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Sep 06 2013

The New Age can be as deadly as Catholic ignorance

Read this story about abortions: it’s not anti-choice. It’s anti-science and anti-medicine. It’s appalling. She contrasts brutal “Western Science” with its machines (and also its caring people: ignore her colorful descriptions of the technology, and her experience with people in the abortion clinic was one where she was asked if she was sure she wanted it, and a woman who tried to help her afterwards) with “natural healing” in which she takes a few gentle herbs and just visualizes shedding the walls of her uterus, and magically her pregnancy disappears.

Then she babbles about how it is just fine if the “fundamentalist dickheads” burn down all the women’s clinics, because they’ll just be able to use organic natural herbal chemical-free machine-free medicine-free abortions using the magic power in women’s heads.

Jesus.

This is one of the nice things about FtB. Now you can go read Miri as a warm-up, finding parts of the essay that are worthwhile, while others suck.

Then go read Avi’s total destruction of the dangerous anti-medical quackery in the story.

It’s all good.

41 comments

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  1. 1
    Raging Bee

    If we believed in our own power and the power of our immediate communities, then abortion clinics, in their present incarnation, would be completely unnecessary.

    If “our immediate communities” provided good comprehensive sex-ed, and easy access to effective birth-control, then the above sentence would be close to correct. Of course, that would involve a lot more than just “believing” in stuff.

  2. 2
    peptron

    For some reasons, “herbal abortion” conjures images of people stuffing mashed naga jolokia in the uterus.

  3. 3
    Raging Bee

    Oh, and yes, it IS anti-choice, merely because it seeks to deceive and delude, and to overwhelm reason with emotion, thus making informed choice impossible.

  4. 4
    Gregory in Seattle

    Your statement, “This is one of the nice things about FtB. Now you can go read Miri as a warm-up, finding parts of the essay that are worthwhile, while others suck” makes it sound as if you are critiquing Miri’s post. Surely, this isn’t the impression you intended.

  5. 5
    kimbeaux

    On critical thinking and medicine, Tim Minchin says it better than I ever could: Storm

  6. 6
    Wrath Panda

    Peptron @ #2

    Parsley, actually. Read Avi’s evisceration of this earlier this morning. That faint sound you can hear? It’s the sound of one person’s mind still boggling 4 hours later.

  7. 7
    Rip Steakface

    Ah, there’s one of my pet peeves: complaining about “chemicals.” What an annoyance! Everything is a chemical. “Natural” things are filled with even more chemicals than many synthesized things, more often than not!

  8. 8
    Akira MacKenzie

    I’ve always felt that the hippie-dippie-mystic-crystal-revelation bullshit of the coutner-culture did more damage to the American Left (or what laughably passes for one) than the antics of McCarthy ever could.

  9. 9
    dianne

    Everything is a chemical.

    Well, nearly everything we interact with in everyday life on earth anyway. Quite a lot of everything in the universe is dark matter, dark energy, and particles that don’t interact strongly enough to produce chemistry. (Yeah, I know, missing the point. Sorry. Carry on.)

  10. 10
    peptron

    When they say “chemical”, I think they just mean “synthetic” (in the sense of artificial). Because running a current in water gives off a type of oxygen that is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the type of oxygen that comes from trees. Also, OMG HYDROGEN!

  11. 11
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @kimbeaux

    I’m now on a massive Minch-Binge :)

  12. 12
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    peptron #2

    Close, perhaps. Vaginally applied parsley would be the precise image for which you are looking.

  13. 13
    nomadiq

    Despite what certain Missouri politicians might have to say, I’m very confident women don’t have ways to ‘shut that whole thing down’

  14. 14
    kimbeaux

    @Thumper (11)

    I had the same reaction when I first discovered him–ok, still go on Minch-binges periodically. Angry (Feet) is one of my favorites.

  15. 15
    barnestormer

    Semi-OT: I just discovered Tim Minchin and I’m so happy I did! It was “The Pope Song” and it was so perfect and cathartic that I listened to it three times in a row (and started singing along).

  16. 16
    kimbeaux

    @barnestormer (15)

    I love singing along with The Pope Song, too. Often dancing is required.

    What? No, I’m not having a seizure…

  17. 17
    A Surprise to Many

    Charming – pennyroyal tea. In the DC area, it killed an entire family by liver failure a few years back. I’ll take my chance with the vacuum device, which is also used in a boatload of other medical procedures – I’ve got to wonder if the author ever goes to the dentist or if that’s also too horribly technical.

    http://livertox.nih.gov/Pennyroyal.htm

  18. 18
    carolineborduin

    My son is about to start his freshman year at Evergreen State College. Please don’t let him bring home someone like this! Or get her pregnant accidentally THREE times!

    He’s incredibly rational, scientific and a thoughtful atheist, also 21, so I believe he has the inner resources and enough maturity to prevail. But I am sending him with condoms.

  19. 19
    Sastra

    Yes, this is religion (or, as the writer herself would probably prefer, “spirituality.”) The “natural” herbs and methods were apparently only effective because she was really, really concentrating hard on what she wanted.

    This is supernaturalism. Mind over matter, mind above matter, mind controlling matter. There’s “imaging” and imagining and visualizing what you need. Eight days where you ‘(b)reathe, eat, shit, and sleep thinking of nothing else but the lining of your uterus shedding.” And then the magic happens … literally. You empowered yourself through healing yourself from within and recognizing that minds and their intentions are really forces of magic. And feminism too — because women are more “spiritual.”

    If it doesn’t work it’s because you didn’t want it enough. You didn’t really believe. Faith.

    Miri and Avicenna’s posts were both great. Now I’d love to watch Orac dish out some respectful insolence.

  20. 20
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Parsley. She… I don’t even…

  21. 21
    octopod

    What. If you don’t like your diaphragm, just don’t use anything? (The description of repeated yeast infections actually makes me think she might have an undiagnosed latex allergy…) I can’t take hormonal birth control because it makes me ill, so I use something else. I wouldn’t go “oh well I guess I’ll just go ahead and hope for the best”.

    Incidentally, I don’t ever hear of basically anyone of my generation using diaphragms. Is this a medical fashion type of thing? — her Wikipedia bio says she was born in 1966, so she was in college in the mid-80s when I was an early-instar larva.

    The parsley, on the other hand, hell if I know; plant alkaloids are pretty weird. I know that I tried dang gui tea for menstrual cramps once, on my mother-in-law’s recommendation, and it made my uterine muscles freak out and cramp up hardcore, so I’m reluctant to discount the possibility of hormonally active plants. I’m sure it’s not as good as having actual measured doses from a prescribed medical abortion, but it’s not abject nonsense. Unlike, say, the visualization stuff — somehow I doubt that pregnancy is one of those things that can be affected by the placebo effect, or it’d certainly be common knowledge by now.

  22. 22
    Inaji

    Jesus Christ. I know all about herbs. (Yeah, yeah. It happened, I do.) It is *not* an easy matter to terminate a pregnancy that way. It’s damned dangerous, and most of time? It. Won’t. Work. Holy Rodents below, some people’s stupidity is extremely dangerous.

  23. 23
    Inaji

    Beatrice:

    Parsley. She… I don’t even…

    That’s not regular, store, sprinkle some in sauce parsley. Wild parsley is what most people call Queen Anne’s Lace. There’s also fool’s parsley, which is toxic. Some idiots also mistake hemlock for parsley. Gaah.

  24. 24
    NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase

    somehow I doubt that pregnancy is one of those things that can be affected by the placebo effect, or it’d certainly be common knowledge by now.

    To be fair, cases of the other direction (“phantom pregnancy”) is actually a thing.

  25. 25
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Caine,
    I see. Thanks for the explanation.
    Although, I’m not much less shocked. She still stuffed some herb up her vagina.

    (Since it’s not the regular kind of parsley, I’m now wondering how she got it “organic”. From googling the pictures, that shit is weed, not something you’d grow and sell. (unless you’re in the business of making money from new agey types, I guess – ah, there’s my answer) )

  26. 26
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Hm, if it grows as weed in some random meadow, it might counts as “organic” since it wasn’t deliberately grown and tended with any nasty chemicals.

    /sorry, overthinking this

  27. 27
    Inaji

    Beatrice:

    Although, I’m not much less shocked. She still stuffed some herb up her vagina.

    Yes. Also, stuffing most herbs up your vagina will help about as much as shoving a birth control pill up there. About the only effective way to obtain a termination, even with herbs that do have an abortifacient effect, is to routinely drink a tea, so that implantation wouldn’t occur. That said, routinely drinking such tea would have very bad side effects, so not good.

    It’s silliness at the height of danger. People read a little bit and think they know what they’re doing. It’s not as though herbs can’t be useful, they can. I make a couple of kick ass ointments, which really help in the cases of bruises and muscle pain, yada, yada, yada. That said, taking a couple of ibuprofen is very helpful, too, more helpful than decocting will bark to get the same effect of one aspirin.

  28. 28
    Inaji

    will bark

    That should be willow bark.

  29. 29
    Dutchgirl

    It reads so fake to me, but I can’t think of anyone benefiting from faking such a story. I’m also rather shocked at the lack of personal responsibility the author takes for getting repeatedly pregnant. I know birth control fails, but she writes about it the same as I would if I *oops* put on two different colored socks this morning, no one’s fault, these things happen.

  30. 30
    anuran

    There are herbal abortifacients. There are common herbs which can be accidentally abortifacient,. Mint family, I’m talking to you! There are herbs which can induce menstruation.

    Some are effective.
    Some are not.
    All have their hazards.
    None of them is as safe as Plan B, aspiration or surgical pregnancy termination.

  31. 31
    bad Jim

    will bark

    WOOF!

    I’ve just read two things that I wish I could unread.

    There’s a lot not to like about the practice of medicine in the U.S. right now, but the way to improvement isn’t back through the Middle Ages, humors and temperaments and exorcising evil spirits. Every time I see a container of Oscillococcinum I feel like slapping on the label “This is quack medicine – literally – the echo of a duck” (given that it’s a homeopathic dilution of duck liver).

  32. 32
    SallyStrange

    I actually did some of this once. Blue cohosh, all the teas. I had no idea what I was doing, and neither did anybody else. I did it for a week, then I gave up. A month later I had a miscarriage. Thank goodness. My belief in alt-woo bullshit almost saddled me with an unplanned-for child at age 23, with no job and no college education.

  33. 33
    Forbidden Snowflake

    Dutchgirl:

    I’m also rather shocked at the lack of personal responsibility the author takes for getting repeatedly pregnant.

    She recognizes that she’s pregnant, examines her options, chooses to abort and then has the abortion to the best of her ability*. What do you think “personal responsibility for getting pregnant” looks like?

    I know birth control fails, but she writes about it the same as I would if I *oops* put on two different colored socks this morning, no one’s fault, these things happen.

    Well, they do happen. Sometimes accidental pregnancy is the result of less negligence than the average dental cavity (at least you can’t get a cavity by failing to brush once).

    *Not to say that the third time wasn’t completely ridiculous

  34. 34
    bad Jim

    You must have been doing something right in the meantime, though. You’re pretty awesome now.

    In a previous season of Dexter, his love interest used aconite, a poison which I dimly remembered. It turns out to have been commonly used in medicine once upon a time. It wasn’t at all safe, but at least it did something, which couldn’t be said for most of the concoctions physicians had at their disposal back then. (Goethe has Faust supposing he’d killed more people than he’d saved.) One wonders why, apart from desperation, anyone went to a doctor, but they did.

  35. 35
    bad Jim

    (“Pretty awesome now” was meant for Sally Strange.)

  36. 36
    scimaths

    I’m also rather shocked at the lack of personal responsibility the author takes for getting repeatedly pregnant.

    So is someone is a bit of a flake then they should forfeit their access to abortion ? Being forced to endure an unwaanted pregnacy because she was asking for it ?

  37. 37
    katkinkate

    Parsley seeds are supposed to cause abortions. I don’t know the details, but anything toxic enough to your uterus to cause you to miscarry is probably also affecting other organs as well. Not something I’d try unless desperate and unable to get a nice, safe, sterile abortion in a surgery.

  38. 38
    ledasmom

    What irritates me, apart from the completely unscientific woo-based nonsense, is that even if this did work, why would I prefer it to a regular old abortion? Why on earth would I want to spend days doing all this bumpf with herbal teas and visualizing and so forth when I could get the whole thing over with much, much faster? When I see these things I always feel that there’s a bias there against those of us who simply do not have the patience. It’s all sort of “Don’t have the time to make your own herbal teas, put parsley up your vagina, get massaged and visualize for a week? Well, you don’t deserve an abortion!”

  39. 39
    keri

    In response to #33 and #36 (both in response to dutchgirl):

    I think the lack of responsibility comes into play when the woman says that she hated the process of the abortion – it hurt and was completely unpleasant, even if it was desired. If both of her abortions were that horrible, and she doesn’t want to do it again, but she doesn’t want to be pregnant, wouldn’t it be better to not risk another pregnancy?

    If you don’t want to have a child, but you also don’t want to have an abortion, then either don’t have sex or use contraception. If you’re not going to use contraception and you do get pregnant (or if the contraception fails), don’t resort to wishful thinking magic woo, because that’s irresponsible: there’s a large chance that it won’t do anything or it will get you seriously sick or dead.

    The problem is that she doesn’t realize that her homeopathic reflexology whatever is magic woo – and she doesn’t accept that magic woo is nonsense at best.

  40. 40
    Fionnabhair

    I don’t know if this is exactly the same word-for-word, but this author told the same story in her book Cunt, first published in 1998. The author has the opinion that anything made by men for women can’t possibly be good for women, so no hormonal contraceptives. (She does insist that condoms are good, and that men who refuse to use a condom should only fuck other men who also refuse to use condoms, or something to that effect.) Instead, she suggests women use a lunar calendar and use that to help determine how they’ll on a given date in the lunar cycle, when they’ll bleed, and when they’ll ovulate. So, basically, she advocates using the rhythm method.

    (She also believes that there’s some sort of conspiracy or whatever with regards to pain killers taken for menstrual cramps, and they just make the cramps worse so you have to but more pain killers, but if you stop taking them, the cramps will go away!)

    I read the book in 2006 or so, and I liked it at the time, in spite of thinking that some of her ideas weren’t the best advice (like her suggestions for birth control), but some of it- appreciating the female body and what it can do, supporting woman-owned and operated businesses, and so on- was pretty good.

    So, there’s some additional context for the abortion piece PZ linked to.

  41. 41
    L E

    (She also believes that there’s some sort of conspiracy or whatever with regards to pain killers taken for menstrual cramps, and they just make the cramps worse so you have to but more pain killers, but if you stop taking them, the cramps will go away!)

    I wish her good luck. Personally I’d rather not be completely incapacitated for three days out of the month so I’ll keep taking my naproxen at the first achy feeling. It’s worked for 15 years with no need to up the dose so…

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