Moral restrictions on medical procedures. That is the framework of the anti-abortion movement and other conservative positions. My God says “No”, therefore it should be “No” for the whole country. We have been down this road before in history, which is why we have separation of church and state. Or we used to.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has until 11:59 pm on Sunday, June 30th to make any line-item vetoes on the state budget before he signs it into effect for July 1, 2013. Politicians should not be making medical decisions or forcing doctors to lie. For your Friday reading pleasure I give you an Op-Ed I submitted to Ohio newspapers, which they unfortunately declined to publish.


 

My Hands Are Tied
“My hands are tied” is phrase Ohioans we will get used to if Ohio House Bill 200 becomes law. This is the outcome desired by anti-abortion activists, and the future feared by those who believe medical decisions must be between a patient and their doctor. The people of Ohio cannot let this bill become law.
Women have been preventing and terminating pregnancies for 4,000 years. Because women who desperately need an abortion for whatever reason will do everything in their power to get one, they have died for lack of a safe, legal abortion. Access to safe, legal abortions has been the law of the land since 1973.  Since then, anti-abortionists have found ways to limit access, intimidate women, and yes, even kill physicians who have abortion practices.  This means that today 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties have no abortion provider.
Now Ohio legislators are attempting to further thwart this legal medical procedure by increasing the waiting period before a procedure and requiring doctors to give untruths to their patients and perform an unnecessary, invasive ultrasound or face criminal charges.
By increasing the waiting period to 48 hours, and requiring two visits to a provider before she can secure a safe legal abortion, the legislators effectively “tie the hands” of many women who cannot afford to travel twice in two days to obtain their medical procedure. By adding the provision that doctors who fail to comply with the House Bill 200 rules would be subject to a first-degree felony charge (the same class as rape, aggravated arson and kidnapping) and a fine of up to a million dollars, the legislature has tied and double knotted the hands of Ohio doctors.
This bill is a textbook example of a slippery slope. A slope that would be all but impossible to climb back up if it becomes law.
Doctors who are oath-bound to “do no harm” will be forced to lie. The bill requires doctors to provide patients with the patently false information that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. Good clinics already provide information and counseling through trained patient advocates who talk with women about their feelings and beliefs without pressure or judgment. The goal at Preterm Clinic in Cleveland is to ensure that every patient is informed and sure of her decision whether it is to have an abortion, choose adoption or continue her pregnancy.
The slope gets slipperier. This bill requires doctors to divulge in writing “their gross income and the percentage of that income that was obtained” by performing the procedure. Will we have the same declaration when from a doctor before an MRI or a hip replacement? How does this information help the patient? The theory that there is a multi-million dollar abortion industry exploiting and “tricking” women into having abortions they don’t understand or want is a lie.
By restricting abortion to a “medical emergency”, this bill removes the right of a doctor to decide what is medically necessary for a patient. How can we expect a doctor, under threat of a felony charge, to not hesitate when deciding if a situation has gone from “necessity” to “emergency”? The American Council of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly opposes legislative interference that “causes a physician to compromise his or her medical judgment about treatment in the best interest of the patient.” As women – as mothers – we oppose that interference as well.
Where does it end? House Bill 200 ruthlessly and viciously restricts a legitimate medical procedure, forces physicians to compromise their ethics, and treats women as incompetent. After abortion is effectively inaccessible, what will be restricted next because legislators don’t trust you and your doctor to competently decide your medical procedures? Will you allow your judgment to be overridden by lawmakers? Will doctors let their medical training be overridden by politicians? Will you trust politicians to make your medical decisions?
We must stop this bill – and the slippery slope it creates – before all of our hands are tied. Women, and men who respect the right of a woman to make choices about her health care, would be wise to contact Governor Kasich and demand that veto House Bill 200 in its entirety.
Call Governor Kasich at 1-614-466-3555 and tell him to veto this bill.
Tweet Governor Kasich @JohnKasich and tell him to veto this bill.
Contact Governor Kasich through his website and tell him to veto this bill.
Do something.
Please.
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I am predicting the tag I will use the most on this blog during the next four years will be GOPfail.

The expired Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is back in the news cycle. The objections around VAWA are as political and idiotic as the defeat of the UN disability treaty back in December.

Seems the Senate hopes to get greater House support now that they removed the provision to protect illegal-immigrant women suffering from domestic violence or sexual abuse by granting them additional visas. However, Republicans also object to including language that prohibits discrimination against LGBT folks.

I am continually disappointed that laws and protections designed to normalize treatment of all humans in the US are routinely undermined. I fail to see how condemning domestic violence in the LGBT community can be perceived as supporting or encouraging “the gay agenda.” Then again I fail to understand a lot of the GOP platform.

I am re-posting an experience I had with a black eye last year. It speaks to many of the issues that come up in these “There but for the grace of God” moments.

12 March 2012 – Black Eye

I have a black eye.

I woke up the other morning with a shiner like I caught a softball with my nose. No trauma, no injury, no logical explanation. I went to see an internist who had no idea what it was, who sent me to an ophthalmologist who had no idea what it was.

After extensive questioning they could tell me what it wasn’t – it wasn’t a sinus infection, an “allergy shiner”, or related to vision, optic nerve or glaucoma. Nor was it related to any vitamins or medicine I take. They also asked if there was any domestic violence in my home. There is no violence in my home and I told them so, but I also said I appreciated that they asked.

This has been an odd experience for me, and hard on my husband to know that strangers think he hit me. Even though he doesn’t know them, and isn’t with me every moment, he knows the world has judged him. Reactions have been interesting. Some women glance at my face and look away. Some stare fixedly. Some see the black eye and then give me a dismissive once over. People seem to be creating a story about how I got a black eye, yet no one asked me how I got it.

Why wouldn’t anyone say anything? I bet the majority of look-away-quickly people assumed my husband hit me. And maybe the long stares wanted to to see if I “had work done”. The once-over folks felt judgmental – like I must be someone who “allows themselves to be hit”.

While the assumption makes me uncomfortable, I would have been amazed if any stranger (or acquaintances like women at my gym) had asked about my eye or even said “I hope you are OK.” But so far there has been four days of silence.

I remember when my one sister was living with her (physically and mentally) abusive husband. I talked to people at the local domestic violence shelter and found out what to say and how to say it. “You do not deserve this. It is not your fault. He does not have the right to hurt you or make you feel bad. I will help you if you chose to leave.”

It took almost fifteen years for her to separate from him as she left and went back to him a dozen times.

I started to wonder what I would say if I saw someone with a black eye. Today. In my current crunchy, suburban life where things like that aren’t supposed to happen. But they do. We know women (and some men) are physically and emotionally abused everyday. The statistics are awful – One in four women and one in nine men are physically abused by an intimate partner during their lives.

We need to ask ourselves tough questions. ‘What would I say and how would I say it?’ And ‘When is it my responsibility to say something?’ Or more importantly, why isn’t it everyone’s business to end domestic violence?

It is such a short trip to the land of fear. It is one of those places you can get to from just about anywhere.

The predictable response from the NRA to the massacre in Sandy Hook was to blame every other societal ill beside gun proliferation. And of course to advocate for more guns because “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre points to our “blood-soaked culture” as reason for the violence rather than the ease of obtaining military grade weapons equipped with high-powered ammunition. One of many arguments based in the idea that our culture has disintegrated, youth are desensitized, music videos glorify thug life, we are not safe.

What we are is a gun culture. And the easiest way to perpetuate the need for guns is through fear.

We talked with our daughter about her thoughts on Sandy Hook. Mostly she described the reactionary intruder drill the school held the next week and how unsatisfying it was. She said she didn’t feel safe with this one teacher and the room had too many windows. They had the kids hide under the desks, and most of them are too big to fit, which doesn’t matter anyway because its as useful as  “duck & cover.”

When she identified other rooms & teachers she’d rather be with if “something happened for real”, I asked her to imagine what she’d do if she was in charge of that classroom. She had an immediate answer. I said if something “real” ever did happen, she should trust herself if she didn’t think the adult could keep her safe. This is a dangerous thing to say, but I don’t know how better to clarify that we trust her to trust herself.

This conversation was actually Part 2 of an earlier conversation about fear. We were in a run down neighborhood and she remarked that she always felt a little afraid in poor neighborhoods but then she feels bad because she is afraid that’s racist. I think the DSM-V should consider including this as “The White Folks Dilemma.” We teased apart what she was afraid of and why, and none of the reasons were because the people were black. Poverty scares a lot of people. It can look like desperation, potential crime and violence.

What I was afraid of with The White Folks Dilemma was that she would talk herself out of her instincts. Our bodies know danger faster than our minds. And our minds are trained to overrule all sorts of useful signals. Its useful to be afraid sometimes, it heightens your awareness. Its not useful to be afraid all the time because, again your mind is overruling instinct.

Its so easy to give in to fear. Its much easier than joy, or love or trust. But that kind of “the world is a dangerous place” fear, seems implausible to me. I am much more afraid of easy access to semi-automatic handguns than I am of a shooter going in my daughters school. Or randomly shoot me through the floor to ceiling windows in my office. That just occurred to me today after 8 years in this office by the way.

I don’t have any solution except to keep reminding myself and others that fear is just one of our emotions. And I will continue to stumble stupidly through the world believing that humans are inherently good. I am a Platonist at heart – “To know the good is to do the good”. Now we just need to teach the NRA the meaning of “the good”.

sandy+hook+school+sign

Every year around this time I feel compelled to inventory and “use up” overstocked items in my house. I’m not sure how I end up with four different moisturizers with a 1/4 inch left, or three different kinds of aluminum foil, but the end of the year seems a good time to use one thing until its gone and make some room in the cupboard, medicine chest or linen closet.

This happens in the frig too, mainly with condiments. I think right now there are six different Asian sauces, five kinds of mustard, four salad dressings, three kinds of horseradish (ghosts of passover past), two kinds of ketchup …and a partridge in a pear tree.

If I trace it back my urge to purge started when my mom died in 2001 and I had to sort out her house. Always a bargain shopper I knew she “stocked” certain items, but the reality of dozens of tubes of toothpaste, cases of toilet paper and cans of pie filling that expired in 1982 was disturbing. I could almost understand the fact that she had saved every ATM receipt since they were invented, but looking at the amount of money she spent on bargains made me think a Just In Time buying strategy made more sense and I cut down on my own “stocking up cuz its on sale”. I also purged many, many papers from my own house that I’d been holding on to for no good reason.

A few years later I was doing laundry in my mother-in-law’s house (a much longer story there) and went to get Bounce out of her cupboard and discovered a jumble of products. So I started sorting & stacking. I’m a sorter. I know its a problem, but disorganized cupboards & refrigerators make me anxious. I literally put items in the same place in the frig (and force my family to as well) so that I know exactly where the sour cream would be if we had any. Middle shelf left.

Anyway, I start pulling things out of my MIL’s cupboard and by the time I am done I discover she has something like 20 cartons of wax paper, and a dozen rolls of foil along with many, many boxes of baggies, ziplock and the Bounce I was after in the first place. This was the wake up that made me start using up and reviewing what I already have in the house every year. Refraining from purchases until we actually need something, despite the siren call of the half-off coupon.

I’m hopeful, as I determinedly use up the body wash that was a little too sweet, that President Obama and Speaker Boehner are doing the same thing. A practical review of what we have and what we need. I am getting behind the analysis that no news is good news with respect to the silence about how the negotiations are going. There is a nearly infinite number of combinations of budget cuts, tax increases and tax “loophole” reforms that they can choose from. A veritable smorgasbord of ways to compromise and piss everyone off.

I was thinking about possible compromises they might be talking about. Maybe they’re considering cutting the $188 million a year dedicated to military music, or the $80 million a year for sport sponsorships for “recruiting” efforts. I bet boots on the street recruit more desperate high school seniors than NASCAR ads. Just a guess. Maybe if Boehner is motivated enough to keep the Lockheed-Martin F-22 fighter jet in production, despite the fact that its never worked properly, he might throw the bands under the bus, or into the NASCAR crash wall.

Or Obama could agree to raise the Social Security and/or Medicare eligibility. That would hurt the 95% the most, but maybe theres an assisted suicide amendment they could tuck in so the the old, ill poor can legally exit. They could call it Self-Deportation to Heaven. Might catch on if a major multi-national got behind it as a “green” initiative – Soylent Green Heavenly Foods, Inc.

As I finish my household inventory I wouldn’t be surprised if the federal inventory being conducted on the cliff results in tax increases with a higher threshold (I’m thinking $500,000 will go down easier than $250), a few tax loop holes closing (mortgage interest deduction restricted to one property), and an increase in medicare eligibility with a higher co-pay for high-income seniors. However it ends up, I think the federal government should be going through their cupboards every year to determine what is needed rather than just reflexively buying or cutting out of habit.

I woke up with a headache this morning from too little sleep and way too much stimulation from the presidential debate, but with a tiny bit more understanding of the bajillion people on this planet that are fanatical about sports.

I don’t watch any sports, live or on TV, other than tennis. And even then only if its on. My family, and many, many other people, spend hours looking at and talking about sports. The only time this obsession had any impact on  my life was when I celebrated holidays with my family and football was on. All of them are screamers. My brothers, sisters, and their spouses and children. As in screaming at top voice at the TV if things in the game are going well, or if they are going poorly. This is a loud & stressful experience.

Last night during the debate, as I was yelling, gesturing rudely, gloating and furiously checking twitter & facebook, I realized I was behaving like a sports fan. Politics, it turns out, is my sport. A blood sport with deeply important, far-reaching, societal and humanitarian implications, but a “sport” nonetheless. Good clean fun.

It certainly explains the disconnect between me and my family. I never understand why they thought football was important, and they never understood why I thought social issues were important. They would have been shocked and baffled to see me throwing my hands up in a touch down gesture when Obama scored laughs with the audience, or when Romney let his shovel of a mouth dig a hole with women.

Before I end this I just have to say – binders full of women? gosh, get married before you have babies?  a flexible work schedule so you can get dinner on the table? – does he really think women will join him & Ryan on their trek back to the 1950’s?

I know the seasons not over yet, but my team clearly won last nights game.