Classic example demonstrating how online polls are worthless

We haven’t screwed with an online poll in a long time, but I think this one deserves a special bit of attention.

It’s from Arizona Wingnut Paul Gosar, DDS. It’s stupid because the wording is so flagrantly biased to the point where it shouldn’t even be a poll — if you feel that strongly about the issue, why are you asking for others’ opinions instead of standing up for your principles? I answered “no” to everything except the last one. I wonder if he gets enough votes that reject his biases, that he’ll then do an about-face?

I wasn’t even trying to be mindlessly contrary. I think “no” is the right answer to every question there but the last.

Somebody explain this to me

I just got back from a late evening fussing over spiders, when I noticed a new sign in the hallway…or maybe it’s an old sign that’s just recently been uncovered.

OK, walking through this…on the left, an icon of a man and a woman, labeled “Your body, your choice”. Below that, some strange ontology of choices: adoption, abstinence, motherhood, and conception are “options” and also choices, while abortion is an option but not a choice. In the context of the graphic designers’ head, what is the difference between an option and a choice? They all seem like options and choices to me.

On the right, there’s a cartoon of a pregnant woman and a fetus, with a big arrow (to be honest, when I saw the sign from a distance, it looked like a fat man with a gigantic erection which first roused my curiosity) labeled “Not your body, your responsibility”, which weirded me out. So getting pregnant means it’s not your body anymore? Where’s the man from the left picture? It’s not his responsibility?

It seems to me that Option #5, which is not a choice, is the only way to get your body back. It’s a confusing poster with a whole mass of implicit assumptions somewhere in it, that I’m sure make sense to our Students for Life, but not to me. I guess that makes me a Professor for Death, as long as we’re dichotomizing everything. Fortunately, I am not responsible, because it was an option not a choice, and because I’m a man, I think..

I have to stop thinking about this, I’m just getting more tangled up in whatever they’re trying to communicate.

No, I’m not going to their Tuesday meeting. I think that would be even worse.


Holy shit, that was bad. As I mentioned before, several local church groups booked the Morris Theater to show the Pure Flix piece of crap, Unplanned, so I attended today to have an informed perspective on the movie. It was worse than I expected. It’s pure nonstop defamation of Planned Parenthood from beginning to end, and doesn’t really address any of the issues behind abortion at all — the whole goal is to demonize abortion and family planning.

Unfortunately, the theater was packed. They had clearly brought in several churchloads of people to see this thing, and it was intensely religious. They had 4 pastors and the director of Options for Women, one of those bogus nothingburger outfits that claims to provide alternatives for women who find themselves pregnant, but really, as the director announced, only provides a “passion and love for Jesus”. There was an opening prayer, of course, and they announced that there were offering baskets in the lobby for donations on the way out.

I did not make a donation.

Then the movie began. (Warning: Spoilers Ahead. Not that you should care.) It was the story of Abby Johnson, supposedly, from her book, which we know to be full of lies. It starts with the earth-shaking abortion that never happened, in which Johnson is called to assist with the ultrasound in an abortion, and watches the little fetus struggle and squirm and claw at the sides of the uterus as it is sucked into a vacuum tube in extreme detail. They spent some money on this fake animation. You can see in exquisite focus its little fingers clutching vainly to prevent being aspirated to its doom, and then its head goes pop as it gets sucked in, and then we cut to the outlet tube, which is about an inch in diameter and quarts of blood, with lumps, are being pumped into a big bucket. It was gory and exaggerated to the point of absurdity.

Johnson runs wailing to the bathroom, tears pouring down her face. Then we cut back in time 8 years, and we’re going to follow her life leading up to this moment.

She volunteers to work for Planned Parenthood after college. Her first day on the job as a volunteer clinic escort, she demonstrates great compassion…for the protesters outside the gate. The protesters are very nice. When Johnson mentions that the dismembered fetus pictures and the guy dressed up as the grim reaper aren’t actually that nice, they assure her that they tell those freaks to stay away. It’s not their fault. They’re just praying.

Johnson does this frequently, maybe once successfully ushering a patient into the building, but even then she has to have a little discussion with the protesters. If the movie wanted to portray her as incompetent at her job, they succeeded.

We meet Cheryl, the director of the clinic. She is an evil witch: never smiles, the other workers go silent when she steps into the room, she’s heartless and unsympathetic. When Johnson gets pregnant, Cheryl urges her to get an abortion and suggests that she won’t be suited for the job if she doesn’t. Everyone has to wait for her to leave the office before they can throw a baby shower for her, that’s how cruel she is.

Another day, a dramatic event: a father brings his teenaged daughter in for an abortion. After the procedure, she’s sitting there with blood dribbling down — the doctor, who is presented as an unfeeling machine, has perforated her uterus. Everyone panics. They rush her into one of the clinic rooms, the doctor starts cursing, they’re stuffing gauze in her crotch that an ungloved, unwashed Johnson is handing to him. The clinic workers want to call 911 and get an ambulance there…Cheryl coldly says no, the protesters would love that, it would hurt their business, so they spend 5 hours putting the girl back together again. Cheryl isn’t worried, they’ll dope her with some strong drugs so she won’t remember a thing.

If that were a true story, that’s when Johnson should have insta-quit. The whole tale is unlikely, unethical, and not at all fitting with the mission of Planned Parenthood. I also wanted to scream out that if safe abortions are banned, there will be a lot more perforated uteruses in America.

Later, Johnson goes out to chat with the protesters again, talking about all the good Planned Parenthood does. They completly stump her by comparing abortion to slavery and the Holocaust. No, really, she immediately clamps her mouth shut and leaves.

Abby Johnson is really, really bad at her job.

Next comes an order from the state office to double the number of abortions, because they need more money for an expanded clinic. This makes no sense, because abortions are only a few percent of Planned Parenthood’s business, but this movie only shows abortions being done. No mammograms, no STD testing and treatment, no contraceptives, no education programs, nothing — only brutal, bloody, buckets of blood-style abortions of miserable, weeping women. Johnson is told that abortion is what pays for her salary, and once again, Cheryl shows contempt for people who have babies.

The next big event: George Tiller is murdered. Johnson is terrified. Who does she talk to for reassurance? Why, those nice abortion protesters, who are all sympathetic and regretful. Her Planned Parenthood colleagues, though, tell her that they were only showing false sympathy. No, the movie makers are not going to use the Tiller murder to allow any criticisms of these friendly protesters to show through.

Abby Johnson is threatened with firing, because she dared to criticize her boss for promoting more abortions, a convenient but completely fictitious explanation. We also get to see a worker wheeling out two 55 gallon drums for disposal. The protesters ask, “Is that what I think is in there?” He says yes, ambiguously. What I’d think was in there was dirty gauze and pads and old syringes and discarded latex gloves, on their way to an incinerator, but they ask to pray over it, and then babble about hundreds of dead babies in those gigantic drums. Yeah, right.

We get a reprise of the gory baby-sucking event, which is the first time Johnson has ever attended any of the medical procedures at the clinic, because she is not qualified to do any of it, and is more of administrator/clerical person, but this time she’s brought in to do the ultrasound, which she does like a real pro, getting amazing high-resolution images of a baby. I rather doubt that this event happened at all. It’s also unlikely because we have the records of all the abortions done at the clinic that day, and there was only one, of a 6-week fetus.

She quits. First she runs once again to the protesters, her very favorite people, but she’s finally out.

That’s kind of the story, except there’s a weird bit tacked on calculated to increase the perception of Evil Cheryl. They sue Abby Johnson (in real life, they only made a legal motion to prevent her from spreading confidential information, since she had had access to all those medical records). They hire a lawyer from a billboard, who is just played as smug, grossly over-confident, and smirking, which apparently the audience found hilarious. They laughed every time he announced that Planned Parenthood was going to get what they deserved.

This segment was really about making Cheryl a mouthpiece for their myths. She monologues evilly at Johnson, telling her that Planned Parenthood was “one of the most powerful organizations on the planet”, that they were a “billion dollar corporation”, that they were supported by “Soros, Gates, and Buffet” and nothing was going to stop their profits. When the motion to prevent Johnson from sharing confidential information was defeated, the audience cheered. Of course.

We’re finally done. Oh, that was painful. We also get the Breakfast Club Outro, in which we learn that Abby Johnson is currently on her 8th child.

It’s typical Pure Flix, unbelievable garbage in which they clearly have no knowledge of what clinic workers do or think, just as in God’s Not Dead they had negative knowledge of what philosophers teach. Their job is simply to represent the biases and stereotypes of their grossly ignorant audiences, and they do that well.

It’s not just Alabama

Don’t blame the citizens of Alabama exclusively for their misogynistic laws. This poison is everywhere. Even in Minnesota. Even in your local community. It’s happening here in bucolic Morris, Minnesota.

Our local movie theater has given in to pressure from church groups, like this rag-tag mob of regressive bible-thumpers, to host a showing of the movie Unplanned in town. I can’t blame the theater, they are trying to represent the views of the community, and they did turn down a request to put it in their regular week-long rotation and are instead showing a single Sunday matinee. Still, we’re going to have a showing of a dishonest anti-choice propaganda film right here in my town. We get a fair number of religious films at the theater (the latest was Breakthrough), and I’m not going to complain — I’m just not going to attend. Unplanned, though, is worse than that, because it lies.

It is the story of Abby Johnson, who was a director of a Planned Parenthood in Texas who had a sudden conversion, resigned, and became an anti-abortion advocate. That much is true. She did make a surprisingly abrupt about-face on abortion. Was her motivation principled and honest, though? Probably not.

Johnson’s departure from Planned Parenthood turned out to be a more complex story than it first appeared. At a court hearing for an injunction sought by Planned Parenthood to prevent Johnson from divulging confidential information to her new allies, two of Johnson’s former co-workers testified that she told them in the days before she resigned that she was afraid she was about to be fired. At one time, Johnson, who was named the regional Planned Parenthood affiliate’s employee of the year in 2008, seemed to have a promising future with the organization. By mid-2009, however, her relationship with her employer had begun to deteriorate. Salon reported that on October 2, Johnson was summoned to Houston to meet with her supervisors to discuss problems with her job performance. She was placed on what Planned Parenthood calls a “performance improvement plan.” It was just three days later, on Monday, that Johnson made her tearful appearance at the Coalition for Life. The following day she faxed Planned Parenthood a resignation letter, which mentioned nothing about a crisis of conscience.

She claimed that she was pressured by Planned Parenthood to increase the number of abortions at her clinic, which is just bizarre. PP does not push clients toward abortion, if anything, it’s the opposite — their purpose is to serve the medical needs of the women. There was an increase in the number of abortions at her clinic before her sudden departure, but it was because they were providing more abortion pills at clients’ request. Only 3% of the services offered at her clinic were abortions. Johnson claimed she had an epiphany while observing an ultrasound guided abortion, during which she claimed the fetus struggled to escape from the suction, which is absurd. The fetus is only a bit more than half a centimeter long at six weeks. It has mere bumps for limbs, it still has prominent branchial arches, it’s not motile at all.

Oh, about that abortion in the sixth week: Johnson claims it was a 13 week abortion. At that stage, the fetus is about 7cm long and does have small limbs which exhibit spontaneous movement. Planned Parenthood does keep very careful records of all procedures, of course, and there was no early second trimester abortion on the day she claimed — only one 6th week abortion. So she lied about that, too.

Of course, the movie is going to exaggerate and dramatize everything even further, and lie about the realities of abortion every step of the way — it’s made by the same people who made God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2, both of which were shown here in Morris, no doubt at the urging of the same ignoramuses who are bringing in this latest abomination from Pure Flix.

Some of us are planning some kind of response. I’ll be attending the movie on the 19th of this month (oh, the pain I suffer to be informed), and we’ve talked about having a post-movie discussion, although I suspect none of the proponents of religious stupidity will attend. We’re also hoping to bring in a showing of No Choice, an excellent documentary from Bill Moyers on why women need this right for a matinee showing the week after — the distributors have been helpful and willing, and the theater is considering helping us out — but I doubt that we’ll get much participation by the people who need the information most.

We are not going to adopt the histrionic scare tactics of the deplorable anti-abortionists, which does tend to limit the magnitude of potential reactions. So no, sorry, we’re not going to stand outside the theater with bullhorns. Does anyone have any other suggestions about what can be done? Unplanned is being shown on Sunday the 19th, while we’re hoping to show No Choice on Saturday the 25th.

The lying theocrats are winning in Alabama

The legislature in Alabama has passed an evil bill to deny women autonomy. This is a transparent attempt to do great harm to the citizens of their state, but only if they are women.

The Alabama bill, which passed 25-6, is even more restrictive than prior state-level abortion laws, and it includes a penalty of up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform abortions. Six of the Senate’s Democrats voted against the bill — one abstained — and they staged a filibuster into Tuesday night after debating the bill for more than four hours, with senators discussing the role government should play in legislating what a woman can do with her body and the definition of life.

After a Democratic amendment to the bill that would have provided exceptions for victims of rape and incest failed 21-11, Democrats railed against the prospects of young crime victims having to carry the resultant fetuses to term and having to then live with their assailants’ children for the rest of their lives.

It’s a purely Republican bill, promoted by dumbass Republican men. They fought fang and claw against any exceptions, any amendments, and also shot down an amendment that would have required the state to pay for the medical bills of unwanted babies for three years. This is not pro-life. It’s pro-misogyny.

All those voting for the bill were men. All Republicans. When signed into law by Alabama’s governor, women who have abortions will face no sanction, but doctors performing them could face “10 years in prison for attempting to terminate a pregnancy and 99 years for actually carrying out the procedure,” BBC reports. The only exception is for saving the life of the mother.

There’s a deeper logic behind this: they want this law to go to the Supreme Court, because their plan is to use the stacked judiciary to over throw federal laws — they want to impose their godly will on everyone, in every state. They are not content to oppress only the women of Alabama.

During floor debate, Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R) led the effort for passage of the ban. Its purpose is, Chambliss said, “So that we can go directly to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe v. Wade.”

Apparently, there has been a surge of these kinds of bills all across the country. Abortion foes have been emboldened by the appointment of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and are confident that he’ll tip the balance in favor of religious tyranny. That, and that Trump has been busy packing the courts with incompetent ideologues approved by the Federalist Society.

This is one of the many ugly legacies of the last presidential election. Also note that these “pro-life” people are the ones cheerleading for us to bomb the people of Iran.