Depending on trimester, abortion is illegal in the United States. So is having a stillbirth – not officially, perhaps, but thanks to a case in Indiana, we’re halfway there. On Monday, Purvi Patel, a 33 year old woman who says that she had a miscarriage, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for neglect of a dependent and feticide. She is the first woman in the United States to ever be sentenced for such a crime.
In July 2013, Patel went to the emergency room with heavy bleeding. She eventually admitted to miscarrying a stillborn fetus and placing it in a bag in a dumpster. (Patel lived with her religiously conservative parents who did not believe in premarital sex.) After police searched Patel’s cellphone, they found text messages that suggested she bought abortion-inducing drugs online.
Despite the fact that no traces of any abortifacent were found in Patel’s blood work taken at the hospital, the prosecution argued that she had taken the drugs mentioned in her text messages and caused her miscarriage at 23-24 weeks of pregnancy. And, in legal maneuvering that defies imagination, Patel was charged not just with fetal homicide, but with neglecting a child. As the Guardian reported last year, these charges are completely contradictory: neglecting a child means that you neglected a live child, and feticide means that the baby was born dead.
But logic has never been at the center of the draconian laws and arrest policies that target pregnant women: control is. As Lynn Paltrow, the executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told me last year about laws aimed at drug-using pregnant women, this kind of prosecution “is about making pregnant women – from the time an egg is fertilized – subject to state surveillance, control and extreme punishment.”
And, as with other laws that hurt pregnant women, Indiana’s feticide law was not intended (explicitly, anyway) to be a policy that affected women: it was supposedly designed to target illegal abortion providers. But despite the anti-choice insistence that women are “victims” of abortion providers, the history of how similar laws are used show just how much it’s women – and women of color in particular – who are directly impacted by “fetal protection” policies.
We may never know what really happened in Patel’s case. She has repeatedly said that she had a miscarriage which, if true, means that the state is sending a woman to jail for not having a healthy pregnancy outcome. But even if Patel did procure and take drugs to end her pregnancy, are we really prepared to send women to jail for decades if they have abortions? Even illegal ones?
We live in a nation governed almost exclusively by white males led around by the nose by an ideology inspired by the writing of hallucinating white men back in a century not yet up to the level of science and technology required to invent the flush toilet.
Since the first day of a slightly more enlightened Supreme Court ruling on behalf of women’s rights versus theocrats – in Roe v Wade – individuals and groups dedicated to rule by a 14th Century tome produced by royal committee have dedicated millions of dollars, millions of hours, to restoring the subjugation of women.
As a political crime, that commitment stinks on ice. As ideology, cant, rote obedience to patriarchal politics, every progressive tendency in American politics must address this conflict as thoroughly as we confront racism. This is a lifetime commitment. There is no other choice in a nation where political issues still revolve around questions of “stupid or ignorant”.
Purvi Patel is a political prisoner of the state of Indiana.
Back in August 2012, Rachel Maddow explained, “Apparently nobody ever explained to [Rush Limbaugh] how birth control works.” Over a year later, the radio host’s contraception confusion seems to be getting worse.
The most obvious example of this came when Limbaugh went after Sandra Fluke, arguing, “The women in her law school program are having so much sex, they are going broke buying birth control pills.” In the radio host’s mind, women apparently are supposed to take birth control pills with every sexual experience. (Note: that’s not how birth control works.)
Yesterday, Limbaugh made matters worse. You may have seen reports that some researchers believe a version of Plan B emergency contraception may be less effective for women over 165 pounds. As Samantha Wyatt noted, this led the radio host to an odd conclusion:
“Now we have learned that American women, 166 pounds and up, the Plan B pill doesn’t work. What will their option be? 166, 170 pound woman, pregnant, she wants to go ahead and get her morning-after pill, and then she’s told, ‘Sorry, you’re too big. You’re too heavy. It won’t work.’ What are her options? Well, she can either go on a diet, or she can get an abortion.”
This just doesn’t make any sense. To hear Limbaugh tell it, pregnant women seek emergency contraception, but that’s plainly wrong – the point of emergency contraception is to prevent pregnancy. It’s why it’s called “emergency contraception.”
Contraception really isn’t that complicated, and yet, Limbaugh continues to say things that suggest he doesn’t understand birth control at all. I’m sure if he asked nicely, Planned Parenthood could send him some brochures that would help him with the basics?
Americans who consciously dedicate their adult lives to superstition and ideology that refuses to confront advances in learning – much less embrace scientific change – are doomed to find themselves painted into corners like this.
If you don’t open your eyes, open your mind, it’s pretty much guaranteed you will harm yourself by running into reality-based immovable objects. The sad bit is that True Believers running along behind the stupidity-bus will likely experience even more injury – unprotected by a money cushion like the one surrounding Limbaugh.
As the nation’s leading Roman Catholic bishop, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York has been spearheading the fight against a provision of the new health care law that requires employers, including some that are religiously affiliated, to cover birth control in employee health plans.
But even as Cardinal Dolan insists that requiring some religiously affiliated employers to pay for contraception services would be an unprecedented, and intolerable, government intrusion on religious liberty, the archdiocese he heads has quietly been paying for such coverage, albeit reluctantly and indirectly, for thousands of its unionized employees for over a decade.
The Archdiocese of New York has previously acknowledged that some local Catholic institutions offer health insurance plans that include contraceptive drugs to comply with state law; now, it is also acknowledging that the archdiocese’s own money is used to pay for a union health plan that covers contraception and even abortion for workers at its affiliated nursing homes and clinics…
The archdiocese agreed to cover its own health workers long before Cardinal Dolan became archbishop of New York, and even today insists that it has no choice. As a result, about 3,000 full-time workers at ArchCare, also known as the Catholic Health Care System, receive coverage for contraception and voluntary pregnancy termination through their membership in 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a powerful health care workers union, according to Dave Bates, a spokesman for the union.
ArchCare, which operates seven nursing homes and a variety of other health facilities, gives its 1199 union employees the same coverage they would get at over 100 other nonprofit hospitals or nursing homes in the New York area, because ArchCare voluntarily belongs to the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes, a multi-employer organization that negotiates with the union every few years for a joint labor contract.
Bruce McIver, the president of the league since 1991, said…“Eventually, the Catholics just said, you know, we are going to ignore the issue and pay into the fund and people are going to make their own choices about contraception and so forth,” Mr. McIver said.
During union negotiations, “I don’t remember it coming up in the last dozen years or so, ever,” he said. “In a place like New York, their employees, not all of whom are Catholic, would react pretty badly…”
The root of all modern hypocrisy owes so much to the history of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
A federal court on Tuesday struck down Arizona’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, absent a medical emergency.
The 9th US circuit court of appeals said the law violated a woman’s constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy before a foetus is able to survive outside the womb. “Viability” of a foetus is generally considered to start at 24 weeks; normal pregnancies run about 40 weeks. Nine other states have enacted similar bans, starting at 20 weeks or earlier. Several of those bans have been placed on hold or struck down by other courts.
Judge Marsha Berzon, writing for the unanimous three-judge panel on the San Francisco-based court, said such bans before viability violated a long string of US Supreme Court rulings starting with the seminal Roe vs Wade decision in 1973. The judge wrote that “a woman has a constitutional right to choose to terminate her pregnancy before the foetus is viable”.
“The challenged Arizona statute’s medical emergency exception does not transform the law from a prohibition on abortion into a regulation of abortion procedure,” Berzon wrote. “Allowing a physician to decide if abortion is medically necessary is not the same as allowing a woman to decide whether to carry her own pregnancy to term.”
Cathi Herrod, the head of a Christian social conservative group that championed the 2012 legislation, said the ruling – blah, blah, blah…
Janet Creppe, a lawyer who argued against the ban in court for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Tuesday’s ruling affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion before viability. “These laws are all unconstitutional,” she said. “This is not a close legal question at all. These laws are unconstitutional.”
The most significant ethical practice dealing with attempts to reverse Roe v. Wade after all these years? Fundamentalist Christians and conservatives alike are devout liars.
They are afraid to confront the reality of their backwardness head-on because they know the courts will rule against patently anti-science ideology. So, they gather together in klaverns to conspire against a woman’s freedom to direct her own life by constructing convoluted rationales designed to confuse the ignorant – and TV talking heads who apparently believe what lying politicians say is news.
If a Republican legislator in New Mexico gets her way, women who have abortions after being raped could face jail time for “tampering with evidence.”
State Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R-Carlsbad) introduced a bill yesterday that requires rape victims to see their pregnancies through during the course of their sexual assault trial, or be charged with third-degree felony evidence tampering.
Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.
The dimwit Republican who introduced this piece of crap legislation has changed her story a couple of times over the course of the day as it finally sank into her brain that normal human beings were outraged. By this evening’s news cycle, she was trying to claim that someone in the legislature printing office must have misprinted her bill. She will withdraw it – “correct it” – and reintroduce it, tomorrow.
Just another link in the chain that Republicans would fasten to the ankles of every American woman – if we let them.
Know any single women who look forward to being one of the Stepford Wives?
Sara Stevenson spends her working hours surrounded by Republicans, namely the married men who work alongside her in a Denver oil and gas firm company. But after hours and on weekends, she usually spends her time with other single women, and there’s not a Republican in sight among the bunch.
“There was just no way I could have supported any Republican this year,” said Stevenson, 31. “They skew so much to the religious right. … They focused so much on taxes. It’s not something that women in my demographic really care about. I’ve never heard my friends lament their taxes.”
As Republicans dust off their Election Day drubbing last month, their party must confront the reality that the ranks of unmarried women are growing rapidly, and these voters overwhelmingly have backed Democrats for decades.
Women increasingly are graduating from college and joining the workforce, and postponing marriage. From 2000 to 2010, the number of unmarried women increased 18 percent, according to census data.
Republicans have spent the past month tallying up all their demographic weak spots, including with Hispanics and Asian-Americans. But some warn that single women, already one-quarter of the electorate, represent the most serious threat to the party’s viability…
Around the world, as women gain more education and earn more money, they increasingly are delaying marriage, said Stephanie Coontz…director of research for the Council on Contemporary Families. “Nowadays, women don’t feel so driven to get married because they can support themselves,” she said. “A lot of this is driven by women and a combination of lowering payoffs to just marrying any man and rising expectations” of what marriage will bring, she added…
Anyone hear of Republicans lining up for info from the Council on Contemporary Families?
For decades, Conway said, Democrats targeted unmarried women while the GOP dismissed them.
In the Nov. 6 election, President Barack Obama’s campaign targeted this group in a series of direct mail and email pieces featuring the singer Beyonce and activist Lily Ledbetter, whose name was on the first bill Obama signed, making it easier for women to sue over unequal pay…
In a presidential election dominated by debates over women’s health and abortion, unmarried women backed Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by a 67-31 margin. Since 1992, when exit polls began identifying single voters, unmarried women have favored Democrats by similar margins.
TV Talking Heads bring up questions like this as if they expect something more than lip service from Republican “leaders” – whatever that means. Can you think of anyone left in an important position in the Republican Party who gives a rat’s ass about changing his hallowed view of where women fit into country club society? Anyone in the well-paid leadership of the various flavors of Tea Party who care about the role of women other than those assigned by caretakers of the 19th Century?
Photojournalist Matt Roth took this photo at a seminar on exorcism led by Paprocki
A Roman Catholic bishop from Springfield, Ill., who has called the Democratic Party platform “intrinsically evil,” challenged the likes of Sen. Roy Blunt and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin on Sunday to be more like Sir Thomas More, who was beheaded in 1535 after being convicted for treason.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki, preaching at the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, told the lawmakers in a crowd of lawyers and judges that More, in his day, was roughly the equivalent to White House chief of staff, secretary of state and chief justice of the Supreme Court — all at once.
But More sacrificed his wealth and career on his religious conviction. He refused to accept King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England. More sided with Rome on that issue…
Paprocki is one of the architects of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ campaign against the mandate by the administration of President Barack Obama that religiously affiliated institutions, such as universities and hospitals, must soon include free birth control coverage in their employee health coverage…
In addition to Missouri Republicans Blunt and Akin, other dignitaries in attendance included state Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, and Ann Wagner, of Ballwin, a longtime GOP leader and former U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg…
Paprocki drew headlines in September when he wrote that the Democratic Party platform is “intrinsically evil” for its protection of abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage and that one’s soul could be in jeopardy depending on your vote.
“My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues,” he wrote in the Sept. 23 letter…”You need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”
No moral complicity for most of our wars, of course.
I don’t expect Catholic Bishops to suddenly leap up and publicly embrace democracy, freedom of thought and constitutional separation of state and church – though I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of that church’s membership accepts those ideas as easily as ignoring the rules about contraception.
In a period with religions and their flunkeys in politics embracing confrontation over our constitutional freedoms, I think it’s important to keep the issue in the public eye. We certainly can’t count on our politicians to take the responsibility.
A woman in Turkey is awaiting trial after beheading a man who she says raped her repeatedly for months and is the father of her unborn child. Her lawyer says the woman killed the man to protect her honor.
Nevin Yildirim, a 26-year-old mother of two, lives in a small village in southwestern Turkey. She said the man, Nurettin Gider, began the attacks a few days after her husband left in January for a seasonal job in another town…
At one point, Yildirim said, Gider sneaked into her house while she was asleep and took pictures of her, the source said. One of the pictures shows her pregnant body. Gider threatened to publish the pictures if she didn’t obey him…
In small villages like hers, honor is held above all else, and women carry the burden of honor for their families. Pictures like those would have been devastating for Yildirim and her family and could have posed a danger…
On August 28, at least five months pregnant by a man who she said continued to rape her, Yildirim said she decided she had had enough. Gider was climbing up the back wall of her house. “I knew he was going to rape me again,” she said at her preliminary hearing August 30.
She said she grabbed her father-in-law’s rifle that was hanging on the wall and she shot him. He tried to draw his gun and she fired again.
“I chased him,” she said. “He fell on the ground. He started cussing. I shot his sexual organ this time. He became quiet. I knew he was dead. I then cut his head off….”
Witnesses described Yildirim walking into the village square, carrying the man’s head by his hair, blood dripping on the ground.
“Don’t talk behind my back, don’t play with my honor,” Yildirim said to the men sitting in the coffee house on the square. “Here is the head of the man who played with my honor…”
The source said Yildirim went to a health clinic a while ago seeking an abortion, but health workers told her she was 14 weeks pregnant and abortion was not an option.
In Turkey, abortion is allowed during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, after which it is permitted only to save the life or health of the mother or in cases of fetal impairment…
Yildirim is in the local jail while she awaits trial.
At a minimum, there is the Antalya Women Support Organization to rally some support for Nevin Yildirim in Turkey. The crime should lay on the heads of a government that bows to religious foolishness, refusing to support a woman’s right to make her own choices about pregnancy, a government that does next to nothing about rape, about campaigning against backwards traditions in an ignorant society.
Nevin Yildrum is an honorable victim of those traditions, condemned to act out the only solution available to her in a society that restricts choice to barbarisms.
I can only hope she is allowed an opportunity to abort the fetus she never wanted, the result of her rape. I can only hope she is acquitted of murder on the grounds of self-defense.
I don’t doubt that our Republican politicians and the bible-brigade that defines today’s conservative ideology will be rooting for the opposite.
Paul Ryan/Todd Akin mutual support league addressing Ryan’s voodoo budget
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Todd Akin’s remarks about some rapes being “legitimate,” and the ability of a woman to miraculously self-abort in those instances, have many of his fellow Republicans desperate to distinguish him from others in their party. This isn’t easy.
Akin, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives who is seeking to unseat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, is not an outlier. No less than Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for vice president, shares his views. Ryan, Akin’s colleague in the House, has sponsored legislation with him that also sought to distinguish between types of rape: Instead of “legitimate,” it used the word “forcible.”
What Akin’s remarks have unleashed is a discussion in the presidential race over social issues that will be hard for Republicans to control. They were reasonably sure they could paper over the differences between Ryan and his running mate, Mitt Romney, on Medicare. On social issues, the problem is the opposite: The difference between Ryan’s views and Akin’s could fit on a Post-it note.
On Sunday…when asked on a St. Louis TV program if he would make an exception to his anti-abortion stand for rape, Akin said he would not because in those instances a woman’s body will somehow know to end the pregnancy itself…
The Romney-Ryan campaign has come out with escalating rejections of Akin’s remarks. Yet Ryan and Akin are in the mainstream of the prevailing House Republican view on abortion.
Not only did Akin and Ryan co-sponsor legislation redefining rape, Ryan ran for Congress as a strong pro-lifer and has a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee. “This includes support for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” the committee notes. Last year Ryan and Akin were co-sponsors of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, also known as “personhood” legislation, which would give a fertilized egg the same rights as a human being and would outlaw some forms of birth control…
What Akin apparently fails to understand is this: Just because colleagues like Ryan share his views, that doesn’t mean he can talk about them when there’s a presidential race going on — especially a race in which his party’s candidate is fudging his views on the subject in hopes of attracting moderates…
Given that the clown-in-charge of the Republican platform committee for their convention is Governor Ultrasound from Virginia, Akins won’t have to worry about being separated from the Kool Aid science portion of the Republican Party. So-called leaders remaining from the dregs of traditional Republican politics haven’t grown testosterone-producing organs in the interim.
Join those two currents with the Ron Paul voodoo-economics brigade and the Republican convention might be fun watching for someone who doesn’t DVR segments from daytime Bloomberg TV or House Hunters International. Since my household falls into the latter category, I’ll give the Republicans a miss to match our non-view of the Democrats.
Admittedly, the Dems may come up with a few decent speeches that touch down into the reality column – a little bit of science, economics bypassing Herbert Hoover’s last campaign, a willingness to support civil rights for all Americans, support of libertarian choices for women as well as men. You know – stuff today’s Republican Party rejects out of hand.
The only process I find interesting enough to track is where and when Democrats have sufficient backbone to pursue a progressive agenda to counter the nutballs in charge of the GOP – instead of sticking to the Clintonesque drone about centrist ethics. Whatever that might mean – this week?
The mother of a pregnant leukemia patient who died after her chemotherapy was delayed over anti- abortion laws is accusing doctors of not putting her daughter’s health first.
The 16-year-old’s plight attracted worldwide attention after she had to wait for chemotherapy because of an abortion ban in the Dominican Republic.
Doctors were hesitant to give her chemotherapy because such treatment could terminate the pregnancy — a violation of the Dominican Constitution, which bans abortion. Some 20 days after she was admitted to the hospital, she finally started receiving treatment.
She died Friday, a hospital official said.
At the time the treatment started, Rosa Hernandez, the girl’s mother, said she tried to convince doctors and the Dominican government to make an exception so that her daughter’s life could be saved.
“My daughter’s life is first. I know that (abortion) is a sin and that it goes against the law … but my daughter’s health is first,” Hernandez said…
“They have killed me, I’m dead, dead. I’m nothing,” her mother said. ” She was the reason for my existence. I no longer live. Rosa has died. Let the world know that Rosa is dead.”
Exactly the kind of outcome required by religious nutballs whose blather about life never includes resistance to war, opposition to capital punishment – and especially important in a case like this one – the right of a woman to choose to save her own life.
I have nothing but contempt for these superstitious hypocrites. They lie to themselves, the world and their own children. They reject science and the ever-expanding history of individual liberty.
Theocrats haven’t the right under any modern democratic constitution to force their beliefs and practices upon everyone else in the nation. Paul Ryan doesn’t accept that. He wants you and me and everyone in the United States to obey his religion.