Posts Tagged ‘birth control’

I know I’m a little late to this conversation (though I did post a lengthy message on my Facebook page when it first happened) and I would’ve written a blog post about this sooner, but I’ve been busy with other work. Well, better late than never. Besides, Jon Stewart managed to make some jokes on it last night, so I can do it tonight.

There used to be a time when religious liberty meant that you could go to church ro synagogue in peace and without fear of ridicule or attack. Where your religion didn’t bar you from certain neighborhoods or trades. Where you didn’t have to wear a yellow star, and you didn’t suddenly have to leave country or convert in order to avoid death and suffering.

When the hell did it change that a couple of people could make decisions about the health of thousands of women?

As noted above, a lot has already been said about the Hobby Lobby case. However, I’m going to go over it because I find the majority ruling of the Supreme Court simply infuriating.

First off, Hobby Lobby says that it doesn’t want the federal government to force them to hand women employees birth control. Um, the people who will be handing birth control over will be the pharmacist. The insurance company your company uses will actually be paying for it, drawing on the money every employee puts into the company insurance policy to pay for the birth control. So basically everyone who’s on Hobby Lobby’s health insurance policy would be paying for the birth control. The fact that only a few people at the top can decide what everyone is paying for in their health insurance worries me somewhat.

Second, the owners of Hobby Lobby are objecting to contraceptive pills that “cause abortion”. Most fertilized eggs actually self-abort and don’t embed themselves in the uterine wall, so maybe you want to protest whatever mechanism causes that? Also, the pills that “cause abortion” actually a bit of a mystery, as scientists aren’t sure how they prevent pregnancies. So maybe you might want to figure that out before you start a lawsuit? Especially since you still cover Viagra and vasectomies, the latter of which basically makes the testicles useless and gives seed nowhere to go to procreate. I think the Biblical term for that is “spilling seed”.

Continuing on with this, I’m not so sure Hobby Lobby actually objects to birth control pills, as some of the companies, trust funds, and other financial mechanisms its owners have fingers in actually hold stakes in pharmaceutical companies that produce these very pills that are being protested. Is it really protesting on religious grounds to provide abortion pills? Or is it something about not having to pay for a product you already own?

And I’m really worried about this decision, which opens up some serious floodgates for lawsuits. The term “closely-held corporation” is a pretty loose definition. Already we’ve seen evangelical colleges asking to be exempt, and other companies as well that one wouldn’t normally think of as “closely-held companies”. Under the loose definition though, they might.

And if religious liberty can be used as an excuse to get out of covering contraception or other “objectionable” medical practices, what’s next? Catholics are against all forms of contraception. Jehovah’s Witnesses are against blood transfusions. Scientologists are against psychiatry. Christian Scientists generally don’t like traditional medicine. And what about objecting to other things based on religious belief? Other laws? What if a family bakery that got incorporated decides not to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because they believe it’s a decadent lifestyle? What if a print shop refuses to print flyers for an event hosted by the local Wiccan community because they won’t “help witches and Satanists”? As Justice Ginsburg said in her dissent, it’s a slippery slope.

All in all, I’m really troubled by the implications of this decision, besides the fact that a few people, mostly older white men, are getting away with making medical decisions for thousands and thousands of women and thinking that is okay. It’s already hard enough to purchase safe, affordable birth control, and some people need the help of an insurance company to afford it. Some of these women aren’t even taking birth control medications to avoid getting pregnant! Birth control medication is good for regulating menstrual cycles, prevent endometriosis, reduce the pain of cramps or migraines, and even fight acne! Most women actually take the pill for multiple reasons, studies find.

And they can’t just go looking for another job that offers birth control on the insurance plan. Some women can’t afford to leave a job because it’s all they have. The job market is still rather difficult these days, and leaving a job to look for one that might offer the right insurance isn’t exactly like walking through a park. In fact, it could lead some families to financial ruin.

Now that I think about it, most of the women who will be most affected by this decision will be women in the lower-middle, working, and poverty-stricken classes. Meanwhile, the rich can still easily afford birth control should they desire it, or own the companies that produce birth control. This si not just starting to resemble a new battle in the war on women, but also a form of class warfare and keeping the lower classes in their place. And I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s thought this.

What say you on the Hobby Lobby case? Where do you see this going in terms of consequences?

(Be aware I will be screening comments. So if I get the kind of comments from people who can’t bear any opinion but their own, it won’t show up on this blog)

Looks like someone in Texas is actually looking out for its women.

You may recall a few months back that Governor Rick Perry of Texas called in two special sessions of the legislature to put forth numerous restrictions on women’s access to abortion by regulating everything from specifications on what sort of room an abortion can be performed in to restrictions on the doctors themselves in performing the abortions. Pro-life activists claimed that the legislation was to protect the lives of women, while pro-choice advocates said that the laws would shut down all but six of Texas’s abortion clinics.

If you ask me, the move was just another attempt for politicians to thrust their noses into places they don’t have any right to be in, and apparently a large number of Texans agree with me. During the first special session, state senator Wendy Davis went on a 13-hour filibuster that ended when the legislature forced her to step down on account of some really stupid technicalities. The outrage was so terrible that the booing crowds kept the legislature from voting before the end of the deadline, giving Texan women a reprieve. However the second session they weren’t so lucky, as the restrictions were passed.

However now a judge in Texas is calling the restrictive legislation unconstitutional and has blocked the measures from going into effect tomorrow.  District Judge Lee Yeakel wrote that his decision was based that he couldn’t find a rational relationship between the measures and protecting both the lives of women and the fetuses they’re carrying, and therefore the measures have been halted. Texas’s AG says he plans to appeal the ruling as soon as possible, but for now it seems that women’s rights and bodies in Texas are safe.

And to those who will comment on this blog and say the judge is overstepping his bounds or that these measures will help women, I have this to say: the judge in question was given the power by the federal government to determine whether or not the measures were constitutional. Therefore he was doing his job when he blocked the measures, so he’s not overstepping any bounds, he’s just disagreeing with you. And these measures don’t help women, they just make it much more difficult to get a safe abortion in the state of Texas, which will cause many women to look for alternatives, sometimes unsafe alternatives. Who exactly is that helping?

And by the way, James Holmes, Son of Sam, and several killers were all legal owners of guns. If you believe we should make abortion clinics more heavily restricted because this one clinic in Virginia was unsafe, shouldn’t you also agree that guns should be more heavily restricted along the same lines because of how many people die of guns every year?

Think about it.

Yesterday I saw a video on a Freshly Pressed post on pregnancy in science fiction and fantasy, particularly the “mystical pregnancy”. The full video is below:

This video got me thinking. First I started thinking about all the instances not mentioned in this video: Nymphadora Tonks in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Scully once again in the seventh-eighth seasons of The X-Files, Amy Pond in the sixth series of Doctor Who, Ruth Gallagher in the second book of The Age of Misrule trilogy, Lady Gaga in the Born This Way music video and live performances, Padme Amidala in Revenge of the Sith–you can stop me anytime, you know.

Then it got me thinking about the use of pregnancy in fiction, particularly the TV shows, movies, and books I like. It was a bit of a shock, how transparent and flat these women can become when they are impregnated by their writers. Some are barely there at all as characters. It’s a little sad, and kind of sexist, reducing an entire complex being to the process of pregnancy of birth. And if you need a great example, take a look at Padme in Revenge of the Sith. She gets maybe twenty minutes of screen-time, has very few significant lines, and in the end dies of heartbreak after giving birth. I think her most memorable line from that movie was “So this is how democracy ends: to the sound of thunderous applause.”

To reiterate, this wasn’t what fans were hoping to see.

But after discussing things with the Suspense/Thriller Writers group I belong to on Facebook and sleeping on the subject a bit, I came to a realization that while pregnancies, and mystical pregnancies as well, are used perhaps a bit too much in fiction, it’s the portrayal of the characters that matters the most. For example, Padme’s pregnancy is a very bad example of how badly the subject of pregnancy can be handled. However there are better examples, such as Aeryn Sun from Farscape. According to writer David Lucas: “Aeryn: surrounded by enemies, gives birth. Later, with the baby in a sling, emerges even stronger as a character and as a fighter as she has something even more precious to fight for.” Note this part of a FB comment, so that’s why there’s two colons there.

Two other writers, John Saunders and Annette Wright, points out the character of Sarah Connor in the first two Terminator films. In the first film, Sarah is naïve and has to struggle a lot. But her pregnancy and its aftermath helps hone her into a fierce fighting machine, pun totally intended.

Don’t mess with Sarah Connor, people.

And there are plenty of other examples where female protagonists and other characters have used their pregnancy to grow as characters rather than become one-dimensional breeding machines. For example, Adalind Schade from Grimm becomes even more of a schemer and antagonist, because now she has something over the other characters: the birth of a new prince. Ripley in Alien 3 had a chest-burster growing in her body, but instead of letting the men do the work, she worked proactively to defeat the Dog Alien and kill the Queen growing inside her (and yes, I’m counting that as a mystical pregnancy). And there are probably loads of examples I can’t even think of, showing that portrayal is most important in using pregnancy in science fiction and fantasy.

This was a woman who didn’t let an alien baby get in her way!

So for future reference, I’ll make sure to take a look at pregnancies in fiction and see how it’s portrayed, what works, what doesn’t work, and what can make up a positive or a negative portrayal. I may even write an article on this for Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, if I can find the time.

Plus I’d like to check out the other videos in that Tropes vs. Women series. It looks interesting, and I might just learn something important that’ll improve my fiction writing in the future.

As always, thought and comments are welcome on this subject. What is your take on pregnancy in fiction, particularly mystical pregnancy?

Over the past month we’ve seen a great battle going on in the state of Texas, one whose epicenter is in the Texas legislature in Austin and whose influence has far-reaching implications. Twice, Governor Rick Perry has called in a special session of the Texas legislature in order to pass a far reaching anti-abortion bill, which would effectively reduce the number of clinics that provide abortions from forty-two to six by requiring each clinic to be almost like its own little mini-hospital and banning abortions after 20 weeks, despite the Roe v. Wade allowance for an abortion in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The first session the bill was not passed, due to the heroic efforts of Senator Wendy Davis, who stood for eleven hours in a true-to-form filibuster where she talked about how dangerous this bill was to women and how it wasn’t motivated by a desire to actually help Texas’s constituents. When the GOP-controlled legislature forced her to step down because they didn’t believe talking about Planned Parenthood or ultrasounds was related to abortion, the crowds of protestors raised a fury so strong that the midnight deadline passed and the bill couldn’t be passed through all the noise.

This woman’s a hero. She will do great things someday.

That should’ve stopped the bill right there and then. Obviously if a bill is so unpopular that one woman would stand and talk for eleven hours and protestors w0uld scream and shout within the confines of the statehouse to stop it, then it should’ve been put to sleep. But no, Rick Perry called the legislature back again and issued a stern warning to all protestors that they shouldn’t disrupt the legislative process.

The result was the bill was passed. But you know what’s got me really upset? Is that the GOP and the pro-life groups claim that this sort of bill, which makes it near impossible to open an abortion clinic in the state of Texas, is “good for women”. How do they justify this logic? Well, a man named Kermit Gosnell was convicted in Virginia for doing some illegal practices that resulted in the deaths of some fetuses and one woman. Now Gosnell’s a reluctant poster-boy, a symbol of all that is supposedly wrong with the abortion industry and what is needed to “improve” it. “Improve” it.

And that’s what’s crazy. The pro-life factions and their reps in the Texas legislature say they are protecting women from horrible practices that they believe are rampant in every abortion clinic nationwide. The thing is, Kermit Gosnell was a lone example. Yes, he did some horrible things, but that doesn’t mean every abortion provider is the same. You want a whole industry with terrible practices, try the meat industry. The animals are treated terribly, the employees are working in just-barely safe conditions, and the meat is not inspected enough to insure safety, which causes a ton of outbreaks of E. coli and other diseases.

Of course, these same pro-life lawmakers have considered punishing the activists who expose the ugliness of the meat industry through legal means, so I’m not sure what pointing this out will get me from the pro-life groups. But you see the point I’m making, right?

And more interestingly, this bill doesn’t help women at all. All the clinics left after this bill goes into effect are going to be located in East Texas, which will be a pain for people living in other parts of Texas, especially communities where access to running water and electricity, let alone a good car. So these women, the women who could actually benefit from an abortion, can’t go get one, because the nearest clinic is several hundred miles away from home. Doesn’t matter if they don’t want to be pregnant. Doesn’t matter if the pregnancy will endanger their health. Doesn’t matter if the pregnancy was a result of incest, or even rape. Nope, they’re stuck with the baby because the nearest clinic is hundreds of miles away.

Or is that so? We know before Roe v. Wade, women would get abortions through illegal providers or by going through drastic measures (kitchen utensils and hanger wires, anyone?). So despite the fact that what pro-life groups really want is to save as many alleged “lives” as possible, what they are doing is actually putting women’s lives in danger.

All while ensuring that the children they think they are saving are still going to be aborted.

But if you are a woman in Texas, that won’t be a consolation. No, that doesn’t help at all. You feel upset that men in Austin are deciding your fate, and when women and activists who think like you voice their objections, the men just text or play Candy Crush on their computers, and the women who work with these men seem so willfully ignorant of the facts, it hurts.

And I could tell you a few more tales about how Texas doesn’t care about its women–including how a man wanted an escort to prostitute herself and killed her when she didn’t, but wasn’t convicted of murder (crazy, right?)–but I think I ‘ve made things clear. So women of Texas, my heart goes out to you. I’m so sorry that men who are ignorant of your lives are making decisions about your health. And I can only hope that the eventual Supreme Court trial that will occur from this–and believe me, a trial will occur from this–will end with the judges ruling in favor of you women.

God bless, and I hope the best for all of you.

Yes, I’m doing another SNL review. But before you groan, let me just say, I got some very positive responses on the season premiere, and the SNL cast and writers are doing very well on fulfilling expectations. So I’ve got four words for you: can you blame me?

Alright, on to the review part of the post. Joseph Gordon-Levitt; oh my God, I think that guy became a sex symbol for both women and gay men this evening, when he not only did an impression of Magic Mike during the opening monologue, but cross-dressed during the latter half of the show. I think someone out there might’ve fallen in love with that guy. But that wasn’t all; he was funny, he could do various accents and impressions, and he reminds me of guys I knew at Jewish summer cap, so that’s a plus in my book. Add all the serious roles he’s done lately, and I think Mr. Gordon-Levitt could have a very long career in Hollywood as a star who can do many different roles. Just don’t go weird Scientology on us or jump on couches while on a talk show and we’ll be good.

As for the skits…damn! The writers seem to be thriving under the pressure. That cold open was great! And having Mumford & Sons, the musical guest, play a song during one of the skits was just great, especially when the writers somehow manage to work in an actually decent Jerry Sandusky joke. And Kate McKinnon on Weekend Update as Ann Romney had me laughing so hard. I hope she plays that role some more before the election is over. A special mention goes to the Republican-sponsored birth control fake ad and the rapper’s fashion talk show where it showed two rappers slowly becoming effeminate. Also, I’d like to say the “Powers & Powers” skit was great, though I was sad it had to be cut short due to time constraints.

Final score on the review scale: 4.7 out of 5. Join me for another review of SNL in two weeks, when Daniel Craig tries his hand at comedy (and if they really do have Jennifer Lawrence of Hunger Games fame afterwards, like the rumors are saying, I’ll review that too. Oh don’t roll your eyes, I like this show, and it’s doing really well so far this season!).

Rape.

This one word can send terror through a person’s system. In some ways it is worse than murder, for after the deed is done, the victim still suffers horribly from the experience, sometimes for life. 1 in 5 women on college campuses will be the victim of a sexual assault, and every year 32,o00 rape victims are impregnated by friends, boyfriends, husbands, acquaintances, stalkers, fathers, brothers, total strangers, coworkers, you name it. Rape is the perversion of sexual intercourse, turning something beautiful and great into a nightmare, a travesty of psychological anguish. Our culture is fascinated by it as we are repulsed by it, as can be seen by the enduring popularity of Law & Order: Special Vitctims Unit, and by the constant stories in the media of rapists and their victims.

Earlier this week, Representative Todd Akin, a Republican running for a Senate seat in Missouri, said that “legitimate rape” victims “rarely get pregnant”. Immediately, this caused a firestorm: Mitt Romney immediately distanced himself from Akin, saying that victims of rape should be able to get abortions; President Obama was quoted as saying “rape is rape” and that “men should not be making decisions about women’s health”; and across the nation, thousands of rape victims railed against Akin, questioning him and his definiton of rape.

Personally, I find Mr. Akin’s comments to be very upsetting. Although the number of adult male rape victims are still relatively low (yes, they do exist, and there may be more victims than reported due to fears that men will lose their “masculinity” if it becomes known they were raped), men should know that rape is a horrible thing, it cannot be classified as “legitimate” or “illegitimate”, and any type or rape can get a girl pregnant. As a politician, Mr. Akin should be doubly aware of this fact.

I’ve taken a Women and Gender Studies course, I’ve watched shows and read novels where women have been brutally raped, and in my novel Reborn City, my main character Zahara comes very close to being raped herself. Every time I think of rape, every time I read or watch a scene involving a rape, and the one time I wrote about Zahara’s near rape, I could almost feel the terror, the shock of being violated, the urge to end the pain and the constant fear that it could happen again. It is a powerful, mind-numbing force, and it cannot be taken lightly under any circumstances.

I hope Mr. Akin and others learn that rape is not something to be talked about like it can be classified or screened for authenticity, but an act that destroys lives as surely as murder destroys lives, and for women who become pregnant from rape, carrying that child to term can be an ordeal only imaginable, like a cancer that eventually morphs into a constant reminder of one person’s cruelty to another. To Mr. Akin, I feel sorry that you do not understand the tragedy of rape and hope you learn about it, because rape and the pregnancices that can result are very serious matters. And to women everywhere: if, God forbid, you should be raped, I hope Mr. Akin’s comments do not stop you from getting the help you need, and especially if you become pregnant because of your rape.

And if you are worried you are alone in the world because of what you went through, know this: you have at least one friend here with you. I may be hidden by the anonymous Internet, but I’m here for you across the blogosphere.

Just saw on AOL News that the Blunt Amendment, which would’ve allowed institutions or their insurers the rights to not cover any form of health-care due to “moral reasons”, failed in the Senate by a close vote. Can’t say I’m sad it didn’t pass; not only is the amendment really just an effort to ghet rid of Obama’s birth control policy, it just sounds like it’s giving too much power to religious organizations over their employees. It would be bad if you worked for a Christian Scientist organization and you weren’t a Christian Scientist.

And I’m glad women still have access to birth control. Not only does it stop women from getting pregnant when it’d be difficult or unfeasible for them to have children, birth control has other benefits, including stopping ovarian cysts and other reproductive problems in women. Perhaps religious institutions–some of which can be very patriarchal in nature, and therefore unable to make proper decisions when it comes to matters related to the females of their group–should consider that!

Oh, and Mr. Limbaugh, you are not funny! Calling women sluts, saying that Georgetown students want birth control just to have sex, and then using the aspirin bit?! Where do you get off saying all that on the radio?! Shame on you!

Okay, I’m a little confused. Why, in the name of God, are men the ones who seem to be the only ones we’re listening to on television about this? Men?! Just a reminder folks, men can’t have babies. I know it’s hard to believe, but men can’t have babies. So should they really be telling women how they should use their bodies or whether or not they can prevent themselves from getting pregnant? My answer: no! (And I’m saying all this as a guy. Then again, I’m a feminist and I grew up in a house full of women and girls, so I guess I’m an exception).

Also, the Catholic Church is making a huge fuss about the birth control option in Obama’s policy. Once again, the people getting upset are the male policy-makers of the Catholic Church, who cannot get pregnant, even if they wear gowns while praying at the altar. And apparently ninety-eight percent of Catholic women use birth control and feel guilty about it. Ladies, don’t feel guilty; feel enraged! I mean, you can’t get birth control but apparently guys can get Viagra. There’s something wrong about all that!

And to all those religious institutions who feel threatened by the birth control policy of the Obama administration, please stop using Nazi Germany references for your plight. The Obama administration is not preventing you from going to school, to public areas, taking away your property or forcing you to wear humiliating yellow patches on your clothes. They’re requiring your insurers to pay for birth control. When all the other stuff I listed starts happening, then you can start complaining about the government barring your religious liberties in a fashion similar to Hitler! The people who should really be complaining about having their religious liberties barred in front of Congress are the Muslims living in France. Have you seen the situation over there?!

Finally, I’d just like to mention that although you object to paying for women’s birth control, you should know that when you pay your employees, they can use that money for whatever they want, even condoms or strip clubs or stuff you guys find abhorrent. Just something to think about.

That’s it for my rant, talk to you later.