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Archive for October, 2015

Feminist Coffee Hour Episode Two – “Malala vs Kylie?”

Posted in Podcast Episodes on October 29th, 2015
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Episode two – Malala vs Kylie?

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Discussed in this episode:

Congressman Bob Brady Steals Pope Francis’ Water, Brags About It

Rev. Morrill addresses ‘Black Lives Matter’

Malala vs Kylie?

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I am #WhiteGenocide

Posted in Editorials on October 22nd, 2015
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I am becoming increasingly alarmed by the presence of white supremacists on social media and the internet in general. While structural racism has always been a part of the United States, it feels like we are going backwards if people feel comfortable expressing these viewpoints openly. Cracked recently had a podcast about this, and after inadvertently responding to a white supremacist on Twitter, and seeing #BoycottStarWarsVII trend on Twitter it seems like these people are everywhere. So I’m going to take Amanda Marcotte’s advice, and I’m going to feed the trolls.

I have written before about how dog whistle rhetoric Republicans use about “taking their country back” feels strangely isolating to me. In general I pass as a white person but every once in a while I am reminded that my status as the daughter of a Latino immigrant means my privilege is conditional on the whims of other white people. And the whole idea that there is a “white genocide” going on is just such a reminder.

The slogans and propaganda of white supremacists are becoming more and more commonplace online. “Antiracist = antiwhite” and “#WhiteGenocide” pop up when you’d least expect to see them. Like in the responses to this tweet about the governor of Minnesota congratulating the Lynx for the WNBA championship.

The entire concept of “White Genocide” is preposterous and offensive. Immigration is the foundation of the United States, and I believe that we are better equipped to deal with it socially and culturally than much of Western Europe, simply because we have been doing it on a larger scale for longer. But they will figure it out eventually. Underneath alarmist rhetoric about immigration is a fear of white women having children with non white men. That’s at the core of the obscenity “cuckservative” – a conservative who doesn’t oppose immigration (or doesn’t oppose it strongly enough) is therefore assumed to be sexually aroused by the idea of their white wife having sex with a man of color. Underneath the racism is misogyny and natalism.

And this is where it gets personal. As an American with a white mother and a Latino father, I can’t help but feel unsettled by these attacks. That there was something nefarious about their marriage or something wrong with my existence and my heritage. On another level, I can take some sardonic pleasure in knowing that such terrible people consider me to be “wrong.” But it’s unsettling.

There is no wrong way to have an ethnicity or a nationality. The existence of immigrants and people of color is not genocide, and to say so is both bigoted and contrary to the founding principles of this country. So many great Americans were immigrants or the children of immigrants. And we are better and stronger and richer for their contributions. Anti racist does NOT equal anti white. But to be anti-immigrant is anti-American.

Image Credit: Shane. Released under a creative commons license.

The Wealthy Could Always Give Away Their Problems

Posted in Editorials on October 21st, 2015
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In The Guardian, this week there’s a profile of a therapist who counsels wealthy clients who deal with the unique stresses their money brings them.

“We are trained to have empathy, no judgment and so many of the uber wealthy – the 1% of the 1% – they feel that their problems are really not problems. But they are. A lot of therapists do not give enough weight to their issues.”

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From the Bible to the Lannisters of Game of Thrones, it’s easy to argue that the rich have always been vilified, scorned and envied. But their counsellors argue things have only gotten worse since the financial crisis and the debate over income inequality that has been spurred on by movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Fight for $15 fair wage campaign.

“The Occupy Wall Street movement was a good one and had some important things to say about income inequality, but it singled out the 1% and painted them globally as something negative. It’s an -ism,” said Jamie Traeger-Muney, a wealth psychologist and founder of the Wealth Legacy Group. “I am not necessarily comparing it to what people of color have to go through, but … it really is making value judgment about a particular group of people as a whole.”

The media, she said, is partly to blame for making the rich “feel like they need to hide or feel ashamed”.

I actually am going to recommend some Biblical advice for the wealthy. But first I want to point something out. There’s a reason that people are protesting the rich, and it’s not because they are rich. No one is protesting Bill and Melinda Gates or Richard Branson or Warren Buffet or even Michael Bloomberg (well maybe they were but that had more to do with his actions as mayor rather than his wealth). They’re protesting the Waltons and the Bankers and big business because those are the people who are using their wealth to harm people. The financial crisis ruined the lives of people who had nothing to do with Wall Street. Working conditions exist in the United States and in US owned companies abroad that should not exist anywhere on Earth, much less in a country prides itself on American Exceptionalism. The judgement isn’t on the circumstance of happening to be wealthy but on how that wealth was accumulated and then what was done with it afterwards.

Money probably does bring unique challenges to family dynamics and social interactions, but the idea that the wealthy are unfairly judged is absurd. And like Adam said, there’s a very easy solution to fix the perception of being an evil rich person. GIVE YOUR MONEY AWAY! Give it to the poor, to homeless shelters and food banks, give it to schools and libraries, parks, museums, animal shelters, medical research, and abortion funds! There’s a lot of people who need it, and it will soothe some of that guilt and the public admiration will make you feel a lot less judged.

Image credit: OpenClipArt.org by vokimon

This I Believe

Posted in Editorials on October 20th, 2015
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Last Sunday, my UU Congregation had a service called “This I Believe” based on the popular NPR series, which Google tells me was actually started by Edward R. Murrow. I was invited to participate and share what being a Unitarian Universalist means to me. Here’s what I said:

People sometimes ask me how Unitarian Universalism is a religion at all. There are no dieties we are required to pray to. And what I say is that it’s a religion because we believe things about how the world should be that past a certain point we cannot prove to be true on a chalkboard, the way one could solve a math equation.

For me, Unitarian Universalism is a moral framework that is both challenging and rewarding. Most faiths have things that they require of members. But being a UU is difficult because we must be the ones who calibrate our consciences to right and wrong and check ourselves against them. Without the specter of eternal hell fire looming over our heads, some see us as a soft and easy denomination. When trying to explain our denomination, many of us have been asked, “Oh, so you can just believe whatever you want?” But as any of us who have contemplated these issues as UUs, this is not the case. Like a college student with newly found freedom might eat junk food every day for every meal, some people who leave traditional religion (and some who are still members of it) fall into narcissism, nihilism and apathy. Unitarian Universalism pushes us away from those things. I’m not saying that we can’t be a bit navel gazey at times, but we are also encouraged to look outwards. We care deeply about and find meaning in so many things and we turn those cares into actions. People in our trademark bright yellow Standing On The Side Of Love shirts can be found doing work for causes that fight poverty and bigotry and protect the environment. And this is the challenge of Unitarian Universalism, to both live our personal lives by our morals and values, and to guide our actions to change the things about the world which are unjust.

I believe that we each have a moral imperative to do good works and to care for each other. I try to make this belief the basis of my actions, but it’s not always easy. Being lazy or judgmental are strong temptations for me, and easy bad habits to fall into, even though I know that if I do, I will only harm myself and others. Unitarian Universalism helps me live out my ideals by making room for many different types of people with a variety of beliefs. I share my denomination with people who may think differently than me on some things, but what I love about Unitarian Universalism is that we share the same values. Our Seven Principles call us to act with honor and to seek justice. And when we can agree on that – and we only need to pay attention to the world around us to see that there are so many who do not, when we can agree to act with honor and seek justice, everything else will fall into place.

Image credit: UUA Chalice by Scott Abbotts

If You Can’t Explain How You Would Enforce An Abortion Ban, Don’t Propose One

Posted in Editorials on October 19th, 2015
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A while back I wrote about how anti choicers want abortion to be illegal and seem to equate this with abortion not existing. When you press them on how exactly this would work, they have nothing. Recently I engaged with a pro lifer on the comments section of a Patheos blog and I want to repost our conversation to further illustrate this point. Even someone who seems to have compassion for women can’t explain how an abortion ban would stop abortions.

I noticed a woman posting in the comments of this post and I asked her:

Would you please explain what the law should be regarding abortion? I am pro choice, and I am also a policy wonk, and I do not understand how we could make abortion illegal without for example, legislating mandatory regular pregnancy tests and police investigations of miscarriages. I have written about the logistical problems with an abortion ban and I would love to know your thoughts.

She Answered:

So, my political views are somewhat two-fold. There is what we can be doing right now, and there is what we can be doing in other, let’s say, more advanced circumstances. If you want to boil it all down, yes, the end game is that I would like to see a society that bans abortion at any stage in most cases (but not all), but I think that is neither feasible, nor the priority at this point.

For the right now, there is a lot more that can be done to reduce abortions than what a ban would accomplish. The number one reason why women abort is due to financial reasons. As such, I support progressive policies such as a single payer healthcare system, guaranteed paid maternal and paternal leave, living wages, paid time off for family leave. Tangentially, we need to put more money and care into our adoption and foster care system. We need to make it easier for mothers who would not even be thinking abortion if they felt that adoption was actually a viable option – not just some pie in the sky so-called-option. We need to make it easier for parents to adopt, by increasing ranks of social workers who can do background checks on them, and provide post adoption follow up services.

And we need to do a lot better on the preventative side of things. We need a no apologies diversified stance to sex education. If you are an accredited middle or high school, even if you are catholic, you have to teach about sex-ed that includes birth control options and how to use them. We need to push down the cost of things like IUDs and the pill, and for those who want it, sterilization. And we need to make them fabulously easy to get these things. Again, I see progressive policies as heading in that direction.

I’m sure we can agree pretty well on these first steps, but they are important, and I think they are intrinsic to any ban that is going to both reflect and guide a culture that values all stages of human life, thus being more sustainable. If there aren’t many other, easy options for women (and their men), any ban will be received as well as Roe v Wade has – that is, you’ll get your predictable split of public opinion. Black and white policies usually result in outlier horror stories, be them testimonies of people who survived being aborted, or the horror stories of women whose hospital policies resulted in them not providing them with the medically needed abortion they required to survive.

What is the next step? Probably a 20 week ban*. Let me be clear, this does not reflect what I see as the morality of abortion. I don’t see a huge distinction between 5 minutes before birth versus 5 minutes after – I similarly see no distinction between 5 minutes before 20 weeks and 5 minutes after It is still a tragedy. But from a policy stand point, this does two things. It gets us used to the idea of abortion bans without completely cutting off the option. At that point, women will have known they’ve been pregnant for at least a couple of weeks, so they still have an opportunity to have an abortion at that point. Again, this is a stepping stone. (I’m a big fan of adaptive management as well. Policy doesn’t do adaptive management very well, which is why doing things in steps like this is needed. Implement less strict policy, check out your results, and the next round, you can make adjustments to address the issues of the last round)

*Two caveats to this. First, that while I see the time frame for abortion as being slowly constricted as society finds other ways to avoid or deal with unwanted pregnancy, life of the mother is not up for grabs. A rape exemption, due to the mental self-defense that an abortion could provide a victimized woman, is also something that should be set in stone. Second, I’d want to see this legislation being passed with a rider bill that ensures it is not difficult to obtain abortions within the legal limit. This would include things like ensuring that women didn’t have to travel far (perhaps even compelling hospitals that receive state funding to provide such services or stop receiving funding/ setting up a fund for public clinics for such services where there are none). What? You might say, this seems to be an expansion of abortion, not a reduction! But this is part of the end goal. Acknowledging that there will be times when, sad though it may be, a tragedy to that unborn person though it may be, is required medically or psychologically, I do want to make sure that if it must happen, it happens as safely, as easily, and as much without distress as possible – as I feel about any medical procedure. This will, I think, help the pro-life side of the country come to terms with that idea that sometimes, abortion is the best course. They’ll be seeing a reduction of abortions, particularly later term abortions, and see this as progress on their end too. Eventually, you’d get to a full on ban, and when that happens, you won’t accidentally have a Savita because the infrastructure is there and hospitals will know that not providing services could mean the end of their tenure.

As far as the nuts and bolts go, I don’t see any need to be monitoring women’s fertility. We’re banning abortions, not banning women not being pregnant. And I don’t see prosecuting a woman as effective policy. We don’t assume there has been a murder unless there is evidence that there has been a murder. We don’t go checking in on people, invading their houses to look for dead bodies. Why would we assume there has been an abortion without evidence that there has been an abortion? Additionally, it won’t be effective at enacting a cultural shift to one that values people at any stage if we’ve got some police state going on. In the environmental world, I’ve seen that for policy, the more moving parts, generally, the harder it is to keep track, and the point of service, in this regard, is not the woman, but the abortionist.

So, be it stage one, all the way through to a full ban, how would women who required a medically needed abortion get one? Or who were victims of rape? Let’s keep it to one vector. Doctors can become certified (perhaps a special kind of certification probably following coursework in ethics, as well as what they’ve probably already studied at that point in gynecology, perhaps psychology, etc, that maybe they need to take refresher courses on every couple of years) to offer a legal medical opinion. Any hospital or clinic that offers abortion services has to have at least one of these housed, and they are not paid by the abortion provider, but by a separate fund set up by the gvt. Alternatively, your GP could have this certification if they went through the courses. Maybe you’d require a signature, like a woman goes to her GP complaining of something, GP checks it out, says, this pregnancy has a huge potential of killing you, I prescribe an abortion, you take that prescription note to the clinic or get the in-house certified doctor to examine and check. Of course legal language would have to be included such that a doctor can sign off on an abortion post procedure when needed. Essentially you’d be getting this doctor to not only say after the fact that an abortion was needed, but that timing did not allow for the written recommendation to be given earlier. They sign and stamp that. You might have, as you do with the USDA or EPA, rare, unannounced governmental check-ins, where regulators are checking in at these certified doctor’s offices, going over identity redacted files to gauge whether or not the certified abortion prescriber was generally prescribing abortions for medically needed situations. As far as a rape exemption would play out, I’d see a situation where I wouldn’t want to impose that a woman actually have a successful court case that she was raped. But she would need to sign something to the effect that she was. This would get the certified doctor to sign off, and the abortionist could do their thing. Abortionists who performed abortions without the prescription would be the ones who would be prosecuted for at minimum, malpractice, at most, potentially manslaughter.

What is the downside of this? Well, let’s be honest, there is the huge potential for corruption. Women can feasibly walk in and say, I was raped, abortion pleaase! or doctors could be bought off to say, you are dying, get yourself an abortion! I think that is just something that is unavoidable. We have corruption in existing laws, police officers who murder and never see a courtroom, bribery for insider trading, or polluting companies that covertly dump waste into the river. That doesn’t change the fact that these laws have changed attitudes overall. Thanks to the clean air act, yes, coal companies still pollute, sometimes illegally, but less do. You can see LA now.

Furthermore, I would want to err on the side of keeping women safe. As I said in another post, not one case of a woman dying because she was refused a medically needed abortion is acceptable.

Culture shapes policy shapes culture which shapes policy which shapes culture. So I don’t think we’ll get to a ban until the fear factor of pregnancy and birth go down significantly, but a ban following the policies that address financial struggles, and is flexible enough to account to medical and psychological needs will result in a populace that has fewer motivations to skirt the law.

I said:

I don’t see how your suggestions are radically different from current laws. I agree with you that we need to do more to prevent unwanted pregnancies. We should increase access to education, contraception and jobs. Great!

13 states already have 20 week abortion bans. Over 98% of abortions happen before 20 weeks and most happen in the first 12 weeks. So these laws are mostly just rhetoric – but for the people they do impact, they are hellish. Abortions performed at or after 20 weeks are performed either because of severe fetal abnormalities or serious risks to the mother’s health. Given that your policy allows for doctors to grant exceptions in these cases my first question for you is – what would your policy change about the current state of affairs? Because I don’t see it changing anything.

From a policy perspective, allowing someone to merely sign a piece of paper alleging they were raped to get an abortion is merciful and compassionate to rape victims. But given that women who need abortions were willing to do much worse when abortions were illegal, like pay exorbitant prices, travel hundreds of miles, and put their lives at risk by going to disreputable quacks, lying on a piece of paper no one but you and your doctor will see seems like a walk in the park. So my second question is – given that your policy makes abortions easier to get than they were before Roe vs Wade, why and how do you expect it to reduce abortions in any significant way?

You said, “Abortionists who performed abortions without the prescription would be the ones who would be prosecuted for at minimum, malpractice, at most, potentially manslaughter.” Kelly Renee Gissendaner was convicted of murder and executed by the state of Georgia last week for conspiring with her lover to kill her husband. Her lover was the one who stabbed her husband to death. Richard Glossip is on death row in Oklahoma for allegedly paying someone to kill his boss. If people can be sentenced to death for conspiring to kill someone or to pay a hitman to do so, why should abortion be any different, if in your words, “it’s the fact that we are talking about the bodily autonomy of two individuals that makes this issue so difficult. It’s extremely important. However, I do not find bodily autonomy compelling enough to inflict mortal damage against another carte blanche.” My third question for you is, how is a woman who goes to a doctor and requests an abortion different from a person who hires a hitman to kill their spouse or boss? Perhaps we agree that neither crime deserves the death penalty. But I think that abortion should be legal because a fetus is not a person and that hiring a hitman should be illegal. Why would you separate the two crimes if you believe a fetus has bodily autonomy?

You said “I don’t see any need to be monitoring women’s fertility. We’re banning abortions, not banning women not being pregnant. And I don’t see prosecuting a woman as effective policy. We don’t assume there has been a murder unless there is evidence that there has been a murder.” When a woman has a miscarriage in countries where abortion is illegal, that is taken as evidence that she may have had an abortion. My fourth question is. If you don’t think that late term miscarriages should be investigated as possible abortions under your 20 week ban, how else would it be enforced? If doctors and hospitals are not required to report “suspicious” miscarriages, how would people who performed illegal abortions be punished?

My fifth question is, where would the criteria for deciding who gets to have an abortion at 20 weeks (or earlier if your successive bans are enacted) come from? You personally? The American Life League? A private organization or a public rulemaking body? For example would these regulations be made available on the Federal Register for public comment? How would these exceptions be determined?

And my sixth question is let’s say that you enact the 20 week ban, when do you take the next step, what is it, and how will you know it’s time to do so?

She replied:

1) Given that your policy allows for doctors to grant exceptions in these cases my first question for you is – what would your policy change about the current state of affairs? Because I don’t see it changing anything.

It wouldn’t change anything as far as abortion numbers go in the first round. But in order for us to get past this schizophrenic personality disorder, attempts to accomplish an all or nothing scenario depending on which side of the fence you sit, it’s a needed first step in my scenario. Pro-lifers need to convince pro-choicers that they really do care about women, by making it easier for women who medically need abortions to get them, and pro-choicers need to convince pro-lifers that they do care about the unborn too (I know on these blogs, people might truly not give a whit about the fetus, but in my experience – and the vast majority of my friends are pro-choice – that isn’t the case at all. They do care about the unborn. Very much so. From pre-natal health too emotional attachments, they see the question of abortion as a really difficult one, just one where ultimately they are afraid for women to be caught in difficult situations they have no recourse out of. My hypothesis is that this is the more mainstream pro-choice position). Again, we need to build that bridge, because otherwise it continues as a political shouting match where we get nothing done (and that includes making sure that women who really do need medical service, like your hypothetical woman in the middle of Oklahoma who needs a medical abortion, can get it easily, and as safely as possible.)

2) So my second question is – given that your policy makes abortions easier to get than they were before Roe vs Wade, why and how do you expect it to reduce abortions in any significant way?

Most of this is answered in the prior question, but I did want to touch on one thing. You mentioned that women were willing to pay a lot more pre RvW for abortions. But again, policy timing, and policy context matters for how any given policy is going to impact people. If people pushed through the 15th amendment pre-civil war, do you think this would have had much of an impact on the election process, perhaps, but not likely in the intended way. Slave owners might have compelled their slaves to vote the way they wanted, or maybe prevented them from voting in the first place. But the civil war happened, slaves were free, and suddenly the 15th amendment becomes relevant and useful towards giving blacks a voice that was their own. (Of course, there was still suppression, and struggle, but not being owned by others made it possible to exercise their 15th amendment rights marginally, as opposed to not at all.)
I hypothesize that in a society where financial supports are there, where social structures exist to support both mother and pre-nate, where medical infrastructure exists so no pregnant woman has to say, I better abort now because if I don’t, and weeks down the line there is a problem, I won’t be able to get an abortion to live, when the desperation involved in a lot of abortions is gone, there is less of an incentive to to even want to get an abortion to begin with. In my experience, policy can really only deal with the aggregate. It can’t hope to zoom down to the individual. A person would still have to sign that they were raped, and it stays in that medical record – though due too privacy laws, released only when the patient agrees. That’s a pretty big deal to lie about something like that. I’m sure someone can do it without a problem, but not most people. Like I said, I am sure there will be cheaters, as there is with any policy. They will be in the minority (is my hypothesis).

3) My third question for you is, how is a woman who goes to a doctor and requests an abortion different from a person who hires a hitman to kill their spouse or boss? But I think that abortion should be legal because a fetus is not a person and that hiring a hitman should be illegal. Why would you separate the two crimes if you believe a fetus has bodily autonomy?

Because in no scenario is there a “hitman for health”. There aren’t legally sanctioned times when a person can go out and hire a hitman to kill somebody. Obviously in the case of an abortion, under my hypothesized policy, there is just such a case.
The addition of such ambiguity means that there is the potential for it being applied really poorly. A woman who had her doctor tell her that she is eligible for a medically justified abortion, but somewhere along the line, the certification doesn’t get communicated when she gets it, shouldn’t be punished for bureaucracy.
As I said before, the more vectors, the more likely your policy is going to produce unpredictable results. It is more efficient, more likely to be successful, if you narrow down the point of liability. And since in this hypothetical world, the only people performing abortions or prescribing abortions have been certified one way or another, they stand to bear a real cost – the loss of that certification. It’s less costly to enforce as well, once again, improving the ability of it to be effective.

4) My fourth question is. If you don’t think that late term miscarriages should be investigated as possible abortions under your 20 week ban, how else would it be enforced? If doctors and hospitals are not required to report “suspicious” miscarriages, how would people who performed illegal abortions be punished?

So, firstly, not all countries where abortion is illegal do they enact that police state. Ireland doesn’t. I see no need to follow the model of those who do.
But to answer your question, enforcement comes in part with those unannounced regulator visits. If abortion certified doctors are performing illegal abortions, when the regulator shows up, they are caught, loose their certification, and potentially face extreme jail time. As far as people who are not licensed and are performing illegal abortions, you’d catch them the way you’d catch any criminal doing crimes covertly. How did anyone catch Gosnell? Eyewitness accounts, anonymous tips, and finally a police raid. Was the protection of born-alive infants a bad law because he acted outside of it? I don’t think so. You’re right though, I can see where manslaughter for unliscenced abortionists might not be a significant enough deterrence. Not sure. I have to think on that more.

But to be clear, my goal is extremely reduced abortions, not increased incarceration. Again, going after the bottleneck that is the abortionist, when they act illegally, is more efficient in that regard.

5) My fifth question is, where would the criteria for deciding who gets to have an abortion at 20 weeks (or earlier if your successive bans are enacted) come from? You personally? The American Life League? A private organization or a public rulemaking body? For example would these regulations be made available on the Federal Register for public comment? How would these exceptions be determined?

Doctor. When the doctor writes down her/his prescription, it’s not just a signature. It’s a detailed report on why and how, in their professional opinion, they believe the pregnancy of a woman is life threatening. You could potentially have a group of gynecological physicians make up a body that codifies some general categorical circumstances that doctors can classify their reasoning under, or even stricter guidelines than that, like Registered Professional Foresters do for the Forest Practice Act in California, but with even more strength to the doctors. That wouldn’t be a bad idea, particularly if you got a healthy mix of medical perspectives relating to abortion. The point is though, keep politicians out of it.

6) And my sixth question is let’s say that you enact the 20 week ban, when do you take the next step, what is it, and how will you know it’s time to do so?

Good question, and the hardest one (not that the others didn’t require thought!). I am not sure of the answer. Honestly, I’m a fairly optimistic person, but in this regard, I am quite pessimistic that we are even going to get to this point in my lifetime. As I said before, the GOP’s conservatism has been the #1 worst thing to happen to the pro-life movement. Though I argue with other pro-lifers when I can that pro-life and conservatism cannot be politically synonymous to succeed, I don’t think it is going to change any time soon. The GOP needs to explode or something.
Knowing what I do about the lethargy of policy making (unless it is an in-your-face issue or emergency, it seems really hard to get on the agenda) Given that fact, if this policy were able to be enacted, you’d probably have to write the timeline into the bill, even if you had release values to extend time periods when needed. From a purely non-policy, cultural standpoint, I think you go down from the 20 week ban at the point where you see abortion numbers plateau down at their lowest level. As I’ve said in other posts, the idea is that culture needs to change as much as policy, and a final, full ban should mostly be codification of the fact that the culture generally respects life at all stages. But as policy impacts culture, ratcheting down that ban in this way, I hypothesize, helps nurture that value in society. (Not all policy positively impacts cultural mores of course! I am not trying to make that claim. But done right, they can.)

I replied:

You said “pro-choicers need to convince pro-lifers that they do ” care about the unborn too.” This is an odd sentiment. I know you identify as politically liberal and you don’t like the fact that most pro-lifers are politically conservative, but that’s the way it is. And in general liberal policies for better education, healthcare, economic opportunity and environmental preservation ARE better for future generations than conservative policies. I think we both would agree on that. But why do you think pro-choicers should have to talk publicly about how much they love fetuses? What would that accomplish?

You said, “I hypothesize that in a society where financial supports are there, where social structures exist to support both mother and pre-nate, where medical infrastructure exists so no pregnant woman has to say, I better abort now because if I don’t, and weeks down the line there is a problem, I won’t be able to get an abortion to live, when the desperation involved in a lot of abortions is gone, there is less of an incentive to to even want to get an abortion to begin with.” So you are mostly right in that countries with better sex ed and healthcare have lower abortion rates, but that has nothing to do with the “incentive to even want to get an abortion.” That is because in those countries there are fewer unwanted pregnancies to abort in the first place. Which I think we would both agree is a great goal! However, I am confused by what you mean by “incentive to get an abortion.” Can you explain what incentives you think exist that encourage women to get abortions? Because from the evidence I’ve seen, women don’t get abortions because they think there is a reward involved, they do it because they are pregnant when they do not want to be.The Guttmacher institute studies abortion in the United States and in 2014 they reported that women gave the following reasons for getting an abortion (they were allowed to select more than one.)

Cannot afford a baby now 73%

A baby would interfere with school/employment/ability to care for dependents 69%

Would be a single parent/having relationship problems 48%

Am finished with childbearing 38%

Having a better social safety net is great. But it’s not going to stop young women from wanting to finish their educations before having kids, or remove other responsibilities from people who have them or fix broken relationships or make someone want another child when they feel they are too old.

Going back to the hitman example, under your proposed policy, abortion would be legal until 20 weeks. Going back to the previously cited Guttmacher presentation, 99% of abortions occur before 20 weeks. That’s a lot of hitmen being hired without health exemptions, don’t you think?

If they don’t arrest women for miscarriages in Ireland, that’s great for human rights. But it’s bad policy. To explain why, let’s look at a neighboring country – Northern Ireland. There they have a law similar to the one you propose. Abortion is only legal when the mother’s life is at risk. However, hundreds of women have had abortions by ordering drugs online. Women frequently travel to other countries to get abortions. The law serves to make abortion more difficult but it doesn’t stop or reduce abortions.

You said, “enforcement comes in part with those unannounced regulator visits.” That sound great but where would the funding for this infrastructure come from? The scope of what you are proposing is quite large. You said, “Any hospital or clinic that offers abortion services has to have at least one of these housed, and they are not paid by the abortion provider, but by a separate fund set up by the gvt.” But since any abortions performed after 20 weeks must be prescribed by one of these certified doctors, I would argue that all hospitals, walk in clinics and OBYGN practices have to have a certified person on staff. Because when you need an abortion to save your life it’s because bad things are happening very quickly. You said that “Of course legal language would have to be included such that a doctor can sign off on an abortion post procedure when needed. Essentially you’d be getting this doctor to not only say after the fact that an abortion was needed, but that timing did not allow for the written recommendation to be given earlier.” How would this work though? I do know a little bit about third party verification and the idea that a professional that has their career and the threat of manslaughter charges hanging over her head would verify a procedure they were not present for is ludicrous. You would need to have people on staff at all times.

In 2008 there were 1,793 abortion providers in the United States. However since then many have been forced to close because of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP laws). In 2013 there were 5,686 hospitals in the USA. According to the US Census in 2010, there were 33,624 OBGYNs in the US. So how many locations is that that need to be inspected? Somewhere between 1,700 and 41,000. Who would conduct and pay for these trainings? How often are these inspections? I know they are unannounced, but how often should they be expected? Once a year? Even if we are only inspecting current abortion clinics – let’s say 1800. That’s 1800 new government bureaucrats PLUS inspectors to check up on them. That is a huge. If you wanted any real oversight the inspector would have to be onsite for a few days at least plus travel time. So 3600 working days. For every clinic to get one inspection per year. If you propose a 5 day work week with 2 weeks vacation and 10 holidays, that’s a 240 day working year. So allowing for zero travel time, you need 15 employees who are willing to travel constantly for once a year checks. 30 is more reasonable given travel demands, allowing time for paperwork. If you want twice a year checks – 60 people, and so on. To truly inspect all hospitals and OBGYN’s you’d need a staff of tens of thousands more onsite people AND 630 people for once a year checks, 1260 for twice a year checks and so on. In addition to the inspectors you need support staff, HR, IT, office space, computers, and so on. Where does this money come from?

You said the guidelines would come from “a group of gynecological physicians.” But what if the doctors don’t want these restrictions? The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said in 2014,

Safe, legal abortion is a necessary component of women’s health care. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports the availability of high-quality reproductive health services for all women and is committed to improving access to abortion. Access to abortion is threatened by state and federal government restrictions, limitations on public funding for abortion services and training, stigma, violence against abortion providers, and a dearth of abortion providers. Legislative restrictions fundamentally interfere with the patient-provider relationship and decrease access to abortion for all women, and particularly for low-income women and those living long distances from health care providers. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists calls for advocacy to oppose and overturn restrictions, improve access, and mainstream abortion as an integral component of women’s health care.

Sure, there are some pro life OBGYNs but they are in the minority. If they are the only ones on the committee that sets the standard, that is an incredibly political move. If the sample is representative, you won’t get the standard you want. So how would this work?

She never answered. I’m assuming she simply got tired of the exchange. I really like talking to pro lifers about how they think their policies will work because I get the impression they really don’t know. And if I can make them see that, then maybe they will stop proposing them.

Link to full discussion in comments thread.

The Red Pill is an appeal to force

Posted in Editorials on October 16th, 2015
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I have become fond of saying that antifeminism is an appeal to force. Many of the arguments that antifeminists make come down to the idea that because men are physically stronger than women that makes them somehow better people or smarter than women. They assign moral value to men’s size and strength. Red Pilers particular are fond of this argument.

Some examples:

This is why “marital rape” used to not be a thing. So that if women misbehaved men could discipline them. It’s also why “domestic abuse” used to not be a thing. Women are children. They need to be treated as such. You can’t talk to them like an adult and expect them to understand the concepts of understanding a partners needs, making compromises, and making sacrifices for her partner. If you try sitting her down and explaining these things, she feels abused, and we all know feels > reals.

The secret to a happy marriage is literally beating and raping your wife.

Realistically, the shit-show known as feminism would be solved if all men decided unanimously to rise up and take back power. Men are physically stronger than women on average. Men have a wider IQ distribution. The greatest innovators, physicists, doctors, builders, and businessmen have been men, not women. That should tell you something. Society worked well when women tended to the kitchen, respected their man, and knew that if they acted like a bitch they would be treated as such. If men all got up one day and decided to break the laws, enact mass rape, start beating women who deserved it, you would see women’s behavior change drastically. Suddenly they would stop getting drunk at frat parties, because they understood what would happen. If policemen flipped women off when they reported crimes, women would very clearly get the message that no man cares about them.

Men should organize and subdue women with violence.

I wonder if there’s a single person writing on “toxic masculinity”, in the entire history of academia or related thinkers, who could out deadlift a certified alpha

Unless you can deadlift more than a “certified alpha” you can’t critizize masculinity. Physical strength is the same as being good as social sciences.

Men are born to use physical strength and their rational minds to navigate life, and women are born with the tools of manipulation and dishonesty to make weak-minded men do their bidding for them. Society puts men at a disadvantage by banning the use of half our natural arsenal, and our rational minds clearly are not advantageous in gender dynamics.

It’s not fair to men that our society has rejected violence as a means of solving problems!

“We need women in this country to be afraid again. They used domestic violence laws to take away our power and place it firmly in their hands.”

If women are not afraid of physical violence from men, men are at a disadvantage.

THE ONLY REASON FEMINISM EXISTS, IS BECAUSE MEN ALLOW IT

Men have the ability to control women with force and violence. Women should always remember that.

For all of their bluster about how men are more logical and reasonable than women Red Pillers fall victim to a classic logical fallacy. An appeal to force is not an argument, it’s just a threat of violence. Should violence be how we decide what is true in science and mathematics as well as gender relations?

What is astounding about this argument is that some men seem to think that is new and original. I have said this previously, but women do not ever forget that they are smaller and weaker than men. This does not mean that they are right, however. We do not choose leaders via boxing matches and human beings as a whole are getting less violent over time. This is why The Red Pill is a reactionary movement. It seeks to put us back into a more primitive and violent time. Antifeminists are so fond of reminding women how many great accomplishments in art, science and technology were achieved by men. However in openly rhapsodizing about a time when men could beat and rape women with impunity and even social approval, they are seeking to go back to a time before those accomplishments existed.

See also: Debunking The Mammoths of MRA Mythology
Anti-feminism is an appeal to force.

Feminist Coffee Hour Episode One “This Is Why I Have Trust Issues”

Posted in Podcast Episodes on October 15th, 2015
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Welcome to our very first episode!

Episode one – This Is Why I Have Trust Issues

Listen in iTunes

Listen in browser/Right click to download file

Discussed in this episode:
FYI, Freddie Mercury Was Bi: Why Bisexual Awareness Week Matters

Brewing Hatred: Coors Beer Company Markets to Women, Latinos, LGBTQ Communities as Coors Family Attacks Their Rights

Is this enough to give you trust issues?

Bonus Link: After recording this episode, Amanda Marcotte told me about this Buzzfeed article where a woman who was in one of the memes we discussed speaks out about the story behind the pictures and the harassment she received afterwards.

Our theme song is composed by Bridget Ellsworth, check out her sound cloud page!

Unpacking the Murray/Singas domestic abuse scandal.

Posted in Editorials on October 14th, 2015
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On Long Island this fall, the Nassau County District Attorney’s race is heating up. Current Nassau County prosecutor Madeline Singas is facing off against Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray. Murray is claiming Singas’ failure to fire a co-worker in a messy divorce case means she is unfit for office. A lot of the reporting about this has come from the New York Post, but I want to present a summary that is less focused on the lurid details and more about the facts of what happened.

Here’s what we know:

1. Jeffrey Stein, a Democrat and the Nassau County DA’s chief administrative officer used to be married to Carole Mundy.

2. According to leaked records of their divorce, Mundy suffers PTSD brought on by Stein’s interest and participation in kink and BDSM. (The Post gives all the lurid details here.)

3. Mundy’s attorney is Dave Mejias (another Democrat), someone who has had two different ex partners make accusations against him. (Stalking his ex girlfriend.) (Breaking and entering into a different ex girlfriend’s home.)

4. Murray released a campaign attack ad saying Singas should have fired Stein. It is unclear if she has evidence against Stein aside from what was revealed in the sealed divorce proceedings that have been partially leaked.

5. The ad also talks about a domestic violence case from 2006 that Singas declined to pursue.

6. Singas’ campaign says that Stein is innocent.

Everything about this is terrible. There may be a domestic abuser in the Nassau County DA’s office and the Post is using the story as clickbait focusing on the details of specific sex acts rather than whether or not they were consensual. Kate Murray is using the suffering of victims of intimate partner violence for her own political advantage. Dave Mejias handles the civil side of domestic abuse cases when he may be a perpetrator himself. Madeline Singas, like all prosecutors is in a difficult spot. She wants to advocate for victims but has limited resources with which to do so. If Kate Murray really wants to make domestic violence her issue, she should tell us what she plans to do about it, and what solutions and resources will she offer to victims, rather than exploiting other people’s pain to score points.

Announcing: The Feminist Coffee Hour Podcast!

Posted in Podcast Episodes, Site News on October 12th, 2015
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In January 2016, Political Flavors will be five years old. And while the blog part of the site will continue hopefully for a very long time, I am proud to announce that Political Flavors will also be home to a new project – The Feminist Coffee Hour Podcast.

My friend Karen and I will be hosting a show that we hope will have a similar tone as this blog. We will discuss pop culture, politics and current events from a feminist perspective. Episodes will be posted on the blog and also on the podcast website which will be politicalflavors.com/podcast. We plan to have episodes hosted on iTunes very soon. We have many big ideas and high hopes for this endeavor including insightful guests and collaborations with other podcasters.

Beginning this project has been a very exciting time for me. I’m a fan of the medium and this show is truly a labor of love. I have been listening to podcasts since Air America archives were made available when the radio network launched in 2004. Even before that I always loved radio. Growing up I appreciated baseball sportscasting almost as much as the sport itself. As a kid, John Sterling and Michel Kay might as well have been Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs. In junior high school I was obsessed with morning zoo radio shows. (There’s no accounting for taste when you are 12.) And then at 13 I discovered late night radio talk shows, which may have stunted my growth with the hours of sleep I lost. Podcasts got me through homesickness in grad school and entertain me during my commute and distract me at the gym today. They’re one of my favorite things.

Karen and I have been talking about feminism and other topics that we are passionate about since we met in 2012. I have been playing around with the idea of starting a podcast for years, and anytime I meet anyone interesting I ask them to write a guest post for the blog. One day last month after I made yet another request for her to write about a cool idea she had, Karen said “Instead of a guest post, let’s do a podcast.” And I said “Yes!” And thus, Feminist Coffee Hour was born.

Expect our first episode this Thursday, October 15!

Our theme song is composed by Bridget Ellsworth, so while you are waiting with breathless anticipation for our show, check out her sound cloud page!