Keep your laws off my body

Pro-Life or Just Pro-Sperm? | Common Dreams
Published on Thursday, March 15, 2012 by Common Dreams

"A comprehensive review of abortion and child welfare policies in all 50 states,' writes Morris, "found that states with the most restrictive abortion laws spend the least on education, on facilitating adoption and on nurturing poor children. These states also have fewer mandates requiring insurance providers to cover minimum hospital stays after childbirth. It appears that today’s Republican Party will pull out all the stops to protect the rights of the sperm but all but turn its back on the rights and needs of babies."

Pro-Life or Just Pro-Sperm?
by David Morris

Recent events make clear the need for a new language to describe the raging debate about sex and birth. Consider the problematic word that dominates our conversation: pro-life.

Most pro-life organizations more accurately should be labeled pro sperm. For they insist the sperm has the inalienable, indeed the God-given right to pursue the egg without human enabled interference. Joseph M. Scheidler, the National Director of the Pro-Life Action League memorably declared, “I think contraception is disgusting-people using each other for pleasure.” Judith Brown, President of The American Life Lobby asserts its opposition “to all forms of birth control with the exception of natural family planning.”

The Catholic Church is fervently pro-sperm. Decades before the Church mobilized against abortion it mobilized against contraception. As late as 1960, many states outlawed sales of contraceptives. The Catholic Church was the driving force behind these laws. In the 1940s, Connecticut legislators introduced bills allowing physicians to prescribe contraceptives only for married couples if a pregnancy would be life threatening. The Catholic Church swung into action. One historian describes the process; “priests became heavily involved…Their efforts were not confined to anti-birth control sermons on Sundays. They engaged in voter registration drives, they encouraged parishioners to support anti-birth control candidates for the legislature, and they actively campaigned to defeat any changes in the birth control laws”. The bills failed.

Prior to 1930, all Christian denominations held that contraception was contrary to God's will. Then one by one, beginning with the Church of England they began to accept birth control.

Many expected the Catholic Church to follow suit. In the mid 1960’s Pope Paul VI appointed a commission on birth control to advise him on the issue. An overwhelming majority of its members favored lifting the ban. In his 1968 Encyclical, Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life) the Pope summarized the argument of the majority.

“world population is going to grow faster than available resources, with the consequences that many families and developing countries would be faced with greater hardships… not only working and housing conditions but the greater demands made both in the economic and educational field pose a living situation in which it is frequently difficult these days to provide properly for a large family…(we need to take into account) a new understanding of the dignity of woman and her place in society, or the value of conjugal love in marriage and the relationship of conjugal acts to this love…

…if one were to apply here the so-called principle of totality, could it not be accepted that the intention to have a less prolific but more rationally planned family might transform an action which renders natural processes infertile into a licit and provident control of birth? Could it not be admitted, in other words, that procreative finality applies to the totality of married life rather than to each single act? A further question is whether, because people are more conscious today of their responsibilities, the time has not come when the transmission of life should be regulated by their intelligence and will rather than through the specific rhythms of their bodies…”
Pope Paul VI decided that the rights of the sperm transcended any and all of these arguments. The use of contraception, he concluded results in “an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life.”

But the biological facts make God’s design less than clear. Consider that when artificial birth control or abortion is not used, more often than not God chooses death, not life. A third to a half of fertilized eggs do not implant. Some doctors believe this figure could be as high as 80 percent. A third of those that do implant end up in spontaneous miscarriages. Does the pro-life movement believe this makes God a mass murderer?

In 1965 the Supreme Court overturned state laws that prohibited married couples from buying contraceptives. In 1972 it extended this ruling to cover unmarried individuals. A few months later, in Roe v. Wade, it determined that states could not prohibit women from intervening in the reproductive process after the egg is fertilized.

Every year pro-life organizations gather to condemn Roe v. Wade but it may be instructive to point out that the typology used by the Court was very close to that which guided the Catholic Church and many other major religions for thousands of years.

The early Christians adopted Aristotle's framework that embryos pass through three distinct stages and only become fully human in the last stage. Saint Augustine, one of the most influential Catholic theologians, proposed that abortion in the first trimester should not be regarded "as homicide, for there cannot be a living soul in a body that lacks sensation due to its not yet being formed."

At the beginning of the 13th century Pope Innocent II declared that "quickening" (the time when the woman first feels the fetus move within her) was the moment at which abortion became homicide. In 1591, Pope Gregory XIV proclaimed that quickening occurred after 116 days, that is, into the second trimester. That guidance remained Church policy until 1869 when Pope Pius IX eliminated the distinction between the animated and non-animated fetus and required excommunication for abortions at any stage of pregnancy.

In Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court took a page from Aristotle and permitted increasingly severe restrictions by the state depending on the age of the fetus. In the first 12 weeks, the Court prohibited states from imposing any restrictions on a woman's right to an abortion. In the second trimester, states may regulate abortion procedures to protect the health of the woman. In the third trimester (after 27 weeks), when fetuses may be viable outside of the womb, states may restrict abortions.

Nearly 90 percent of all abortions occur in the first trimester. Six in ten are undertaken in the first 8 weeks of pregnancy. About 9 percent occur in the second trimester, but many of these are a result of a delay caused by a lack of financial resources or state enacted stalling laws. About .01 percent of abortions are performed after the 20th week.

For many Republicans, it is often said, life begins at conception and ends at birth, although I might amend this perspective given the recent evidence that for many life begins before conception. Consider that all but one of 47 Republican Senators voted in favor of a bill allowing any employer to deny coverage of birth control in the company’s insurance policies. In any event, it is clear that pro-life Republicans seem remarkably unconcerned with the health of newborns. A comprehensive review of abortion and child welfare policies in all 50 states found that states with the most restrictive abortion laws spend the least on education, on facilitating adoption and on nurturing poor children. These states also have fewer mandates requiring insurance providers to cover minimum hospital stays after childbirth.

A recent case in point. The Texas legislature has slashed its family planning budget from $111 million to $38 million, cuts that would eliminate services for nearly 284,000 women.

All four current Republican presidential candidates would eliminate Title X created in 1970 with Republican support from President Nixon and the elder George Bush, then a congressman. Title X does not pay for abortions. Only some of it covers birth control.

It appears that today’s Republican Party will pull out all the stops to protect the rights of the sperm but all but turn its back on the rights and needs of babies. This is what the term pro-life has come to mean in 2012, and the reason we need to change the language we use when we talk about the issues surrounding reproduction.

David Morris is Vice President and director of the New Rules Project at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which is based in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. focusing on local economic and social development.

Rick Santorum & The Pill

Personally I think everyone should play Loretta Lynn's "The Pill" very loudly where Rick Santorum has a public speaking event:

Loretta Lynn's "The Pill"

You wined me and dined me when I was your girl
Promised if I`d be your wife you`d show me the world
But all I`ve seen of this old world is a bed and a doctor bill
I`m tearing down your brooder house `cause now I`ve got the pill

All these years I`ve stayed at home while you had all your fun
And every year that`s gone by another baby`s come
There`s gonna be some changes made right here on Nursery Hill
You`ve set this chicken your last time `cause now I`ve got the pill

This old maternity dress I`ve got is going in the garbage
The clothes I`m wearing from now on won`t take up so much yardage
Miniskirts hotpants and a few little fancy frills
Yeah I`m making up for all those years since I`ve got the pill

I`m tired of all your crowing how you and your hens play
While holding a couple in my arms another`s on the way
This chicken`s done tore up her nest and I`m ready to make a deal
And you can`t afford to turn it down `cause you know I`ve got the pill

This incubator is overused because you`ve kept it filled
The feeling good comes easy now since I`ve got the pill
It`s getting dark it`s roosting time tonight`s too good to be real
Aw but Daddy don`t you worry none `cause Mama`s got the pill
Oh Daddy don`t you worry none `cause Mama`s got the pill

Declaration of Conscience Speech

Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R) on June 1, 1950, stated the basic principles of "Americanism" were:
The right to criticize;
The right to hold unpopular beliefs;
The right to protest;
The right of independent thought.

Smith strongly voiced concern that those who exercised those beliefs at that time risked being labeled communist or fascist.

As a Republican, she wanted a Republican administration in power but not at any cost. She stated, "I don't want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny -- Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear." Continuing she said, "I doubt if the Republican Party could -- simply because I don't believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest". [Oh, if this were only true!!]

This famous speech was made in response to fellow Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy's rants.


"The greatest enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, continued and dishonest -- but the myth -- present, persuasive, and unrealistic."
--John F. Kennedy

The Modern Political Climate

"His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between the internal and the external threats of ___________ (1). We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men ... We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. The actions of _______________________________ have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it—and rather successfully."
(1) Communism
(2) the junior Senator from Wisconsin

---Edward R. Murrow, See It Now :March 9, 1954


"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" --Douglas Adams

Viva La EvoluciĆ³n!

“Intelligent Design” Helping Stupid People Feel Smart Since 1987

"Creationists make it sound like a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asamov

"Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense."
-- Chapman Cohen

"Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon - it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory."

God + Whacky Tobacky = Platypus

How Can You Disbelieve in Evolution If You Can’t Even Define It?

The Daleks are here

for my daughter's 16th birthday.