It’s Not About Abortion – It’s About Life

Yesterday, Planned Parenthood announced that it would withdraw from the federal family planning program known as Title X.  The Title X Family Planning program was enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies, and information to all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under Trump’s hand-picked Alex Azar, attached a new condition on receiving Title X funding – that the recipients, such as Planned Parenthood, can no longer make abortion referrals.  This, my friends, is nothing more than the federal government attempting to inflict the beliefs of the Christian evangelical community, a vocal minority of the population, on everyone in the nation.  It is an attempt to make religious beliefs into public policy.  It is a huge step away from being the secular nation that we started out to be, that we need to be.

But let’s be clear … while the intent may be to deprive a woman of the right to have an abortion, this is not about abortion.  This is not about whether a woman has a right to decide what is right for her, in some cases having an abortion.  This is about whether a woman has a right to live or not.  Planned Parenthood is not just about helping a woman get an abortion, and in fact that is a very small percentage of what they do.

planned-parenthood-servicesAs you can see, money spent on providing abortions is a mere 3% of their total, AND … NO FEDERAL MONIES are spent on abortion.  Now, look at some of the other things they do …

  • STD and HIV testing and treatment
  • Birth control
  • Screening for reproductive cancers (like breast, cervical, testicular, and prostate cancers)
  • Pap tests and well woman exams
  • Vaccines
  • PrEP and PEP (medicines to help prevent HIV)
  • Pregnancy services and prenatal care
  • Transgender health services, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Vasectomy and other sterilization services
  • Condoms

Planned Parenthood saves lives.  In many rural areas, they are the only provider of the above services that may save a woman’s life.  Or a man’s, for you may note they also do screening for testicular and prostate cancers.  They provide prenatal care … the anti-abortion group might do well to consider that they are robbing that fetus they care so much about of such things as the vitamins to ensure they are healthy, and regular screenings to detect any potential problems that might be avoided with timely treatment.

Evangelicals have been calling for the government to ‘de-fund’ Planned Parenthood for decades, but instead of de-funding it, the government set a criteria that they could no longer make abortion referrals.  Planned Parenthood said, in essence, “Okay, keep your money then … for there are times that a woman’s life and health depend on abortion.”

There’s a certain irony here, too, that a large portion of what Planned Parenthood does involves birth control and family planning education, both of which significantly lower the need for abortions, and yet those who claim to be “pro-life” are depriving women of those services as well.

I do not applaud Planned Parenthood’s decision, but I do support it … it was the right thing for them to do.  However, I do not support the government’s imposition of the criteria, I do not support the evangelicals who coerced the government into setting the criteria.  Those evangelicals call themselves “pro-life”, but they are not.  They are not considering the lives of the thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control, annual checkups, family planning services, and much more.

There will be backlash over this.  I do not know what the end result will be, but somehow, we must continue to fund Planned Parenthood.  They do not provide abortions with Title X funds, but only with private funding.  They provide a tremendous service to women, they save lives of both babies and mothers, and they are an integral part of women’s healthcare, especially among lower income women.

I came across a short video on Scottie’s Toybox that I think explains the issue quite well … please take a minute or two … well, actually 7 minutes, but it is well worth the time spent.

Are we going to be held hostage in other areas by the evangelicals?  Are we going to let them dictate, for example, that there must be mandatory religious classes in schools?  Are we going to let them tell us that it is okay for employers to discriminate against LGBT people?  The United States is, appropriately, a secular nation, not as some would believe, a Christian nation.  Twenty-five percent, fully one-fourth of this nation are non-Christians.  We are Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists and agnostics.  We have a voice, too.  We pay taxes, too.  We contribute our skills and ideas as much as any.  And 50.52% of this nation are women.  We pay taxes and have a voice, too.

Abortion is not the root of all evil.  Often a woman has an abortion because she is unable to provide for her child.  The world is already over-populated and the last thing we need are more hungry mouths to feed.  Those same people who call for an end to all abortions, also fight against their tax dollars going to help feed and shelter those children once they are born.  Pro-life???  I don’t think so … just anti-women.  If you ever doubted that it’s still a man’s world, doubt no more.mans world

On Stripping The Rights Of Women …

Today I’m going to touch on a subject that is controversial, to say the least:  abortion.

A number of states, the most recent being Alabama, have recently passed highly restrictive and misogynistic abortion laws.  Anti-abortion evangelicals are patting themselves on the backs thinking, no doubt, that they have once again proven themselves the rulers over women’s bodies.  But make no mistake … these laws are only a tool.  The legislators and governors who have passed these laws are well aware that they don’t hold water, for when there is a conflict between federal and state law, federal law trumps state laws, no pun intended.

The federal law on abortion was established in 1973 with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe v Wade in which the Court ruled that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion.  It is not within the rights of the State of Alabama or the State of Georgia to change, ignore, or override that ruling.  Period.

So … why are they passing these ‘illegal laws’, you might ask.  Because … long story short, they are hoping for a lawsuit against them that will reach the Supreme Court.  And when it does, they are hoping, believing, that the Supreme Court will then use that lawsuit as a basis to overturn Roe v Wade.

One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises that gained him a large number of followers was that he would put justices on the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v Wade.  It is an emotional issue that gained him the support of the evangelicals.  However, the Supreme Court cannot simply say, “Let’s overturn a decades-old decision because the president would like us to.”  A case must come before them that challenges that decision before they can take it under advisement.

You might notice that the states did not pass these dranconian abortion laws when President Barack Obama was in office and the Supreme Court was still largely apolitical.  You’ll also notice that Trump was in such a hurry to appoint a second justice to the Court that he had a quiet little talk with Justice Kennedy, and shortly thereafter Justice Kennedy announced his imminent retirement.  And you’ll further notice that there was a mad dash by Trump and his boot-licking Senate to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, thereby giving the court a 5-4 right-wing, conservative majority, despite the fact that the Court is intended to be apolitical.

The stage is set … now the states who have passed these anti-abortion laws that rob women of their rights to have control over their own bodies will sit back and wait for the inevitable lawsuits claiming, rightly, that the states have no right to restrict a woman’s right of choice.  Then will begin the inevitable back and forth through the courts until sometime next year, perhaps even sooner, the cases will reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump is relying on the five conservative justices to vote in favour of overturning Roe v Wade.  Those justices are:

  • Clarence Thomas
  • Samuel Alito
  • John Roberts (Chief Justice)
  • Neil Gorsuch
  • Brett Kavanuagh

Justice Steven Breyer warned in a dissent to another decision earlier this week …

“Overruling a case always requires special justification. I understand that, because opportunities to correct old errors are rare, judges may be tempted to seize every opportunity to overrule cases they believe to have been wrongly decided. But the law can retain the necessary stability only if this court resists that temptation, overruling prior precedent only when the circumstances demand it.”

The Alabama bill, which has been passed by the state legislature and is expected to be signed into ‘law’ by Governor Kay Ivey, bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison.  The Georgia bill, recently passed and signed by Governor Brian Kemp (remember him … the guy with the gun pointed at his daughter’s boyfriend?), is only slightly less restrictive, banning abortion after about 6 weeks, often before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

Those who are so dead-set against a woman’s right of choice, call themselves “pro-life”, but this is a misnomer, as I have noted before.  They are often the same people who support the death penalty.  They are often the people who protest their tax dollars going to help feed and clothe the poor.  Many are the same ones who fought so hard against ACA, which provided affordable healthcare to those who would not otherwise have any.  Pro-life?  No, only anti-women’s rights.

If people are so against abortion, doesn’t it make sense to support such things as birth control, family planning and counseling, and other measures to prevent unwanted pregnancies?  But no, the evangelicals are against all of those, too.  They support de-funding such organizations as Planned Parenthood who help with all women’s health issues, and they argue against company-sponsored health insurance plans covering birth control.  Sorry, folks, you cannot have it both ways!

Thus far through the years, state laws attempting to restrict abortion have all been struck down by the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional.  Will that precedent hold?  I cannot say for sure, but I’m less confident now than I would have been two years ago.  More than 60% of the people in this nation support a woman’s right of choice, but these days it seems that the minority is the only voice that is heard.  If the Supreme Court ultimately overturns Roe v Wade, it will be a slap in the face to every woman in the U.S.  What will be next?  Will they take away our right to own property?  Our right to vote?  Think about it.

Steve King Strikes Again!

The collective maturity level of the republicans in Congress is somewhere around that of a third-grader.  The one that blipped onto my radar tonight is none other than Representative Steve King, who was already awarded the Idiot of the Week award in March, but apparently that was not good enough for him and he is now working toward the coveted Idiot of the Year award!  What has he done now? Two things, actually … the man is a multi-tasking idiot!

He is threatening Democrats in Congress that if they don’t stop talking about Russia and the ongoing, ever-expanding investigation into the Trump campaign’s connection, he will initiate a new investigation into Hillary Clinton.  During a CNN interview yesterday morning, days after the news broke about Don Trump, Jr. and his illicit meeting, King said …

“If this continues — this immobilization of the presidency over these kind of things — it’s gonna force Congress to do an investigation, a complete and thorough investigation, and that means go back all the way to the 650,000 emails of Anthony Weiner and look at Comey and his activities. What I’m saying is this, that the Comey investigation — now him picking the special counsel on top of it — on its face, appears to be collusion.”

First off, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was not chosen by Comey, but rather by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after Trump fired Director Comey! King has apparently been sleeping through most of the past two months.

King is not the first to attempt to draw the media’s attention away from the Russian investigations by invoking the Clinton emails, however this was the most blatant attempt to bully, to threaten, that I have seen thus far.

But I said there were two things, so hold on …

“Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is calling for using federal funding for Planned Parenthood and food stamps to help pay for President Trump’s southern border wall.” – The Hill, 12 July 2017

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee introduced a spending bill that would allocate $1.6 billion toward building the wall separating the U.S. from Mexico. That is already $1.6 billion too much for an unnecessary wall that is not desired by the American people or Mexico, and which, contrary to Trump’s rhetoric, Mexico will not pay for, nor should they. But Steve King said he would prefer an additional $5 billion for the wall — and suggested taking the extra funding from Planned Parenthood and federal welfare programs.

“I would find half of a billion dollars of that right out of Planned Parenthood’s budget. And the rest of it could come out of food stamps and the entitlements that are being spread out for people that haven’t worked in three generations. We’ve got to put America back to work, this administration will do it.”

King went on to say that he believes the border wall would create millions of new jobs and reduce the amount of public assistance people would need. King added that food stamps were created to fight malnutrition but that the people who benefit from these programs are now overweight. If you are not growling yet, go back and read those last two sentences again.  Better yet, re-read the Idiot of the Week post.

One of his most egregious statements from that post was …

“You’ve got to keep your birth rate up, and that you need to teach your children your values. In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life. If you go down the road a few generations, or maybe centuries, with the inter-marriage, I’d like to see an America that is just so homogenous that we look a lot the same.”

He has voted against LGBT rights, against protections for animals, against immigrants, and even voted against aid in the wake of Hurricane Katrina!  Now he is against the poor also.  The man is a bigot and a white supremacist, yet the people of Iowa have voted him into office eight times.  If anyone reading this post lives in Iowa, you need to start now trying to awaken your fellow Iowans before next year’s mid-term elections, for this man has got to go!

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The exact opposite of what is needed

The U.S. is not being properly governed and the resulting chaos gets worse with each passing day. There are things that our nation needs, but the current administration is taking steps to ensure the exact opposite will occur. Blogger-friend Keith has neatly summarized some of these needs and the moves being made by Trump & Co. to ensure those needs will not be met. Please take a few moments to read his post, for it summarizes and clarifies some examples of the issues that are moving our country in the exact wrong direction. Thank you, Keith, for an excellent post and for permission to share!

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Since tribal fervor gets in the way of good information sharing and debate, we end up with laws, bills and executive orders/ comments which are the exact opposite of what is needed. This troubles me greatly, as if you took the time to look at data and explained what the change would do, people would not be supportive of the change.

Here are a few working examples:

– Treating Muslim Americans poorly, blocking travel from Muslim countries, and criticizing the London Mayor who is an exemplar of successful Muslims in the western world make us less safer. Ostracizing Muslims feeds into the recruiting messaging for Islamic extremist groups; welcoming Muslims and involving them in conversations and diligence is making us safer.

– Defunding Planned Parenthood will increase the abortion rates, health care cost and poverty. Poverty is highly correlated with larger family size. Family planning reduces the number of unwanted…

View original post 217 more words

The Scarlet “I”

The year is 2017.  Remember this, as it is important.

Maddi Runkles is a senior this year at a small school in western Maryland.  She has maintained a 4.0 grade point average, played on the soccer team, and was the president of the student council.  She has never been a disciplinary problem.  But Maddi will not be allowed to graduate with her class this month.  Why?  Because, according to school principal David R. Hobbs, Maddi was ‘immoral’.  Maddi, you see, is pregnant.

hester-prynneMaddi attends Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland, a small Christian school.  When Maddi told the school of her pregnancy in February, they immediately stripped her of her position as student council president and suspended her.  Her father was a member of the Heritage board until his disgust with the treatment of his daughter led to his resignation. He appealed the suspension and Maddi was allowed to return to classes, but not to graduate with her class.  Because she was immoral.  Shades of Hester Prynne …

chillingworthIn a May 22 “Statement from Principal Hobbs” posted on the front page of Heritage Academy’s website, David Hobbs wrote “Let me clarify some facts. Maddi is being disciplined, not because she’s pregnant, but because she was immoral. … A wise man told me that discipline is not the absence of love, but the application of love. We love Maddi Runkles. The best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her immorality that began this situation.” Shades of Roger Chillingworth …

According to a statement by Maddi, “We sign a student code at the beginning of each school year that we’ll refrain from drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and pre-marital sex, stuff like that. And other kids at my school have been caught drunk, defacing public property, and other things like that, but they’ve never suffered a punishment as severe as mine…. I decided I wanted to confess what I did and ask for forgiveness from my school, but the other kids who had broken other rules – even when they were caught – they still lied about what they had done. It just seems unfair. I tried to make it right, but was still shot down.”

Maddi-famMaddi says she considered abortion at one point, but her moral opposition to abortion led to her decision to keep the baby. For the past year and a half, the right-wing, evangelical Christians have been protesting loudly against abortion, decrying a worship of the ‘right to life’.  And yet, this so-called ‘Christian’ school condemns this young woman who is guilty of no crime.  She engaged in sex at least once.  Frankly, Roger Chillingworth … er, excuse me, David Hobbs … she did nothing that 95% of your student body over the age of 15 has not done.  And let me ask you, Mr. Hobbs … what if a male student engages in sex … will you ridicule and punish him?

Is it 2017?  Or is it 1642, the year in which Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair, is imprisoned and forced to wear a scarlet “A” on her clothing to remind the world that she is an adulteress?

Maddi Runkles has worked hard … you do not achieve a perfect 4.0 by slacking.  In all my years of college, I never went above a 3.82. We are no longer such a backward society that we believe sex should take place only after marriage vows have been spoken.  The far-right Christian evangelicals cannot have their cake and eat it too.  They cannot abandon Roe v Wade, de-fund Planned Parenthood, claim that abortion is a crime, but then fail to support the young women who get pregnant without being married.  The evangelical Christians who voted for Trump on the single issue of abortion should be incensed by young Maddi’s story, should be storming the Heritage Academy with angry protests against the shoddy treatment she has received.  But the masses are silent.  Just as Hester Prynne wore the scarlet A, so will Maddi Runkles wear the scarlet I for immoral, and the world will remain silent.

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Hillary Clinton – On The Issues (Part VI – Women’s Rights And Opportunity)

“Too often, these are called women’s issues. Well, I am a proud lifelong fighter for women’s issues, because I firmly believe what’s good for women is good for America.” – Hillary Clinton, September 5, 2015

Today I tackle #33 on Hillary Clinton’s list of 38 issues that comprise the bulk of her platform, Women’s Rights and Opportunities.  This, more than any other, is a cause for which Hillary Clinton has been fighting all her life, and it is obvious that she is passionate about it when one looks at her comprehensive plan.  The major components of the plan are:

  • Work to close the pay gap. Women earn less than men across our economy—and women of color often lose out the most. We should promote pay transparency across the economy and work to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act—a bill Hillary introduced as senator—to give women the tools they need to fight discrimination in the workforce.
  • Fight for paid leave. No one should have to choose between keeping their job and taking care of a sick family member, and no parent should have to go back to work right after they welcome a newborn baby.
  • Make quality, affordable child care a reality for families. Read more here.
  • Increase the minimum wage. Women represent nearly two-thirds of all minimum-wage workers in America. A higher minimum wage will help close the gender pay gap, lift millions of women out of poverty, and have a ripple effect across our economy. Hillary will also work to end the so-called “tipped minimum wage.” Read more here.
  • Defend and enhance Social Security. We need to defend Social Security from Republican attacks and enhance it to meet new realities—especially for women.
  • Protect and expand on the Affordable Care Act, which has helped address discrimination in our health care system and brought health coverage to millions more women. Read more here.
  • Confront violence against women. One in five women in America is sexually assaulted while in college. Twenty-two percent of women experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. American women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries. It’s time to address violence against women—and Hillary will put forward bold plans to do that. Read more here and here.
  • Proudly stand with Planned Parenthood. Hillary is proud to have earned the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She will always defend the essential health and reproductive care that Planned Parenthood provides for women.
  • Protect women’s health and reproductive rights. Women’s personal health decisions should be made by a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor. Hillary will fight back against Republican attempts to restrict access to quality, affordable reproductive health care. She will defend access to affordable contraception, preventive care, and safe and legal abortion—not just in principle, but in practice. Read more here.
  • Promote women’s rights around the globe. In far too many parts of the world, women are still held back by social, economic, and legal barriers. Hillary will promote gender equality around the world.

womens-5In the early 1800s, women were second-class citizens. Women were expected to restrict their sphere of interest to the home and the family. Women were not encouraged to obtain a real education or pursue a professional career. After marriage, women did not have the right to own their own property, keep their own wages, or sign a contract. In addition, all women were denied the right to vote. Only after decades of intense political activity did women eventually win the right to vote.  We have come a long way in just 200 years! (sarcasm intended) We are now allowed to own property, go to college, compete for professional jobs, and even vote.  All just in 200 years.  Yet, though some would deny it, women are still not viewed as equal in the workplace, and the proverbial ‘glass ceiling’ is still very much in existence.  Remember one of my recent idiots of the week who said a woman should never be president because of her hormones?  Yes, we still have a way to go, and hopefully it won’t take another 200 years to get there.

womens-2I cannot discuss every point in Ms. Clinton’s platform, but one I would address is the gender pay gap.  While most analysts cite that women earn 80% of what men in comparable jobs earn, there are a few notable facts:

  • The gender pay gap also grows with age, and differences among older workers are considerably larger than gaps among younger workers. Women typically earn about 90 percent of what men are paid until they hit 35. After that median earnings for women are typically 76–81 percent of what men are paid.
  • In 2015 the pay gap was smallest in New York, where women working full time year-round were paid 89 percent of what men were paid. The largest gap was in Wyoming, where women were paid 64 percent of what men were paid.
  • As a rule, earnings increase as years of education increase for both men and women. However, while more education is a useful tool for increasing earnings, it is not effective against the gender pay gap. At every level of academic achievement, women’s median earnings are less than men’s median earnings, and in some cases, the gender pay gap is larger at higher levels of education.

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These statistics, courtesy of The American Association of University Women (AAUW).  For some excellent additional information, including very good visuals, please visit the AAUW website.

 

One other point I would like to briefly address is that of paid maternity leave.  Do you know that among advanced economies, the U.S. stands alone in not mandating paid maternity leave at the federal level for new mothers?  That, my friends, is shameful. A vast majority of European nations mandate 15-20 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Ms. Clinton’s points are serious, well thought out, and she has plans for how to implement them.  Nobody, this writer included, thinks that the problems facing women today are going to magically disappear within four years, but I believe Ms. Clinton is on the right track, it is one of her passions, and I firmly believe in her commitment to do everything in her power to narrow the gender gap and provide the rights that women both need and deserve.

Now let us take a quick peek at Ms. Clinton’s opponent’s platform on women’s rights.  Oops … how embarrassing, but according to Mr. Trump’s campaign website, he doesn’t include women’s rights as one of the seven issues on his platform.  So, I guess we will have to go straight to the horse’s mouth to see what he thinks is important for women today:

  • “I would never buy Ivana any decent jewels or pictures. Why give her negotiable assets?”
  • In his 2006 book Trump 101: The Way to Success, Trump wrote: “Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art, is not just superficial or something pretty to see.”
  • “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”
  • “It’s certainly not groundbreaking news that the early victories by the women on ‘The Apprentice’ were, to a very large extent, dependent on their sex appeal.” — How To Get Rich, 2004
  • “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
  • “I mean, we could say politically correct that look doesn’t matter, but the look obviously matters. Like you wouldn’t have your job if you weren’t beautiful.”
  • When a lawyer facing Trump in 2011 asked for a break to pump breastmilk for her infant daughter, The Donald reacted very poorly. “He got up, his face got red, he shook his finger at me and he screamed, ‘You’re disgusting, you’re disgusting,’ and he ran out of there,” attorney Elizabeth Beck told CNN. Trump’s attorney does not dispute that his client called Beck “disgusting.”
  • “Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye — or perhaps another body part.”
  • “While @BetteMidler is an extremely unattractive woman, I refuse to say that because I always insist on being politically correct.” HUH???
  • “My favorite part [of ‘Pulp Fiction’] is when Sam has his gun out in the diner and he tells the guy to tell his girlfriend to shut up. Tell that bitch to be cool. Say: ‘Bitch be cool.’ I love those lines.”
  • New York Times columnist Gail Collins recalled: “During one down period, I referred to him in print as a ‘financially embattled thousandaire’ and he sent me a copy of the column with my picture circled and ‘The Face of a Dog!’ written over it.”
  • “All of the women on ‘The Apprentice’ flirted with me — consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.”

Well, despite having no plan or platform on the issue of women’s rights, Mr. Trump certainly does have strong opinions about women.  From these opinions, I think we can see just how important he thinks the issue is.  I will leave you to draw your own conclusions as to which candidate is more qualified and dedicated to promoting and furthering equal rights for women over the next four years.

I have a number of women friends who are faithful lemmings committed to voting for Trump in November … I cannot imagine how any self-respecting woman, after hearing his opinions of women in general, can in good conscience vote for this horrid man.  Perhaps the keyword here is ‘self-respecting’.  Think about it.