Mike Huckabee jumps on anti-abortion bandwagon

The goal: criminalize abortion, make it impossible for a physician in the U.S. to perform an abortion or for a woman in the U.S. to obtain a safe, legal abortion. The progress: excellent. The methods: distortion, sensationalism and more than a few outright lies. The concern for women: zero.

But it’s working. Obviously it’s going to get a lot of conservative Republicans elected.

This just in from Georgia Right to Life:

Today (May 3) Governor Mike Huckabee announced his support for SB 529 in a message that is going out to Georgia constituents asking for their support for SB 529. Governor Huckabee noted the importance of this bill, “SB 529 is a simple bill that prevents a woman from being forced to have an abortion against her will and prohibits the use of abortion as a means of race or gender discrimination. I’m asking you to support SB 529 and to ask your representative to support SB 529.”

Two weeks ago the Georgia Senate passed SB 529 with overwhelming support. On Tuesday, April 13, 2010, SB 529 had a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, but no vote was taken.

SB 529 was drafted by some of the leading pro-life attorney’s in the nation and was reviewed positively by the American Center for Law and Justice, Liberty Counsel, the Thomas Moore Law Center, Americans United for Life, and Focus on the Family.

Here are just a few interesting factoids: Mike Huckabee is the former governor of Arkansas, currently a regular on Fox News, formerly a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Presumably his “constituents” are those who will now support his next presidential — or whatever — bid because of this brave stand against “forced abortion.” Focus on the Family is a Christian organization that is not averse to messing around in political campaigns. The un-subtle message of that “as a means of race discrimination” is the bizarre hook with which abortion foes are seeking to manipulate African Americans, by equating abortion with Black genocide.

It is simply not so. Women do not need pious white guys protecting them from being marched in droves into abortion clinics. African American women do not need anybody telling them what they may or may not do with their bodies.

What we need is the right to life, our lives. The right to choose. The right to control our own bodies. Once the abortion foes win this battle — which gets scarier by the day — those basic human rights will be taken away from American women. Because women get pregnant. Sometimes that pregnancy is a mistake, a threat, a danger. When abortion becomes illegal, women will have no option but the back alley abortionist.

Decreasing numbers of us know what that was like, but I can tell you. Before Roe v Wade, legions of women, for countless valid reasons, needed to terminate a pregnancy. A few found doctors willing to risk their license in order to give a woman a safe choice. But uncounted thousands of us wound up in the filthy, unsafe, demeaning hands of back alley abortionists. Uncounted thousands died. Those who died were white, Black and all shades in between.

Would Mike Huckabee like to see his daughter go through that tragic indignity? That’s where we are headed.

Study the fetus before abortion: Oklahoma enacts tough new laws

It is still legal to get an abortion in Oklahoma. But first, you’ve got to look at the ultrasound, listen to some technician describe whether the fetus has indications of arms and legs and get your doctor to report on whether or not there is any cardiac activity. If you were not suffering pain and distress from an unwanted &/or unmanageable pregnancy before all this, you will doubtless suffer during and after. Then, maybe the State of Oklahoma will let you resume control of your own body.

No one is more vulnerable than a child in the womb,” said state Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City. “They have no voice except ours.”

Well, I beg to differ with the good senator. Wonder what gender Steve Russell is? A fetus is not a child. Fetuses have voices; their voices belong to the women in whose bodies they reside. Exactly as the voices of a group of ocular cells belong to a woman considering eye surgery. It is nobody’s business but the woman’s whether a group of cells — detectable signs of appendages and heartbeats notwithstanding — should appropriately remain within her body until they might become a baby. It should not be my business to tell Steve Russell, or anybody else, how much he has to study pictures of spermatozoa before he undergoes a vasectomy, which I hope… well, maybe this analogy should not go any farther.

The Oklahoma Senate voted Tuesday to override Gov. Brad Henry‘s veto of two abortion bills, including one that an abortion-rights group has said would be among the nation’s strictest measures against the procedure.

The narrow override votes in the Republican-controlled Senate came a day after the state House voted overwhelmingly to do the same, meaning the bills became law immediately. The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights quickly filed a lawsuit, however, seeking to block enforcement of one of the statutes.

It requires women to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before getting an abortion. The person who performs the ultrasound must describe the dimensions of the fetus, whether arms, legs and internal organs are visible and whether the physician can detect cardiac activity. He or she must also turn a screen depicting the images toward the woman so she can see them.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has said the ultrasound requirement intrudes upon a patient’s privacy and forces a woman to hear information that may not be relevant to her medical care. The group also believes it could interfere with the physician-patient relationship by compelling doctors to deliver unwanted speech.

“The constitutional issues are very serious,” said Jennifer Mondino, an attorney for the group. Oklahoma County District Judge Noma Gurich set a hearing Monday on the organization’s request for a temporary restraining order.

The other abortion measure overridden by the Senate prohibits pregnant women from seeking damages if physicians withhold information or provide inaccurate information about their pregnancy. Supporters of that measure have said it is an attempt to keep pregnant women from discriminating against fetuses with disabilities. Mondino said the group’s lawsuit does not seek to block enforcement of that law.

Oklahoma now officially joins Georgia, Ohio and an appallingly growing number of other states enacting, or seeking to enact legislation that is harsh, punitive and grossly inappropriate for women. Pregnant or not, women in the U.S. are entitled to the control of their own bodies. At least, for now. If the (largely white male) opponents of abortion get what they want, American women will be sent back to the dark ages of back-alley abortions.

Oklahoma enacts tough new abortion laws.

Abortion foes stoop to new lows, and new absurdities

Two pregnant women. One has someone behind her holding a gun to her head. The other one, a Black woman, is being led by a white man. They are entering an abortion clinic.

Wait! Saved by Georgia Right to Life!

It could soon be against the law to force someone to have an abortion, or to have an abortion that is “racially motivated” in the state of Georgia. SB 529, the Coercion and Prenatal Non-Discrimination Ban sponsored by Senator Chip Pearson and lustily supported by Georgia Right to Life, passed a couple of weeks ago by a vote of 33 to 14. The bill now goes to the House, where HB 1155 will send the same message into the world: Thou shalt not “coerce” someone into having an abortion; thou shalt not abort “on the basis of race or gender.”

If you have not noticed forced or racially motivated abortions being rampant in this country you may wonder what’s up with Georgia Right to Life.

I happen to think I know. My crystal ball says if the rather ridiculous law passes this is what will follow: GRTL will find some poor woman willing to declare, after seeking a perfectly legal abortion, that her doctor actually forced her to have the procedure. A high profile case will ensue, the doctor may or may not be convicted — that part really doesn’t matter — but more and more doors will close against abortions. Once enough doors are closed, GRTL and others eager to dictate what women may or may not do with their own bodies will have achieved their goal. Legal abortion will be denied the women of Georgia.

So, you say, they can just go to another state (until the method proves effective and other states follow along. Other states are watching.) If they have money and resources, that will be true. But the poor and un-empowered women of Georgia will be left without safe choices. And you can believe that there will be plenty of back-alley abortionists in business by then.

A diminishing number of us know what it was like in the heyday of back-alley abortions. The right-to-life people, who are so worried about embryos but don’t believe women have rights, won’t tell you. I will. Filthy men (and sometimes even women) made big money butchering desperate women who had no other choice. So the women lay on kitchen tables or gurneys bought cheap at hospital supply warehouses, had unsterilized objects puncture their bodies and went home — often to die.

There are two problems with the RTL people. One is their righteous zeal. The Alabama Pro-Life Coalition Education Fund, for example, “cooperates with God and other Christians…” Hmm. I, a committed Christian, have talked with God about a lot of things and She never told me She wanted to consign mature women to barbarity. The second problem is with mature women. The RTLers believe a fertilized egg has more rights than the woman within whose body it is harbored. If you find that as hard to believe as the notion that women in Georgia are being herded into abortion chambers against their will — check out Ohio Right to Life‘s opposition to the current H.B. 333. ORTL opposes the morning-after pill because “it may cause early abortion” on the morning after.

If the RTLers could, for one moment, stand in the shoes of just one poor, desperate, pregnant woman from the days before Roe v Wade they might get a tiny glimpse of the terror that comes from being without choices. The RTLers say, Choose Life, which I do, every day, for myself and everyone else humanly possible. If abortion becomes criminalized, as is the RTL aim, uncounted thousands of women will have no choice but the deadly back-alley abortionist.

Health reform: Are we there yet?

Nancy Pelosi is known around San Francisco — and in a few other spots — as one tough politician. She likes being Speaker of the House, and she doesn’t much like losing. So this week’s do-or-die health reform bill is going to get all the muscle she can manage. It is, Pelosi has declared, “a moral and political imperative.”

Okay, it’s not what we hoped, it’s too complicated and too fraught, it’s going to be full of little gifties given to get votes. If we don’t get something America will be stuck with a non-functional system and millions will remain without health care at all. So I for one am on Pelosi’s side.

The plan is for the House to pass the Senate version and send it to Obama for his signature and enactment. Certain fixes the House is demanding for passage of the more conservative Senate bill will be included in a separate, special measure that will go to the Senate for an up-or-down vote that avoids a filibuster.

But once the House passes the base legislation and Obama signs it, the measure becomes law regardless of what the Senate does.

Democrats do not yet have the votes in hand and Pelosi will not call a vote until they do. Liberal lawmakers have deep reservations about the Senate bill, and fights over abortion and immigration have yet to be resolved. But Pelosi has set the legislative train in motion, even as Republicans have publicly begun to express doubt that they can stop it.

Pelosi laid down the law to wavering Democrats who are threatening to bolt. “It’s not about abortion, it’s not about immigration,” she said. “The only reason, therefore, to oppose the bill is that you do not support health care reform.”

A lot of people don’t support health care reform. The Republicans, the insurance industry, the anti-abortion folks and the anti-immigration folks and more than a few people who feel pretty much okay with what they’ve got and frankly don’t care a lot about what others don’t have.

But health care reform is a moral imperative.

Pelosi: Dems will have votes to OK health care.

Stress, sorrow and depression – – the dark side of the holidays

Win McNamee/Getty
Win McNamee/Getty

The photo on the front page of the Sunday New York Times tells the ultimate underside to holiday joy: a young woman, Sarah Walton, with her arms around the tombstone of her husband. The scene is in Arlington cemetery; the simple stone reads LTC James J. Walton and lists the parameters of his brief life, 1967-2008.

In households and hotel rooms everywhere, sadness and loss color the holidays gray. Most of the sadness is of a far lesser sort than that of the grieving widow, but just as real: relationships gone sour, bills that can’t be paid, health that can’t be restored — or the old, familiar pains of too many demands and too little time.

At my San Francisco church, a ‘Blue Christmas’ service was started four years ago by Associate Pastor Catherine Oliver, designed for those who struggle under the weight of everyone else’s festive spirits. Some of the faces she sees are familiar, but many belong to strangers seeking comfort or relief. This year, Oliver reports, attendance was not notably higher — “but there were more men.”

Acknowledging the stress and depression that so often accompany the Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s Day season, the Mayo Clinic recently posted a few tips to help bring a little peace and joy into the season. They are summarized here, in categories found to be common.

First, Mayo Clinic recommends, recognize holiday triggers so you can disarm them before meltdown occurs. Most common among these are:

Relationships. Relationships can cause turmoil, conflict or stress at any time, but tensions are often heightened during the holidays. Family misunderstandings and conflicts can intensify — especially if you’re thrust together for several days. On the other hand, facing the holidays without a loved one can be tough and leave you feeling lonely and sad.

Finances. With the added expenses of gifts, travel, food and entertainment, the holidays can put a strain on your budget — and your peace of mind. Not to mention that overspending now can mean financial worries for months to come.

Physical demands. Even die-hard holiday enthusiasts may find that the extra shopping and socializing can leave them wiped out. Being exhausted increases your stress, creating a vicious cycle. Exercise and sleep — good antidotes for stress and fatigue — may take a back seat to chores and errands. To top it off, burning the wick at both ends makes you more susceptible to colds and other unwelcome guests.

The good news is that even with the worst of causes, holiday blues can be lessened. Most effectively by following a few good recommendations such as these:

Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.

Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videotapes.

Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression too.

Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Try these alternatives: Donate to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.

Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.

Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

None of the above can bring back a loved one, or make a new job appear. But perhaps they can help you through to a better and brighter New Year.

Stress, depression and the holidays: 10 tips for coping – MayoClinic.com.

Doctors oppose abortion cuts in health bill

The San Francisco Medical Society has come out in opposition to removal of abortion coverage in the health reform bill, pointing out the potential danger to women’s lives if they are denied access to such care. Charles Wibbelsman, MD, President of SFMS, writes in today’s San Francisco Chronicle that the board of directors will urge congressional representatives to find a compromise.

It is a shame that such a complex issue as health care reform has been hijacked in the form of the Stupak amendment, which would ban all public funding for abortion (“Amendment to House bill reignites abortion debate,” Nov. 10).

Experience has shown that denying coverage of abortion does not stop or even curtail it, but rather shifts the costs elsewhere, and threatens to delay a woman in seeking and obtaining this medical procedure, thus potentially endangering her.

The San Francisco Medical Society’s board of directors has voted to urge our elected officials, particularly Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, to find a compromise that will not ban such funding and keep women with unwanted pregnancies safe.

Women’s lives should not be held hostage to politics.

At last, a ray of sanity from the medical community. I, for one, am proud of SFMS for standing up for the uncounted thousands of women, most of them poor and disadvantaged, who will suffer harm from denial of access to care should the conservatives and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops win the day on this matter.

via Stupak amendment hijacks health care reform.

The Joys (and Angst) of Housing Choices

Close up picture of a :en:shuffleboard scoring...
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What is it about the term “adult living” that seems so, well, one-foot-in-the-grave to me? Being surely one foot in the grave myself, if one chooses to look at actuarial tables which I do not, you’d think my opinionated mind might be pried slightly more open.

It’s a dilemma. Not whether one is polite and knowledgeable about adult living communities urban or suburban, but how to differentiate — and ultimately make choices among — the often bewildering assortment of housing communities and choices targeting everyone over 50 (and increasingly even below.)

I gave a talk at Rossmoor earlier today, a serene and bucolic adult living/retirement community about 25 miles and 40 degrees from San Francisco. This is no lie; it was 58 in the fog when I left home, 98 in the sun when I arrived. Rossmoor is full of recreational amenities: golf and tennis, choirs and bridge clubs and book groups. You cannot live there unless you are (or are formally attached to someone who is) 55 or older, and if you’re 18 or under you can’t hang around for more than 3 weeks. Rossmoor has its own mildly bewildering housing choices: congregate living, condos, co-ops and big houses on lush lots. It is ranked among the top such senior adult communities in the country and they are everywhere.

Add to these the growing varieties of aging-in-place groups (think Beacon Hill Village in Boston) and the truly bewildering assortment of assisted living facilities. The latter include simple rentals, detached cottages and elegant high rises; you can pay fixed or varying fees, or you can turn over your total estate (if it’s a large one) in return for a promise that you’ll be cared for in style throughout whatever infirmity or affliction arises and unto the grave.

Our friend Berta, widowed not many years ago, made the (possible) mistake of mentioning to her children that the responsibilities of maintaining her tidy, comfortable home were becoming onerous at times. This set off a frenzy of activity among her very active progeny, 3/4 of whom live in far-flung states. In addition to tackling the task of clearing out (“I had to grab a few things I wanted that were about to get thrown away…”) they came up with an assortment of possibilities for the mother whose comfort and well being they value above all else: condos and co-ops and a variety of retirement homes near their own homes, most at price tags more than daunting to someone who grew up in the Depression. Berta hopes to stay put. Most of us do, many of us can’t, and there’s the rub.