Monday, February 27, 2012

Sharing my Personal Experience of a Rape

Inspired by a recent podcast featuring Sean Faircloth from the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Here is another personal story about a subject that has been taken lightly in the atheist community recently. This is a subject not to ever be taken lightly and it affects more people than you will ever know about. It is a deep emotional scar that most victims keep quiet and to themselves, but that in no way gives anyone the right to make fun or light of rape.

Another person in my life that has been subjected to rape: something I will never forget nor will I forget the look of helplessness, shame, and shock in her eyes.

A woman that I had been dating brought up in conversation the idea of auto-erotic asphyxiation and she wanted to try after setting some ground rules and safe guards.

When it came down to it and actually putting my hands upon her neck, I immediately withdrew. I told her I couldn't do it no matter how safe we thought we were being. It just didn't feel right and made my stomach turn at that moment.

She broke up with me shortly after stating various reasons, one of which was I "was to soft with her and weak." I had no regrets and could walk away with those words no matter how they cut me.

It was the following weekend on a Sunday when I got a call from her brother asking me, "What the hell did you do to her?" I was at a loss and hadn't seen her in 3-4 days. I had no answer that would calm him down but he told me she was in the hospital.

I made it to her room with her brother standing guard. After a slight shoving match in the hall, he finally heard my words, "I hadn't seen her since Monday." It finally sunk in and he let me pass to enter her room.

Inside she was lying there with tears just rolling down her cheeks. She told me she was sorry for calling me weak and now understood my reluctance. After a few minutes she told this horrifying story of what had happened to her.

She and a few girlfriends went out on the town dancing Saturday and she hooked up with a guy. They went to her place where she "talked him into auto-erotic sex" act using a belt around her neck. She thought it was safe but she blacked out before she could say the "safe word" or yell "stop."

She woke up barely remembering what had happened. When she saw the bruises, she immediately went to the hospital. The belt had bruised her neck so badly it looked like a black, blue, and red 3 inch skin tight necklace. She suffered deep contusions right below each ear where her jugulars were. This explained why she blacked out - the belt had acted like a wrestler's sleeper hold.

That was not the worst of it. She had provided condoms at her place. From the medical examination, the doctors had determined from the evidence of fluids and tearing that she had unprotected sex both vaginally and anally. But she didn't remember him being inside her at all - she had passed out and he had his way with her. He probably thought she passed out from the drinks earlier but still that gave him no right to do what he did.

On the Tuesday following, 3 police officers entered my department at work. At first I was confused. As they approached my work area, I grew even more concerned. They walked right past me and stopped 4 stations down. I later found out from one of the guys in that station that he was just bragging about having "erotic sex with this babe" who "wanted him to choke her".

He was charged with rape, unlawful restraint, and reckless endangerment. He pleaded out to rape and confessed. He said that they had consented to sex and the sex act to be performed. He reluctantly agreed to wear the condom. She confirmed that much of the story in her report.

But once she had passed out, he said he "took the condom off and had sex with her any way." "He couldn't feel anything with those things," he said. He said he was "sorry" and "thought she just passed out drunk." He said afterwards he just left and went home, leaving her with the belt still around her neck. Had that belt been a little tighter she might have gotten brain damage or not woken up at all.

There are many lessons above, most of which I never wanted her or anyone else to learn or experience, but hopefully everyone can learn from them.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Faces of Rape - Part 2

Continued from yesterday. Please remember that this content is sexual and graphic.

It was 2 A.M. on a week night and I was somewhere I should not have been.  Even though I had work the next day, I had chosen to go with my in-laws to the casino. We were much later coming back home than we had planned and I was dozing off. Little did I know, something was about to happen that would open up doors I had long kept locked.

We were cruising down the road when suddenly there was a flash of white on the side of the road. My father-in-law said, "Was that a woman?" We backed up and, sure enough, it was a disheveled woman staggering along the road as if in a stupor. He asked her if she needed help and she said, "Yes, help me."

We got her into the van and I helped her to the seat beside me. I already knew what had happened. I knew that look in her eye. She was shaking and crying. She gripped my hand so hard that I thought she would break it. She simply said, "Why did this happen to me?"

Through tear-stained eyes and frantic gulps, she told her story. She had been at a different casino just enjoying a night out. On her way to the car, a man grabbed her and forced her into his vehicle. He drove her out to a dark, secluded spot by the river where he repeatedly raped and sodomized her. Then he left her there to suffer alone, not knowing where she was or how to find civilization again.

It seemed to take forever for her to tell this story. I could tell she was in pain but, as time went by, I felt she was slipping into shock. I urged her to keep talking. She couldn't believe it had really happened. She kept repeating, "Why did this happen? I'm a grandmother!"

Yes, this wasn't another scantily-clad slut. This was somebody's grandmother. Lots of older people bus in to go the casinos. Probably none of them thinks that they will be abducted, raped, and sodomized.

We made it to a gas station and I called 911. I stayed with her against the wishes of my family who apparently just wanted to leave her there at the deserted station to wait for an ambulance. She kept trying to go to the bathroom saying, "I've got to wash my hands. I've got to pee." I knew she wanted nothing more than to scrub off the feel and the scent of the rapist. I didn't let her go. I told her she had to stay strong a bit longer so they could find the bastard who did this. The bastard who thinks it's fun to anally rape someone's grandmother...

The last time I saw her, she was in the ambulance. I never knew her name. I never knew what happened to her. But her situation unsealed the memories of my own attack that I'd kept hidden for so long. For the next ten years, I would relive some of my own assault through flashbacks and dreams until I finally got some much-needed therapy.

Rape isn't something that happens just to sluts who you think are asking for it. I happens to little kids. It happens to grandmothers. It happens to women of every age, race, religion, color, and creed. It is a disease of humanity, born of our animal natures and sustained by religions and cultures that treat people as territory to be conquered or property that can be bought and sold.

How is a rape victim supposed to carry the product of that rape against her will? How does one cheerfully put on a smile while her rapist's seed is growing inside her - every bout of morning sickness, reminding her of how she vomited when he sodomized her; every night of heartburn reminding her of the tightness in her chest when he was on top of her pushing so hard; every kick the fetus makes reminding her of his hands digging into her skin as he hurt her over and over again. How is that a blessing? How does that heal a victim who doesn't want to relive her rape? It doesn't. It simply re-traumatizes her.

But, you say, "It's not the baby's fault how it was conceived. It's innocent." Again, this is not a game of "Saints and Sinners" for you to play at your leisure. This is about the brutality of real rapes in the real world. This is about someone's daughter getting attacked at church. This is about someone's grandmother being raped and sodomized by a stranger. This is about women you know and love who have never told you their story. 

You may be absolutely convinced that if you were raped, you'd want to keep the baby. That's fine - more power to you. But for you to make that decision for other women, to force your preference upon them by taking away their sexual choice yet again, is to become part of the religions and cultures that view women as chattel to be controlled rather than people whose choices must be honored. For if society says that it is fine to make sexual choices for women, then it follows that it is fine for men to individually make sexual choices for women also. Such a thing cannot be tolerated in a free, egalitarian society.

Faces of Rape - Part 1

The following post is sexual in nature and rather graphic. I was personally involved in both events and am relating them to you as best as I can recall. I am doing this to put some real faces to the term "rape victim" which is tossed around in our culture without full regard to the people it represents. If you are sensitive about this subject, consider yourself warned.

She was 8 or 9 years old, the age of ponytails, dog-ears, and braids. She had rainbow-striped suspenders and some off-brand jeans because the real stuff like Lee or Wrangler was too expensive for her parents to afford. She had come to this little church with her pastor, his wife, and the youth group for a kids' program. It was fun to get out once a month and see the other churches.

The program was over and refreshments had been served in the kitchen. After enjoying the Kool-Aid and cookies, she went outside to play with the other kids. Hide-and-seek was her favorite game; she had been born knowing how to hide. But tonight's game was chase. A bunch of older kids were chasing the younger ones around outside, laughing and having lots of fun. She joined the group and began playing along, hoping that the adults would stay inside and talk for a long time.

The older kids gave them a slight head start and the little kids were off again, running in formation to keep away from their pursuers. As the line of children turned right, she veered left, down the hill, and into a small clearing. No one would notice, she thought, and she would easily get away.

But as she ran down the dirt slope, she realized that two boys had broken off in pursuit. As the other kids ran faster and disappeared over the hill, she slipped on something and fell flat on her back. Before she could get up, both boys were on top of her. One grabbed her from behind and forced her arms above her head. The other was at her feet trying to hold them as she kicked at him fiercely. It was still a game to her. She didn't understand.

The boy at her back pinned her arms back and started pulling her shirt up. She was embarrassed and alarmed - this wasn't part of the game! Her mother had always told her that certain parts were dirty and should never be shown. Now this boy was pulling up her shirt so that he and the other kid could see her small body. This was horrifying! She struggled and fought against that hand, trying desperately to bite or do anything that would prevent him from exposing her still undeveloped breasts. But her struggles ceased when the other boy rammed his knee into her abdomen, causing her to gasp for breath and making her wet her pants. She had never been so ashamed in her whole life - lying there in the dirt with one boy touching her and the other one unfastening her jeans. She didn't understand what it meant but she knew it was wrong. She knew her mom and dad were going to be furious. All she felt was shame and pain.

At that point, she saw the full moon in the sky and let her mind drift up to it. She no longer felt anything they did to her. She didn't know - didn't need to know - what was happening to her body. Some time later, she came to her senses and was lying alone and exposed on the ground behind the church. Nobody saw her. Nobody came to help.

She didn't say a word to anyone about what had happened. She went home that night and, claiming she was tired, went straight to the bath. She didn't put her dirty clothes in the hamper. She hid them until her parents went to bed. About midnight that night, she stuffed the dirty clothes in the bottom of the washer and hid her soiled panties at the bottom of a full trash bag. No one would ever see her shame. No one would ever know. She did not have the words to describe what had happened to her. She did not know what to call it. All she knew is that mom and dad could never find out. No one must ever know.

A lot of people think that nothing like this could ever happen to them or their children. They think assault and rape only happen to scantily-clad sluts who are asking for it. They are wrong. I was born into a good, Christian family. I went to a good church. I was a good kid. Yet this happened to me. I am that girl and I was sexually assaulted.

Fortunately, I was too young to get pregnant or to even understand that there might have been a risk. Fortunately, I didn't have to worry about whether I could get emergency contraception or an abortion if I needed one. But there are real women out there who do have to worry about it. To take away a victim's choice is indeed to rape her of her rights all over again. If you haven't been violated like that, then you don't understand no matter how much you might think you do. You don't get it. 

Rape is not about deciding who's the saint and who's the sinner. It's not something for you to sanctimoniously play around with while declaring that the victim needs to just smile and bear her rapist's child. It is a violent crime perpetrated against the young and the old, the thin and the overweight, the beautiful and the plain, men and women, people everywhere. It's a crime against humanity - not a talking point to sell modesty or virtue. Most of all, it is not a platform for you to build your forced birth case upon. 

Rape begins with an idea - the notion that a woman has no sexual freedom and can be forced to perform as one wishes. In that regard, the physical act of rape differs from the forced birth policy in a manner of degree, not kind.

(to be continued...)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Freedom Is Worth the Cost

Now that our Mississippi legislators, particularly Sen. Joey Fillingane, have taken it upon themselves to reintroduce "personhood" measures, we've got to listen to the incessant whining and puling of the anti-freedom fetus cult yet again. Forced birth supporter Linda Broome wrote this letter to the Hattiesburg American so I will respond here to her statements.

My, My. How could any of us forget the vote, 58 percent to 42 percent, to reject the rights of the unborn.

I don't think the 58% voted to reject the rights of the unborn so much as to reaffirm women's rights to make their own medical decisions. The forced-birth fetus cult pulled all the stops trying to make us believe that this was just about abortion but the initiative also opened the door to deny women access to medication and healthcare services that might be in their best interests. No exceptions was just a step too far.

I believe no matter how inconvenient or unwanted a pregnancy may be, abortion is a very selfish act.

Ms. Broome has every right to believe this but her belief should not trump our Constitutional values or our scientific and social understanding of pregnancy.

Mothers are supposed to love, care and protect their babies, not murder them.

Legally, abortion is not the same as murder. Ethically, abortion also does not equal murder for many Americans. So while it is true that parents should love their children and not harm them, this isn't relevant to the personhood question.

What about their rights? They are the most vulnerable in our society.

This question has already been settled by the Supreme Court in Roe v Wade, Ms. Broome. The unborn's right to life does not trump the right to life and liberty of the mother until the later stages of pregnancy. It's a delicate balance that the states were supposed to work out. Instead, many of them, like Mississippi, have made a mess of it.

Who will protect them? Or acknowledge they are the creation of God? Maybe, just maybe, our elected officials represent these, too.

It is not the government's job to declare fertilized eggs to be any god's creation and that is not a sufficient reason to grant them the same rights as a living, born person. 

Although the unborn souls are not of the age to vote, maybe votes are not all that matter to our elected officials.

Unborn souls? We should pass personhood laws because you believe a soul enters the fertilized egg the moment it is fertilized? Can you define a soul? Can you demonstrate that it exists? Can you show us the mechanism by which it enters flesh at a particular time? If not, then you have no basis for your statement.

And what part of this don't you understand? 

I don't understand the part where you want to ignore settled law in favor of some trumped up religious rhetoric.

I don't understand the part where you think that the right to life of a fertilized egg is magically equal to or more important than the rights of the woman carrying it.

I don't understand the part where you want to take away women's freedom to make the best healthcare choices for themselves because of your ideology.

I don't understand the part where you set yourself up as a god by defining life and dictating who gets the benefits (which is always the unborn).

And I definitely don't understand the part where small government advocates make arguments just like yours for letting big government intrude into the most intimate and important places we have. I don't understand why you hate women's freedom.

The forced-birth fetus cult is working desperately to turn this into a zero-sum game in which the fertilized egg gets complete rights to life and the woman carrying it (whether by her will or no) gets no rights to liberty or life. They are willing to sacrifice pregnant women at the altar of politics and prayer and for what? What's going to happen to all those unwanted children? Do you really think there are enough adoptive parents around who want crack babies, those with fetal alcohol syndrome, and those who've been abused? Do you seriously believe that all these pristine white parents are going to rush to adopt children of color? Some will, true, but the majority will not. You're living in a fantasy world if you don't realize that you are damning most of these fertilized eggs to years of misery and grief.

There is a price to freedom and that price is that some people aren't going to use their freedom in ways that you like. For example, I don't like that people believe in and practice fundamentalist religions. I think it's harmful to society. Nevertheless, I have absolutely no right to demand that Americans be denied religious freedom. If I wrote a letter to the editor whining about how fundamentalist Christian churches should be closed for your own good, I'd quite rightly get tons of stinging retorts. So too should Ms. Broome be hearing high and low from Mississippians who love their freedom and refuse to have it taken away. Ms. Broome may have the very best intentions at heart but she has no right to assign personhood to my fertilized eggs and force me to carry an unwanted child - especially when that fetus is a threat to my physical or mental health.

The cost of freedom is having to deal with some things you don't like. It sucks but freedom is worth the cost.

Deal with it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just let me cry for a few minutes, please.

For anyone reading this that has ever had to grieve the loss of a friend or family member, I ask how long does this grieving process last?

I have started writing this again (for about the 6th time) since mid December. I seem to get to a point and just delete it only to start over a few weeks later. It has been about a year to the day that we lost our son and I have yet to cry.

 I have had to remain strong and be the one in constant control of my feelings. Making those hard decisions and make sure everything, to the best of my ability, is taken care of. I don't see it as a sacrifice I chose to make but rather a decision to make the best of the situation and provide the needed care. But sometimes it would be nice to just cry for a few minutes.

It's gets easier to tell our story and until just a few weeks ago no one outside our families knew about it. Not even the people who joined with us back in August 2011 in the fight against amendment 26. It was a private matter that fueled our desire to shut the amendment down and helped give us the courage to create the DeepFried Freethinkers and go public with so much skepticism and freethinking in North East Mississippi that was just unheard of. We are so deep in the Anti-Family Association (or AFA) area that we could see Bryan Fischer go to work everyday. But the AFA keeps us busy and they feed us fodder to blog about daily, too much fodder in fact.

By the time I finish writing this I will be one step closer in my personal grieving process, I hope.

The following is an account from my viewpoint of the events that happened and how they have affected me, so please bear with me as I slowly recall it.

At the end of the January 2011, I took Tweenky out for an authentic Italian dinner in Gulfport, MS, at Pasta Italia Trattoria - a place that allows you bring you own wine in to enjoy with your meal, but not for us. We were celebrating my 2nd New Years sober in 12 years and just our lives together in general. Tweenky ordered the pasta with marinara sauce and I ordered the mostaccioli.  About half way through our salad, Tweenky suffered a severe nosebleed with no apparent cause. It wasn't a normal nosebleed; the blood appeared really thin and watery. Tthat was our first clue this was serious. We left for the hospital and had to deal with a front desk nurse who was more worried about getting Tweenky to sign some papers than the fact there was blood literally gushing from her nose and mouth. I know I was upset and scared, she was only doing her job, but I wanted the bleeding to stop. I had no idea what was happening to her or why. What caused this? Not knowing has the worst feeling ever or so I thought at that moment.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, she was in a room and then we waited for the doctor. They ran a few test and checked her nasal cavity to find the source and cause. I was asked to leave the room. Later I found out they had asked about any domestic abuse and such. That's when they discovered that she had high blood pressure which resulted in a posterior tear in her nasal cavity but the high blood pressure was caused by her being pregnant......Yes, I said pregnant; something I was told previously some years ago would be impossible for me after sustaining an injury and some painful swelling. I have lived with that knowledge since I was 14, but at that age you're not thinking about having a family. It was in my early twenties that the desire to be a father nabbed at me from time to time. It would have a longing effect on me for several years and then fade away.

They carefully packed both her nostrils, stopped the bleeding, and prescribed some blood pressure medicine. They moved her up to Labor and Delivery to address the other factor that caused all this, her being unexpectantly pregnant. The results came back positive and she was approximately 21-22 weeks and, after a sonogram, we found out it was a boy. We were both surprised, scared, excited and lost to say the least. Neither of us had planned on ever having kids - it was something I once longed for but had been denied early on in life, thus given up on. Tweenky had decided that she hadn't had any yet and just didn't really think she wanted to have any as she got older.

Then this is were our lives are changed in so many ways it has taken almost a year to realize what all happened. There are details that I could vaguely remember 6 or 9 months ago that I can't get out of my head now. It's my brain handling the mass amount of emotional information and the slow process is probably needed or one would go insane and lose control of their own emotions, but I have yet to cry.

 It was about a week later when I got up for work as usual and Tweenky said she was having trouble seeing; in fact she had gone completely blind for a few minutes and then the seizures happened. There is nothing scarier than having a loved one in your arms suffering a seizure and there is really nothing you can do but keep them safe from their surroundings. I had no idea what was causing this but I knew I had to act fast. I had managed to get her into the car when she came back around and we headed straight to the hospital where she had 2 more seizures in the ER. The attending doctor in the ER had totally pissed me off; Tweenky was having a seizure and he just stood there. I alone was holding her and keeping her from falling off the table. They finally got her stable, which took 15 minutes because no one could find the freaking key to the medical cabinet - really? 

Then they tried 3 or 4 different times and with different equipment to find and check the baby's heartbeat and vitals. It was frustrating no one would tell me anything and I knew that if I caused a scene I would likely be escorted to the waiting room - not where I wanted to be. I was playing back the past week in my head: had I forgotten to give her her meds? There were only 3 pills she took daily - had I given her the wrong one at the wrong time?No, I had given her the right meds at the right times...that much I was for sure. But still my head was racing for a reason as to why this was happening. This feeling of helplessness and unknowing was infuriating to say the least.

The ER doctor took me outside and said, "There's no heartbeat or movement and we are moving her to labor and delivery." I felt my world stop, fall around me, and there was nothing else around me except Tweenky. She had lost consciousness from the seizures but she was stable for now.  It was like the world had gone into slow motion for the next forty minutes or so. I don't remember who I called first or who I actually talked to. I was, for all intents and purposes, "going through the motions."

After calling family on both sides, I stayed at her side while the ob-gyn ran tests. It was within a half hour the doctor confirmed that our son had in fact died but that was only part of the problem. Tweenky was suffering a severe type of pre-eclampsia called HELLP Syndrome, symptoms of DIC and her kidneys were barely functioning. They had to install a PIC line for faster results to the medicine they were giving her. She had an IV in each arm, one was saline to keep her hydrated and to keep her kidneys functioning as much as possible.  Her platelet count had dropped to almost 30,000; it should be around 250,000 to 300,000. This meant surgically removing our son (which would stop the DIC and release her from the HELLP syndrome) was not an option and she would have to perform a vaginal birth.

Tweenky had fallen in and out of consciousness 3 times after being moved to the ICU. I know that it was 3 times because, when she would come around and ask what was going on, I had to tell her that we lost the baby each time. This killed me inside every time. She was apparently in such a state of shock, compounded with the seizures; she was having problems remembering, focusing and remaining awake. The doctors came to me with paper work for a blood transfusion and other life-saving permissions,( I was raised a Jehovah's Witness for 20 some years - a blood transfusion would not have ever been allowed had I still been a follower and she would have died.) I signed them all without hesitation. I wanted them to do everything imaginably possible to save her. They kept us up to date as things were happening, but still time was of the essence. She was going to become more septic as the minutes passed and her kidneys were barely functioning, zapping what little energy she had in her to stay awake. All the while they were telling us to plan for the worst. Yet, I still hadn't cried.

Thankfully, she was given prostaglandin suppositories (something that Amendment 26 tried to ban) to induce labor; otherwise, she would continue to slowly die from our dead son who was now becoming septic to her body. In a way I am thankful that Tweenky doesn't remember all the events. I believe it would have destroyed what was left of her after suffering so much. I literally spent the next week at her side in the hospital. I left only for 2 hrs to pay bills as she slowly recovered. The hospital staff was very sincere; they all knew what had happened and that she was lucky to have lived through all of it. We had several doctors come and visit us, some who only heard about our situation, to give condolences and wish us the best. For all intents and purposes, they said she should have died. "Her platelets were so low and her kidneys had all but stopped," one doctor told me several times. At the end of the week, the doctors released her and I was at her side always. I was happy to have her home and still I didn't cry.

Though she suffered several seizures, there wasn't any permanent damage per se. However, she can barely remember much of what happened at the hospital. Personal care, medicine for high blood pressure and depression would be a constant fixture for a long while. I quit my job in Biloxi and made arrangements to move closer to her family to ensure sure she had better care. I am only one person, I can only do so much and was not afraid to ask for help. We ended up moving just north of Tupelo, MS, where we have a family support group that has helped us in so many ways. I may never be able to repay them for all that they have done for us but I will never stop thanking them for it.

Occasionally I feel my eyes swell up and think, "Finally, I can cry," but then something inside reaches up and pulls the tears back. "Not yet, there is still something to do."

Like I mentioned before, perhaps writing this will bring me one step further in the grieving process. It has become easier to at least write about it - that's a step forward. Talking about it to others is still hard at times: I find myself either going blank or changing the subject. "Just a little more time," I tell myself. I usually find something to bury myself into, keeping myself busy and putting this on the back burner.

But it would be nice to just cry and let it all out. I know in time I will.

Thank you all for letting me share. It means a lot.

As always we look forward to getting feedback from you. Please share your thoughts with us.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Math, Bitches! Correcting Figures on Planned Parenthood

Class is in session, folks. Listen up!

Take your right-wing propaganda book and turn to the section written 514 days ago by Thomas Peters. I want to show you how you can take a bunch of numbers, throw them in a chart maker, and write a blog post that can fool anyone who doesn't understand math.

Now, I know that this is an old post and a third grader could easily refute this but we've got folks passing it around again as though the math is golden so we have to cover the material. In fact, I think you should thank the person who tipped us off about this because it gives us a chance to show yet again how much good Planned Parenthood really does and to what depths some people will sink - lying, cheating, etc. - to reinforce their fantasies. If nothing else, there is a moral tale to be told here.

First, Mr. Peters shows a big bar graph demonstrating that abortion services rose from 1997-2008 at PP while adoption services and prenatal care services declined. He seems to imply that this has happened because PP is an evil monster that lures pregnant women in off the street with promises of candy if they will just have an abortion. That's pretty ridiculous. It's like noting that Big Mac sales rise and Chicken McNugget sales decline; therefore, McDonald's is targeting customers - nay, dragging them in off the street - and forcing them to eat unhealthy hamburgers for fun and profit. There are many other factors that come into play regarding the rise and fall of abortion rates. I challenge you to find some evidence that Planned Parenthood lures, coerces, or forces women to have abortions. You won't find any.

Next, Mr. Peters reveals a pie chart alleging to show PP's overall services to pregnant women. Here it is: 

96% abortions, eh? Something's missing. PP does a whole lot more and not just for pregnant women. Here are some 2008 numbers that Mr. Peters conveniently left out of his chart.

Contraception and sterilization for men and women - 3,813,875 (35%)
STD/HIV testing and treatment - 3,721,336 (34%)
Cancer screening/prevention - 1,849,691 (17%)
Pregnancy testing, prenatal care, midlife and infertility issues - 1,132,972 (10%)
Abortion - 324,008 (3%)
Primary care/other - 101,727 (1%)

Which means the pie chart should look more like this chart from PP's own website:

Why did Peters leave out valuable information about contraception, education, and numerous tests, screenings, and treatments? The most obvious answer is the simplest: he wanted to manipulate the chart to make it show something that wasn't true. I find it difficult to believe his math is bad enough for this to have been an innocent error.

We can be cruel and play the same trick back on Mr. Peters (who is, by the way, Catholic). Let's take pretty much the same numbers and relabel them. Abortion now means "kids molested." Prenatal care is "kids baptized." Adoption is "kids confirmed." Now let's see what the same chart would look like.

At this point Peters would be caterwauling about the misrepresentation of the data as well he should. It would be ludicrous to conclude from this pie chart alone that the Catholic Church overwhelmingly molests kids, the molestation rate is rising, and that molesting occurs in preference to baptism or confirmation. Not only are we comparing apples and oranges here but we're doing so in an incomplete manner that does not fully represent all the data.

Ethical people choose not to intentionally misrepresent data. Remember, class, only people who are wrong need to change the facts. And if the facts don't fit your beliefs, then you are the one who must change. Fudging and playing around with numbers is not acceptable. If Peters hates abortion and contraception, he should just say so and back up his opinion in some other manner. He should not try to convince you through manipulation of data that 3% = 96%.

That is all for today. Class dismissed.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Birth Control Is Abortion?

We heard the argument made during the personhood debates that any chemical which acts to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting is an abortifacient. If our medical understanding had not changed in the past 50 years, we might be forgiven for believing that. But we have learned, however, that fertilization doth not magically a person make. Fertilization is no guarantee of anything because most fertilized eggs will naturally not implant and will be flushed out of the body. So based on our updated understanding of the pregnancy cycle and because we realize how ludicrous it would be to mourn and document the "deaths" of millions of fertilized eggs per year, we now understand pregnancy to occur when the fertilized egg is successfully implanted in the uterus. Contraceptives then do not end a pregnancy. They cannot, by definition, be abortifacient.

But the AFA isn't interested in science, medicine, or anything that resembles a fact. They seem to be more interested in getting their base riled up so that they'll raise a ruckus and send in the bucks. Case in point is their latest Action Alert which reads:

Take Action: Obama mandates pro-abortion policy on faith-based organizations

The "pro-abortion" policy they are referring to is the one that says if you don't fall under the strict definition of a "religious employer," then you must provide insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization. I don't see anywhere that Obama is mandating insurance coverage for abortion. We can only reasonably conclude, therefore, that the AFA still believes that contraception is the same as abortion.

What's also rather dishonest is how the AFA fails to note that churches are exempt from this rule. Nobody is going to force the Catholic Church, for example, to provide birth control to its employees; but any of their organizations, universities, or charities that are generally open to non-Catholics will have to provide contraceptive coverage. 

An exemption provided for "religious employers" is so narrow that it fails to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations, including Catholic, Baptist and Methodist hospitals, Christian and religious-based universities, and service organizations that help millions every year.

It's pretty simple really. If you want to be tax-exempt, retain control over your organization, and only bring in people who believe like you do, then you can. But if you want to bring in outsiders and get federal funding, then you must play by some federal rules and one of those rules is contraceptive coverage. You know how it is when a church gets threatened with having their tax exempt status revoked and they go screaming about how the government is trampling their freedom of speech? Same thing here - they refuse to play by the rules and then cry when they break the contract and receive the consequences of their actions.

I think that organizations who take our tax dollars and hire people of all faiths (or none) should be held to the same rules and standards as the rest of us so I don't have a problem with this law.  What I do have a problem with is the AFA portraying this law as a "pro-abortion" and "anti-religious" thing of Obama's making. I resent their attempt to paint the President as a murderous monster in this situation - they could make that case better and more honestly over NDAA, Guantanamo Bay, and other stuff - because they also paint us pro-choicers and pro-contraceptive folks in just as bad as a light. Did you ever think you'd see the day when the "godly" among us would call us murderers for using birth control? Now you've seen it. When you look in the mirror, do you see a murderer staring back? 

The AFA continues to lie about personhood and we plan to point it out every chance we get. Spread the word.