book reviews, religion

Reviewing The Case for Heaven: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for Life After Death, by Lee Strobel…

I’m not sure exactly what made me purchase Lee Strobel’s 2021 book, The Case for Heaven: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for Life After Death. I think it might have been an impulse buy after Bill and I had a talk about near death experiences. I have mentioned a few times in this blog that Bill had a near death experience in 1980, when he was 16 years old. He and his buddies were drinking beer somewhere near Houston, Texas, when one of his buddies’ girlfriends was having a teen girl hissy fit. She wanted to leave, so Bill’s friend, with whom he’d gotten a ride, mounted up his Subaru Brat– basically a car with a truck bed in the back. As it was 1980, it was legal for Bill to ride in the back. He went to climb in, but his friend hadn’t noticed and started to back up. Bill lost his footing and was soon under the car’s tires.

Fortunately, because he was so young when he had his accident, Bill’s injuries didn’t kill him. Save for a couple of scars and arthritis in his chest, as well as a couple of crushed disks in his back, he was mostly left with no physical ill effects. But he did have an experience that changed his life and, in my opinion, made him a different person than he might have been. He says he experienced a NDE that day and described it as being very peaceful and comforting. I had long ago read Life After Life, Dr. Raymond Moody’s 1975 book about NDEs, and found it fascinating. So, I probably bought Lee Strobel’s much newer book, because I figured it might be kind of like Raymond Moody’s book. But Strobel’s book isn’t like Moody’s book. It has a much more religious bent to it, which, for me, made it somewhat less of an enjoyable read.

Lee Strobel is a journalist who has a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale University. For a good portion of his life, he was skeptical about religion. But then he found himself in a medical crisis. When he came to in an emergency room, the physician tending to him told him that he was a step away from a coma and two steps away from death. Mr. Strobel suffered from hyponatremia, which is a potentially lethal deficiency in blood sodium. I was immediately intrigued by that, since Bill also has chronic hyponatremia, as well as hypertension. He’s one of the few high blood pressure patients regularly advised to salt his food, since his blood is naturally low in sodium. If a person’s sodium is too low, their cells can swell, which can cause health problems that range from mild to severe. In Mr. Strobel’s case, the hyponatremia almost killed him, and during the episode that landed him in the hospital, he reportedly had a near death experience. It profoundly changed his life, and he went from being a skeptic about religion, to becoming a true believer.

Strobel writes well, which stands to reason, as he was once the award-winning legal editor for the Chicago Tribune. His work has put him in touch with many interesting people, some of whom he describes in The Case for Heaven. I mostly enjoyed reading his thoughts on what happens after we die, as well as some of the stories he includes about people’s NDEs. The book attempts to provide concrete that Heaven is for real, and for some people, it will succeed and be a great comfort.

However, for me, this book was kind of difficult to get through. The religious aspect of it was a bit of a turn off, especially since it’s really directed at Christians. I was raised a Christian, and don’t quite consider myself an atheist, but I’m not a very religious person. I was expecting this book to be more about the actual experience of having a NDE, but after a couple of chapters, it sort of veers away from that topic and delves into other areas that seemed less relevant to whether or not there’s really a Heaven, and more about Mr. Strobel’s beliefs about faith and religion.

Lee Strobel talks about his book, The Case for Heaven.

I do remember reading some of Strobel’s thoughts on Hell, which were kind of surprising to me. He uses Bible verses to explain what Hell really is, and what it’s actually like. Most of us think of Hell as a lake of fire with never ending suffering and torment for those consigned to go there. Below is a video in which he discusses his thoughts on Hell with podcaster, Alisa Childers. Strobel’s thoughts on Hell did interest me, in fact, probably more than most of the rest of The Case for Heaven did. I might recommend this book simply for that part of it.

Lee Strobel is interviewed about his thoughts on Hell.

I notice that many Amazon reviewers were already fans of Mr. Strobel’s work. He wrote a well-received book called The Case for Christ, that I’ve seen many people referencing. Some write this book isn’t as good as that one is, while others opine that The Case for Heaven is a perfect companion to the earlier work. I haven’t read any of Strobel’s other books, so this is my first experience with his writing. I can tell that he has a gift for grabbing his readers. I was into the book when I first started reading it. But then, after a couple of chapters, continuing to read became a real struggle. I found myself rushing to finish it, skimming instead of really focusing on the writing. I’m a pretty experienced and enthusiastic reader, and I try hard to finish the books I start. I just found this book hard to finish, even though it’s well written and researched. Strobel does, for instance, include an extensive reference section for those who want to explore more.

So, I’m left with a mixed mind about The Case for Heaven. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it… and nothing really exciting sticks out for me about it, other than the fact that Mr. Strobel has had hyponatremia, like my husband has. But I’m sure that some people– particularly those who are very religious, and regularly read books about faith and Christianity– will enjoy this book and be comforted by it. For me, it was just kind of “meh”… and I much prefer Dr. Moody’s classic, Life After Life. I think I would prefer more of a scientific approach, complete with stories of experiences of NDEs, rather than discussion about the Bible or religion.

I think if I were rating this on a five star scale, I would give The Case for Heaven three stars. It’s probably best for people who enjoy religious books, especially from a protestant Christian perspective, and especially for those who have read Mr. Strobel’s other books. As for me, I’m happy to move on to my next title, which has already grabbed my attention.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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condescending twatbags, healthcare, religion, social media, Twitter

I just discovered a right wing healthcare quack…

For several years, I’ve followed renowned Canadian OB-GYN Dr. Jen Gunter on Facebook and Twitter. She’s written a couple of books, made some very informative videos, and is genuinely a very engaging influencer and personality. This morning, as I was perusing Twitter, I noticed Dr. Jen had posted this:

WHAT?!

I had never heard of Christiane Northrup before, but I noticed a lot of Jen Gunter’s followers were agreeing with her that this so-called “doctor” is a trash person. So I checked out her Twitter page, and I saw some pretty appalling stuff there. As you can see below, she appears to be healthy, happy, and a promoter of women’s health…

Looks okay so far…

But then I took a closer look and discovered some questionable posts… I mean, some of them maybe I could see, but some were just offensive.

Apparently, these posts are the norm for this doctor in Maine. I see she is posting a lot of new age stuff, comments about worshiping the sun, and dietary advice. She doesn’t like Fauci, and is against mask and vaccine mandates. Personally, I’m with her on face masks (in most situations), but I am a believer in vaccines. I guess what gives me the most pause is that Christiane Northrup appears to be a hateful bigot who isn’t so much a promoter of women’s health as she is a promoter of hatred toward people who lean to the left and embrace the idea that there could be more than two genders.

Northrup’s meme about Kyle Rittenhouse is just really appalling and tasteless. Even if you believe it was right for him to be acquitted, people still died because he was somewhere he didn’t need to be, and was carrying a weapon he wasn’t legally allowed to own. And if he had simply stayed home and did some online studying to become a medic, instead of posing as a medic during a rally, he would not have been in the situation he was in, requiring him to use a gun to defend himself and killing two people.

I see Dr. Jen also posted this about her not so esteemed colleague, Christiane Northrup:

Hmm…

I noticed that Christiane Northrup bears a passing resemblance to another quack of the religious variety…

She looks like maybe she’s had a little work done.

But at least Paula’s Twitter sticks to religion and uplifting memes. I don’t see her spreading hate or healthcare related quackery. Paula’s quackery is of the religious sort, as she slips into speaking in tongues and dances around whatever stage she’s on, telling the same stories of her troubled childhood. Seriously– Paula and Christiane look like sisters.

Well, I hadn’t heard of Christiane Northrup until this morning, but thanks to Dr. Jen Gunter, I know to steer clear of her. She appears to be bad news. I have enough issues with doctors without following one who spews a lot of bullshit. However… as I’m writing this post, I ran across another doctor’s Twitter that looks more promising. She’s a politician from South Carolina, too.

Now this lady is making sense. I’ll follow HER.

She’s also posted about how she’d like to protect her kindergartner daughter from shootings in schools. This, even though in neighboring North Carolina, there’s a county where officials have outfitted each school with an AR-15 weapon to use against shooters. Why can’t we fix this problem instead of focusing so much on banning abortions? I see Indiana has now mostly banned abortions now… it’s insane. Shame on them!

I don’t really feel like going all hot and heavy on a blog post today. The weather is similarly beautiful today as it was yesterday. It’s not super hot outside, and I’m not feeling sick. So maybe it would be good to log off the computer and get out of the house again today. Hope you all have a glorious Sunday and steer clear of all the quacks on social media.

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celebrities, controversies, religion, safety, true crime, YouTube

Fundie Fridays just covered one of my favorite pet topics!

I just finished watching the latest YouTube video by Fundie Fridays, a great YouTube channel hosted by Jen and James, and dedicated to exposing the fuckery related to evangelical and fundie Christianity. I don’t watch all videos by Fundie Fridays, but I have seen a lot of them, and I almost always find them interesting, entertaining, and funny. This week, they covered a topic I’ve written about and studied myself a lot over the past twenty years or so… Behold!

As weird as they were twenty years ago, they’re probably weirder today…

I’ve mentioned before that I used to follow a forum run by former students of Pensacola Christian College. Some of the participants were graduates; some were people who dropped out; and quite a few were people who were expelled. I don’t know how it is at PCC nowadays, but back in the early 00s, a person could get expelled at the drop of a hat. In those days, the school wasn’t accredited at all, and a lot of young people went there because it was cheap, and their parents wanted them to go to a college that was as strict or stricter than they were at home.

Of course, these schools have a lot of issues, and in fact, they aren’t necessarily any safer than a secular college might be. I mean, sure, there’s a lot less drinking and casual dating, but as Jen points out in a Patheos blog post she featured, there are certainly sexual assaults on these campuses. And the sad thing is, the victims are usually treated like terrible sinners. You can follow this link to read the blog post I’m referring to, but I will issue a warning that it’s got some pretty traumatic stuff in it. The post was written in 2014, but I was reading about what was going on at places like Bob Jones University and Pensacola Christian College as early as 2000 or so. I think policies have changed a bit since then, and I do know that they have pursued some Christian type accreditation now, since students place a value on that, especially if they want to go on to another university for graduate level studies.

Jen didn’t mention Christendom College, in Front Royal, Virginia. That’s a Catholic school, and famously boasts that it’s one of only 15 colleges recommended by the conservative Carson Newman Society. Last year, William Luckey, one Christendom’s most celebrated retired professors, was arrested for soliciting a child under age 16, and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. After he retired from Christendom, Luckey taught at Padre Pio Academy, a homeschooling co-op started by his wife, Julie. Julie has since resigned from the school, due to her husband’s arrest.

In 2018, several alums of Christendom College claimed that sexual assault was mishandled there. According to the National Catholic Reporter, Christendom, like some of the other extreme “fundie” colleges, does not accept federal funding. Therefore, it is not required to abide by Title IX rules that most other colleges and universities in the United States must follow. The schools that don’t accept federal funding are determined to run the way they believe their faiths see fit. Often, that seems to mean espousing racist, sexist, or discriminatory principles, and treating victims of assault as though they were in the wrong for being in the situation that got them assaulted. One alum, Adele Smith, has been very vocal about her experiences with sexual assault at Christendom. She has said that the school’s strict rules regarding fraternization and dating actually increase the risk of sexual assault on campus.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Jen does a follow up on her “fundie colleges” topic. It’s a hot one– and one that I have been very fascinated with for many years. It ranks right up there with so-called “teen help” brat camp facilities, which, not surprisingly, are also often affiliated with strict religions. I’ve been reading and writing a lot about that topic, too.

Jen did mention another Virginia school– yes, she talked about Liberty University, but I’m referring to Patrick Henry College, in Purcellville, Virginia. Patrick Henry College is very small– only about 300 students– and Christian based. It’s where Congressman Madison Cawthorn went to school, and where many of his female classmates claim that he harassed them. According to Buzz Feed:

Four women told BuzzFeed News that Cawthorn, now a rising Republican star, was aggressive, misogynistic, or predatory toward them. Their allegations include calling them derogatory names in public in front of their peers, including calling one woman “slutty,” asking them inappropriate questions about their sex lives, grabbing their thighs, forcing them to sit in his lap, and kissing and touching them without their consent.

The women also reported that he would get the women alone in his car and “entrap” them, taking them on long drives on country roads and asking them humiliating and inappropriate questions about their virginity and sexual experiences. Cawthorn is paralyzed from the waist down, owing to an accident in his teens, but that apparently didn’t stop him from being a disgusting, misogynistic creep when he was studying at Patrick Henry College, if the women interviewed for the Buzz Feed story are to be believed… and given the party he represents, and its worship of Donald Trump, I am inclined to believe them. Last year, over 160 former classmates of Cawthorn’s at Patrick Henry College signed a letter accusing him of sexual misconduct.

But– Patrick Henry’s problems didn’t start with Madison Cawthorn, who arrived on campus in 2016. Twice, back in 2014, Kiera Feldman, writing for The New Republic, reported on the sexual assault issues at Patrick Henry College that dated back to 2009. The school has only existed since 2000, and many of the students were homeschooled. There’s no drinking, smoking, gambling, or dancing (except for dance classes) allowed. Students are required to attend chapel daily, and they must wear business casual attire to class. It sounds much like the rules at Pensacola Christian College and Bob Jones University, where women have been required to wear skirts and pantyhose every day, and men have to wear ties to class. According to Feldman’s article:

The self-policing that courtship culture requires, however, is not egalitarian. Responsibility falls disproportionately to women, who are taught to protect their “purity” and to never “tempt” their brothers in Christ to “stumble” with immodest behavior. “The lack of men’s responsibility or culpability for their own actions and the acceptance of male ‘urges’ as irresistible forces of nature is the understructure of Christian modesty movements and their secular counterpart,” the journalist Kathryn Joyce wrote in Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement (an excellent book, by the way). These movements, she noted, see “women’s bodies as almost supernaturally perverse and corrupting.”

At Patrick Henry, one alumna remembers a chapel lecture that compared women who have had sexual contact before marriage to used cars. “You want to be a Porsche,” was the message, she says, adding in an e-mail, “They basically at no point accounted for sexual assault/rape etc (cases where girls’ ‘purity’ was taken from them) and left many girls who’d been victims in the past feeling ashamed.” According to a current PHC junior, the school puts the “burden” on female students to ward off the male gaze—be it from students or professors. She remembers being called in to talk to the residential director, who told her that a male professor had informed the Office of Student Life that her shirts were too revealing when she bent over.

In a follow up article for The New Republic, Feldman wrote that Patrick Henry College had come up with a new policy regarding sexual assault. However, given that Madison Cawthorn was a student there in 2016, where he was a notorious sex pest, the issue apparently continues. It continues at other conservative Christian schools, too, like Visible Music College, an institution I had never heard of until just now. The Memphis, Tennessee Christian college was the subject of an article by NBC News in April 2022. Student Mara Louk reported that she was choked and raped by a male classmate. She had expected that administrators would help her file charges and get support after the assault. Instead, they kicked Mara off campus. They also tried to prevent her from speaking to anyone else on campus about the attack.

Later, after they told Mara Louk that they wouldn’t be helping her, the student who allegedly assaulted her reported Mara to campus administrators for having sex with her ex boyfriend. That went against the school’s rules against premarital sex. Louk denied the accusation, but officials wanted her to sign a “pastoral care contract”, in which she confessed to breaking the premarital sex rule. She would be required to finish her degree online, barred from campus, and not allowed to speak about the assault. Louk refused to sign the contract, finished her semester online, and then withdrew from the school, just nine credits shy of earning her bachelor’s degree.

And finally, just yesterday, Christianity Today reported on the abusive culture in The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. I know from my many years living in Virginia that there is a Christiansburg, Virginia based college that adheres to the Foursquare Gospel movement. It’s an eastern satellite of the religion that is based in California. It appears that the school in Virginia, once called Life Bible College, but now known as Life Pacific University- Virginia, is being investigated because of its controlling environment that included sexual harassment from a high ranking administrator. The administrator asked female students probing questions about their sexual histories and made inappropriate comments about their appearances. He also shared private information about students, to include stories about their mental health issues or other personal details that weren’t for public consumption.

I think it’s pretty plain what I think of religious based colleges and universities. Some are not as bad as others are, of course. However, I think when it comes to higher education, it’s better to go to a school where freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas is celebrated and encouraged. And I think that people should not be lulled into the idea that a college is safe, simply because it’s religious and there’s not supposed to be any “fun” but sinful activities, like drinking, dancing, gambling, smoking, or… dare I say it? Consensual sex.

Besides… I went to two publicly supported universities and I managed to graduate from both with my virginity intact. I didn’t need any rules imposed to do that. It was a choice I made. If I can do it, anyone can… but no one should feel like that’s something they have to do, especially when they are adults, and especially when they are PAYING to go to school. Just my two cents.

Anyway, I hope you’ll watch Fundie Fridays’ video about Fundie Colleges. Jen and James did a very good job on it.

In other news… Bill told me that actress Anne Heche is in critical condition because she evidently drove her blue Mini Cooper into a someone’s Los Angeles area home at a high rate of speed. As Bill was telling me about Heche’s accident, I couldn’t help but remember how, back in 2000, she was in the news for wandering into some guy’s house wearing nothing but a bra and a pair of shorts. She was very disoriented and said she needed a shower. The guy ended up having to call the police to take her away, and she was brought to a psychiatric hospital, where she spent a few hours. I remember at the time of the 2000 incident, she and Ellen DeGeneres had just broken up. She later married a man named Coleman Laffoon, had a couple of kids, and then got divorced. She sure has had an eventful, and often very sad, life. I hope she recovers from this latest setback.

And finally, here are two videos I put up yesterday. I think they turned out very nicely. I need to explore Doris Day’s catalog more. I especially like “Dream a Little Dream of Me”, although that one is getting fewer hits.

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animals, book reviews, nostalgia, religion

Exposing Bill to Black Beauty…

No, I’m not referring to the black pills or capsules filled with amphetamines, although there are times when I think Bill might benefit from a little speed. Kidding, of course… He’s just chronically tired, because he doesn’t sleep soundly.

No, not THESE Black Beauties.

I’m actually referring to the book, Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell. It was one of my favorite books when I was a child. In those days, I was certifiably horse crazy. My sisters had passed down several copies of the 1877 novel, which was English author Anna Sewell’s only book. I read it countless times when I was growing up. Curiously, Bill was never exposed to this children’s literature staple. He says it’s because he was reading “adult” books when he was a child. I would say that although Black Beauty is a supposed children’s book, there is much value in it for adults, too. Not only is it a good reminder that animals are sentient beings with thoughts and feelings, but there’s also a lot of wisdom in it that is surprisingly timely today.

Anna Sewell spent several years writing Black Beauty, as she was an invalid who was very ill during the last years of her life. Anna was not able to stand or walk for very long distances, owing to an accident she had when she was 14 that injured both of her ankles. She relied on horse drawn carriages to get around, which caused her to love and respect horses very much. Sadly, Anna died at age 57, only five months after her book was published. She did, however, live long enough to see its initial success. Black Beauty is now one of the most popular and best-selling books of all time. And yet, Bill hasn’t even seen any of the movies, or the 70s British television show. I used to love watching Black Beauty on Nickelodeon in the 80s, when I was a pre-teen.

The TV theme for the show based on the novel.

I don’t remember what prompted me to buy a Kindle version of Black Beauty last night and start reading it to Bill. I knew that more than once, I had told him he needed to read the book. He kept expressing interest whenever I mentioned it, but never got around to taking my suggestion. He was always too sleepy!

I finally took it upon myself to read it to him, so I knew he was exposed to the story. Sure enough, he was very quickly hooked. Black Beauty is a very engaging book, even for men in their late 50s. Bill loves animals, and this is a book that isn’t just about horses, but also other creatures. It’s a plea against cruelty, and a reminder that religion doesn’t necessarily determine someone’s value as a person. For instance, this morning, I read this in the final paragraph of Chapter 13:

“Your master never taught you a truer thing,” said John; “there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast it is all a sham—all a sham, James, and it won’t stand when things come to be turned inside out.”

Sewell, Anna. Black Beauty (p. 46). True Sign Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

As I read that, all I could think was that it was such a timely quote, given how things are today, in 2022. Anna Sewell was definitely a wise and intelligent woman, ahead of her time. I think about all of the so-called religious people– especially certain “Christians”– who claim a moral high ground because of their religious beliefs. And yet some of those people are the biggest liars, social climbers, and hypocrites ever! Give me a kindhearted atheist, any day.

Anna Sewell hadn’t meant for her book to be for children. She had wanted to increase awareness of animal welfare and promote kindness and sympathy, particularly toward horses, but likely also toward everyone and everything that lives. She even expressed consideration for flies in her book, as she wrote a story about a mean spirited boy named Bill who was cruel to his pony, and was once caught pulling the wings off of flies in a window sill. God knows, I’ve killed some flies in my day, but I don’t torture them. Hell, the other day, a bee landed in my beer and I helped the poor drunken fellow out to recover. Of course, it’s illegal to kill bees in Germany, anyway.

We’re already up to chapter 14. I’m determined to introduce Bill to this story, once and for all. I don’t think he’ll be sorry. I feel lucky to have such a patient and kind husband, who doesn’t mind indulging my idiosyncrasies and letting me read to him. The chapters are pretty short, which is a nice thing. It makes it easier to stop. I have read this book so many times, yet it never gets old. It truly is a great story. In its day, it helped change people’s attitudes about animals and how they are treated. Sewell’s commentary about “bearing reins”, which were used to force horses to keep their heads high, even led to their use being banned in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Besides reading books from the 19th century, we might also venture out today, since I’m not contagious anymore. I do still have a slight cough, but cold weather will be upon us before we know it. What I’d really like to do is find a nice hike to a waterfall, like we did when we lived near Stuttgart. Unfortunately, I don’t think we have too many near us. On the other hand, we didn’t really have any near us down in BW, either. We were just more willing to go out, because there wasn’t a pandemic going on. Germany’s rules have loosened a lot, but we’ve kind of lost the desire to go out as much anymore. And now, I can’t see COVID as an abstract threat, because I just got over it myself.

I’m also still working on reading Revenge, but I expect to be done with that book very soon. I look forward to dishing. In the meantime, below is a link to the abridged Kindle version of Black Beauty I’m reading. It’s only 60 cents! If you purchase it through the below link, I will get a pittance in commissions from Amazon. 😉

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complaints, healthcare, law, money, politicians, politics, religion, social media, social welfare

Something I hadn’t thought about here on the “Road to Hell”…

I meant to write about today’s topic yesterday. It was inspired by a New York Times opinion piece I read the other day that pointed out some unintended consequences of our new post Roe v. Wade reality. But I got mired in a contentious Twitter conversation that led me astray and got me so pissed off that I donated money to the pro choice cause. Yesterday, I decided to write about that decision, instead of the new insight I gleaned from that very wise opinion piece, written by Tressie McMillam Cottom, a Black woman who is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, the author of “Thick: And Other Essays” and a 2020 MacArthur fellow. The piece she wrote, titled “Citizens No More”, really drove home some of the ways life for women in the United States could change if we don’t nip this anti-abortion nonsense in the bud.

For a long time, I have been writing about the potential negative health consequences that could arise in the wake of making abortion illegal. What I hadn’t considered, though, is that criminalizing abortion will likely also affect women in the workplace. Tressie McMillam Cottom spelled it all out in her opinion piece. She writes:

I grew up choosing where and how I work because Roe v. Wade gave me many of the same basic rights of personhood as men, for example. Millions of women have, to different degrees, been able to do the same.

I agree. It was the same for me, my entire life. I was born months before abortion became available to all women in the United States. My whole existence, I’ve known that if I ever needed or wanted to have an abortion, I could get one. In fact, I grew up in southeastern Virginia, and I distinctly remember that Hillcrest Clinic, an abortion clinic that opened in Norfolk, Virginia the year after I was born, used to run radio ads on the station I listened to before school every day. I remember hearing the commercials about how a woman could access safe, compassionate care if she wanted to terminate a pregnancy. It was not a big deal to me, because I heard those ads all the time. I never thought twice about them.

Here’s a news clip about the Hillcrest Clinic, an abortion clinic that used to operate in Virginia when I was a young woman.

Then came the 1990s, and I remember reading in the news that abortion clinics were being bombed and doctors who performed abortions were being targeted, harassed, and in at least a couple of instances, murdered. Dr. Barnett Slepian was one abortion provider who was executed in 1998 by a gun toting anti abortion zealot. Another was Kansas physician Dr. George Tiller, who was shot in both arms years before he was finally murdered in 2009. On December 31, 1994, 22 year old John Salvi came into Hillcrest Clinic and opened fire, shattering the doors, but not injuring or killing anyone. The day prior, Salvi had stormed into two abortion clinics in Massachusetts and opened fire, killing two receptionists and wounding multiple clinic employees and volunteers. In many of the violent cases involving abortion providers being assassinated, pro-life zealots justified the killings, claiming they were “saving the unborn babies”. It seems ridiculous to me that highly trained physicians who simply wanted to help women were killed by people claiming to be “pro-life”. But life in the United States is often kind of confusing and odd, isn’t it?

I was a young woman in the 90s. Fortunately, I was not sexually active at the time, and I never had any gynecological issues, so I never needed to consider taking birth control, let alone having an abortion. But I knew that if I ever did need abortion services, and I was still living in Virginia, I could go to the Hillcrest Clinic in Norfolk.

The years went on, and lawmakers did more and more to restrict abortion access and discourage women from ending their pregnancies. They passed new laws, forcing clinics to upgrade their facilities to the point at which they were almost like hospitals. Hillcrest Clinic finally got to a point at which they could no longer operate. Ironically, it was because fewer women needed or wanted to have abortions, probably because they were getting educated about sex and had access to effective contraception. Hillcrest Clinic closed its doors in 2012, after serving the community for about 40 years.

Along came 2002. I finished graduate school and got married. Getting pregnant at a bad time was never an issue for me. But the same could not be said for my peers. I do know some women who did seek abortion care, and none of them has regretted their decision. I know they are living productive lives now, with families they formed when they were ready to be parents.

Now, with this new reality of conservatives trying desperately to force women to give birth, those choices are in jeopardy, even for women who never get pregnant. Tressie McMillam Cottom explains:

With Roe v. Wade toppled, we do not have the same rights in all labor markets. In a global market, an empowered worker is one who can migrate. With Dobbs, women cannot assume that we can safely work in Idaho the same way that we can in Oregon or Washington. I cannot negotiate wages or time off with an employer with the same risk profile as those who cannot become pregnant. An employer who offers lower pay in a state with abortion care indirectly benefits from women’s inability to take our labor on the open market across the nation. Thanks to a rogue court, women’s lives are now more determined by the accidents of our birth than they were a week ago.

Those accidents of birth include circumscribing women’s lives by making them dependent upon corporate beneficence. Some companies, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, immediately issued statements that they would offer reimbursements to employees for traveling for abortion services. The largess of Dick’s and other companies is noteworthy. But it requires women to disclose their health status to a boss they have to hope is well meaning. That says nothing of also hoping that corporate management or leadership does not change. Well-meaning employers can come and go. They also vary in how well meaning they are in terms of pledges of their employee support.

Those two paragraphs made me stop in my tracks. All along, I’d been focusing on health and happiness. It never occurred to me to consider how not being able to access abortion could affect women in the workplace, even in states where abortion access is guaranteed (for now). I also hadn’t considered that the companies who offer women help in getting abortions would also be requiring those women to discuss their private healthcare decisions with their employers. And, as the article also points out, some companies, such as Starbucks, have placed conditions on their offers of assistance. From the article:

 [Starbucks noted that] it cannot guarantee that benefit to workers in unionized stores. Union drives at Starbucks have increased worker power. Many of those workers are women and people who can become pregnant. Potentially attaching support for abortion care to non-unionized labor is a perfect example of why corporations should not be arbiters of human rights.

So basically, people who can get pregnant will have to decide what’s more important to them– access to abortion services, or worker’s rights.

I noticed in the comment section that most people were arguing about the morality of abortions. It seemed that very few had bothered to read Tressie McMillam Cottom’s opinion piece, which I thought was very sobering and kind of scary. I decided to leave a comment that people really should read her piece. If you click the link in this post, you should have free access to the link, as I am a New York Times subscriber and allowed to gift ten articles per month. If you are a person of childbearing age and can get pregnant, you might want to consider what is at stake. It will affect all women who work, unless it’s obvious that you’re beyond childbearing. Then, you’ll just experience age discrimination. 😉

I want to also bring up another alarming news article I read yesterday that complements Tressie McMillam Cottom’s piece. According to the Washington Post, some Republican lawmakers are trying to draft legislation that could block pregnant people from crossing state lines. Again, I’m gifting the link to this article, since I am also a Washington Post subscriber. From the article:

The National Association of Christian Lawmakers, an anti abortion organization led by Republican state legislators, has begun working with the authors of the Texas abortion ban to explore model legislation that would restrict people from crossing state lines for abortions, said Texas state representative Tom Oliverson (R), the charter chair of the group’s national legislative council.

“Just because you jump across a state line doesn’t mean your home state doesn’t have jurisdiction,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel for the Thomas More Society. “It’s not a free abortion card when you drive across the state line.” (Figures it’s a MAN who said this. I hope he goes straight to Hell.)

I read about this development yesterday, after having yet another fruitless discussion with two older pro-life people on Twitter– a man and a woman, both of whom were conservative, and both of whom clearly never really stopped and thought about what eliminating abortion will mean to women, and American society as a whole. The first person who took me on was an obviously conservative man, who basically said that people who get pregnant by accident should be forced to gestate. He was kind enough to allow abortion for rape and incest cases. For everyone else it was, “she made her bed and now she needs to lie in it.”

I noted that he seemed to think pregnancy should be a punishment. He disagreed, arguing that birth control can prevent pregnancies, and “personal responsibility” should trump a gestating person’s right to make healthcare decisions about their own body. I tweeted to him that I didn’t think he’d really thought very long or hard about the abortion issue at all. I could have come up with a laundry list of my concerns, to include healthcare privacy and the fact that women in many states will have to prove their need for certain obstetrical procedures. Instead, I wrote that it doesn’t seem wise to me to force people to be pregnant when they don’t want to be, because it could mean that they won’t take care of their prenatal health. And fetuses would be developing in someone who might be very depressed and unwilling to seek medical care. That could then lead to babies being born with medical conditions that might have been prevented if the pregnant person had simply been more “responsible”.

I won’t even go into the huge list of reasons why this mindset isn’t fair to women. Men seem to forget that their health is never affected by pregnancy. It’s just their livelihoods that are potentially affected. What I was really thinking of, though, is that pregnant folks might soon find themselves in a different class of people, with fewer civil rights. This guy on Twitter was insisting that he didn’t think pregnancy should be a punishment, as he was also clearly pointing out that people should be forced to gestate. And, I’ll bet if I pressed him, asking him what he thought should happen to pregnant women who don’t seek appropriate medical care (which, of course, they would have to pay for), he would say the women should go to jail. Sounds pretty punishing to me. Now, granted, he didn’t actually say that during our discussion– which went on for much too long– but I’ll bet money that he would get there. Americans seem to LOVE to see people go to prison.

This isn’t an empty threat. I looked up forced prenatal care yesterday. It has happened. The link leads to one case from 2000, but there are others, and that Washington Post link I provided is about how some extremists would like to make it illegal for pregnant people to cross state lines. That sounds very punitive to me, and it would likely discourage people from seeking medical care. Another unintended consequence is that there will be some women who will stop having sex with people– particularly men– who can get them pregnant. I’ve already seen at least one Reddit thread from a man who is upset that his girlfriend is on a sex strike because of the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

In an earlier blog post, I shared Jessica Kent’s very distressing video about her experience giving birth while she was incarcerated in Arkansas. If we don’t do something about these wackos who are trying to criminalize abortion, there will be more women who experience the hell of being pregnant behind bars. It won’t be good for women OR those precious babies. And, things are already getting shitty in Texas. Yesterday, I watched this woman’s heartbreaking video about the horrible trauma she experienced, trying to take care of her miscarriage in Texas last year.

This video is absolutely horrifying. My heart breaks for her. She had a lot of trouble accessing prenatal care, too.
Sharing this again for those who missed it. This could be a reality for many more women if the pro-life zealots get their way.

The other person who engaged me yesterday was an older woman who had many of the same arguments the man did. She was very condescending to me, and kept preaching about personal responsibility. I didn’t tell her that I was SUPER responsible when I was younger. I was a virgin until two weeks after my wedding day, and was 30 years old when I finally had sex for the first time… with a man who’d had a vasectomy. I also didn’t tell her about my background.

But toward the end of our chat, she wrote that she has a four year old granddaughter who was conceived accidentally. Her granddaughter is the light of her life. And you know, that’s really lovely. I’m happy for her. I wrote that I hoped her granddaughter never needed to have an abortion, which is sometimes necessary for health reasons. And I hoped that her granddaughter wouldn’t lose some of her healthcare privacy rights, due to her sex. The woman wrote back that my concerns about healthcare privacy were “ridiculous”. All I can do is shake my head… as Randy Newman sings, “I’m dead, but I don’t know it…” I think that observation would apply to this woman’s brain.

Clever song. I think this could be the state of women’s healthcare privacy and freedom very soon.

But instead of sharing the link to Randy Newman’s song, I wrote that my concerns about privacy are NOT ridiculous, and a lot of us are very concerned about it, and with good reason. Then I bid her a good night, because I was tired of tweeting in circles and felt my time would be more productively spent cleaning the lint out of my belly button or something.

Well… I could go on. I am kind of rueing exploring Twitter, because now I get exposed to some real twits besides Bill’s ex wife. But at least it gives me another source for my blog, right? And since I mentioned Ex… here are a couple of her most recent comments. I could start a blog that focuses on the inanity of Ex’s Twitter feed. For your amusement…

My daughter is 19, a HUGE fan of yours(read your book), along with TMNT; she wants to be a voice actress more that ANYTHING! Rob, how can I encourage her? I can’t afford acting school in NY, though she was accepted! Please, any advice for a mom who just wants to support a dream?!

Omg … my eyes…. My ears… make it stop! It’s like reliving the day I sang “If” by Bread in 1981 at a school talent show with, literally, the sweetest and kindest guy in the world! Except, alas, it was never to be… still love him with all my heart!!

She once sang “The Sweetest Thing” by Juice Newton to Bill. To this day, he can’t abide that song.

So ends today’s rantings. Hope it provides food for thought.

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