually using science in their arguments, and the Jewish Community Relations Council for supporting the separation of church and state. Some people in Indiana get it. Unfortunately it’s not the majority.

Atheists need to wear more polo shirts

From the Purdue Exponent:

Fashioning a polo shirt that complemented his witty humor, an atheist high school math teacher recounted how he won his tussle with an influential right-wing group.

What? That wasn’t the takeaway point from this article? I guess for Purdue students, it’s important to illustrate that atheists aren’t always running around naked. That misconception may be partially my fault.

Glad Hemant’s talk went well at my alma mater!

PS: Club members report that about twice as many people showed up than the Exponent reported. Boo, student reporting!

Another reason I’m glad I moved

Remember how Arizona wanted to instate horribly racist anti-immigration laws, and there was national uproar, from protests to boycotts? Well, apparently Indiana didn’t want to be left out of all the fun (emphasis mine):

A state lawmaker thinks it’s time Indiana followed Arizona’s lead in cracking down on illegal immigration — and wants to go even further by barring the use of any language but English in most government transactions.[…]

Like Arizona, the bill requires a state or local law enforcement officer who stops anyone for a violation of a law or ordinance to ask for proof that the person is here legally if the officer has “reasonable suspicion” the person is not either a citizen or a legal visitor. […]

Most government transactions, documents and meetings must be in English. That means the state would have to end the Spanish-language portal on its website, and stop issuing forms, such as voter registration or absentee ballots, in other languages. Exceptions are made for law enforcement and court proceedings; public health needs; tourism and international trade needs.[…]

The former home of the KKK just can’t be outdone in the battle for most racist state, can they? Come on, it’s a serious problem for Indiana – just look how close it is to the Mexican border. And those illegal immigrants are practically taking over. A whopping 5.5% of “Hoosiers” are Hispanic! They’re doomed!!! Better make sure even the legal immigrants can’t vote by making everything in English, or they’ll surely let all of their buddies in! And THEN where will we be?!

Though the Senator assures us it has nothing to do with race. I’m sure he’s very concerned about all the French speaking Canadians that have been dying to hide out in our corn fields.

Thanks, Indiana. This is why so many people in Seattle look at me with a mixture of horror and pity when I say where I’m from. You’re doing a great job living up to that image.