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.

The fragment of ancient Coptic papyrus that contains the words “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’ ” has already left the news cycle but I can’t let it go unremarked upon. It may seem like a kooky bit of esoteric flotsam, but I predict it will boomerang back many times over the next 10 – 20 years in the  form of good old-fashioned, no one’s going to care about it, won’t get you a job, dissertations. Accompanied by religious tracts, conspiracy theories and quasi-intellectual books a la “The Secret” and “DaVinci Code”.

The people who care about things like this care very, very much. I’m not talking about just your garden variety religious nut (an unkind shorthand, but you know what I mean), but legions of academics, theologians, followers of all things Knights Templar, conspiracy theorists, and other “off the grid” kinds of folks.

Once upon a time, when I thought my life would go in a different direction, I took classes in Latin, Ancient Greek and Aramaic. I’m not a natural at languages but I worked hard and kept up. Ancient Greek was my favorite and I fantasized about reading The Trial and Death of Socrates in the original one day. (Failing that, I continue to reread it at least once a year, the Jowett translation, because it recharges my thinking and makes me happy, even in English.)

So in an advanced Greek seminar, when I was starting to get an inkling that I was not going to master this, the professor decided to mix it up and have us start translating the Old Testament rather than poetry or philosophy. Three weeks. That’s how long we spent on the first sentence. Why? Because not only are the copies of copies of copies suspect, the copies of copies of copies from multiple locations do not align. And then there issues with translation to the Greek from the Hebrew and debate about which century of Greek was used.

Why does the century matter? Not to go too far off on a tangent, lets take a look at the 21st century word Gay, meaning homosexual. During the 19th and early 20th century the word meant full of mirth, carefree, joyful. By the last third of the 20th century Gay meant male homosexual, by the last decade and bleeding into the 21st century, it not only describes a homosexual but is also used by some as a euphemism for “lame”. Now imagine explaining the sentence “…and God was gay” without knowing the century of origin. Century matters.

Last but not least, once we have determined what the actual words are that we are translating in the Greek Old Testament, we discover that there are some verb issues that make it possible that Genesis doesn’t say “In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth” but may instead say, “in the beginning God separated Heaven and Earth”.

BIG difference if the Bible is your go to book. Creationism, or maybe not so much. See the problem? Now what does this have to do with a scrap of ancient paper no bigger than a business card? The rumors and theories about Jesus being married have been around for years, not just among the Dan Brown crowd, but with reformists who want proof that the Catholic Church was never intended to be a male hierarchy, or celibate. And here comes the conspiracy theory – many believe that through the years, beginning with the burning of the Serapium library at Alexandria ~390, the Mother Church confiscated and/or destroyed all evidence to the contrary. Except for this bit of Coptic papyrus.

The good news, if you will pardon the pun, is that anyone who believes Jesus was married will continue to do so. Anyone who does not will continue to do so. Usually evidence is not only unnecessary, but redundant when it comes to faith or the Catholic Church.

History is fascinating, religious or not. It is a living breathing thing, and anyone who thinks its static isn’t paying attention. We reshape the living record all the time when we admit alternate perspectives (women, people of color, whoever is not in power) and additional information (see Records, Suppression of.)

Churchill said “History is written by the victors” but that doesn’t mean that particular version is permanent. Even if you do try to burn the copies, delete the files or scrub all the servers.

As we inch ever closer to Christmas and Hanukkah I confront the age-old problem of how to conduct religious rituals without religion.

I was raised Catholic, my husband was raised Jewish and we are both Atheists. Our daughter identifies very strongly with the Jewish side of her family and considers herself Jewish for all intents and purposes. She intermittently makes noises about a Bat Mitzvah, but that goes away as soon as she is reminded of the amount of study involved and that she would actually have to attend Temple.

She likes the ritual of the Hanukkah candles, eating latkes, and of course the eight (small) presents she gets.

She likes decorating a Christmas tree, eating the cookies and All That Music! She keeps asking where her Advent calendar is. I forgot to get one. I can usually find one for $1.99 at CVS, but didn’t see them this year. In her mind that cheap, graying chocolate from the advent calendar is part of the Christmas ritual. Maybe I’ll try Walgreens.

This morning she negotiated the date for decorating the house. I am usually very firm about only 14 days of visual chaos, but Hanukkah and Christmas overlap this year so the house will be blue & white and red & green for 19 days.

So like people all over the world, we will open presents Christmas morning, go for a movie & Chinese food, and then light the Hanukkah lights Christmas night. If folks don’t know us they might even think we were religious.