An investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar, a woman who died in an Irish hospital after being refused a medically necessary abortion, has confirmed that Ms. Halappanavar and her husband were indeed told that her pregnancy could not be terminated because Ireland is a Catholic country.
Political commentators, at least on the left and center, seem relatively convinced that the past two days of marriage equality hearings in the Supreme Court won’t result in an opinion extending same-sex marriage rights to all people in the United States. They might be right, but I’m not sure why so many left-of-center folks seem to be warning the Court not to move too quickly on marriage equality. I get why the socially conservative right is doing it — it’s a threat, essentially. “Do a think we don’t like and we will FREAK OUT!” And they will surely throw a mild temper-tantrum if the fundamental right of marriage is found to include same-sex couples. But “Oh jeez, the religious right might act like toddlers again” is not a very good reason to delay granting a group of citizens basic constitutional rights. Also: Contrary to what has somehow become an accepted truth, Roe v. Wade did not ignite the culture wars. Abortion was controversial well before Roe, and while abortion rights were secured in a small handful of states (four, I believe), they weren’t going to move ahead in many more because of conservative, religious push-back. The idea that a Roe-free U.S. would somehow have led to the broad securement of abortion rights without controversy is flat-out wrong. As is the idea that marginalized groups of people should have to wait for the tides of public opinion to turn before they get rights. Which is what this piece in the Nation is about:
Over at Feministing: Stepping into the light of my abortion. It’s a wonderful piece. Read, share, discuss.
I’m writing in Al Jazeera today about how the fight over the Violence Against Women Act exemplifies the increased extremism of the Republican party. A bit:
This entire story about a surrogate mother, Chrystal Kelley, pregnant with a fetus with severe abnormalities, is disturbing and heartbreaking. A low-income woman, desperate for money, agreed to be a surrogate for a wealthier family, something she had done before. Everyone was excited. Then, an ultrasound showed the fetus had several abnormalities — heart problems, organ problems. The parents, who had given birth to two premature babies before and knew the difficulties of raising children with health issues, wanted to terminate the pregnancy. Kelley did not.
Birmingham, Alabama, is home to a world-renowned teaching and research institution. Discoveries in cancer research, endocrinology, transplant medicine, surgery, and literally dozens of other specialties have significant impact across the globe. Twenty miles south in Pelham, Alabama state Representative Mary Sue McClurkin is stupid as a bucket of hair and thinks a baby is a bodily organ.
In fact, it’s really only been considered Biblically “true” since 1979 — before that, Evangelicals held widely varying positions, and even some of the most vocal “life begins at conception” voices today didn’t think that zygote life was the equivalent of born-human life in the 1960s and 70s. But political necessities change, and with them Bible interpretations. Read that whole piece; it’s fascinating. Also worth considering the role played by the new Right, and the need to replace full-throated support for segregation with other issues that could rally racist whites, particularly in the South.
Did you know that All Moms judge you if you’re a mom and consider abortion? Or that All Moms think you’re a whiny selfish narcissist who reminds them of their kindergartner if you haven’t had babies yet? No? Well, these moms, who speak for All Moms On The Internet, would like you to know that they’re judging you. Especially if you’re one of their “close friends” who confides in them, and especially if they are so selfless (being MOMS) that they naturally hear about 1/2 of what you’re saying and then make everything else about them.
Forty years after abortion became legal in the United States we are still wading in waters that run deep.
Arguably, abortion runs as deep in our modern human history as pregnancy does. Our ancestors had ways of terminating pregnancies long before the U.S. Supreme Court existed. And while we commemorate and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, we know that it does not mark an anniversary of the beginning of this family planning method. Abortion has been, and will continue to be, part of a wide array of methods that we use to control our bodies and fertility, regardless of its legality.
Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the United States Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion for American women. I wrote about it in the Guardian, emphasizing the fact that abortion, birth control and bodily autonomy are crucial for women’s survival and our freedom. Without the right to determine the number and spacing of our children, we lose the ability to drive our own lives and to live fully freely, happily and healthily. Outlawing abortion doesn’t decrease the abortion rate; it just drives women to use a more dangerous methods and put their lives and their health at risk. Forty years on, Roe is as important as ever. And American society is, sadly, as misogynist as ever — evidenced by the very fact that abortion is still a fight.
The Pope met with one of the leaders of the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda, and reportedly gave her a blessing. I write about it in the Guardian, and discuss how the Catholic church uses sexuality to control its followers when it feels its power is threatened:
“Gentleman and ladies, your hard work paid off. Tonight we demonstrated to the other party what happens when you sneer at rape survivors, birth control and equal pay for equal work.”
By all accounts, it shouldn’t have ended like this. The president running for re-election was supposed to be an enemy of American values, waging the real “war on women” by giving out free contraception on street corners, encouraging girls to become sex objects by sleeping with hundreds of men and covering themselves in venereal disease, having abortion after abortion as their birth control inevitably failed them, until they no longer had any respect for their own bodies or lives – thus destroying the Christian work ethic that once made America’s economy great. And that was on top of Obama’s takeover of healthcare, bailouts for the billion-dollar abortion industry, and attacks on religious institutions that believe they have a right to discriminate against the healthcare of female employees.