Thursday, April 17, 2014

Personhood

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post noted the other day that “personhood” — the idea that a fertilized human egg has all the rights of a fully-born person — is making a comeback in several Senate races.

This has already appeared in the Colorado Senate race, but it will likely become an issue in other races, too. In Colorado, the Republican candidate, GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, renounced his previous support for Personhood after entering the contest, admitting it would “restrict contraception,” but Dems seized on the reversal to argue that Gardner only supports protecting women’s health when politically necessary.

Gardner co-sponsored the “Life at Conception Act,” which provides for Constitutional protection of the right to life of each “preborn human person,” defined as existing from the “moment of fertilization.” The Pro-Life Alliance describes this as a “Personhood” measure.

Other GOP Senate candidates are on record in similar fashion. Co-sponsors of the Life at Conception Act include Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rep. Steve Daines of Montana, both expected general election candidates. Meanwhile, according to McClatchy, three leading GOP Senate candidates in North Carolina — Thom Tillis, Greg Brannon, and Mark Harris — all favor a “Personhood” constitutional amendment that would “grant legal protections to a fertilized human egg and possibly ban some forms of birth control.”

Leaving aside the sketchy science that goes along with the idea — after all, scientific facts in the debates such as climate change or teaching “creationism” in schools never matter — the idea behind personhood is control; mainly control of women and their bodies.  From the moment of conception, which, by the way, is very hard to pinpoint — it’s not like a bell rings when it happens — a second person is inhabiting her body and she cannot do anything about it other than host it.

Personhood has been on the ballot before.  It’s lost in places like Colorado and even in Mississippi where abortion is being legislated out of existence with the same legerdemain the states used to prevent integration when that was fashionable.  (Still is in some places.)  But like every perverse trend the control freaks come up with and seems like a lost cause, they have a way of coming back from another direction.  Zealots never give up.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pure Michigan Madness

When did the Michigan legislature go completely medieval?

Michigan residents who buy health coverage in the private marketplace after Thursday will not have access to abortion coverage, even if a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

On that day, a new state law goes into effect that prohibits insurance companies from covering abortion services unless customers purchase separate add-ons – called riders – to their insurance plans ahead of time.

No insurance companies will be offering those riders to new customers in the private marketplace after Thursday, according to the state’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

This is insane.  I cannot fathom the mentality of people who believe this is anything but a horrific way of trying to prevent abortions.  It has nothing to do with “preserving life.”  It is all about control and the belief that women are incapable of making decisions about their own bodies and their own lives.

The people who passed this monstrosity and the governor who signed it into law can whine and carry on about how they are all so “pro-life,” but the kind of life they seem to favor is that of cruelty, shaming, and smug patriarchy couched in the sickly sweet stench of religious fervor and bumper-sticker answers.

Rape and incest are things the state needs to use every weapon to defend its citizens against, not turn its back and say “Sorry, you’re on your own.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Trill of It All

Among the more interesting “new civilizations” Star Trek explorers met were the Trill.

The Trill (or Trills) is the name of a humanoid species native to the planet Trill. A small percentage of the Trill population co-exists with a sentient symbiotic organism known as a symbiont inside their bodies. The resulting joined Trills have personalities which are a synthesis of the two beings including the memories, and to some extent the personalities, of the previous hosts of the symbiont.

According to one Virginia Republican, we have a large population of them living here on Earth:

A pregnant woman is just a “host” that should not have the right to end her pregnancy, Virginia State Sen. Steve Martin (R) wrote in a Facebook rant defending his anti-abortion views.

Martin, the former chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, wrote a lengthy post about his opinions on women’s bodies on his Facebook wall last week in response to a critical Valentine’s Day card he received from reproductive rights advocates.

“I don’t expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive,” Martin wrote. “However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.”

Mr. Martin later changed the wording from “host” to “bearer of the child” because he was only kidding about the “host” bit and sheesh, some people have no sense of humor.

But it does encapsulate the view by a lot of so-called Right to Lifers: a clump of cells the size of the head of a pin becomes more important than the woman.  She is merely the host to the symbiont.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Friday, December 13, 2013

Misogyny In Michigan

This is what happens when you turn a state over to seriously hateful people.

Michigan lawmakers passed a controversial measure on Wednesday that will ban all insurance plans in the state from covering abortion unless the woman’s life is in danger. The law, which takes effect in March, will force women and employers to purchase a separate abortion rider if they would like the procedure covered, even in cases of rape and incest.

Supporters of the “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act” argue that it allows people who are opposed to abortion to avoid paying into a plan that covers it. Opponents have nicknamed it the “rape insurance” initiative, because it would force some women to anticipate the possibility of being raped by purchasing the extra abortion insurance ahead of time.

“This tells women who were raped … that they should have thought ahead and planned for it,” said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) during debates. “Make no mistake, this is anything but a citizens’ initiative. It’s a special interest group’s perverted dream come true.”

The Michigan State Legislature first passed the measure last year, but Governor Rick Snyder (R) vetoed it, saying he does not “believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage.”

But the anti-abortion group Right to Life of Michigan was able to collect more than 300,000 voter signatures on a petition this year to force a second vote on the measure. Having been passed by both chambers, the bill automatically becomes law now, even without Snyder’s approval.

This law will no doubt be challenged in court, but the people who voted for it need to be voted out of office, and the so-called “right-to-life” people need to find a nice quiet island in the middle of Grand Traverse Bay where they can scrape gull crap off the rocks for the rest of their lives.

See Sen. Whitmer’s testimony here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Making Choice A Federal Case

This would be a huge step forward in keeping reproductive choice legal and available.

Following an unprecedented three-year wave of state legislative attacks on abortion and family planning services, a group of Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate plan to go on the offensive Wednesday with a historic bill that would make it illegal for states to chip away at women’s reproductive rights.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) will introduce the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013, joined by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.). The bill would prohibit states from passing so-called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, which impose strict and cost-prohibitive building standards on abortion clinics, require women seeking abortions to have ultrasounds, and create other barriers to abortion access.

[...]

Blumenthal’s bill wouldn’t automatically overturn states’ existing anti-abortion laws, but because federal law trumps state law, it would provide a means to challenge them in court. The bill would direct judges to consider certain factors in determining whether a restriction is legal, such as whether it interferes with a doctor’s good-faith medical judgment, or whether it’s likely to interfere with or delay women’s access to abortion.

This law would be similar to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in that is a federal remedy to the various state laws enacted in response to Supreme Court rulings that reproductive rights are constitutionally protected.  In the 1950′s certain states in certain parts of the country enacted laws that made it hard for certain people to go to local schools despite the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, eat at the lunch counter at Woolworth’ s despite the 14th amendment, or vote despite the Reconstruction amendments.  That’s why we needed the CRA and VRA then, and why we need this law now.

Cue up the “States Rights!” brigade from the Orcosphere.  The irony is that Republicans are united in favor of federal laws that restrict rights, i.e. the Defense of Marriage Act and federal regulation of marijuana.  But have the feds stand up for the rights of those who are impacted by draconian abortion regulations — and not only women need access to abortion — and all of a sudden the brutish heel of the jack-booted feds is on their neck.

The chances of this passing in the Republican House are slim at best, but it can provide a cudgel to Democrats in elections where they can remind the women in those states that The Party of Smaller Government, More Freedom, and Personal Responsibility wants to control their uterus.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Short Takes

ENDA gets past filibuster in the Senate.

New Jersey mall locked down after gunman opens fire.

Supreme Court turns down Oklahoma abortion case.

Sen. Rand Paul faces more plagiarism charges.

It’s Election Day in a lot of places, including Virginia, New York, and New Jersey.

Alert Starfleet — There are billions of Earth-like planets in the galaxy.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Toss Your Cookies

Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina seems to think that baked goods are enough to keep people happy.

Gov. Pat McCrory hasn’t been willing to meet with the women (and a few men) protesting an abortion bill that opponents say restricts access to safe abortions. But he did stop by this afternoon with a plate of chocolate chip cookies.

McCrory was flanked by four security guards as he came out of the mansion gates. Before stepping onto common ground with the protesters – he went as far as the middle of the street between his mansion and the vigil – McCrory pointed directly at Jamie Sohn, a Chapel Hill resident.

“I was like, ‘Me?’ and he nodded,” she said during an interview shortly after.

The security guards stopped incoming traffic. Sohn walked out into the street to meet McCrory.

Sohn said McCrory told her: “ ‘These are for you. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you.’ ” He handed her the plate of cookies, and waved as he walked away. She said she was too stunned to say anything back.

No one knew if the cookies were homemade – the protesters didn’t sample any before returning them. They slipped them under the mansion’s gate, along with a note that read: “We want women’s health care, not cookies.”

I’m sure he thought he meant well, but it’s really condescending to send out a plate of cookies rather than actually have a conversation.  And, as Amanda Marcotte at Slate notes, it’s “the most potent edible symbol of the belief that women’s role is to shut up, give up their ambitions, and return to the kitchen.”

Monday, July 29, 2013

Study in Foregone Conclusions

Pat McCrory is the Republican governor of North Carolina.  During the debates in the run-up to his election, he made a one word statement when asked if he would sign into law new abortion restrictions.  He said “No.”

That is why a number of people were hopeful that when the North Carolina legislature came up with some of the most restrictive laws on reproductive rights and tacked them on to a motorcycle safety bill, he would veto it.

Well, of course he will sign it.  What made you think he wouldn’t?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Good Graces

Now that immigration reform has blown up in his hands, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is looking for a way to get back into the good graces of the far right base of the Republicans.  So he’s got to find something that he knows they will eat up, even if it has no chance whatsoever of passing, as long as it brightens his chances for 2016.

Sen. Marco Rubio said unequivocally Wednesday that he hopes to be the lead sponsor of a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks.

“If someone else would like to do it instead of me, I’m more than happy to consider it. But I’d like to be the lead sponsor,” the Florida Republican said. “I feel very strongly about this issue. And I’d like to be the lead sponsor on it if we can find language that we can unify people behind.”

The problem is that everybody else that’s mentioned as a 2016 candidate is already on that issue, so unless he’s come up with a novel way to prevent people from even thinking about having sex and making babies, he’s just another Republican trying to prove his smaller-government/more-freedom chops by passing a federal law that trumps the states and the Constitution.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Spoiling For A Fight

A court in North Dakota is putting the brakes on the state’s new abortion law.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge has temporarily blocked a new North Dakota law that bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected — as early as six weeks into pregnancy. [...]

“There is no question that (the North Dakota law) is in direct contradiction to a litany of United States Supreme Court cases addressing restraints on abortion,” Hovland wrote. ” (It) is clearly an invalid and unconstitutional law based on the United States Supreme Court precedent in Roe v. Wade from 1973 … and the progeny of cases that have followed.”

I am very sure that the proponents of this and the laws in other states such as Texas and Ohio were counting on the law being challenged in court so they could go all the way to the Supreme Court and thereby get them to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Or not.  As we’ve seen in a number of cases, they have the option of doing nothing: either letting the lower court ruling stand or even refusing to hear the case unless there’s a clear constitutional question.

There is always the chance that the Court could go all Citizens United and create a new perspective on existing law — or what we call “judicial activism,”  which is how they claim Roe v. Wade came to be in the first place.

Ironically, the proponents are counting on that.  Because it’s not activism if it’s in your favor.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Short Takes

Arab nations pledge $12 billion in aid to Egypt; U.S. mulls it over.

Ireland votes to allow abortion in life-or-death cases.  (Which puts them ahead of Texas.)

Republicans screw over the poor in passing the farm bill.

Pennsylvania A.G. won’t defend same-sex marriage ban in court.

Stocks closed way up thanks to the Fed’s happy talk.

Depsite Miggy’s 30th HR, the Tigers lost to the Chisox 6-3.