Tag Archives: contraceptives

Women: Second Class Citizens

First off- my apologies for the lack of updates; I’m still adjusting to my new work schedule- finding time for updates had been on the back burner. Now on to the infuriating article ahead.

For those of you paying attention to political parties these days, or to new and interesting laws seeming to creep up without the public ever knowing about their creation, this article will serve as a blood-boiling recap of the absurd and disgusting politics surrounding women and women’s health. If you have not been paying attention- hold on to your pantyhose, because you are not going to believe this sh*t.

10 Reasons the Rest of the World Thinks the U.S. Is Nuts

This week the Georgia State Legislature debated a bill in the House, that would make it necessary for some women to carry stillborn or dying fetuses until they ‘naturally’ go into labor. In arguing for this bill Representative Terry England described his empathy for pregnant cows and pigsin the same situation.

I have a question for Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and too many others: I have three daughters, two of them twins. If one of my twins had been stillborn would you have made me carry her to term, thereby endangering both the other twin and me? Or, would you have insisted that the state order a mandatory fetal extraction of the living twin fetus from my womb so that I could continue to carry the stillborn one to term and possibly die myself? My family is curious and since you believe my uterus is your public property, I am, too.

Mr. England, unlike the calves and pigs for which you expressed so much empathy, I am not a beast of burden. I am a woman and I have these human rights:

The right to life.
The right to privacy.
The right to freedom.
The right to bodily integrity.
The right to decide when and how I reproduce.

Mr. England, you and your friends do not get to trade these rights, while “dog and hog hunting,” in return for a young man’s chickens.

My human rights outweigh any you or the state corruptly and cynically seek to assign to a mass of dividing cells that will eventually turn into a ‘natural’ person. Personhood-for-zygote based bills and related legislation, like Georgia’s and hundreds and hundreds of others, bills and laws that criminalize pregnancy and abortion and penalize women for being women, violate my human rights.

Just because you cannot get pregnant does not mean I cannot think clearly, ethically, morally, rationally about my body, human life or the consequences of my actions. Just because you cannot get pregnant does not mean that I do not have rights when I am pregnant. I have responsibility but am powerless. You have power but are irresponsible with my rights.

By not trusting me, you force me to trust you. And YOU are not trustworthy.

I gestate humans, you do not. I know how it feels to be pregnant. You do not. I know what happens to a fetus in a womb. You do not. I have carried three fetuses to term. You have not. What I experience when I am pregnant is not empathy. It is permeability. The fetus is me. And the state is you, apparently. But, no matter what you say or do I have fundamental human rights. What makes you think that you, who cannot have this fully human experience, can tell me anything about gestation or how I experience it? Especially when you compare my existence and experience to that of brutish animals.

The rest of the civilized world thinks this country has lost its mind. It’s no wonder. Look at this list of frenzied misogyny:

1. Making women carry still-born fetuses to full term because cows and pigs do. This week, Mr England, you supported a bill, the net effect of which, taken tandem with other restrictions, will result in doctors and women being unable to make private, medically-based, critical care decisions and some women being effectively forced to carry their dead or dying fetuses. Women are different from farm animals, Mr. England, and this bill, requiring a woman to carry a dead or dying fetus is inhumane and unethical. By forcing a woman to do this, you are violating her right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment and tortured. And, yes, involuntarily carrying a dead fetus to term, although not torture to you or to a pig, is torture for a woman. It is also a violation of her bodily integrity and a threat to her life and as such violates her right to life.

2. Consigning women to death to save a fetus. Abortions save women’s lives. “Let women die” bills are happening all over the country. There is no simple or pretty way to put this. Every day, all over the world, women die because they do not have access to safe abortions. Yet, here we are, returning to the dark ages of maternal sacrifice. Do really have to type this sentence: this is a violation of women’s fundamental right to life.

3. Criminalizing pregnancy and miscarriages and arresting, imprisoning and charging women who miscarry with murder, like Rennie Gibbs in Mississippi or at least 40 other similar cases in Alabama or like Bei Bei Shuai, a woman who is now imprisoned, is charged with murder after trying to commit suicide while pregnant. Pregnant women are becoming a special class subject to “special” laws that infringe on their fundamental rights.

4. Forcing women to undergo involuntary vaginal penetration (otherwise called rape) with a condom-covered, six to eight-inch ultrasound probe. Pennsylvania is currently considering that option along with 11 other states. Trans-vaginal ultrasounds undertaken without a woman’s consent are rape according to the legal definition of the word. This violates a woman’s bodily integrity and also constitutes torture when used, as states are suggesting, as a form of control and oppression. Women have the right not to be raped by the state.

5. Disabling women or sacrificing their lives by either withholding medical treatment or forcing women to undergo involuntary medical procedures. We impose an unequal obligation on women to sacrifice their bodily integrity for another. For example, as in Tysiac v. Poland, in which a mother of two, became blind after her doctor refused to perform an abortion that she wanted that would have halted the course of a degenerative eye disease. If my newborn baby is in need of a kidney and you have a spare matching one, can I enact legislation that says the state can take yours and give it to her? No. We do not force people to donate their organs to benefit others, even those who have already been born. One of the most fundamental of all human rights is that humans be treated equally before the law. Denying a woman this right is a violation of her equal right to this protection.

6. Giving zygotes “personhood” rights while systematically stripping women of their fundamental rights. There is too much to say about the danger of personhood ideas creeping into health policy to do it here. But, consider what happens to a woman whose womb is not considered the “best” environment for a gestating fetus in a world of personhood-for-zygote legislation: who decides the best environment — the state, her insurance company, her employer, her rapist who decides he really, really wants to be a father? Anyone but a woman.

7. Inhibiting, humiliating and punishing women for their choices to have an abortion for any reason by levying taxes specifically on abortion, including abortions sought by rape victims to end their involuntary insemination, imposing restrictive requirements like 24 hour wait periods and empowering doctors to lie to female patients about their fetuses in order to avoid prosecution. In Arizona, Kansas, Texas, Virginia, Colorado, Arkansas and other states around the country bills that make women “pay” for their choices are abounding.

8. Allowing employers to delve into women’s private lives and only pay for insurance when they agree, for religious reasons, with how she choses to use birth control. In Arizona, which introduced such a bill this week, this means covering payment for birth control as a benefit only when a woman has proven that she will not use it to control her own reproduction (ie. as birth control). As much as I am worried about women and families in Arizona though, I am more worried about those in Alabama. You see, as recently revealed in a public policy poll in Alabama, conservative, evangelicals who support “personhood” related “pro-life” legislation and are fighting for their “religious liberty” — 21 percent think interracial marriage should be illegal. So, what if they decide that an employee involved in an interracial marriage should not, by divine mandate, reproduce? Do they switch and provide birth control for this employee? Do they make contraception a necessary term of employment for people in interracial marriages? This violates a woman’s right to privacy. My womb is one million times more private than your bedrooms, gentlemen.

9. Sacrificing women’s overall health and the well-being of their families in order to stop them from exercising their fundamental human right to control their own bodies and reproduction. Texas just did that when it turned down $35million dollars in federal funds thereby ensuring that 300,000 low-income and uninsured Texas women will have no or greatly-reduced access to basic preventive and reproductive health care.

10. Depriving women of their ability to earn a living and support themselves and their families. Bills, like this one in Arizona, allow employers to fire women for using contraception. Women like these are being fired for not.

You presume to consign my daughters and yours to function as reproductive animals.

This is about sex and property, not life and morality. Sex because when women have sex and want to control their reproduction that threatens powerful social structures that rely on patriarchal access to and control over women as reproductive engines. Which brings us to property: control of reproduction was vital when the agricultural revolution took place and we, as a species, stopped meandering around plains in search of food. Reproduction and control of it ensured that a man could possess and consolidate wealth-building and food-producing land and then make sure it wasn’t disaggregated by passing it on to one son he knew was his — largely by claiming a woman and her gestation capability as property, too.

This is not about freedom of religion. If it were, we would, for example, allow Christian Scientists to refuse to pay for coverage of life-saving blood transfusions for employees. Religious freedom means I get to chose whether or not to be religious and if so, how. It does not mean that I get to impose my religion on others. Paying for insurance is part of the way we compensate employees, even when they use their insurance in ways we don’t agree with and are in contravention of our own personal beliefs. I think that it is stupid, dangerous and immoral to chain smoke, especially around children whose lungs it irreparably harms. But, I still have to pay for an employee to have access to lung scans, nicotine patches and oxygen tanks. I do not get to say that my religious beliefs, which include keeping bodies as healthy as possible, make it possible for me to withhold payment of this employee’s insurance. Guaranteed coverage of contraception and reproductive health care has overwhelming benefits for society, including reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. By inserting your religious beliefs so egregiously into government legislation and my life, you are imposing your religious beliefs on me. You don’t like mandated insurance coverage for basic reproductive health humans with two X chromosomes? I don’t like being bred by state compulsion like Mr. England’s farm animals. I have a MORAL OBJECTION to being treated like an animal and not a human. You do not have to use contraception, you do not have to use birth control. But, that does not mean you have any right to tell me that I cannot if I chose. That is my right.

Property, control, sex, reproduction, morality, defining what is human. Sounds a lot like issues surrounding slavery 170 years ago. It is no surprise that of the 16 states that never repealed their anti-miscegenation laws, but rather had them overturned by the Supreme Court in 1967 more than half have introduced personhood bills. Like anti-miscegentation laws, anti-choice laws and bills that humiliate women, that treat them like beasts, that violate their bodily autonomy, are based on ignorance, entitlement and arrogance. These laws are not about “personhood” but “humanity.” That women of color are massively, disproportionately affected by these assaults on their bodies and rights should also come as no surprise – their rights and their bodies have always been the most vulnerable assault.

This is about keeping women’s wombs public and in other people’s control — the exact opposite of private and in their own control.

And, yes, I do know how complicated the ethics, bioethics and legal arguments related to these decisions are. You, apparently, do not. If you were truly concerned with sustaining life and improving its quality or in protecting innocent children, you would begin by having compassion and empathy for living, born people that require and deserve your attention. You feed them, educate them, lift them from poverty and misery. You do not compound these problems as you are with twisted interpretations of divine will. Only after that do you have the moral legitimacy to entertain the notion of talking to me about my uterus and what I do with it. By then, fully functional artificial wombs should be available and you can implant your own, since you are so fond of animal analogies, as was completed with this male mouse. What you are doing is disgraceful, hypocritical and morally corrupt.

And, no, I am not crazy. I am angry.

Mr. Santorum, Mr. England and Mr. Brownback and Mr. Perry you should consider not clinging so dangerously and perversely to the Agrarian Revolution ideas. Birth control and safe abortions are life-saving technologies. These archaic bills and laws, wasteful of time, money and lives, obscure an enduring and unchangeable truth: safe and effective family planning is the transformative social justice accomplishment of the 20th century. They will not go away. This is a revolution, too.

In an 1851 speechin which she argued for equal rights for women, Sojourner Truth said the following: “The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don’t know what to do. Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble.”

Do you, Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum and friends even know who Sojourner Truth is?

This post has been updated since its original publication.

 Follow Soraya Chemaly on Twitter: www.twitter.com/schemaly

 


Sorry Ladies, You’re Too Stupid To Follow Directions

Presenting two pieces today. The first article (though the title suggests differently) touches briefly on president Obama’s support of the rejection on the Morning After pill, and his reasoning. The second piece is a much more biting response to the decision. It all seems to boil down to “someone might not follow the directions correctly and hurt herself”- which is just as preposterous as it sounds. What do you think of the decision on the sale of the Morning After pill?

Obama Backs Limit on Sale to Teenagers of Morning-After Pill

WASHINGTON — President Obama, noting that he was the father of two daughters, threw his wholehearted support on Thursday behind a decision by his health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, not allow emergency contraceptives to be sold over the counterto young teenagers.

“The reason Kathleen made this decision is that she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going to a drugstore should be able — alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could have an adverse effect,” Mr. Obama said to reporters at the White House.

“And I think most parents would probably feel the same way,” the president added.

Mr. Obama insisted that he was not involved in the decision, on a contraceptive pill known as Plan BOne-Step. The decision by Ms. Sebelius, announced on Wednesday, was an extremely rare case of an administration official’s publicly overruling the Food and Drug Administration, which had concluded after extensive research that the medication was safe to be sold to teenagers 16 and younger without a prescription.

The bluntly personal nature of the president’s response suggested that the White House is well aware of the political sensitivities, going into an election year, of allowing broader distribution of the contraceptive, whatever the Food and Drug Administration’s scientific arguments in favor of it.

Mr. Obama’s comments came in a combative appearance that followed the Senate’s rejection of his nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray. The decision, the president said, “makes absolutely no sense,” leaving millions of Americans without adequate protection in their dealings with financial institutions, including payday lenders and debt collectors.

But Mr. Obama also used the occasion to address a range of issues, rejecting charges by Republican presidential candidates that he practices a foreign policy of appeasement, particularly in the Middle East.

“Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of top 30 Al Qaeda leaders who have been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement — or whoever’s left out there, ask them about that,” the president said.

Later, Mr. Obama argued that his administration had “systematically imposed the toughest sanctions ever in Iran.” He said the pressure campaign had left Iran isolated and unified world opinion against its leaders.

He also delivered some of his most urgent language yet on the European debt crisis.

As European leaders struggle to fashion a response to the deepening debt crisis, Mr. Obama suggested that time was running short, saying, “I am obviously very concerned about what’s happening in Europe.”

“I think they now recognize the urgency of doing something serious and bold,” the president said of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and other leaders. “The question is whether they can muster the political will to get it done.”

“Europe is wealthy enough that there’s no reason they can’t solve this problem,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s not as if we’re talking about some impoverished country that doesn’t have any resources and is, you know, being buffeted by the world markets and they need, you know, to come hat in hand to get help.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Obama spoke with Mrs. Merkel by phone. He said she had made some progress in pushing other European nations toward a “fiscal compact” that would prevent a repeat of the fiscal profligacy that had gotten Greece and other countries into trouble, and set off the broader crisis of confidence. But Europe’s first priority, Mr. Obama said, was to settle financial markets.

“We’re going to do everything we can to push them in a good direction on this,” he said, “because it has a huge impact on what happens here in the United States.”

Hmmmm, I do believe that saying “The reason Kathleen made this decision is that she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going to a drugstore should be able — alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could have an adverse effect”  and then reading  “The decision by Ms. Sebelius, announced on Wednesday, was an extremely rare case of an administration official’s publicly overruling the Food and Drug Administration, which had concluded after extensive research that the medication was safe to be sold to teenagers 16 and younger without a prescription” kind of shows an emotional spin over scientific data- data which, by the way, continues to show that your ‘moral’ standing on the subject does not make the pill less safe. The FDA says “it’s safe”, and then a talking head says “Oh you silly goose! You and your research… We know better!” that doesn’t sound like we get a choice here….

Katha Pollitt doesn’t seem too happy with this decision either, and put in her two cents:

HHS: Let’s Treat ALL Women Like Children

Did you assume the politicization of science was gone with the Bush administration and the reality-based community was back in charge? Think again. In a surprise move that has outraged women’s rights activists, HHS head Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA’s proposal to make Plan B One-Step, a single-pill form of emergency contraception, available over the counter. According to the New York Times, this is the first time in our history that a health secretary has overruled the FDA.

Sebelius claims that her reason is that the FDA didn’t show that 11-year-old girls, some 10 percent of whom are fertile, understand how to follow the EC directions. Here are the instructions, courtesy of an alert commenter at http://www.nytimes.com:

“Plan B One-Step dosage consists of a single tablet taken once. A second tablet or dose is not required. The Plan B One-Step tablet should be taken as soon as possible and not more than 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure.”

If a sixth grader can’t understand those elementary, crystal-clear instructions, we should just move back to the caves, because civilization is finished. As has been pointed out, we assume middle-schoolers can handle Tylenol, which is not only easy to overdose on but has been used in suicides. If Sebelius is really worried about what kids can purchase at Duane Reade, she should start with products that actually can be used dangerously.

Barack Obama says that as the father of two daughters, he wants the government to “apply common sense” to rules about over the counter medications. Well, I too have a daughter, and so many many pro-choice women. Who died and made Barack Obama daddy in charge of teenage girls? Would he really rather that Sasha and Malia get pregnant rather than buy Plan B One-Step at CVS? And excuse me, Mr. President, thanks to your HHS, acquiring Plan B is prescription-only not just for 11-year-olds but for the 30 percent of teenage girls between 15 and 17 who are sexually active, and is a cumbersome process for all women, who have to ask a pharmacist for it and, as many news stories have reported, be subjected to fundamentalist harangues and objections. Apparently, it’s okay with you if Michelle is treated like a sixth-grader. I’m trying to think if there are any laws or regulations affecting only men in which unfounded fears about middle-school boys deny all men normal adult privileges. Needless to say, no one suggests that underage boys get a prescription if they want to use condoms, or that grown men have to ask the pharmacist for them and maybe get a lecture about the evils of birth control and promiscuity.

This is politics. Pure politics. The Obama administration values the Catholic bishops, the Family Research Council, Rush Limbaugh and the swing voters of Ohio more than the pro-choice Democratic women who make up way more than their share of his base—women who campaigned for him, donated to him, knocked on doors for him, left Hillary Clinton for him. He must be assuming that we are captive voters—we have no place to go. That may be true, but there’s trudging to the polls and there’s passion. Obama is never going to get passion from anti-choicers and swing voters. And it looks increasingly likely that he won’t get it from pro-choice women either.

Yes, you read that correctly, “Plan B One-Step dosage consists of a single tablet taken once”. Yep those sure are tricky directions! I guess I best kick off my shoes and get back in the kitchen- all my decisions are already made for me! Unbelievable.

 

Article one Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/09/us/politics/obama-expresses-support-for-plan-b-decision.html?_r=2&src=tp&smid=fb-share

Article two Source: http://www.thenation.com/blog/165071/hhs-lets-treat-all-women-children


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