Posts Tagged “abortion”

Bundesarchiv Bild 102-04062A, Nürnberg, Reichsparteitag, SA- und SS-AppellThe sad reality of life is that things happen to people. Sometimes, very bad things. Terrible things. Things like injuries or medical reactions that lead to incapacitation or even death. An example of this is the case of Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old who ended up brain-dead as a result of something that happened during a tonsillectomy (WebCite cached article).

The details of this case — especially regarding what, exactly, went wrong during the tonsillectomy — aren’t all in yet. But doctors who’ve examined her — including independent neurologists — have declared her brain-dead … meaning she is, unfortunately, gone. As one would expect, her family isn’t going along with this, and they’re in denial. They don’t want to admit Jahi is dead, although in fact, she is.

As they did with the Terri Schiavo case nearly a decade ago, the Religious Right is going to bat for her family, propping up their state of denial, and going hard after the medical industry. They’ve re-armed themselves with every rhetorical tool they used back then. Among these is the old reductio ad Hitlerum, which the Raw Story reports was wielded by none other than Fox News’s Mike Huckabee (cached):

Fox News host Mike Huckabee on Saturday warned that a California girl who was declared brain dead after tonsil surgery last month could lead to situations like Nazi death camps and forced abortions in China if the hospital took her off life support.

The former Arkansas governor and ordained pastor began his Fox News show by admitting that he did not have the medical experience necessary to understand 13-year-old Jahi McMath’s condition but he encouraged her family to fight against any attempts to remove her from life support even though doctors said she technically “died several weeks ago.”

“Every life has value and worth,” Huckabee told his viewers on Saturday. “There is no such person who is disposable, one whose life has been deemed by others to be less than others and therefore expendable, I can’t share that.”

In his effort to paint the Children’s Hospital of Oakland as latter-day agents of the Third Reich, he pulled in another of the R.R.’s hang-ups, that being abortion:

He continued: “The road that starts that way in deciding that some lives have less value and are unworthy of protection, that leads to a culture that tolerates the undeserved killing of over 55 million unborn children in this country. It leads to China’s birth policy that limits the number of children for a family and enforces forced abortion if they deviate from the state-determined ideal.”

The McMath family is trying to get Jahi moved to another facility so they can keep her alive — a virtual zombie — desperately hoping for some sort of miracle that will resurrect her. Until she’s moved, the poor girl’s body is currently in the care of Children’s Hospital. I can’t see how Huckabee calling them Nazis is going to accomplish anything good … for her, or them. But hey, what can this cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about such important things?

If the R.R. really wanted to help the McMath family in any meaningful way, they’d pay for sound counseling to help them with their grief, so they can put Jahi to rest, and then live the rest of their lives. And possibly investigate what happened during the surgery, so that if there had been any malpractice, they can be compensated for it. But the R.R. doesn’t truly want to help the McMaths. They’d much rather use this tragedy to pitch fits about how the country isn’t being run the way they demand it be run. They’d rather devise ways to throw this case in the faces of their enemies, without regard to its relevance, so they can feel as though they’re getting control of the country back. They’d rather use it as fuel for their sanctimonious rage over the fact that they no longer run the show.

It’s all very childish, of course, but then, religionism itself is a form of immaturity, so what can one expect?

P.S. Contrary to what Huckabee said, declaring people brain-dead has nothing to do with deciding that someone is “disposable.” Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals don’t generally go into that business because they think some people are “disposable.” Brain-death is declared when someone’s condition warrants it … not because of any perceived “disposability.” By making this claim, Huckabee insulted the entire medical profession … and he should fucking apologize for it.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Michael C Burgess 112I’ve repeatedly wondered what it is that makes Republican Congressman spew such stupid things when it comes to abortion. You’d have thought they’d realize by now that such idiocy is electorally dangerous. But it seems they just don’t give a fuck about that. Maybe they truly are just as idiotic as they sound. Or, maybe they’re suffering from a mass psychosis. I can’t say what the problem is, but I can say that I’m sure it’s a phenomenon that won’t stop.

The latest example of this insane yammering is relayed by U.S. News & World Report (WebCite cached article):

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, said Monday he is opposed to abortion because fetuses masturbate in the womb, and so can feel both pleasure and pain.

“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful,” said Burgess, citing his experience as an OB/GYN, during a House Rules Committee hearing on a GOP bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. “They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to think that they could feel pain?”

His comments were first reported by women’s health site RH Reality Check [cached].

But Burgess’s argument isn’t based in science, doctors say.

Well, there’s a big fucking surprise. A Republican in Congress said something that’s not based in science? By now you must all understand, that’s par for their course. They can’t help it. They hate science, and will lie about it whenever they wish to, because they feel entitled to do so.

USN&WR was able to isolate Burgess’s “source” for his tall tale:

Any media reports on masturbation by fetuses can almost exclusively be traced back to a single letter [cached] written by two OB/GYNs in Italy in 1996 and published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The letter related an anecdote in which the two doctors had “recently observed a female fetus at 32 weeks gestation touching the vulva with the fingers of the right hand” before the female fetus experienced prolonged spasms, and “finally…relaxed and rested.”

Here’s Youtube video of Burgess’s insane blubbering:

As I said, I have no idea if this lunatic behavior is somehow strategically planned, or is the result of some kind of collective psychopathology that the GOP in Washington suffers from. I really don’t know. What I can say is, it’s time for Republicans to just shut the fuck up about women, abortion, rape, etc. Yes, I know you guys are really militant about not liking abortions. You’re angry about it, and you just can’t help yourselves. If so, just say that’s your personal belief .. and leave it at that. Just end it right there. Don’t go any further. Stop cooking up these absurd, counter-factual rationales for why you think it’s bad, and stop acting as though your insane notions have any basis in reality. They don’t.

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Trent FranksYou’d think after morons like Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and Joe Walsh lost elections after mouthing off like the ignorant, misogynist buffoons they are, some in the Republican ranks would have figured out how to keep their big yaps shut when it comes to rape and pregnancy. But apparently Trent Franks, R-AZ, didn’t get that memo. As Politico reports, he spewed some Akinistic lunacy during a Congressional hearing (WebCite cached article):

A House Republican pushing for a 20-week nationwide ban on abortions said Wednesday that the incidence of pregnancies resulting from rape is “very low” — then scrambled to clarify his comment after it went viral with comparisons to former GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin.

“The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) as the House Judiciary Committee debated his bill to ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks including in cases of rape and incest.

Remarkably, despite being challenged about his factually-incorrect claim, Franks wasn’t about to back down. Among other things, he had the chutzpah to claim it was the Democrats’ fault that he brought it up:

He said that Democrats are the ones who “constantly want to inject” rape into the abortion debate and have done so ever since the original Roe v Wade case.

He also claimed he said something other than he’d actually said, and maintained he was correct:

[Zoe] Lofgren [D-CA] again challenged him, repeating, “The suggestion that rape rarely leads to pregnancy has no basis in science or fact.”

Franks replied, “And I would just like to point out the fact that I never made such a suggestion.”

Actually, Congressman, that’s precisely what you said, at least as reported: “The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” I suppose that media outlets — such as Politico (which I’ve based this blog post on) as well as many others which reported the same words — are all lying, and that you didn’t say that. Yes, it’s possible they all got together and decided, collectively, to lie about you in precisely the same way.

I admit, Congressman, it’s possible there’s a vicious conspiracy afoot to libel you across the mass media. But somehow … well … I just doubt it happened that way. Rather, I think you actually said what you were reported to have said, and are now trying to back away from it without having to disavow it (which would anger your supporters among the militant Religious Right).

In other words … Franks doesn’t even have the cojones to snivel out some laughable, insincere non-apology apology. What a fucking weasel! Not to mention being yet another lying liar for Jesus.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr.

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Savita Halappanavar, who was found to be miscarrying when admitted, died of septicaemia at University Hospital Galway, via the Irish TimesAs if anyone needed further proof how reprehensible the Roman Catholic Church’s dogmatic approach toward women is, here’s one more sterling example. The Irish Times reports on a woman who died because a hospital’s allegiance to the R.C. Church was stronger than its desire to keep her alive (WebCite cached article):

Savita Halappanavar (31), a dentist, presented with back pain at the hospital on October 21st, was found to be miscarrying, and died of septicaemia a week later.

Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.

This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.

She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped.

Sadly, this proved to too late for Ms Halappanavar; she died of septicemia a few days later.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think University Hospital Galway is Catholic Church-owned or -operated. So this might not be a case where the Church directly and on its own orders caused Ms Halappanavar’s death. Nevertheless, even if it’s not, Catholicism taught the fiercely dogmatic medical philosophy which was applied here, so Church culpability is unavoidable.

I have to ask all of you supposedly “pro-life” Catholics out there who are proud to trumpet that “all life is sacred” and that’s why you militate against any and all kinds of abortion: Please explain how and why your Church’s policy, in this case, did anything to protect “life”? In the name of protecting a dying fetus — which you claim is a “life” than must be saved — you ended up losing both that fetus and the mother who carried it. So whose “life,” here, was protected? I want to know how that “pro-life” policy works, when by your own definitions of “life,” two lives were lost in this case, one inevitably, the other needlessly.

I dare you to explain this. Really. Honest. If you truly believe your Church’s doctrines have any veracity, and if you’re secure in your “pro-life” beliefs, then you should have no problem doing so. So go ahead. Do it. The comment box below is available for you, so get to work and explain this. If you dare.*

Note that this event puts the lie to (now lame-duck) Rep. Joe Walsh’s claim that medical advances have made it so that it’s never necessary to abort a fetus in order to save a woman’s life. We all knew he was talking out his misogynistic, religiofascist ass when he made that comment, but this example provides verifiable, incontrovertible — and horrific — evidence that he was absolutely wrong.

*Appeals to ignorance … such as the old & tired “it’s a mystery” or “God works in mysterious ways” … will not suffice, so don’t insult me by offering anything like that. Those clichés aren’t explanations of the benefits of Catholic doctrine. They’re just admissions of ignorance, and falling back on them betrays a lack of desire to provide an explanation.

Photo credit: Irish Times.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith & Friendly Atheist.

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Better to remain silent, and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth, and remove all doubt! (proverb)On a few occasions I’ve mentioned that the Religious Right tries to make their irrational, reflexive opposition to abortion appear to have a reasonable, even scientific veneer. Their problem is that it’s a lie; their real motivation is their religionistic hatred of women and a desire to control them. Rep Todd Akin, for example, revealed the disingenuity of this effort back in August, when he claimed that a woman cannot be impregnated during rape. Late last week, as the Los Angeles Times reports, Illinois Rep Joe Walsh stepped into the same trap himself (WebCite cached article):

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), who is facing a tough race to retain his seat in Congress, told reporters Thursday that he was opposed to abortion under any circumstances — and that thanks to medical progress, “you can’t find one instance” when it might be necessary to perform an abortion to protect a woman’s health.

“There’s no such exception as life of the mother,” Walsh said, according to this report from Bloomberg News. “And as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology. Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions any time, under any reason.”

Walsh, you see, is among the most fiercely Puritanical of the anti-abortionists, who refuse to provide any exceptions in their anti-abortion legislation. His problem — aside from the fact that he has no medical training whatsoever and hasn’t the expertise to make this claim — is that this is simply not true:

Within hours, women’s heath advocates — and physicians — attacked his remarks.

“Joe Walsh’s ignorance about women’s health is alarming,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood, in a statement.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) fired its own salvo, calling the congressman’s comments “inaccurate” in a widely distributed response.

“Abortions are necessary in a number of circumstances to save the life of a woman or to preserve her health,” the doctors’ organization said. The group reported that more than 600 women die every year from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes and that “many more would die each year if they did not have access to abortion.”

There are, in fact, any number of problems that might come along, which require an abortion to save a woman’s life. Walsh cannot simply declare they don’t exist. For him to do so, is fucking ridiculous.

I have news for Rep Walsh and others of his ilk: That you have certain metaphysics beliefs — e.g. that abortion is impermissible — does not entitle you to lie in support of that belief. You can’t just make scientific or medical claims that aren’t true, in order to make your beliefs apear valid. That he’d do this, places Rep Walsh in my “lying liars for Jesus” club, where he’s sure to enjoy the company.

Finally, that Rep Walsh thinks women must be allowed to die, merely because of a problem during their pregnancies, is a downright evil proposition. Even so, he’s not the only one who espouses this very philosophy; The Roman Catholic Church teaches it, too.

Photo credit: PsiCop original, based on proverb.

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Yez I wuz caught bean stooped. Nao leef me alone bout it! / Courtesy of LOL Builder, http://builder.cheezburger.com/builder/In various posts, I’ve tangentially mentioned the phenomenon of the non-apology apology. This is when someone who’s done something wrong, tries to take it back, but without really admitting wrongdoing, without really explaining what s/he did, and/or by cluttering the matter up with deflections. Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri, about whom I blogged yesterday, thoughtfully provides us with a sterling example of what a “non-apology apology” is. Talking Points Memo reports what he had to say (WebCite cached article). I will parse this “apology” out and demonstrate how, point by point, Akin actually failed to apologize:

As a member of Congress, I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of my most important responsibilities, and that includes protecting both the unborn and victims of sexual assault.

The trouble with this sentence is, his comments had nothing whatever to do with “protecting” any “victims of sexual assault.” By talking about “legitimate rape” (as opposed to “illegitimate rape,” I guess) he was suggesting that some rapes are not actually “rapes.” I don’t see how that could “protect” any woman at all.

In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.

This is failure point two: Akin did not “misspeak.” Rather, he blathered on about something in detail, even mentioning that doctors had told him women’s reproductive systems shut down and prevent pregnancy during rape. That’s not misuse of a word or phrase. That’s a specific, purposeful invention … and it’s likely a fiction (since I doubt any doctor ever told him such a thing).

Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.

Failure point three: It’s all well and good that he can say rapists “are the lowest of the low in our society,” but when he gave away the fact that he thinks not all rapes are true “rapes,” what good is it for him to say this?

I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue.

This is perhaps the one honest statement Akin makes: Yes, indeed, abortion is emotionally-charged. It’s the emotionally-charged nature of the pro-life movement that Akin has latched onto and is trying to appeal to for votes. Emotion is indeed the main fuel of the pro-life movement.

But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.

Failure point four: This is a deflection. Here he diverts attention from his asinine comments, and toward his pro-life stance. Repeating that he’s pro-life … which by now everyone already knows, anyway … does nothing to convey the slightest contrition over the comments he’s supposedly trying to apologize for.

I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election.

Failure point five: Akin is playing the “martyr” card. Poor me, he’s saying, there are people whose votes I can never get, because <sniff> they hate me for being pro-life <sniff> and I can’t get them to <sniff> change their minds about me. All I can say to that is — Boo fucking hoo, Rep. Akin.

But I also believe that this election is about a wide range of very important issues, starting with the economy and the type of country we will be leaving our children and grandchildren.

This is failure point six, and another deflection. Akin is saying, Stop whining about me, let’s bellyache about the economy instead. Unfortunately his original comments had nothing to do with the economy, therefore his apology cannot have anything to do with the economy.

We’ve had 42 straight months of unacceptably high unemployment, trillion-dollar deficits, and Democratic leaders in Washington who are focused on growing government, instead of jobs.

Failure point seven, and yet another deflection. Once again, Akin brings up something that has absolutely nothing to do with the comments he’s ostensibly apologizing for.

That is my primary focus in this campaign and while there are those who want to distract from that, knowing they cannot defend the Democrats’ failed economic record of the last four years, that will continue to be my focus in the months ahead.

Failure point eight, and for the exact same reason.

Note what Rep. Akin did not include in his so-called “apology”: An explanation for how and why he thought women’s reproductive systems disable themselves during a rape. He specifically mentioned that doctors (plural!) had told him about it, but in his “apology” he doesn’t mention this at all. He doesn’t tell us which doctors told him this, nor does he say where else he might have gotten this idea from. It’s a significant component of the original remarks he claims to be apologizing for, yet he glosses them over as though he’d never said them.

Oh, and the icing on the cake of Akin’s putative “apology”? He put up a Web page on his site mentioning that he’s sorry (cached) … and right below it, a solicitation for campaign donations! How much more fucking mercenary could the man get!? He can’t even manage to apologize — if one can call it that (and as I’ve shown, one can’t) — without also putting his hand out for more money.

I close this by thanking Rep. Akin for offering this lesson in non-apology apologies. Public relations folks will no doubt look to this as an exemplar they can work from in the future.

Update: Politico reports Akin is doubling-down on his playing of the “martyr card” (cached). The “liberal media,” it seems, are out to get the poor little thing. Of course, he’s forgetting that a lot of his critics — including GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his VP choice Paul Ryan — can hardly be called part of “the liberal media.” There there, little Toddie, everything will be OK. Quick, someone give the little crybaby a pacifier … !

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Jesus Facepalm: He gave up too so please stop this foolishness (Demotivators; defunct)For a number of years now the Religious Right has been casting about for ways to cloak their opposition to abortion behind a veneer of rationality and/or practicality. It’s very common, for example, for them to claim abortion must be outlawed because of its supposed adverse effect on women’s mental health. (As if the fact that an event can be stressful is a valid reason to outlaw it — lots of things are psychologically stressful, such as watching one’s child learn to drive for the first time, and I can’t see any reason to prohibit that.)

Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin from Missouri, attempted another such rationale, as reported by the New York Times, and the result was a colossal faceplant of the first order (WebCite cached article):

In an effort to explain his stance on abortion, Representative Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, provoked ire across the political spectrum on Sunday by saying that in instances of what he called “legitimate rape,” women’s bodies somehow blocked an unwanted pregnancy. …

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

If you’re like me, you may have a hard time believing a Senate candidate actually spoke these words. But I assure you, he did. He said them during an interview on KTVI-TV, and you can read about it on their own Web site (cached).

First, there’s no such thing as a “‘legitimate’ rape.” It’s a contradiction in terms. All rapes are criminal acts. There is never anything “legitimate” about any kind of criminal act. There’s literally no way that any “rape” can ever have any “legitimacy.”

Second, I’ve never heard that, during the course of a rape, a woman’s reproductive system turns itself off. Of course, I’m no doctor, and I can’t really know that for sure. If Akin cares to disclose which doctors told him this, I’d love to review their work. But until he substantiates this claim, I have to assume it’s just Religious Rightist bullshit.

Now, I’m sure folks in the R.R. will nonetheless defend these indefensible comments. They’ll say he meant to talk about “‘true’ rape” and not “‘legitimate’ rape.” There are some folks who believe — and I assume Akin is one of them? — that some rapes are not “really” rapes (e.g. “date” or “acquaintance rape”). But even this intended meaning is problematic, because in the end, there is no difference: A rape is a rape is a rape — period. End of discussion!

As for the part about women’s reproductive systems resisting pregnancy while they’re being raped, I can’t think of any way that might be defended … but that doesn’t mean some vehement Rightist won’t come up with some asinine, irrational justification for it.

As far as I can see, any Rightists who are upset over Akin’s comments are not upset over their content, but over the fact that they will be used against him in the election and they’re risking not acquiring a Senate seat.

At any rate, this is another post I’m tagging “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me,” for obvious reasons.

Note: It turns out Akin’s outrageousness is, in fact, being actively defended by at least one influential Religious Rightist and his organization. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council apparently approves of the idea that some rapes are “legitimate” and that women’s reproductive systems prevent pregnancies when they’re raped (cached). I knew I could count on at least one of these mindless goons to defend the indefensible. Let’s see how many more do so over the next couple days.

Update: As the Friendly Atheist points out, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association is also defending Akin … in particular, the medical part of his asinine remarks.

Photo credit: Demotivators blog (defunct).

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