Since I don’t really feel like typing any significant fresh content today, I’m going to repost this blog entry from the original Blogspot OH. This post appeared April 19, 2015. It’s been retitled and edited somewhat, because there was dated and irrelevant content in the original post.
Last night, I shared this photo, which randomly popped up on my Facebook feed. A woman I knew in school had posted it with the comment “You’ve been warned. No excuses.” I knew the photo would generate discussion, and it did. Most of my friends were horrified by the photo, although “Papa Smurf” was a notable and predictable outlier. [Papa Smurf is a former friend now… he was a mansplaining pain in my ass one too many times, and I finally advised him to fuck off. I call him Papa Smurf because he was very sanctimonious and enjoyed trying to act like everybody’s daddy.]
I understand the idea behind this sign and I comprehend why a lot of people are behind its sentiment. However, while I get why people agree with it, I think it’s counterproductive to threaten patients before they’ve even been seen. All a sign like this does is tell the pregnant mom who might be using drugs that the doctor would prefer them to go somewhere else for their prenatal care. Indeed, that could be why the sign was posted. OB-GYNs typically pay a lot in malpractice insurance, and a pregnant person with drug issues could potentially have a riskier pregnancy. Of course, a drug abusing mom who is really bad off probably wouldn’t bother with prenatal care anyway.
Those who use drugs recreationally might see a doctor, but if the doctor flat out tells them they will call the law on them, they will very likely avoid medical care. That may be fine and dandy for the doctor who doesn’t have to deal with them, but what about the unborn child? The sign seems to be advocating for the welfare of the unborn baby, but if the doctor scares off the mother, what good does that do? And doesn’t that sort of conflict with what doctors are supposed to be doing, which is providing healthcare to people who need it?
I happen to be pro-choice, but I couldn’t help but notice. As long as abortion is legal in the United States [remember, this was written in 2015], it seems kind of ridiculous to take this sort of attitude, anyway. I mean, the mother to be can terminate her pregnancy if she chooses. Using illegal drugs is against the law, anyway. Why turn it into a crime against the unborn? Why does the fact that the mom to be is pregnant even come into it? She’s breaking the law, so deal with her.
At this point, we don’t force people to see their doctors. People have a hard enough time accessing appropriate medical care for reasons other than being threatened and alienated. This attitude of needing to police private citizens is creepy to me [I really had no idea what was coming, eight years ago, did I?], and in the long run, I don’t think it makes things better for anybody. Of course a pregnant woman shouldn’t be using drugs, and something should be done if she comes up positive on a drug screen. I think the attitude toward her should be more supportive and helpful, not threatening.
Besides… a woman whose newborn baby comes up positive on a drug screen at the hospital is going to be referred to CPS anyway. All that sign does is encourage the mother to avoid seeing doctors and give birth outside of a medical setting.
Here’s another thought. For most medical procedures, physicians must get informed consent before they go ahead with it. I suppose a sign like this informs patients that the doctor(s) at this practice will do random drug screens, and gives them the option of going elsewhere for their prenatal care. But what about health care professionals that do screenings without the patient’s knowledge or consent? Isn’t that a violation of their rights?
I know there have been cases in which mothers have been arrested for having positive drug screens and have gone to court. In South Carolina, there was a big case involving pregnant women, Ferguson v. City of Charleston, who were tested for drugs without their knowledge or consent. It went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the search in question was unreasonable, especially since the searches had the potential to land someone in jail.
In any case, while I certainly wouldn’t condone a pregnant woman using drugs, and I agree something should be done to help or dissuade drug abuse in pregnant women, I don’t think taking an adversarial, threatening attitude is in the best interest of patients. The goal shouldn’t be to sell mom down the river; it should be to get her appropriate help so she can successfully raise her child. I think it would be hard to do that by threatening patients with getting the police and child protective services involved before they’ve even been seen.
Edited to add in 2023: I don’t know if the photo is real or fake. I just thought the discussion it generated was interesting. You can see the original post here.
Now that I’ve had some time to settle back into daily life, I’d like to address the latest school shooting. This time, there were six victims at The Covenant School, a private Christian elementary school in Nashville. I read that the school is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA). I was raised mainstream Presbyterian (PCUSA), but I have some relatives who are PCA. They are more conservative, like Southern Baptists, while mainstream Presbyterians are more akin to Methodists.
It was the morning of March 27, 2023 when 28 year old Audrey Elizabeth Hale, who evidently identified as a trans man, shot open a locked door and stormed the hallways. She killed three nine year olds and three adults, including the school’s head, Dr. Katherine Koonce. I don’t know much about Audrey Hale, other than the fact that at one time, Hale was a student at The Covenant School. A lengthy manifesto was left behind, where Hale mentioned “having to go to that school”. I don’t know anything about Hale’s actual experiences at The Covenant School, but I do know that PCA believers insist that homosexuality is a sin that will send believers to Hell. I can only assume that maybe Hale was feeling condemned by church officials, whether or not that thought was ever expressed to anyone out loud.
Recently, Audrey Hale was under the care of a mental health professional, was using male pronouns and going by the name Aiden, and made a living as an artist and cat sitter. Just before the tragic events of Monday morning, Hale contacted a friend on Instagram and warned her that she would soon be reading about Hale in the news. The friend tried to report Hale’s comments to the police. Inexplicably, the police did nothing.
Those who once knew Audrey Hale describe the shooter as “shy”, “quiet”, “sweet”, and “good”. But something happened, because for some reason, Hale turned into a murderous monster. As politicians in Tennessee ban drag shows, and parents in Florida compare great works of art to pornography, and many people insist that women should not have the right to bodily autonomy, more innocent people are losing their lives over the ridiculous gun laws in the United States.
I don’t understand how Republican politicians can declare abortions “murder” and then yammer endlessly about how “precious” life is, as they refuse to do anything about the terrible gun violence problem in the United States. They talk and talk about the need for a smaller government and more liberties, but their policies seem to grant more liberties for criminals and crazies than regular folks.
This morning, Bill shared a video with me, showing a shouting match between Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie and New York Democrat Jamaal Bowman. Bowman was yelling about how three innocent nine year olds had been murdered, and Massie was insisting that we should have guns here to “protect us”. Yeah… but where the fuck are the good people with guns when someone like Audrey Hale goes off the rails? And why should everybody be expected to stay “safe” by carrying weapons?
I’ve mentioned before, I used to vote Republican as a matter of course. I didn’t know any better. Conservatism is what I grew up with in my small, southern Virginia hometown. Getting out of that environment is what opened my eyes to the truth… Some people are true “ammosexuals”. It’s like they get a sexual charge of owning firearms. I don’t know about Audrey Hale, who apparently legally owned seven guns… Who the hell needs that many weapons? If a gun is needed for personal protection or hunting, why not just own one? But one gun can still be deadly… especially to growing children.
I recently got into an argument with a stranger on Facebook, who insisted to me that anyone who isn’t pro-life should also be in favor of gun rights. The person claimed that guns don’t kill as many people as abortion does. I found that comment absurd on many levels. Developing embryos and fetuses have no concept of life or death. They aren’t conscious of impending doom. They don’t know the fear of being in what should be a safe place, and suddenly hearing gunshots.
I certainly don’t cheer for abortions. I think they should be avoided whenever possible. But to compare an abortion of a very early pregnancy to a nine year old child being shot in school is absolutely ridiculous. I might be more onboard with the pro-life movement if the politicians promoting it were more serious about protecting already born children from being shot in school. How many more already born children have to die before Republicans will admit that something must be done?
I have never been pregnant, and I don’t have children of my own. However, my husband’s daughter has been sharing her children with us. She recently shared a video showing her two oldest children playing. They were so full of life and energy, and she was very patiently supervising them. She’s a wonderful mom who loves her kids, and has suffered several miscarriages. I can’t imagine how absolutely devastated and horrified she’d be if she lost her children to gun violence.
I think about my sister, who needed medical help to get pregnant– not IVF, but something less intense. Her son, an only child, was very much wanted. Luckily, he managed to survive growing up going to American schools and is now in college. I imagine how awful it must be for parents– especially those who worked very hard to become parents– when something like this happens. Why aren’t the Republicans thinking about those people– who fought for and wanted their children so badly, and now risk losing them to gun violence? Why is their focus on forcing people to have babies they don’t want or can’t take care of, instead of protecting the already born babies who were very much wanted by their parents?
The whole thing is absolutely crazy! And while I don’t know what specifically caused Audrey Hale to go nuts on Monday, I think I can understand why so many people seem to be losing their shit. Things have been on a downward spiral for some time… and the past three years have been especially bad. Clearly, Hale had some terrible mental health issues, and I am always an advocate for helping the mentally ill. But as long as we allow anyone and everyone to carry firearms, this horror is going to continue. It seems to me that a lot of people are operating on a thin strand of sanity. It’s time we disarmed more people and did more to help them regain their grips on reality.
Rep. Thomas Massie seems to think the answer is arming teachers… how sad that is. Teachers shouldn’t be expected to use lethal force to defend their students and themselves. Instead, we should all expect to be able to go places and do things without taking our lives in our hands… especially on school campuses. I hope our very divided politicians can soon come to a consensus on this issue and do something to stop the carnage. But, as I am fond of saying sometimes, “people in Hell want ice water…”
A couple of days ago, I read a story in The Guardian about how, as of May 2023, Bonner General Health, a hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho is no longer going to offer labor, delivery and other obstetrical services. Hospital officials cite the state’s new draconian laws against abortion as the main reason why they must stop offering care to pregnant women. New pregnant patients are no longer being referred to Bonner Health for obstetrics care, and existing patients are being offered alternatives to Bonner for their obstetrics needs. According to a statement put out by the hospital:
Highly respected, talented physicians are leaving. Recruiting replacements will be extraordinarily difficult. In addition, the Idaho Legislature continues to introduce and pass bills that criminalize physicians for medical care nationally recognized as the standard of care. Consequences for Idaho Physicians providing the standard of care may include civil litigation and criminal prosecution, leading to jail time or fines.
Idaho does not allow abortions after six weeks gestation except in documented cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother’s life. It is also one of six states that prosecutes physicians for providing abortions. Consequently, a lot of OB-GYNs are leaving the state, as are many pediatricians. According to the same statement:
Without pediatrician coverage to manage neonatal resuscitations and perinatal care, it is unsafe and unethical to offer routine Labor and Delivery services; despite our best efforts over months of negotiations. Our inpatient pediatric services will no longer be consistent and reliable in May. BGH has reached out to other active and retired providers in the community requesting assistance with pediatric call coverage with no long-term sustainable solutions. Our low patient volume is insufficient to attract candidates for pediatric hospitalists, and we cannot afford to continue having locum tenens physicians.
The statement also indicated that besides the political climate in Idaho, the number of births in the Sandpoint community were steadily dropping. Only 265 babies were born at Bonner General Health in 2022, and fewer than ten pediatric patients were admitted for other reasons. The demographics of the area where the hospital is located are changing, with fewer people giving birth, and more older people living in the community. There is also an updated facility at Kootenai Health, which has staffing 24/7. However… I just did a calculation of the distance between Bonner General Health and Kootenai Health:
Doctors in Idaho have found themselves having to choose between violating state law or providing competent care to their patients. Last year, a federal lawsuit was filed by twenty states and medical groups against Idaho’s extreme abortion bans. According to AP News:
“[Idaho’s abortion ban laws] will really place physicians in a lose-lose situation,” said Jeff Dubner, the deputy legal director for Democracy Forward, the legal team representing the coalition of medical associations.
Physicians who follow the federal law will be at risk of criminal prosecution and the loss of their medical license, said Dubner, and those who follow state law could damage patients’ health and place themselves and their hospitals at risk of federal fines or loss of funding.
Naturally, there were some really stupid comments from “pro-life types” about this development. I saw a number of ignorant statements from men about how, if OB-GYNs want to provide abortion care, they shouldn’t be in the healthcare business. Some people were trying to dismiss the news as scare tactics, or even as “woke” journalism. Below is one egregiously ignorant comment made by a man named Mark:
They’re not dedicated to their patients. If they cared, it wouldn’t make a difference as the new mothers need care.They want to perform abortions which are more frequent and makes them easy money. Why would you want to be under the care of an MD that only cares about how much money he makes.
I decided to respond to Mark’s comment. This was what I wrote:
Sometimes abortions are medically necessary. OB-GYNs already pay huge malpractice insurance premiums. Banning abortion is DANGEROUS to women! Threatening the doctors with arrest or losing their license if they need to provide abortion care is too much of a liability for them.
Women will die because of these laws!
I hope more doctors move to states where they are allowed to practice their professions without interference from ignorant politicians and their equally ignorant constituents. Maybe when some red state’s legislator’s wife is in dire need of immediate competent care from a qualified OB-GYN, and they can’t find one, they will rethink their extreme policies regarding abortion.
More than a few simply stated that this is just a “business decision”. I agree, Bonner General Health’s decision is a “business decision”, however, the decision isn’t just being made by hospital administrators. It’s also being made by highly trained, very talented and capable physicians, who have spent many years and many thousands of dollars to become experts in their fields. And they want to be able to practice their professions without being hamstrung by ignorant MALE legislators and their equally ignorant constituents. OB-GYNs already pay huge malpractice insurance premiums.
As someone who has a master’s degree in public health-health administration, this story is kind of in my wheelhouse. I just don’t think most rank and file Americans even consider how much doctors have to pay for malpractice insurance. The actual costs vary by state and speciality, but OB-GYNs typically pay among the very highest annual premiums for this protection, because the stakes are simply that high. Guess what. The costs are not going down, especially in the wake of these new abortion bans. While doctors in some specialties pay a few thousand dollars a year for malpractice insurance, according to Physicians Thrive:
Average annual malpractice insurance premiums range from $4k to $12k, though surgeons in some states pay as high as $50k and OB/GYNS may pay in excess of $200,000.
Obstetrician/Gynecologists (OB/Gyns) pay among the highest premiums for medical professional liability insurance coverage in all of medicine. An OB/Gyn who practices in a major metropolitan area can expect to pay an annual premium in the neighborhood of $100,000 to $200,000, and this burdensome cost of doing business—coupled with an omnipresent fear of lawsuits—has influenced many to see fewer high-risk obstetric patients, reduce the number of gynecological surgeries they perform, exit private practice in favor of hospital employment or move their practice to an area with a more favorable liability climate. Our historic med-mal rates shows the cost that an OB/Gyn pays for their insurance in every state.
Granted, the same article states that claims are going down, and tort reform is making lawsuits less of a risk for providers. But my guess is that the new abortion ban laws are going to lead to some catastrophic OB-GYN cases. Not enough have happened yet to raise widespread awareness, but they inevitably will. And then, the risks will either increase again, or more people will opt out of having children. That may seem like a good thing, until you realize that if people stop reproducing, the population will age more, and there will be more need for other medical services, and fewer human beings to provide them. You may one day find yourself having your medication dispensed in a hospital by a robot nurse, instead of a live human being.
An article in The Washington Post from August 2022 discussed the dilemma doctors in Texas are facing. Olgert Bardhi, a primary care physician in training, will probably be a full fledged doctor with highly sought after skills as of 2025. But Dr. Bardhi, who is currently getting his highly valuable training in Dallas, said that the new laws regarding abortion really bother him. According to the article:
Although [Bardhi] doesn’t provide abortion care right now, laws limiting the procedure have created confusion and uncertainty over what treatments are legal for miscarriage and keep him from even advising pregnant patients on the option of abortion, he said. Aiding and abetting an abortion in Texas also exposes doctors to civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution.
The article continued:
“It definitely does bother me,” Bardhi said. “If a patient comes in, and you can’t provide them the care that you are supposed to for their well-being, maybe I shouldn’t practice here. The thought has crossed my mind.”
There is now a “chilling effect” for OB-GYNs trying to provide care to their patients in states where abortion is suddenly practically banned. The end result is that doctors are scared, and it’s causing them to go to places where they can relax and do their jobs without so much fear. After all of the money, time, and effort expended for their training, can you blame them?
Don’t think this scenario is realistic? Consider this. Back in 2019, I wrote a blog post titled “Whatever you think is best, doctor.” It was inspired by a piece written by Dr. Jen Gunter, a rather famous OB-GYN who has written some pretty awesome books about women’s healthcare. Here’s a lengthy passage from my 2019 post about Dr. Gunter and a case she encountered back in 1998:
[Dr. Gunter] was called in to perform an abortion on a woman who was very sick and in her first trimester of pregnancy. The woman’s condition was rapidly deteriorating and the pregnancy was making her situation worse. Although her life was not in immediate danger, her caregivers feared that if she continued her pregnancy, her condition would quickly decompensate and she would need dialysis due to kidney failure.
The problem was, this was happening in Kansas, where a new restrictive abortion law was enacted that forbade abortions from being done on state government property, unless the mother’s life was in danger. The medical center where Dr. Gunter worked was on state property. While it’s very possible to manage kidney failure on dialysis, it’s not the ideal course of action. It’s better to prevent kidney damage, which would then prevent a host of other serious medical problems that would put the patient’s life in danger. The patient was not about to die, but her condition might eventually cause death if the doctor didn’t act. On the other hand, thanks to the law, if Dr. Gunter made the “wrong” decision, she could be fired or wind up in legal trouble. She could even be arrested, which would be a real problem, since malpractice insurance does not cover criminal prosecution.
The law was vague regarding what Dr. Gunter should do. She spoke to the hospital’s attorneys, who advised her to call the legislator who had written the law. So, instead of prepping her patient for surgery and taking care of her patient’s private medical issues, Dr. Gunter was forced to call up a legislator who had absolutely no clue about this wrinkle in the law because he wasn’t a medical professional. Moreover, Dr. Gunter was about to talk about this lady’s private medical situation with a man who was completely uninvolved, except for the fact that he’d written the law that was holding up Gunter’s ability to take action. To add insult to injury, he didn’t even seem to care! As Gunter launched into a description of the woman’s medical issues necessitating an abortion, the legislator interrupted her and said, “Whatever you think is best, doctor.”
The woman got her abortion and her medical condition improved. But Dr. Gunter was left fuming, since she’d had to waste precious time calling up a legislator who obviously didn’t actually care that much about this law. He hadn’t even listened to her speak for more than a minute before he basically said “whatever”. Meanwhile, this lady’s health– her very life– was in danger. What would have happened if Dr. Gunter had not taken the time to cover her ass by calling the lawmaker? What if she’d simply done the abortion and gotten arrested for breaking the law, even though she’d made the correct medical decision? What if she’d not done the abortion and her patient died? Then she might be on the hook for medical malpractice. She’d also have to deal with the guilt of knowing that she has the training to help women in these dire medical situations, but can’t act due to restrictive, misguided legislation like the “heartbeat” bills being considered and passed in places like Georgia, Ohio, and Alabama.
I hate the thought of women and babies having to pay for the ignorant and misguided policies mostly being made by Republican men in conservative states. I especially hate the fact that the people who will likely suffer the most will be the poorest citizens. However, I think what’s going to have to happen in abortion banning areas is that a lot of women will have to die or get very sick. Some of the folks in power are going to have to be personally confronted by a lack of competent healthcare providers available to take care of them, or their loved ones, before they will understand why it’s so important to let OB-GYNs do their jobs without their interference.
Too many people assume that abortions are always due to a woman being irresponsible or wanting convenience. They never stop to realize that putting that spin on it endangers the lives of everyone… including men. Because I’ll bet some of the OB-GYNs who are deciding to relocate are married to doctors in other specialties, who will choose to move with them. Think about it.
It’s hump day, which means Arran is going to see the vet for chemo. Bill is coming home this afternoon. Hopefully, he’ll get home early enough to take the dog to the vet. However, I have my doubts I’ll get that lucky, as I look outside and watch the snow fall. Yes, that’s right… on the Ides of March in 2023, it’s snowing. It’ll probably be gone in an hour or so. For now, it’s sticking.
So… I’m sitting here now, wondering what to write about today. And I noticed that my friend, Patti, left a very insightful comment on yesterday’s post. I want to give her proper credit for making the leap that I didn’t quite make yesterday, when I wrote about Republican Representative Rob Harris of South Carolina proposing that women who have abortions be subject to the death penalty, and a new bill proposed in Massachusetts that would offer prisoners the chance to donate organs for time off their sentences.
Patti wrote this, and I had a big AHA moment (bolded emphasis mine)…
At the beginning of these anti-choice laws popping up the last few years I stated it was a matter of bodily autonomy. You can’t force someone to donate organs or blood no matter who needs it – you can’t even take it from a corpse without permission of them prior to death or from a family member afterward. These two issues are actually entangled as they are inching more and more away from bodily autonomy and being able to compel people to give up an organ or blood to someone who “deserves” it.
What’s even freakier to me is that these are two very different states. South Carolina is extremely conservative and Republican. Massachusetts is famously liberal. Rob Harris, who authored the South Carolina bill advocating for executing women who have abortions, is a Spartanburg Republican who happens to be a registered nurse. Representative Carlos Gonzalez, of Springfield. Massachusetts, a Democrat, apparently worked as a social worker, although I haven’t seen evidence of him having a social work degree.
If Gonzalez doesn’t have a social work degree, he’s technically NOT a social worker— in the same way that someone who didn’t go to medical school or nursing school isn’t a physician or a nurse. I hasten to add, I don’t know what he studied in school. I’ve casually looked, but the information isn’t coming up easily this morning, and I’m not willing to spend more time looking for it right now.
The point is, both Harris and Gonzalez (especially if he is a social worker), should have more respect for the self-determination of all people. It makes no sense to me, whatsoever, that a nurse would think and outwardly state that executing people who have abortions is an appropriate course of action. I would hope and expect that nurses, above all, should seek to preserve health and life. And when death inevitably occurs, they should have a compassionate attitude.
Nurses (and social workers) are in a unique position to see the many complex situations that would cause a person to consider having an abortion. Yes, sometimes they’re done for the sake of convenience, which could also be the safest and wisest course of action. I studied social work and public health and worked in South Carolina, and I have an idea of what people who are unexpectedly pregnant can be up against, even if the person has some means.
A young woman who is just launching her career, isn’t involved with her partner, and doesn’t have the financial resources to take care of a baby, should have the option to terminate the pregnancy if that’s what she deems best. Being pregnant has a huge effect on a person’s life and their finances. So, allowing a termination early in the pregnancy is probably a lot kinder than forcing that young woman to endure pregnancy and choose to either give the baby up for adoption, or forgo her own financial security. Yes, I would hope it would also mean she’d be more careful about contraception, but even people who are careful about contraception can experience failures.
I might feel differently if I saw evidence that Mr. Harris advocates providing financial resources for pregnant people. Unfortunately, all I’ve seen from him is a line about personal responsibility, and how the unborn must be “protected”. Does that just mean forcing the woman to gestate? Or is he also proposing making sure that the pregnant person has housing, food, medical care, reliable transportation, help finding work and affordable child care, and all of the other things needed to have a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery? I notice he makes no provisions for cases of rape or incest. Does he also think a ten year old pregnant child should be forced to birth or risk the death penalty? People like Harris never seem to have an answer to those questions, do they?
Say what you want about how dystopian Gilead is in The Handmaid’s Tale, but at least the pregnant women in that story get what they need to stay healthy. In our increasingly dystopian country– the United States, so called land of the free– we don’t offer any help to the people some politicians want to force to give birth under penalty of execution if they don’t. It’s sick and WRONG, and I am so very weary of MEN like Rob Harris trying to legislate morality and impose draconian penalties on pregnant people. Mr. Harris will NEVER have to face an unintended pregnancy or the direct consequences related to pregnancy. He should sit the fuck down, and shut the fuck up! I hope he loses his nursing license! He’s not fit for the profession.
You’d think the Democrats would be more mindful about ethics. But Carlos Gonzalez, who was evidently influenced by his dear friend with kidney disease on dialysis, seems to want to compel incarcerated people to donate their organs. I know, on the surface, it sounds like the incarcerated people would have a choice. Maybe that’s how it would start out, anyway. However, Mr. Gonzalez doesn’t seem to realize that offering desperate people a deal that gives them a year off their prison sentences in exchange for a kidney is, frankly, putting us on a slippery slope. How long would it take before that idea would extend to people on welfare, for instance.
I like the way Patti put it in her comment.
“…they are inching more and more away from bodily autonomy and being able to compel people to give up an organ or blood to someone who ‘deserves’ it.“
Politicians tend to be powerful, influential people. Mr. Gonzalez would like to save his friend’s life. He explains:
“He’s a father of three children and is in stage 4 of kidney failure,” González said, adding, “I love my friend and I’m praying through this legislation that we can extend the chances of life for him and any other person in a similar life-or-death situation.”
Would Mr. Gonzalez feel the same way about someone who wasn’t a father of three? How about someone who is single? What about a person who is homeless or mentally ill? What about someone with Down Syndrome, or another genetic disease? How about a prisoner? How about someone like Jared Fogle?
What exactly would make a person “deserving” of receiving a prisoner’s donated kidney, bone marrow, or blood? Would they have to be a “good” person? Who gets to decide who warrants getting a kidney? What will the criteria be?
And what are the proposed standards for allowing prisoners to donate? Will they get counseling from a lawyer? A psychologist? How about a physician who will talk to them about potential drawbacks to donating, rather than just assessing their health and suitability for donating? Isn’t a vital organ worth more than sixty days off a prison sentence? Isn’t it worth more than a year?
At least Mr. Gonzalez uses the word “love” when he proposes his bill. Rob Harris just sounds hateful toward women. He says:
”We have a problem with abortion, we don’t respect all life,” Harris said. “So, what my bill uniquely does is that it protects all life by defining life at conception. We have to ask ourselves as a culture, whether we believe life begins at conception or not. The ramifications of that are the same for anybody else who would take another life.”
Harris added that the bill’s intent was not to subject a mother who undergoes an abortion to the death penalty, but to save babies.
”The state has become an abortion destination, so what are we doing to stop abortion?”
When asked about whether the media’s focus on aborting mothers potentially receiving the death penalty weakens his bill or the chances of the bill passing, Harris said, “The laws are already on the books about murder, and all that stuff. I’m not arguing to change any of those laws. The bill is forcing our culture to decide, is this really life inside?”
It blows my mind that Rob Harris seems to imply that abortion is the biggest issue threatening human life in 2023. We can’t even protect the already born babies from the gun toting nuts that his party actively courts. We can’t even stop six year olds from shooting their teachers. We can’t stop a virus from killing people before their time.
Rob Harris dares to suggest that the way to make life better for everyone is to execute women who seek abortions and don’t want to have to explain why they want or need one to people like him? I would be much more impressed with Rob Harris if he was more concerned about the health and safety of people who have already been born and whose lives are being threatened every day by violent people with guns. And regardless of what his “intent” is, when he presents his ridiculous idea that women who have abortions should be executed, the fact is, presenting those kinds of bills can have terrible consequences for real people.
I really think Rob Harris needs to kicked out of the nursing profession. He clearly doesn’t really care about people, especially women. He doesn’t work for half of the population of South Carolina. He’s apparently for conservative men with money, and keeping women and people of color at a lower level. And his bill, regardless of his “stated intent”, displays a disturbing desire to punish and control women!
As for Gonzalez… I think his heart may be in the right place for people like his friend with kidney disease. However, as a politician, he’s supposed to be serving all people, including those whom he may not think “deserve” a donated organ. And yes, that means he serves prisoners, too. I think his bill does prisoners (who are still human beings) a disservice, but I also think that precedent could ultimately take our society in a direction it really shouldn’t be going. I don’t know how Gonzalez feels about abortion, but as Patti rightly points out, his idea isn’t so different than Harris’s draconian “pro-life” bullshit (for the unborn, anyway).
Our society is rapidly turning into a place that is blatantly just for the “haves”, and not for the “have nots”… Either way, the people who will be the most negatively affected by either of these proposed bills are going to be the poor, people of color, women, and people who have made mistakes. Those who are lucky enough to have money or connections won’t have to worry at all. And that’s just wrong and immoral, especially in the so-called “land of the free”. Both of these legislators from different states and opposing political sides need to reset their moral compasses. Likewise, voters need to wake up and take notice, and stop tolerating these extremist ideas. We all need to come together to make life better for everyone, not just the so-called “deserving”.
The featured photo is of Bill wearing a t-shirt that says in German, “Life is too short to drink shitty beer…” If only that was our biggest problem!
Last night, I had a rather strained chat with Bill. I was feeling kind of fed up and put out, as he told me when his next week long business trip is planned. After twenty years of this, you’d think I’d be used to hanging out alone in big houses. But, to be honest, the older I get, the harder it seems to be for me. I think Arran’s cancer and COVID-19 have made me more eager to get out and do things. I used to be quite content to do things by myself. Not anymore.
Lately, I’ve been thinking that maybe I should take some solo trips. I hate the idea of wasting all this time in Europe, sitting at home with my proverbial thumb up my ass, waiting until we can do stuff together. Sometimes, it really feels like life is passing me by. I was trying to have this conversation with Bill. I could tell he was conflicted. He says he’d worry about my “safety”. Never mind that for thirty years, I pretty much did most things on my own. My own parents didn’t worry very much about my safety.
There was a time when this would be a non-issue. Twenty-one years ago, Bill put me on a plane to Jamaica so I could sing at my sister’s wedding. I got around just fine on my own, and came back safe and sound. But, since we became an official couple, it’s been a rare thing for me to do stuff alone. I know I’m capable and have the time, and we have the money. Maybe he’d like it more if I traveled with a friend, but I don’t have any local friends I want to travel with. The older I get, the more set in my ways I am.
So, we ended the chat without resolving anything. As I was about to fall asleep, I noticed a former co-worker had shared disturbing news out of South Carolina. I looked at the familiar photo of the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, where I had once jogged regularly. Twenty-one representatives have sponsored a bill in South Carolina that would classify abortion as murder and make anyone who has an abortion eligible for the death penalty.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why people who are supposedly “pro-life” would want to execute other people for having abortions. It’s absolutely batshit nuts to me. Even more crazy is the fact that this bill was authored by Rep. Rob Harris, who is a fucking registered NURSE!!!!! Mr. Harris is also a member of the so-called “Freedom Caucus”– freedom for whom? Probably white, Southern, Protestant Christian, men who aren’t poor.
According to Rolling Stone:
The “South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023” would amend the state’s code of laws, redefining “person” to include a fertilized egg at the point of conception, affording that zygote “equal protection under the homicide laws of the state” — up to and including the ultimate punishment: death.
I went to graduate school at the University of South Carolina. I earned master’s degrees in public health and social work at that university, and worked for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control as a graduate assistant, both in healthcare policy and maternal and child health, and for the Bureau of Epidemiology. Twenty-two years ago, I didn’t get the impression that politics in South Carolina were that batshit crazy. I mean, yes, in the first job I had as a G.A., it was my job to track healthcare legislation.
I remember the controversies being about abstinence education, kangaroo meat (as in it was illegal), and chelation therapy. South Carolina had a big problem with teen pregnancy, as well as child abuse. One of my internships was working with Healthy Families South Carolina, part of Prevent Child Abuse. Because there were a lot of young people having babies they weren’t ready for, there was a big problem with child abuse, and other social ills.
And yet, this idiot Republican Representative Harris wants to put women to death for exercising dominion over their own bodies! It defies logic! And do we really need to imprison more Americans? Will that help them be able to stand on their own feet and pay their own bills in the long run? Will it be helpful for their children? And the answer, of course, is a resounding “NO”!
I don’t think Mr. Harris has a fucking clue about his constituents and what they face, his nursing degree notwithstanding. Not to mention the fact that making people who have abortions eligible for the death penalty will cost a lot of taxpayer money and back up the court system. We don’t even put disgusting child predators like Josh Duggar and Jared Fogle to death for their crimes, but Harris wants to execute women who might want an abortion because of rape or incest or some other, totally private reason? What a sick, misogynistic bastard he is! How in the hell did he go into nursing? ETA: I see that Mr. Harris has just an Associate’s degree. Well, that explains a lot.
I pondered those thoughts as I drifted off to sleep for a couple of hours. Then, this morning, I woke up and watched a video by Jessica Kent, who has a very popular YouTube channel. Jessica Kent famously had a baby while she was incarcerated in an Arkansas prison. She now makes a living producing videos on YouTube, Tik Tok, and the like about her experiences as a prisoner.
This morning, I listened to Jessica talk about a new idea that was proposed within a recent bill in Massachusetts. Lawmakers there have evidently determined that one way to deal with the shortage of donated organs, bone marrow, and human tissues is to offer prison inmates the opportunity to donate theirs in exchange for time off their prison sentences.
On the surface, maybe this seems like a good idea… until you realize that people in prison are already exploited and basically enslaved. And some of those people are also innocent. Should we really be encouraging/coercing them to be living organ donors? Especially since they may not have the best environments for recovering from donating?
Besides the potential health risks and ethical dilemmas of such an idea, there’s also a side that I didn’t hear Jessica talk so much about. She says most people in prison aren’t absolutely terrible humans… but there are incarcerated people who are, in fact, very dangerous and belong behind bars. Is it really a good idea to make such a person the reason why another person lives? Can you just imagine what might happen in such a situation? A very manipulative person with no scruples gives up an organ for someone, and then, once they are released, proceeds to find them and manipulate, threaten, and harass them for personal gain. I can see it.
But I think it’s more likely that the opposite will more frequently happen. Someone who is desperate to get out of prison will donate just so they can get out and go home. And there may be significant repercussions for making that decision. I don’t have a problem with allowing inmates to donate organs if it’s their idea, and it’s something they sincerely want to do for humanitarian reasons. Politicians offering a carrot on a stick to them to fix organ shortages and overcrowded prison conditions is something else altogether, and decidedly not right, in my opinion. I think that idea could potentially lead to disaster.
Besides… it appears that the time off the sentence isn’t enough to warrant the donation. There would be no financial incentive, of course, since that’s illegal. And the time off would be at least 60 days, but no more than a year. I think someone’s kidney or part of their liver is worth much more than that. Especially when we consider that, in the future, the people who donate may be very sorry they did so. What happens if the person’s other kidney, for instance, fails or is injured in an accident? What if they get shot or stabbed in the healthy kidney? It’s America, folks. That could really happen.
Then… after I watched Jessica’s video, I realized that my problems are pretty small and not very earth shattering. Yes, I hate sitting here alone for weeks on end, but at least I don’t have to worry about needing an abortion in South Carolina. And I am not, nor are any of my loved ones or friends, sitting in a prison cell anywhere… Even in liberal Massachusetts, prisoners are treated as less than human. And, even though my dog has cancer, and I watch him nervously every day to see if he’s suffering, at this point, he’s still happy to be with us. I don’t have any matters of life or death facing me, at this point in time. Bill will be home tomorrow, too.
So… I guess I’ll end this rant and get on with the day. Practicing guitar is less disturbing than reading the news is.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.