Tag Archives: Abortion

Call The Midwife and Social Justice

27 May

CallTheMidwife_S5_BLUFor those who follow this blog, you know I am a devoted fan of Call the Midwife.  My husband and I just finished watching the conclusion to season five and wow! While the story is quite different from the show I fell in love with during seasons one through three — where they were drawing from Jennifer Worth’s memoirs and based on her experiences working in London’s East End in the late 1950s — season five proved to be an amazing journey. The season fully explores topics of social justice — issues of power, race, misogyny. In fact, season five seems to be the point of reinvention. This is where the show decided to really take on themes of that are sadly still relevant today such as queerness, the lesbian love story, and poverty, and how differently women have to navigate the world and how difficult it can be for women to govern their own bodies.

From the start, season five addresses powerful topics and does not shy away from where and when people in the “helping profession” cause harm. Such is the case in episode two, which deals with breast feeding or using formula. What is lovely is that our dear Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris) is able to offer some repair work with a woman who was unable to breast feed. Episode three was very difficult to watch and deals with how we treat pregnant women who are not married and also takes on the issue of abortion. I strongly recommend this episode, as here in 2016 women still face so many of these same barriers. Of course, if we then look at intersecting identities, we look at how women of color and queer women may face even more barriers.

The show also takes on sex work, poverty, and the clandestine lesbian affair between Patsy and Delia. We also see the advent of the pill and how we look at women’s reproductive health and choice. I have to say that every episode is very intense and well done. I will continue to use many of the episodes in social work classes I teach, as they address what good social work can look like and what intersectionality is.

While I am exceedingly sad that our Pam Ferris has left the show, and I still miss Chummy (Miranda Hart), I am thrilled that Call The Midwife will return for a sixth season.  Rumor has it that our Chummy will return. I don’t know of another show that takes on social issues the way this show does, especially around the disparities of how we treat women. Well Done! Stay tuned for Season Six.

Truth in Advertising: Trump and Kasich

15 Mar
Gov. Kasich measures how moderate he actually is

Gov. Kasich measures how moderate he actually is

While there is really very little good I have to say about Donald Trump, the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot, I will say he does provide truth in advertising. It is exceedingly — even painfully — clear how dangerous he is individually and for the country. That being said, I think it is equally important to understand how dangerous the stealth candidate John Kasich is, as we look at what he has done to Ohio. Kasich is far from being the moderate he would like people to think he is, which means there is NO moderate choice from the GOP candidates.

Sadly, even NPR consistently refers to Kasich as “moderate,” I don’t think that word means what they think it means. Just because he does not appear or behave like he just graduated from clown college as Trump, Cruz, and Rubio do, he is nonetheless a far right extremist.  Let us not forget his stand on marriage equality — Obergefell v. Kasich which then became Obergefell v. Hodges — where Kasich showed just how homophobic he could be. Terminally ill John Arthur, who suffered from ALS, wanted the Ohio Registrar to identify his partner, James Obergefell, as his surviving spouse on his death certificate based on their marriage in Maryland. Governor Kasich then deemed it necessary to define marriage as an institution between one man and one woman and refused to acknowledge the marriage.

The governor takes an equally dangerous view on letting women have any say in their own health choices. Since taking office in 2011, he has enacted 16 measures that limit women’s access to reproductive health care. Some are aggressively anti-choice, like the so-called “late term” ban and a statewide gag order barring rape crisis counselors from making abortion referals. He has also used abortion rights as a tool to limit access to general reproductive health care, such as stripping millions of family planning dollars from Planned Parenthood. While Kasich has been governor, the number of Ohio abortion providers has been cut by 50% and funding for reproductive health care for women has dwindled.

The fact that Kasich doesn’t outright deny the science of climate change and “remains open” to “some options” on immigration does not make him moderate. Those vague statements simply mean that he’s willing to spout platitudes and smirk sagely while his primary competitors froth at the mouth and chew the furniture, and disgustingly compare penis size, because apparently that is now where we are at as a culture in the United States. Unlike the Donald or the two junior Senators, Kasich has a long history of executive actions to analyze, and all of those actions prove just prove what a sexist, homophobic racist he is, and how dangerous a Kasich presidency would be.

So Many Questions: GOP Presidential Candidates

10 Aug

GOP VillansI am trying not to be outraged in the wake of the GOP debates, both the Kiddie Table debate featuring Carly Fiorina (Ann Coulter light) and the regular debate featuring a bunch of men who hate women, LGBT folk, poor people, teachers, all people of color (ironic and sad given two of the candidates are people of color), and basically anyone who is not white, male, heterosexual, and Christian. Rather than be outraged, I am trying desperately to understand what paved the way that allowed such utter absurdity that this is the best the GOP has to offer. What are the implications for the United States? What population is the current GOP trying to curry?

This current crop of GOP candidates make Joe McCarthy look almost reasonable. Is this a last cry/plea to protect a white heterosexual supremacist country, or are there even more nefarious forces at work?

Speaking of nefarious: Donal Trump certainly embodies all that is corrupt and soulless.  Hearing him speak reminds me of our Jane Austen’s Ms. Elizabeth Bennett: “The very rich can afford to give offense wherever they go.” Mr. Trump feels free to be a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot because his wealth insulates him. Speaking out against people of color, the LGBT community, and against women, is this who we want leading a nation? Sadly, ALL of the GOP candidates share the same views as Trump. I find it particularly worrisome that there was a stage of all men speaking out against women’s reproductive rights.

I also find it negligible and actually loathsome that not one candidate addressed the issue of race and racial inequities in the United States. Is this an example of a lack of courage, or a lack of leadership, or both? I think it is also worth noting there was no mention of climate change or voter’s rights. Sadly, there was mention of immigration, but the conversation felt quite racist.

While as one can see, I have many questions and concerns, I, do however, offer an authentic invitation. For those that see any viable candidate here, please help me see what you see. Would you want any of these people to be able to appoint a Supreme Court Justice? Help me understand why even one of these candidates should be taken seriously.

Hero of the Week Award: July 12, Judge William Conley

12 Jul
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

This week it is a pleasure to celebrate another judge standing up to the unconstitutional overreach of institutionalized misogyny.

Frustrated by the continued existence of women’s rights to make their own health and reproductive choices, Republican-controlled legislatures around the country are trying their best to create de facto abortion-free zones of their states. Invasive ultrasounds and needless waiting periods aren’t enough. The latest trick is creating cumbersome requirements for doctors at clinics that provide abortions as part of their services.

Wisconsin is the latest, with a new law — signed by charm-free Gov. Scott Walker — that requires hospital admitting privileges, something no other clinics require. Planned Parenthood challenged the law, and U.S. District Judge William Conley sided with them.  Let us remind our selves that Planned Parenthood provides greatly needed health care for women that could not other wise afford simple things like pap smears that test for cancer.

Noting that “there is a troubling lack of justification for the hospital admitting privileges requirement,” Conley placed a stay on the law until he can hold further hearings. Citing Roe v Wade, the judge added “Moreover, the record to date strongly supports a finding that no medical purpose is served by this requirement.”

Judge Conley will no doubt be accused by the so-called  family values crowd of “judicial activism” for actually doing his job. Insisting that access to care must be equitable is the right thing to do. Thank you, Judge Conley, for standing up against the War on Women in Wisconsin–not an easy battle when going up against the racist, homophobic, classist, neo-fascist, Scott Walker.  Mr. Walker, have you no decency?

Bigot of the Week Award: July 12, Cleveland Right to Life

12 Jul
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Wow! This week’s BWA goes to Cleveland Right to Life, who have shown appalling dedication to HATE.  In a move that shows how intertwined misogyny and homophobia are, these Clevelanders have extended their mission from working against women’s health to include opposing marriage equality.  This is what I would call a BIG BALL OF HATE.  Those of you in the greater Cleveland area may need to take cover.  I suspect this type of intense hate is enough to catch the Cuyahoga River on fire again.

Shall we also talk about how this move translates into not only homophobia, misogyny, and classism, but it also ties directly into racism?  These Cleveland Right to Lifers are targeting the most vulnerable and marginalized populations and the impact is far more severe if you are a woman of color or a gay person of color.

The announcement of this expansion of bigotry came as the group responded to Sen. Rob Portman’s (R – OH) announcement that he supported marriage equality because his son is gay. explaining their need to hate more people, Cleveland Right to Life officials observed that marriage equality, euthanasia, and abortion are all

contrary to the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God … every human life is created by the sexual union of male and female.

God forbid a parent should carefully consider policy that impacts his child and then make an informed, compassionate decision. NO! Jesus said no abortions and hate the gays and hate women! Well, they’re sure he meant to, anyway…

Hero of the Week Award: June 28, Wendy Davis

28 Jun
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

Some weeks the choice for Hero is abundantly clear. Thanks to regular SJFA follower Voice of the Trailer for nominating the amazing Wendy Davis.

Davis is a Democrat state senator in Texas, a thankless job if ever there was one. When Gov. Rick Perry called a special legislative session specifically to curtail abortion rights, she refused to let his scheme work. The short session was intended to pass a ban on all abortions after 20 weeks, create more burdensome requirements for all abortions, and crush Planned Parenthood in the state. Davis, working with a strong coalition that included Planned Parenthood’s wonderful Cecile Richards, mounted a firm plan of resistance.

Demonstrating what a filibuster ought to be, Davis launched a thirteen-hour speech on the Senate floor, refusing to allow the bill to move forward. Her marathon speech required the use of a back brace before she was done, but she stuck it out. Republicans tried a number of administrative tricks to block her, but she carried on almost to the end. When they finally cut her off with moments to go, dozens of pro-choice supporters in the gallery raised their voices in protest, shouting down any action until the clock ran out on the special session.

Gov. Perry has sworn to try again, but the voices raised against him are strong. Having a true leader like Wendy Davis brought new life to the cause. There’s now a movement to draft her to run against Perry — that would be lovely justice indeed.

Honorable mention goes to the four justices on the Supreme Court who did their best to truly represent the people in their work this week. In the devastating ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act, Justice Ginsburg delivered a scathing dissent, joined by Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor. All four also voted to overturn DOMA and to preserve Affirmative Action and worked to ensure that Prop 8 was nullified in California. When the highest court in the land is ruled by an opportunist ideologue, their courage and voices for justice are needed more than ever.

Happy Birthday, Beatrice Arthur

13 May

BeaArthur2-smBea Arthur, born Bernice Frankel in New York City on this date in 1922, would become an American icon from the 1960’s through the 21st Century.  She would have been 91 today.

My first introduction to Arthur was in the early 1970’s when she was starring as Maude, the loud mouthed, opinionated, liberal taking on topics like race, gender, power, sexual orientation, and even abortion.  I loved this show.  Who knew I would grow up to become Maude.  Maude was a true pioneer in addressing equity and the disparities in how we treat other people.  I loved her voice of social justice, even when she would get it wrong.

When we first moved to Oregon, I was horribly depressed and hated living in Salem.  My first job here, I was accosted by a Mormon woman who came into my office and said with great sincerity: “Michael, I just want you to know I pray for your sin.”  I would like to say I handled this with grace and dignity, but I didn’t.  My reply was: “Tammy, I pray that you will stop wearing brown double knit polyester everyday.” Not a shining moment for as a social worker.

The only highlight in moving to Salem was that my husband bought us tickets to see Bea Arthur live at the Elsinore in Salem.  She made me forget my miseries, my woes, and my temporary misanthropy.  She was authentic, kind, generous, and had a mouth like a sailor — I know I had to clutch my pearls many a time during her show.

Arthur had the power to transform us all and make us laugh at our selves, laugh at the world, but yet charged us each with the obligation to make the world a better place for all marginalized and targeted people after we left the theatre. As a true feminist/social worker should, she acknowledged that everything is political: “”I’ve been a Democrat my whole life. That’s what makes Maude and Dorothy so believable, we have the same viewpoints on how our country should be handled.”  Seeing her live is one of my top 10 memories, for which I will be forever grateful.

She channelled her phenomenol energy into so many worthy causes. She was an animal rights activist and an active advocate for civil rights for the elderly and the LGBT community. Three days after her death, all the marquees on Broadway were dimmed at 8pm. What a fitting tribute to a woman whose passing left the world a little less bright.

Roe v. Wade: Celebrating 40 Years

22 Jan

roe40thstampOn January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court finally ruled that women in this country could legally govern their own bodies with the landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade.  Sadly, 40 years later, we are witnessing a vicious attack on women’s health with people like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdoch and their ilk working to take full control over women’s bodies.

Another concrete example of recent monstrous misogyny is Republican Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi. His stated goal is to shut down the last clinic in the state that provides safe and legal abortions. On Thursday, Bryant said:

My goal, of course, is to shut it down. Now, we’ll follow the laws. The bill is in the courts now, related to the physicians and their association with a hospital. But, certainly, if I had the power to do so legally, I’d do so tomorrow.

Here we see some serious white male privilege at work. Bryant and all of the anti-choice folk seem far more interested in protecting the fetus while demonstrating complete disdain once the child is born.  Furthermore, we have a serious class issue at hand.  For women of financial resources, the law becomes immaterial, for they can travel someplace to have a safe and legal abortion.  What about women without resources? Why do Bryant and his ilk get to decide what is best for women in our country? Those who are anti-choice should be free to live their own lives according to their beliefs; they do not, however, possess the right to impose their beliefs on others through abusive practices.

The power of the courts to clarify rights and interpret law is vital. We should celebrate significant decisions like Roe v. Wade or Brown v. Board of Education. But we live in a participatory democracy and must remain vigilant. On many issues there will be disagreements and those who feel their views should triumph over established rights. As we take time to celebrate great decisions, we must also strive to ensure that the fruits of those decisions remain available to all Americans, regardless of class, location, race, or any other factor.

Bigot of the Week: January 11, Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black of Tennessee

11 Jan
Bigots of the Week

Bigots of the Week

An elephant may never forget but it appears that many Republican members of Congress never learn. Two members of the House of Representatives, both women from Tennessee, have decided to renew the war on women and attack Planned Parenthood on the first day of the new Congress–always sad to see internalized misogyny. Ignoring the election’s clear message in support of policies that promote women’s health and the fact that the vast majority of Americans support Planned Parenthood for its breadth of services, Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Rep. Diane Black have both introduced bills to block use of government funds for organizations that provide abortions as even a small part of their operations.

Rep. Blackburn is the Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over the issue. She lifted a failed bill from the last Congress written by former Rep. Mike Pence (R – IN). (He went on to be elected Governor of Indiana, the home of Richard Mourdock. Not a woman-friendly state…) The bill — clearly targeting Planned Parenthood — would restrict the use of Title X money. Says Blackburn,

As a woman, I believe America deserves better than abortion.

Rep. Black purloined the same Pence-penned poison pill and put it forth herself. Even being from the same state and the same party, these two couldn’t communicate around a single bill, apparently. In the name of scoring Tea points, they both ignore the wide range of services most health care providers offer. They ignore the fact that without Planned Parenthood millions of women would have little or no access to critical health services and that the impact would be particularly hard on minorities, the poor, and rural women — all populations present in large numbers in Tennessee. How pathetic to see such self-loathing women pursue such a hateful agenda.

Dishonorable mention this week comes courtesy of my friend Jennifer Carey, who pointed me to some additional misogyny. Odious evangelist Pat Robertson managed to outdo himself in a broadcast this week. Responding to a question from a youth who was concerned that his father was spending too much time online, Robertson laid the blame firmly on the mother.

It may be your mom isn’t as sweet as you think she is. She may be kind of hard-nosed […] It’s easy to blame the mother! You always have to keep that spark of love alive. It just isn’t something to just lie there. ‘Well, I’m married to him so he’s got to take me slatternly looking.’ You’ve got to fix yourself up, look pretty.

Just when you thought he couldn’t sink any lower, Robertson manages to astound again; this man is one big ball of crazy and hate.

Number 3 Bigot of the Year 2012: GOP Rape Apologists

29 Dec
Number 3 Bigots of 2012

Number 3 Bigots of 2012

There were plenty of examples of the Republican War on Women in 2012, ranging from battles over contraception to the stunning failure to renew the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act. Nothing was quite so vile, however, as the shockingly repeated misogyny regarding rape. No fewer than five candidates for Federal office said something appalling about rape victims, often relating to shutting down a woman’s right to choose.  For a party that consistently demonstrated how much it HATES women, the GOP was determined to own every vagina in the land.

The most famous are Senate wannabes Todd Akin (MO) and Richard Mourdock (IN). Let’s take a quick look at the whole fool’s gallery.

  • “The right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape, […] gift of human life and accept what God is giving to you.” Presidential candidate Rick Santorum (PA), Jan. 20
  • “If it’s an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room; I would give them a shot of estrogen.” Rep. and Presidential candidate Ron Paul (TX), Feb. 3
  • “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” Senate candidate Todd Akin (MO), Aug. 20
  • “It was really an issue of the Catholic church being forced to offer those pills if the person came in with an emergency rape.” Senate candidate Linda McMahon (CT), Oct. 15
  • “When life begins with that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.” Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (IN), Oct. 23

Sadly,the media largely overlooked the first two, but Akin’s bizarre comment went viral and sunk his nearly sure thing candidacy. The GOP tried to get him out of the race, but he stayed put. With all their hopes for the Senate evaporating, the GOP leadership stuck by Mourdock. That included another lovely “gift from God” quote from Sen. John Cornyn (TX) and an endorsement from Mitt Romney. Happily for the nation, sensible voters said no to false KKKristianity and blatant misogyny.

Dishonorable mention for misogyny even beyond the GOP standard goes to radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh. Not content to rail against the contraceptive provisions in the Affordable Care Act, he targeted Sandra Fluke, a woman testifying before Congress about the need for contraceptive coverage. Limbaugh called her a slut and raved about contraception in a remarkably ignorant way, even for him. He devoted days of his show to the topic, resulting in a costly backlash as sponsors fled from his toxic spew.

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