While I was facilitating a discussion about race this week it came up that some people “didn’t want to get into it” because black people are “always so angry.”

There’s a lot to address in that statement.  I chose to see it as an open door and put aside any discussion of white privilege. Instead, I raised the concept of anger being a response to repeated pain. If the injury is familiar, if it happens over and over – sometimes every day – when it happens again, its possible the response is anger.

Or flame.

I always hesitate to respond too quickly to racial events in the news for two reasons: first, because I want to be thoughtful and not throw gasoline on any fire, and second, because current events take a few minutes to evolve even in our instant world.

I have my personal reaction to the actions of Baltimore mom Toya Graham, but I’m more concerned with the way the narrative about her is shaped to match the agenda of politicians and talking heads all over the political landscape.

How we get our information, what bubble we choose to live in, impacts our ability to process in the present, as well as in the future history books. And even Howard Zinn sometimes left things out.

I am still thinking. And watching. And reading. And processing.

In the meantime, I found Claire Potter’s perspective to be very worthwhile. On the heels of our daughter remarking today, “Why are you guys always talking about such depressing things every morning?” this sentence hit me hard – “because I grew up to study violence, and race, as historical phenomena, I have access to even better informed despair than I did as a child.”

I may have to buy her book Doing Recent History.

Read her blog post Teaching Baltimore, Teaching the History of American Violence.

Baltimore_districts_map

 

 

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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One of the interesting things I have found about writing a blog is the sense of obligation I feel to unseen readers. I know I have exactly six followers (the little icons show up on the bottom of the page) and a handful of other folks who have told me they read it. So when I don’t post three or four times a week I feel it niggling in the back of my mind. 

One thought that has returned repeatedly in the time between the last post and this – which was by no means empty I assure you – is the use of the phrase “A drop in the bucket”. This caught my attention a few weeks ago in a story about Syria. The person reporting the International Aid provided had a very disgusted tone and was stressing that it was so little as to be meaningless. Then, as these things do, I started hearing “a drop in the bucket” in all sorts of conversations.

I couldn’t help wondering if the people on the receiving end in Syria, as much as they need a great deal more intervention and attention, were not happy to receive something rather than nothing. It is a curious attitude people often have about the worth of effort. “Choose your battles” is another one that implies futility to me. My question, which I’m sure is rich for psychoanalysis, is ‘Just because something is futile, does that mean you shouldn’t do it?’

I would love to be part of the grand gesture, launch the world-changing movement or earn a place in the history books, but that doesn’t mean I turn away from the individual kindness, the small monetary contribution or the tedium of what needs doing. It’s not even that I have a “pay it forward” mentality (another phrase that could use some critical analysis as to the self-benefit attached to “public” altruism), I think I am much more utilitarian – do what you can, when you can.

The futility calculation translates too easily into helplessness and it’s easily forgotten that drops add up and fill the bucket, that molehills piled on top of each other become a mountain. Sometimes my “something” ends up being simply sending thoughts into the world via my little blog noodlings. Conversation I am having with the world. Or myself. That part is less clear.

But at least its something rather than nothing.

We went to see Argo the other night at the dollar movie, except its now the $2 movie, which, while still insanely cheap, doesn’t roll off the tongue the way “dollar movie” does.

I thought it would be too violent and scary for my 14 year old daughter. Turns out it was too violent and scary for me. About one minute into the movie I realized that I really didn’t want to see it and should leave and go watch “Wreck it Ralph” or something.  The take over of the embassy was very stressful and I was experiencing some very real desire to flee the movie theater. Point for Ben Affleck.

My stomach hurt for the entire two hours. And I already knew how it would turn out. This is history, we know the ending. But it was still very hard to watch.

On the way home in the car we started talking about the earliest historical events we could remember. Mine was watching the Watergate hearings. I specifically remember watching the televised vote to authorize the investigation for impeachment. Of course I didn’t remember it that way, I had to look up what the actual vote was that I remembered.  Why it stuck with me was because I remarked to my parents as we watched that the people who were against it were loud, and the people for it were sad.

I remember the Iran hostage crisis from when I was a kid. It was a very big deal and constantly on the news. My husband is five years younger than I am and didn’t really know what the crisis was about, it was just always there in the background. The first national event he remembers clearly is John Lennon being shot. That was pretty awful. I heard it on the radio as I was getting ready for school.

My daughter said her earliest memory of a national event is of the Bush/Kerry election in 2004 and how sad everyone was the day after. Her next national memory is the Bush/Obama election. I think I am seeing a trend here.

It’s difficult for me to put myself into this kind of historical context as I have discovered over the years as my daughters various school projects demanded answers from parents like “What world changing events have happened in  your lifetime?”

I never thought about the Iran Hostage Crisis or Soviet War in Afghanistan, both of which helped lay the ground work for current problems in the middle east. Or Iran Contra and the spectacle that was Ollie North. Or when someone I knew first died of the new gay disease called A.I.D.S. 

History is complicated, and no less so when its fictionalized. At least ARGO didn’t make the CIA or revolution look like any fun. The glory was saving lives not getting the credit or shooting the gun sideways.