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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Camel’s Nose

She was dead, of course, by any definition medical science had accepted for the last century. Someone had wired her to a robot doctor, probably during the final stages of the epidemic. It was capable of doing just about anything to keep a patient alive and was not programmed to understand brain death. That was a decision left to the human doctor, when he or she arrived. The doctor had never arrived. The doctor was dead and the thing that had been Charlie's mother lived on…
- John Varley, Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo

 

And we circle back around to Texas.

Where religious fanaticism blows across the landscape like tumbleweeds.

And where personal freedom is prized above all things … well, unless it goes counter to the evangelical church, in which case your ass belongs to God and your liberty is decided at the hands of the priests.

A year ago, Marlise Muñoz suffered a fatal blood clot. She was fourteen weeks pregnant.

Her husband found her on their kitchen floor in the middle of the night. She was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late, she was clinically dead by every test medical science has – and by every test religion has, for that matter.

Her heart had stopped and Marlise Muñoz had been too long without oxygen, her brain had died.

Now, if you believe in science: it was a tragic and terrible accident.

Medical science progresses, someday if religion doesn’t shut down the research first, we will be able to see this sort of thing coming. Hopefully stop it before it happens. Maybe we’ll even be able to correct it after the fact. But for now, nothing could be done. She was dead.

However, if you believe in the vengeful evangelical God of the Old Testament, well, then the bitch had it coming. 

Maybe it was part of The Big Plan and she was destined to die along with her baby right from the day she herself was born. Why? Who knows? It’s not the lab rat’s place to ask why. Tough shit. Too bad, God’s will.  Or maybe she’d done something to offend Him. Isn’t that how it goes? Isn’t that what evangelicals threaten us with every single day? Better be good, better toe the line, Lab Rat, or else. Do something to offend God and Whamo! He’ll kill ya and cast you into the fiery Pit. Well, maybe that’s what happened. Hell, maybe the baby pissed God off, maybe it was gay or liberal or something and God took them both out as punishment for that sin.

What?

What’s that? Oh, I’m being offensive? I’m being disrespectful of your beliefs by making them sound just as fucking stupid as they are?

Hmmm. Interesting. You don’t get it both ways. Either you believe in the shit you’re shoveling or you don’t. This is your idiotic belief system, not mine, if you don’t like how it sounds when it’s dragged out into the light of day try to imagine how it sounds to me.  Maybe you ought to give some thought to this nonsense before you start threatening the rest of us with it.

And don’t try to pretend that’s not what your religion is saying, because it is, word for word.

Whatever happened, by design or accident, Marlise Muñoz was dead.

She was dead. 

Machines kept her body going in a macabre semblance of life, but she was dead. Her baby was dead. Dead.

She’d made her end of life wishes known, to her family, to her husband.

And so, they decided to let her go.

It never occurred to them that it was anybody’s decision to make but theirs.

Imagine then, their surprise and horror when in express defiance of the family's wishes, the hospital refused to pull the plug.

Hospital administrators, religious fanatics in a state run by religious fanatics, cited an obscure Texas law they claimed required them to keep the dead women on life support as a slowly rotting incubator for her unborn child – and no, I’m not being dramatic, she was dead, her body was literally rotting. The fetus was horribly damaged by lack of oxygen, non-viable, and to be "born" would require that the corpse of its mother be kept on mechanical maintenance for at least five months – again, while the woman's body literally rotted away.

No one, not even the demented Mengelesque "medical professionals" who were perpetuating this horror, believed that the fetus would live or be anything other than a grotesquely deformed curiosity.

This travesty became a huge public fight as the state government, lawyers, news agencies, pundits, priests, padres, shamans, Holy Joes, and the ignorant howling mob all intruded into the what should have been a private decision by the grief-stricken family.

I wrote about it here in Decisions and Regrets, in an essay that got me both a personal letter of thanks from one of my favorite and most admired authors and thousands of vitriolic threats and violence-filled message from fanatical religious lunatics who purport to be Christians but are in point of fact no different whatsoever from the intolerant Muslim extremists they revile and despise.

Eventually the court acknowledged reality over unhinged religious fanaticism and Eric Muñoz was allowed to, finally, unplug the corpse of his wife and unborn child.

 

Then he got to bury his family among the vile and disgusting taunts of so-called Christians who branded him “baby killer” and “murderer” and informed him that they were assigning him a special place in their religion’s hell.

 

It’s been a year now.

But the religious fanatics just can’t let it go. 

I guess that’s what makes them fanatics, no different in spirit from those currently lopping off heads in the Middle East.

Hundreds, thousands, of children have died in the year since Erick Muñoz buried his family.

They’ve died from hunger and from neglect and from poverty and from violence and from abuse and from a lack of medical care.

Nearly every single one of them could have been saved.

But they weren’t.

They weren’t because the very same people who fought to keep a corpse on life support in order to appease their small and vengeful deity do not give a good goddamn about those children.

They could have saved them, they could have fed them, and clothed them, and healed them, as their God commanded them to do, but they didn’t. They refused and stubbornly turned their eyes away.

They’ve passed no laws to save those lives.

And in point of fact, they have worked tirelessly to dismantle what little protections those children currently have, they call it government overreach and socialism and ungodly and they turn children back at the border because they have the wrong color skin and speak the wrong language.  Think about that, no really think about that: these people demand that a corpse be kept on maintenance for five months as an incubator, and they demand it in the name of their god and for the supposed sanctity of life. But real live living children? They are turned back from the border every single day by the very same people.

Apparently, their miserable god has no time for the poor and the hungry and the sick.

Their god has no love for children already born.

But oh how He loves the unborn – even the ones He left inside a rotten corpse as part of His big mysterious plan.

So now, instead of saving the millions of children they can, ones whose parents would enthusiastically welcome their help, the fanatics have proposed a new law in Texas.

They want to assign government lawyers to represent a fetus.

 

I’ll pause for a moment while you contemplate the staggering hypocrisy of people who demand freedom from government intrusion into their own lives, and demand it at the muzzle of a gun no less, who are now promoting a law to literally force government lawyers into a woman’s uterus.

 

Texas State Representative  Matt Krause (R, Of course) has proposed a law that would require the state to assign a lawyer to represent the fetus in cases where the mother is clinically dead and being kept "alive" via life-support.

“You’ll hear what the family wants, and you’ll also give the pre-born child a chance to have a voice in court at that same time,” Krause told the Dallas Morning News.

You’ll hear what the family wants – and then you can just completely dismiss that, because in Krause’s world the family’s wishes are irrelevant. 

Krause doesn’t care what the family wants. Religious fanatics care only about their own selfish beliefs and they are perfectly willing to force your compliance with their religion, at gunpoint if necessary. Just like any Ayatollah.

You’ll hear what the family wants – this from one of the very people who thinks that the person legally responsible, the father, the husband, is less qualified to determine the wishes and needs of his own loved ones than a state assigned lawyer with a religious agenda.

You have got to be kidding me.

By definition it is impossible to prove the non-existence of God, but I’ve got to tell you that it seems pretty clear to me that he’s not up there. Because if the God of the Christian bible was up there in the sky looking down and judging us all, then given the number of times hypocrisy is condemned in that very bible, fanatics like Matt Krause would have suffered their own fatal blood clot long ago.

The best evidence that their god doesn’t exist … is them.

Krause and his fanatical cronies in the legislature want to assign a fetus legal representation and where does that end?

These are the same people who repeatedly attempt to create “personhood” laws. Now, how long before they’re investigating every woman who miscarries for negligent homicide?

Because that, that right there, is where this goes. 

Because if you believe a father like Erick Muñoz isn’t able to adequately represent or determine what is best for his own unborn child – and a government/church appoint lawyer is – then it follows almost immediately that this situation applies in all cases, not just when the mother is brain dead. 

If you follow this line of thinking to its inevitable conclusion, then it’s not long before you realize all fetuses must have their own legal representation independent of the parents.

These people have made it abundantly clear they believe a woman once she becomes pregnant gives up her own right to self-determination.  Her husband or legally designed representative is nothing more than a caretaker unable to represent her wishes or that of her “pre-born” child – though, strangely, he can be held legally responsible for the welfare of any existing post-born children.

These people will not be happy until pregnancy becomes a legal condition between mother and fetus, to be negotiated by lawyers and supervised by the state after extensive public debate.

Logically, any mother who miscarries must be investigated for manslaughter, for negligent homicide, for endangering the life of her fetus. Could she have exercised more, should she have been in better shape before getting pregnant? Was she too old, or too young? How about her diet? Her environment? The amount of sleep she gets?  Did she clean the cat box? Did she use artificial sweeteners in her caffeinated coffee?  What about her medical history and the medical history of her family, did she take that into account? Did she get a genetic screening?

For that matter, what about her choice of mates?

If a husband and father isn’t legally competent to make end-of-life decisions regarding his own child, and a state appointed lawyer is, then why should that same man be allowed to become a father in the first place without church review and sanction?

Is it not the lawyer’s job to represent the client to the very best of his or her ability?

If the baby is born with ADHD or near sightedness or left handed or just plain ugly, can the baby sue its parents through the agency of its state appointed lawyer for not providing the very best possible genetic and environmental advantage? What if the parents make the baby eat strained spinach or let it get diaper rash or fail to burp it promptly? Shouldn’t the baby then demand justice for these things?

If not, why not?

And do you really, and I mean really, given history, believe that some lawyer or religious fanatic wouldn’t try it?

Oh, I’m being silly, am I?

I’m engaged in the slippery slope fallacy, you say?

You think I’ve carried this to ridiculous extremes do you?

Perhaps I have, but then perhaps I haven’t and I’ll remind you that I’m not one who wants to keep a corpse plugged in as an incubator.  Look, we’re dealing with religious extremists here, fanatics who’ve demonstrated repeatedly that there is no bridge too far when it comes to their obsession with other people’s lives and reproduction – well, unless it comes to taking care of actual real live children, I mean.

So, you tell me exactly and in no uncertain terms specifically why it won’t in fact come to this. Go on, show me, because:

- In 2009, Nina Buckhalter gave birth to a stillborn baby. Two months later the Lamar County, Mississippi, district attorney brought charges against Buckhalter and a grand jury indicted her for "willfully, unlawfully, feloniously”  killing her daughter, “Hayley Jade Buckhalter, a human being, by culpable negligence."  You see, traces of methamphetamine were detected in Buckhalter's system, and the district attorney argued those drugs caused Hayley Jade's death. There’s no proof of this, but that didn’t keep the state from prosecuting her for murder anyway. Mississippi's manslaughter laws were not intended to apply in cases of stillbirths and miscarriages, but that hasn’t kept fanatical right-to-life advocates from attempting to apply them in such cases. Buckhalter wasn’t the first and she wasn’t the last mother to be tried for murder in such cases.

- In 2010, Utah enacted a law which makes it a crime for a woman to have a miscarriage. This law is directed specifically at pregnant women, not third parties who might cause or assist in an illegal abortion or miscarriage. The law was a result of a 17-year-old girl, then seven months pregnant, who paid a man to beat her in an attempt to induce a miscarriage (the attempt was unsuccessful, the baby lived and was put up for adoption).  She was initially charged with attempted murder, but the law wouldn’t support that and charges were dropped. So Utah passed a law specifically for this situation, except the way the law is written it can be applied in every situation I suggested above. In addition to criminalizing an intentional attempt to induce a miscarriage or abortion, the law makes women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by "reckless behavior.”  Since reckless behavior isn’t an exact set of criteria or defined in this law, all the prosecutor needs to show is that a woman behaved in a manner that might lead to a miscarriage, even if she didn’t intend to lose the pregnancy.  Walk outside and slip on the ice, and later suffer a miscarriage, then you could be charged with murder in Utah. I guess you should have bought better boots or stayed indoors. It hasn’t happened yet, but the law is on the books and it was written that way by religious nuts on purpose.

- In 2011, Georgia State Rep. Bobby Franklin introduced a bill that would have criminalized miscarriages and made abortion in Georgia completely illegal. Not only that, Franklin’s bill would have made both miscarriages and abortions potentially punishable by death. The bill required every miscarriage to be investigated for "prenatal murder," and would have made felons out of any woman who could not legally prove that there was "no human involvement whatsoever in the causation" of their miscarriage.  The bill did not, however, provide any guidance on what constituted "human involvement."  You see the problem, right? It’s Napoleonic Law, the women is guilty of “prenatal murder” unless she can “prove” her innocence – with a potential death penalty as punishment.  Think about that. Think about it in the context of the fact that medical science doesn’t know what actually causes a miscarriage in a lot cases. According to studies conducted at The Mayo Clinic, it’s possible nearly a quarter of all conceptions end in miscarriage so early in the process that the woman doesn’t even know she’s pregnant, and the best guess as to why this happens is that the fetus isn’t developing normally.  Franklin’s law would have literally made that a crime punishable by death. 

- Kansas is currently contemplating a law that would make any miscarriage at any stage of a pregnancy reportable to the state for review and possible prosecution. Even the bill’s original author, a republican, will not longer support it because the religious fanatics have taken it beyond all rational bounds. Kansas isn’t the only state to try this, Virginia attempted to pass similar legislation in 2009. And other states are currently contemplating similar laws.

And you can find numerous examples far beyond these.

If you start researching this subject, you’re going to find that you’re sliding down the slippery slope pretty goddamned fast indeed (See example: Franklin et al above) because the fanatics can’t discuss this topic without their obsessive lunacy getting completely out of hand and crawling right up the inside of your reproductive system.

Now, yes, a woman smokes meth while pregnant, maybe we ought to have a way to address that. Sure.

A seventeen year old girl tries to induce a miscarriage by paying somebody to punch her in the stomach? Again, yes, maybe we should have a way to hold her responsible – and get her some help, because only desperate desperate people would do such a thing. Only a frightened desperate young woman who thinks she has no hope and no alternative would do this, so maybe we should give her some hope and some alternatives.

And the kind of help I’m talking about would cost a hell of lot less without intruding on personal liberty than a legion of government appointed uterus lawyers.

This isn’t about protecting life.

This isn’t about saving some fetus or about end of life decisions.

This is about power and control.

This is about religious fanaticism.

This is about forcing compliance with religious beliefs, just the same as any Ayatollah.

For a nation which prides itself on exceptionalism, there is nothing exceptional about that.

 


The first part of this Essay can be found here: Decisions and Regrets

87 comments:

  1. The party of smaller government.

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    1. Government small enough to fit into a woman's uterus.

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  2. The best evidence that their god doesn’t exist … is them.
    Brilliant. Thanks for another well written and poignant essay.

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  3. And it is far, far, past the time that America stands up and rips the microphone and the pen away from them.

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    1. Suppressing speech is problematic. I would rather that we did a better job of helping our fellow citizens to recognize propaganda. I am particularly concerned when that propaganda sets Americans against each other in a fashion that precludes the discussion and compromise that makes democracy function. We are crippled as a nation by accepting the message that others who disagree with us are traitors and the enemy.

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  4. Thank you for saying these things, which need to be said as loudly and as often as possible.

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    1. Indeed! A thousand times over!!
      M.A.

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  5. You are spot on. It's all about exerting complete and unfettered control over women and their bodies. It's about remaking women as second class citizens. It's about putting us in our place - how dare we women fight back against men who purport to know the will of a god created in their distorted image. After all, we women are just a lesser cut of meat...

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    1. Won't be long before our rights to drive are taken away also if we are not careful! Truly, this brand of xtianity is as terrible as any Islamic fanaticism as it relates to men having full power over any and all female rights!

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  6. And yet they go on passing the decreases to all assistance programs, education programs and etc. that would help children after they are born. But are sure to give billions of dollars worth of tax breaks to their rich buddies.

    It's insane. I'm glad I'm post menopausal. I had two miscarriages, one of which led to a D&C because I kept bleeding. (never got pregnant again, don't care)

    The Handmaid's Tale, anyone?

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    1. New to posting but when I read your Handmaid's Tale comment, I had to agree. I've been thinking that for years now. When I mention it, people's eyes glaze over. They've never read it!

      Also want to say kudos to you, Jim. I have lurked on your blog for a long time and enjoy everything you write. Keep it up. You write what all of us are thinking but you write it much better than most of us could!

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    2. I've been following women's rights issues since the mid-1970's. Did not read The Handmaid's Tale until just a couple years ago. It promptly became the second entry on my personal list of books to never read again. Never. Ever. A list BTW that consisted of just one book since about 1985 or so. It was just too damn depressing. But I read it because I kept seeing comparisons like yours and wanted to better understand the comparison.

      You are right: Too many people seem to think it should be a guidebook, not a cautionary story.

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  7. Absolutely. It is about control. Absolute control over all of us women who are running around, opinionated and voting.

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  8. They are not pro-life. They are anti-women - specifically, anti-women-having-sex-without-paying-for-their-sins. Because they do not care a whit about the life of the woman. They don't care about the life of the child after it exits the womb in a timely fashion. They only care about "punishing" women for having the audacity to want full control over their sex and reproductive lives.

    I risked my life to have my children. I did so, knowing there could be dire consequences. My husband and I discussed it beforehand, and we agreed to take our chances. That's how much I wanted my kids. I wish everyone wanted their kids that much. But I will be damned if I think ANYONE should have the right to tell me or any other woman that we must risk our lives to have children. Pregnancy is very, very dangerous, even now. But even if it were not, I am vehemently opposed to anyone telling someone else they have to have children they don't want or can't afford or know will die upon being born. It's wrong in every sense of the word. And I am horrified we are still having this conversation in the 21st century.

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    1. I likewise risked my life to have children. And I miscarried as many times as I succeeded. By the standards these fanatical loons are advocating, I'd be put to death leaving the successfully born children orphans.

      And yes, I can't believe this is STILL being fought over in the 21st century....feels more like the 12th century.

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  9. If they believe that God wants every pre-born baby born, can they explain why God allows so many miscarriages? I used to hear the rate was 25% of all pregnancies. Pretty high mistake rate for someone who is omniscient.

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    1. I've read that the miscarriage rate can be as high as 40% of pregnancies.

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    2. Oh, you know they would tell you it isn't Gawd -- it is those damned sluts drinking coffee, eating bon bons, and clumsily falling down stairs. Prosecute them!

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    3. There's a reason they've switched from "unborn" to "pre-born". I don't know and I don't care what that reason is, but I know it's not a good reason. I'm not going to engage with them on their terms by using the language they have invented as a weapon against me. An anti-abortionist is an anti-abortionist: there is nothing "pro-life" about these people.

      And an unborn baby is an unborn baby, not a "pre-born" baby.

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    4. A baby is a fetus that survives birth to is able to live independently of its mother.

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    5. These are very tricky definitions, and it is very dangerous to define person-hood based on the ability to survive "independently" -- in part because then the definition of human status depends on the progress of technology. If you mean "survive outside the womb" that is one definition stretching back into the second trimester of pregnancy. If you mean -- breathe on their own, I guess that applies to most "babies," but not all. If you truly mean "able to live independently", well my kids sure aren't there yet.

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  10. And...I tried to donate. But the site didn't want my card and insisted on PayPal. Paypal has my account limited (something about Mexican silver earrings) so will find another way. Love your facebook posts and Stonekettle Station and need to do my part to ensure you keep writing! And my sister also has a Shopkat. Really.

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    1. Odd, you should be able to click on the "continue" button in the bottom left corner of the donate page, just above the credit card pictures, and enter any card, debit, credit, or check number, that you like.

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  11. Pregnancy is the only life-threatening condition that a person may enter into willingly, but not back out of without state involvement. You don't have to petition the court if you decide you don't want to fly in that plane or take that bungee jump -- you just get off the plane or take off the harness, and you walk away. But end a pregnancy? Hoo, boy.

    Those who advocate criminal investigation over miscarriages haven't thought it completely through. Since a miscarriage can happen without a woman ever knowing she was pregnant, then a woman needs to have a pregnancy test as frequently as she has her periods. And her menstrual fluid has to be tested for a "product of conception." If you truly, truly do believe that every miscarriage is a homicide of some kind, then there's no getting around that. How will the state implement the testing? The lawmakers who keep bringing these bills up must be challenged on this.

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    1. So not challenging them on that. Do not want to give a certain kind of politician any ideas. Either they haven't thought this through - as most 'pro-life' voters I've come across on the topic. Or they have thought it through because that is exactly where they want to go on their power trip.

      The thing is: They don't have to test each woman for each and every reproductive cycle she has. They just have to make enough women fearful - too fearful to do things the a 'real woman' would never do. This goes on often enough and long enough and eventually woman are simply barefoot, pregnant and restricted to the kitchen again. It is no longer the legal restriction that is important - but the peer pressure and social restrictions. Think about it. When I was having my children it was considered OK for a pregnant woman to have a glass of wine with dinner once in a while. Now, even without legal pressure, a pregnant woman faces all kinds of pressure to be a teetotaler all the way through breastfeeding. No proof of damage or even possible damage needed.

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    2. My sister-in-law used to have a glass of port about 2 hours before the last feed of the day, my nephew slept through the night once my Grandmother told her about this little trick.

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  12. I will admit, I almost got offended, but then I realized you were not talking about my God, and my savior. You made that clear.

    With that settled I have one thing to say: PREACH ON BROTHER JIM!

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    1. I agree Dan, I'm not sure what their god is. Fear, greed and anger seems to be their covenant.

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  13. Having lived in TX for 15 years after spending the vast majority of my life in MN, I am shocked by many things but most particularly by the lack of disregard for children in this state. And it is not just the children at the border, it is all children who are not fortunate enough to be born into wealthy families. Cut education funding? Check. Cut medical funding? Check. Cut food stamps? Check. And perhaps most ironically of all, cut funding for Planned Parenthood and leave hundreds of thousands of poor North Texas women without pre-pregnancy and prenatal care? Check. The hypocrisy that lives here is heartbreaking. And you are correct, they are no better than the religious extremists that they are sure are crossing the border on a daily basis to disrupt their lives. Nothing slippery about this slope when you watch it up close. We are sliding down it. I don't know what it is going to take for the women of this state, and the men who love them, to wake up and see what's happening here. But in the 2014 election, we had one of the lowest voter turnout in the US. So we have the assholes we deserve I guess. But for my daughter and grandkids, I would have been out of here long ago. It's like living in the Middle Ages.

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    1. I was born and raised in Oregon and I also live in Texas. I can sure relate.

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    2. I spent a year in the Houston suburbs one week. It was like a high tech antebellum fever dream. It wasn't a nightmare but was very disturbing. The south will rise again. Sort of like food poisoning.

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  14. This whole subject leaves me too enraged to be rational with a response. The rights of a free citizen should not be suborned to the putative rights of a potentiality. Sorry, but fetuses are not "persons" and have no rights. I used to be rather moderate about abortion but the hypocritical and hyper-religious fanatics have pushed me ever farther to the liberal side of the question.

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    1. Did I detect some hesitation about becoming more liberal? Let me share this with you. Here is something that most people are probably unaware of. The meaning of liberal is being changed into a dirty word by the wealth owned media. I have a dictionary with a copyright of 1966. According to it, here is what it would take to be a liberal. “You would need to be open minded, generous, favorable to progress or reform, favorable to or in accord with the concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, in favor of representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies and be against prejudice and bigotry.” From that definition, I would say that there are many closet liberals out there, that do not even know that they are liberal.
      If you google liberal, you will find it hard to put together that definition. Could it be that the wealth owned media is causing the definition to be changed? From that definition, here are a few things that make one a non liberal. Narrow minded, selfish, prejudiced, and a bigot. Take it as a compliment if you are called a liberal.

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    2. Thank you Bill Hampton, for your post. I've long known the real meaning of "liberal" (and I've been a Liberal for 50+ years). From now on, I plan to quote, as you have, the dictionary definition of liberal, when responding to twisted usage of the word by my acquaintances. I'm already on a mission to clarify "entitlements" which are something to which people are actually entitled not the maligned way so many on the Right want everyone to believe.

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  15. You are just a bundle of joy today. As if I'm not depressed enough about man's inhumanity to man, I have two more things to worry about. Seriously, though, I am a current state of paralysis over the idiocy going on. Animals when threatened have the flight or fight response, often less known is the freeze response, like a dear caught in the headlights. That would be me. I don't know how to make things better. I can't even convince my own family of what is going on. I implore that they do the research, don't take my word for it. My mother who used to say to me... if everyone jumped off a ciff..., now says, when I point out the lies of FOX news, everyone is doing it. Trying to reason, inform or educate these people is an exercise in futility. I know I'll figure it out, I just hope it won't be too late.

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  16. My extremely bright 11 year old daughter and I were talking about Africa recently. Specifically about why it is harder than she might think to do things like save the elephants or stop ebola. And naturally the talk turned, as such things always do, to religion. I mentioned religious groups so opposed to the ideas of "the west" that they would sooner kill young girls than allow them to be educated. She looked at me with incredulity, and said, "You mean like 200 years ago. That hasn't happened in a long time, right?" And, me being me and unwilling to sugar coat, I said, "No. Now. Right now. Today. In many places right now there are people who believe that girls should never learn to read because it will corrupt them. It will make them turn away from their religions or traditions or whatever the men tell them to do."

    She was angry. She gets angry a lot lately when she learns about the world. She says that she can see herself in the front of a protest, holding a sign and shaking her fist. It makes me proud of her, but it makes me feel old. I don't get that angry anymore. I used to, and frankly things seemed a lot less scary when I was younger than they do now. I was 20 when I read The Handmaid's Tale. It seemed terrifying, but unlikely. Now I'm 46 and it seems increasingly more likely every day. I'm not sure if she should read it or not. Maybe next year. Right now she is too busy wishing the death penalty on elephant poachers. But she should read it eventually. She might be able to fix things. If anyone could, it would be her. I just hope there is enough time left.

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    1. I'm 68 and I just read The Handmaid's Tale last year - and it made me realize that the religious right is leading us directly to this scenario. I honestly believe that if we don't stand up and fight back whenever and wherever we can, our grandchildren could be living this story line. I cannot imagine what this would do to my granddaughters, or to their brothers who would be unable to stop it once it was the law of the land. It is time to fight back against these avowed, but not true, xtians. They are the same as the fanatics in ISIL/ISIS and Boko Haram and have pretty much the same ideology - men rule, women are hidden at home to be used and abused as desired.

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    2. Good on you! If you haven't already, I suggest introducing your daughter to Madison Kimrey, another very smart and politically engaged young woman. https://m.facebook.com/NCYouthRock?refsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FNCYouthRock

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  17. In a nutshell: "If you're preborn you're fine, but if you're preschool, you're fucked." -- Uncle George

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    1. I do so miss the genius that was George Carlin.

      whitelilly

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  18. Thanks for this, Jim. It's just straw after straw after straw in the reproductive rights battle, and it shouldn't be. I don't understand what part of "choice" these lawmakers don't get.

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  19. They get "choice" just fine. They want it to be theirs. Not yours. But don't worry, they are very, very clear about choice.

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  20. As a nation, just as "we" have the government we deserve, "we" have a puppy love issue. Love the puppies, but neglect or "throw away" the adult dogs once they cease to be cute. Love the preborn babies, because they are a cute political football, but show zero concern for children or adults unless they provide an active benefit at the time.

    I'd prefer to think that a living person, male or female, would be worth concern and care, education and opportunity, above and beyond a potentiality. If the only thing my daughters can look forward to is the opportunity to be forced into bearing, regardless of their wishes, then I fear for the two I bore, and am glad I cannot engender or bear any more. Living in Kansas as I do, I fear for them very much. If I could pick up this little patch of land that the family worked so many years to own, and take it somewhere else, I would. But it will not sell, and I am not (yet) fearful enough to leave with nothing. I hope that day never comes.
    Gretchen in KS

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  21. Great article, Jim.

    Rep. Alcee Hastings called Texas a crazy state. He didn't lie. Of course, he said he was Florida and that state is crazy, too.

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    1. Maybe even crazier than Texas, just look as crazy eyed Rick Scott. He reminds me of the crazy murderous toon in Roger Rabbit.

      whitelilly

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  22. As an additional irony, these same folk will defend with loud hosannas and waving firearms the right of parents to do whatever the hell they want with their kids -- beat 'em with sticks, work 'em in the fields, pray over them instead of calling the doctor, teach 'em every vile and hateful doctrine they can image, whatever -- because the state must never, ever, _ever_ interfere with the rights of parents.

    Unless we're talking about a fetus, in which case, by God, get that kid a state-appointed lawyer!

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  23. Since so many miscarriages occur before the woman is even aware of pregnancy, clearly the (potential) fetus's lawyer must be engaged before conception occurs, and must supervise the process from beginning to end. At which point, if birth is successful, the lawyer walks away saying "OK sucker, you're on your own. The State now declares you officially fucked. And if you intend to get fucked again, here's my card."

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    1. Now there is some performance pressure - a lawyer watching you have sex, just in case!

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  24. As noted in the Facebook feed, this law is already on the books in Alabama. And Wisconsin as this article goes into; http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2015/01/30/lawyers-fetuses-yes-absurd-worse-realize/

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  25. It sounds like it's time for the folks with pitchforks and torches to come out in Texas, as they did in Portland, Oregon last night. The USA is drowning in the foul, putrid bilge waters of stupid.

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    1. So, what happened in Portland, OR last night? It would be so helpful if you provide a link so that the rest of us can applaud of our fellow citizens for their good work :)

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  26. Thank you for writing this.
    I lost a child 32 years ago. He was born at 28 weeks. No reason could be given. I can't imagine the horror of being forced to defend myself against charges on top of mourning the loss of my son.
    These people are crazy. Really crazy. And it is up to the rest of us to stop them.

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  27. I wonder if the Christian Taliban who author these laws on miscarriages have thought about how modern electronics could help them in their mission of Jihad against girls and women.

    These cretins could hire a company like Honeywell to make a device that monitors blood or urine for the telltale chemicals for pregnancy.

    Then, they could force that device to be used every month by every girl over 10, and every woman under 50.

    Gals, just think if this like getting your car inspected! It's fun and easy, and only takes a few minutes a month! The device comes with your own Social Security number printed right on it!

    It's for your own good, you know. Each month, just run the test in private, and then it will automatically connect it to the nearest wireless network in your home, library, or coffeehouse.

    That way, the authorities and the Christian Ayatollahs will know that you're pregnant as soon as you do, and can help you keep track of the new Jesus follower.

    If you lose the child at any time, a helpful nurse will be out to determine exactly what happened.

    Don't forget to carefully save whatever remnants from the miscarriage murder came out, and freeze them asap.

    The helpful nurse will then be able to prove it was natural, and you will have no worries, as long as you conformed to the new detailed State document booklet called, " Preserving your baby"

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  28. You are definitely right about the similarities between our fanatics and Muslim fanatics. The only reason ours aren't chopping off heads is that it is still not legal, for now.

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  29. "Walk outside and slip on the ice, and later suffer a miscarriage, then you could be charged with murder in Utah."

    Given the difficulty of finding naturally-occurring ice in Utah (or most of the Southwestern states, for that matter), there might be cause for suspicion...

    Tongue-in-cheek blathering intended to pass as humor aside, I agree with some of the other comments here that the parallels to "The Handmaid's Tale" are disturbing, to say the least. It seems that Atwood might have only been off by a a few decades.

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    1. I take it you've never been to Utah in winter.

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  30. Sister Joan Chittister: "I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born, but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."

    freckles

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  31. At this moment, I am giving you an extended and rousing standing ovation... Well done sir!

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  32. Another bit of craziness going on down here in Houston is a backlash against the city's equal rights ordinance. Basically it has language allowing transgender people to use the restroom they identify with. The evangelical crowd went totally bats-hit when they heard this and promptly ginned up a giant petition to get it on a recall ballot. Which promptly wound up in court because the city found that a bunch of the signatures were fraudulent. It's working its way through the courts now, and why? Seriously, why are evangelicals afraid of an EQUAL RIGHTS ORDINANCE? Because a whole bunch of church-goers claim that this will give perverts a license to dress as women and molest little girls in women's restrooms. You can't make this up. No one has cited any actual cases where this has happened. And indecency with a child is still illegal regardless of where it happens. Nonetheless, it has become this giant religious struggle, partly because during the discovery period of the civil suit (brought by the churches and their PAC) the city's pro bono attorneys subpoenaed written materials from the churches and used the unfortunate term "sermons" in their subpoena, which of course created a chorus of yelping about religious freedom, censorship, etc. It's always entertaining down here in Texas.

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    1. Our public service to the rest of the nation is providing fodder to the comedians :)

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  33. Some of the laws cited in this post seem to be about as stupid as those laws where you cross the wrong state line with a legally owned gun and a permit to carry it gets you landed in prison.
    Gee, I don't see the people all buttmad about the laws listed in this post doing anything about those gun laws.
    Therefore, since everybody has their double standards. REPEAT: DOUBLE STANDARDS, then nobody is innocent and we all deserve to play this statist hopscotch.
    Until everybody respects liberty instead of hiding in voting booths like a spineless coward and committing robbery and murder with a pen and using the state as their personal weapon to get a leg up for themselves and "stick it to people they don't like", nothing will change. Nothing.
    So this post is just more words on a website somewhere that, like all the others, are worthless.

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    1. ...a website somewhere that, like all the others, are worthless.

      And yet, here you are.

      And not only here you are, but for a guy who whines about statism, you don't seem to have any problem making a living from a medium developed by the government. But then hypocrisy is pretty much the calling card of you libertarian anti-government types, isn't it?

      You're not the only gun owner here. And the amusing part, is that for a self-proclaimed "firearms instructor" you don't seem to know very much about gun laws.

      As a gun owner, as a certified and professionally trained firearms instructor myself with more than thirty years experience in and out of the military, and as a retired Intelligence Officer with another 30 years experience in operational security, allow me to say, Paranoid OPSEC, you're not very good at it.

      Now take your boilerplate statist paranoia and fuck off.

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    2. Well done Jim, well done. LMAO

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  34. Two notes:

    1. One thing that doesn't usually come up in these discussions (have I mentioned it here before?) is that anti-abortion activism was rare in the USA; it was ginned-up in the 1980s to support the flagging power of the religious right. This is a sobering testimony to the power of mass-media propaganda. See, for instance, The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal. That author also points out that Exodus supports the view that the life of the mother is more important than the life of the fetus.

    2. Another point that is often forgotten is that there is a Christian Left as well as a Christian Right. It is actually a large group, comparable in size to the Christian Right, and does many of the things you call on Christians to do. It does not, however, own any television networks.

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    1. and does many of the things you call on Christians to do.

      Stop right there, Randolf. I didn't call on Christians to do anything one way or the other. Christians were ordered by their own namesake to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and heal the sick. You got a beef with that, you take it up with him.

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  35. Not only was anti-abortion activism rare (good point) but pro-abortion (see, I said it) policies were strongly supported by lots of (Protestant) church leaders who saw the large numbers of unplanned children to be one of the biggest reasons for poverty. Pro-life as a political thing is a Reagan-era creation, and driven arguably as much (or more) by church moms as by misogynistic men.

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  36. "Then he got to bury his family among the vile and disgusting taunts of so-called Christians who branded him “baby killer” and “murderer” and informed him that they were assigning him a special place in their religion’s hell."
    I believe in neither heaven nor hell, but I do know I can imagine no more terrible fate than to spend eternity among these "so-called Christians". Hell would seem a relief.

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    1. And he got the bill from the hospital for keeping his wife's corpse on life support...

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  37. Thank you for mentioning the late Rep. Bobby Franklin. In his obituaries his friends and political allies praised him for "supporting family values". He died at home on a Friday. His body was found the following Sunday by a fellow religious fanatic who had noticed his absence from church that day. He was such a "family values" person that his wife had left him more than a year before, and none of his three adult children had spoken to him in years.

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  38. When are the people we elect going to get some balls and shout down these religious fanatics?

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  39. Great post, Jim! This is exactly the kind of rational thinking that keeps me coming back to the Station.

    Pete Moulton

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  40. Again, you are my God!!
    How many religious reading this will speak out against religious fanaticism? What is so scary is that this type religious mentality is not detrimental to religion. It seems to cause others to join in. I do not see man ever becoming human. Human being the intellectual side of the animal. We do not seem to be capable of using our intellect to rising above our animal instincts. Maybe I should say that most are capable but few have the desire to do so.

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    1. The extreme members of a group set the limits. As long as your action isn't as horrible as theirs then you are safe. I personally think that the most extreme members of a group are seen as the most pure. We might despise what they are doing and yet see that they are taking a belief system to its purest form without worrying about what society thinks. example: I would never tell a grieving mother that her son deserved to die because he is gay because I don't like to hurt people but those extreme people in my group aren't afraid of public opinion. Instead, I'll just ask my congressman to restrict the freedoms of gay people because I'm not as brave as the extreme people in my group.

      I don't think people consciously admit to admiring the extremist but I think subconsciously it affects what we think is o.k. for us to do.

      From psychological research -- the most extreme members of a group pull the entire group over their direction.

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  41. Think about personhood laws for a moment....They say that from conception there is a person. Even if the woman doesn't know she is pregnant...there is a person there.

    We don't allow babies on the factory floor, we don't allow babies to sit in the front seat of cars, we don't allow babies on the battlefield, we take babies away from parents who take the baby into dangerous situations like a soccer field or serve the baby a beer or a cigarette.

    If there is potentially a baby inside a woman at any moment then how could we legally allow her to participate in the Army, construction work, factory work, sports, driving, etc without a current (twice a month) pregnancy test?

    And, if it isn't a person then how can you legally prevent a woman from having a procedure that will prevent a the much more dangerous condition of childbirth & pregnancy --- unless you bring religion into the mix and create laws based on religious beliefs.

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  42. If I had been Eric Munoz, I would have filed criminal charges against the physicians and the hospital for battery, which legally, it was. Mrs. Munoz was unable to give consent, and her husband refused.

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  43. This kind of stuff gets traction because the idea that life begins at conception is very simple, elegant, and non-sectarian. It doesn't require any messy medical or philosophical details. It's also very easy to make an emotional appeal to the idea that the brand-new zygote is the most vulnerable of, well, "human-ish" organisms. Mix that with a generous dollop of sex shaming and pour in some "personal responsibility" Tea and that's what gets us where we are today. I would not be surprised to see it get a lot worse before it gets better, if ever. I don't see this or any conceivable future (no pun intended) SCOTUS taking a strong stand to defend Roe v. Wade from all this state-law chipping-away.

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  44. I believe that the religious liberals (open minded, generous, not prejudice and not bigots) need to start speaking out against the religious non liberals (narrow minded, selfish, prejudice, bigots) before they take religion back to the dark ages."
    BTY My definition for liberal was taken from the dictionary.

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  45. Thank you. Widely shared.

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  46. Hi Jim --

    I haven't been reading you long, but I enjoy your wit and, generally your style. For example, while I don't dislike Sen. Tom Coburn as much as you apparently do, I had tears in my eyes laughing at your recent takedown of him. That is all a lead-in to my comment on this article, which is that I certainly understand your anger at the specific, tragic circumstances you discuss. I also understand (and to some extent share) your anger at people who attempt to take their religious beliefs and press them out into the wider world to insert themselves into the private lives of others and make those lives harder. I don't share your apparent vitriol at the topic of religion in general and your apparently negative views of people who have chosen to believe in a religion. My inarticulate and slightly drunken thought is that religion is all interpretation by people. Some people are a-holes. Many people are not very smart. Almost all people are tribal. Those are just the facts, So condemn the people, not religion in general. After all, some people work (in both their private and public lives) to feed the hungry, clothe the needy, and tend the sick due in part to their religious beliefs. There's nothing wrong with that stuff, so there is nothing inherently wrong with "religion" and believers. I speak as a person who grew up in a conservative Catholic family, fled the faith starting in my late teens because I found out that the Church was not all like the Jesuits who taught me in high school, and eventually found my way back to a Christian faith sometimes called "Catholicism Lite" (Episcopalian) -- very similar in many ways, but with a much larger role for women and more power to the laity. I have found that my faith has given me and my family opportunities to be in community and to grow and do good. So, there you have it. I also agree with about the need for "religious liberals" to speak out more and battle religious conservatives to show that "religion" is not a monolith. The problem there is (as with politics in general), moderate and sensible people tend to be less passionate and less well-organized than folks on the extremes. Not sure what to do about that.

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  47. I lived in Texas most of my life; Georgia the past almost four years. Come September I'm gone.

    I have a 15 year old daughter. We're moving to Uruguay because I'll be damned if I'll finish raising her in a country that sees her as a walking uterus. She doesn't want kids. EVER.

    That goes for any girls my sons might accidentally impregnate (I've raised them both to respect women, to understand how sex works, but bc ain't 100% and I expect them to be healthy, normal young men who will want to have sex with a consenting young woman, or more than one, someday.)

    I'm just. So. Done.

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  48. And in El Salvador, abortion law has gotten so strict that women suffering a (involuntary) miscarriage has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

    Dammit, Jim - We're sliding back into the dark ages here...

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