book reviews, celebrities

A review of Bright Lights, Prairie Dust: Reflections on Life, Loss, and Love from Little House’s Ma, by Karen Grassle…

If you were growing up in the 70s and 80s, it’s a fair bet that you might know who Karen Grassle is. For eight years, she played Caroline Ingalls– Ma– on the hit NBC show, Little House on the Prairie. I was born in 1972, so I was a child when that show was airing on prime time. I remember watching it on Monday nights, probably starting at the time I was about eight years old or so. By then, the show had been airing for some time, and was starting to jump the shark a bit. It wasn’t until I started watching reruns on TBS during my college years that I really became a fan.

Although I loved Little House, I wasn’t necessarily a fan of Michael Landon’s. I always thought he was kind of weird. One time, I saw a comedian do a hilarious imitation of the way he smiled, screwing his eyes a bit and twitching his jaw, as if he was trying to keep from crying. The comedian had him down perfectly, and every time I see Landon on screen, I’m reminded of it, as well as why he never came across as particularly handsome to me. Edited to add: I think the comedian might have been Jim Carrey. Here’s a clip.

When I got older, I started to understand why people found Michael Landon so charismatic. He had this “saint like” image that he tried to project in his projects. A lot of people were fooled by him, thinking that he was much like his saintly characters, especially Charles Ingalls– which was probably his most famous role. He was well-known for being generous and he certainly had a gift for making television programs that appealed to the masses. A lot of women thought he was “hot”, too, although it’s clear to me that he knew it, which I find kind of repellant.

As Karen Grassle points out in her recently published memoir, Bright Lights, Prairie Dust: Reflections on Life, Loss, and Love from Little House’s Ma, there was a lot more to Michael Landon than met the eye. And he was no saint. But then, neither is she. I just finished her eye opening memoir last night, somewhat surprised by her story.

Karen Grassle talks to Megyn Kelly about her book and working with Michael Landon. In this interview, Grassle says Victor French was a “wonderful actor”. And he was. But he also had a problem with alcohol.

Karen Grassle’s life started off normally enough. She was born February 25, 1942 in Berkeley, California. She grew up in Ventura, the daughter of a real estate agent and a teacher. She also has a younger sister named Janey and an adopted son named Zach. When she was very young, Grassle was captivated by her Baptist faith. She studied ballet, acted in school plays, and was popular among her peers.

Her first year of college was spent in New Orleans, Louisiana at H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, which was the women’s branch of Tulane University. Grassle couldn’t hang in New Orleans. She found the atmosphere too offensive with the rampant racism in the South during the early 1960s. With help from her mother, Grassle went back to California and enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, from which she graduated in 1965, with bachelor’s degrees in English and Dramatic Art.

After college, Grassle won a Fulbright Scholarship and moved to London for a year. Living in London gave Grassle the chance to travel around Europe, and she writes a bit about her experiences seeing the continent. She even includes a passage about riding on a train with a young Italian man and his father and having sex with the Italian guy while his father snored beneath them. I could relate to the train experience to Italy, minus the sex part. I once rode in a sleeper car with an Asian family on my way from Vienna to Venice and listened to the dad of the family snore all night. A little sex might have done me some good.

Grassle later moved to New York City, where she struggled financially, and picked up roles at the many theaters there. She drank a lot and smoked too much, and picked up interesting odd jobs to make ends meet, including a stint working as a size eight model for garment makers. Although she worked steadily, she didn’t really become financially successful in any sense until she moved back to California and auditioned for the role of Caroline Ingalls. The rest is history.

Yesterday, I wrote about Betty White, and how I think sometimes people mistook Betty White for her characters. I think the same may be true for Karen Grassle. On Little House on the Prairie, Grassle portrayed a beautiful, God-fearing, kind, gentle woman. Michael Landon portrayed a male version of that same ideal. But, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, actors are often not at all like the roles they play. That is apparently very true of Karen Grassle and Michael Landon. Grassle writes that the two of them didn’t get along very well after the first year of the show’s eight season run. Although on screen, they looked like they were deeply in love, they really were just acting…

In Bright Lights, Prairie Dust, Grassle gives readers a glimpse of what was going on behind the scenes on Little House, but readers shouldn’t expect an exhaustive tell all about the show. This book is really a book about Karen Grassle. The title is a bit misleading, which is why I think Grassle got some low ratings from Amazon readers. I think a lot of people read Grassle’s book hoping for stories about Little House on the Prairie, and what they got is a book that is pretty much just about Karen Grassle’s life, with only a little bit about the show that made her a star. There’s also quite a bit of throwing Michael Landon under the bus and airing of “dirty laundry”. As someone who also often airs dirty laundry, I can understand why she wrote about these things… but I can also see why other readers found the revelations off-putting.

I mostly enjoyed reading Karen Grassle’s story. I don’t judge her for her life choices or mistakes. We all make them. Karen Grassle admits to being an alcoholic who had many difficult relationships with men, including an unfortunate tryst with actor Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers) that led to a sexually transmitted infection. She’s been married a few times. She’s had a couple of abortions. She turned away from Christianity. She didn’t get along with Michael Landon and, in fact, even judged him for infidelity, even though she had herself been unfaithful to at least one of her partners. I’d say she’s pretty much the antithesis of Caroline Ingalls, a role she played so convincingly.

Karen Grassle writes that she loved working with Scotty MacGregor, otherwise known as Mrs. Oleson.

I’m sure a lot of readers will judge Karen Grassle for not being Caroline Ingalls. I guess I can understand why they might, since the title implies that she’s going to impart wisdom the way “Ma Ingalls” did. But again, I think readers should understand that actors are human, and memoirs are the ultimate project in self-promotion. Of course the book is about Karen Grassle, and Karen Grassle isn’t “Ma Ingalls”. That was just the most famous one of the many roles she’s played over her long career. I, for one, was interested in reading about Grassle’s lesser known work on the world’s stages.

I appreciated reading about Karen Grassle’s work toward promoting women’s rights. She grew up in a time when racism and sexism were rampant, and anyone who wasn’t a white man had less power simply because they weren’t a white male. I think it’s pretty clear that Grassle is politically very liberal, and she feels very strongly about protecting women’s rights, including the right to have an abortion. Grassle had two experiences with abortion. The first one happened when she was 20 years old. She had to go to Mexico, and it was done secretly. The second one was done ten years later, in New York, where in 1972, abortion was legal. She compared the experiences, which I found interesting, and a bit frightening for today’s young women, who may soon lose the right to privacy and bodily autonomy. Some readers may have less sympathy for her, later in the book, when she laments how she eventually wanted a baby of her own. She did eventually adopt a son.

Grassle is also very involved in Jungian therapy, which I found intriguing, since my husband is also into Jungian therapy. She writes a bit about dream analysis, and some of the cool insights she got from some of her therapists. I probably wouldn’t have noticed that part of the book if Bill wasn’t working with a Jungian therapist. If I had read Karen Grassle’s book a year ago, I probably wouldn’t have cared about her revelations regarding Jungian psychology. But I guess it just goes to show you that as one’s life evolves, so do one’s interests.

The one thing I distinctly didn’t like about Karen Grassle’s book was a certain contrived quality it had. It was like she was trying really hard to write in an evocative way that came across as insincere. Her writing wasn’t terrible; it just seemed to lack some authenticity. Like she was trying too hard to turn a phrase or something.

I do think the title of the book is misleading. I’m sure it was purposely given that title to make sales, but plenty of people who bought it for the potential of Grassle’s “spilling the tea” about life on the Little House set will “spill the tea” that the book is only a little bit about the show. There’s very little about the children who played the Ingalls’ children, but she does include a couple of less flattering comments about Victor French (Mr. Edwards), as well as a few more positive comments about Scotty MacGregor (Harriett Oleson) and Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle). I think a lot of people will expect much more about the show. They won’t necessarily get that information in this book, which may disappoint some readers.

The last comment I want to make is that the book ends rather abruptly, just as Karen Grassle has married her second husband of three. I’m not sure why she chose to end the book at that point. Maybe it’s because it was just as the show was ending, in the early 1980s. But the book is clearly not just about Little House on the Prairie. Grassle wrote a lot about her young life, her years as a struggling actress, and what led up to her turn as “Ma Ingalls”. If the book had been more about the show, I might understand why she ended in the early 80s. But it’s clearly NOT just about the show. Again… I think a more accurate title would have served her better.

There are some photos included, though they aren’t so easy to see on my Kindle app.

I’m glad Karen Grassle was able to quit drinking, since it clearly affected her in a negative way and was problematic, particularly regarding her relationships with other people, as well as her image. As a fellow adult child of an alcoholic, I could relate to some of her comments about what it was like to grow up in that particular brand of dysfunction. I respect Karen Grassle’s talent, and some of her insights about working with Michael Landon. A lot of her complaints about Landon were about money, and how he allegedly wouldn’t agree to pay her what she felt she should be earning on a hit show.

This book could have been better, and should be retitled… and maybe even retooled. But overall, I’m not sorry I read it. I would just caution prospective readers not to expect a book that is just about Little House on the Prairie, containing heartwarming, homespun, words of wisdom from Ma Ingalls. Bright Lights, Prairie Dust is definitely not delivering much of that, in spite of its title.

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ethics, law, obits, religion

Sarah Weddington’s death brings out the pro-life trolls…

Sarah Weddington has just died. She was 76 years old, and had been in poor health. Nowadays, some people might think that 76 is kind of young for a person to die, but Sarah Weddington had already made history by the time she was 26. She definitely led a full and impressive life, even if pro-lifers don’t think so.

Back in 1971, Sarah Weddington was a recent law school graduate from Texas who was having trouble finding work because she was a woman. That year, having never before tried a case, she and her co-counsel, Linda Coffee, began presenting arguments on what would eventually be a landmark victory that gave American women the right to have an abortion. The two went before the Supreme Court, and on January 22, 1973, the court ruled that a Texas state law banning abortion except to save the life of the mother was unconstitutional. Weddington’s work on Roe v. Wade was groundbreaking, and whether or not pro-life advocates want to admit it, that law has actually saved a lot of lives.

Weddington got involved with Roe v. Wade because she was friends with women who were helping university students and others find doctors who would illegally perform abortions, or directing them to countries were abortions were legal. One of the women involved with this effort asked Ms. Weddington if she knew if they could be held liable, and prosecuted as accomplices. Weddington did not know the answer to that question, but said she would research the matter for free.

That was when she got in touch with Linda Coffee, who was a fellow University of Texas law school graduate, and had more experience in the matter. It was 1969, and Coffee was representing Norma Jean McCorvey, a homeless woman who was seeking an abortion. In December 1969, Coffee wrote Weddington a letter, asking if she’d like to join forces as co-counsel for McCorvey’s case. The two met a couple months later. and the wheels of progress toward women’s reproductive choice in the United States began to turn.

It was in December 13, 1971 that Weddington and Coffee began to plead their case to the highest court in the USA. Weddington was a star who enjoyed the public stage. Linda Coffee, while brilliant, was not as impressive to look at and didn’t enjoy the limelight as much. According to The New York Times, Coffee could come off looking “bedraggled”, and Weddington was younger and prettier. She had blonde hair and blue eyes, which in those days, apparently made her more “optically appealing”. In those days, maybe being “pretty” was considered especially important for women. Come to think of it, sadly, not that much has changed in that regard. But at least in 2021, more of us recognize how wrong and unfair that mindset is.

But Sarah Weddington’s life wasn’t just about Roe v. Wade. She was a person in her own right, a woman who pioneered in a profession that typically favored men. She was a young woman at a time when women were expected to stay home, raise babies, and be help meets to their husbands. She chose to become a lawyer instead, which says something about her intellect, courage, and tenacity. One would think that people might respect her for the person she was, rather than just focus on her impressive landmark work on Roe v. Wade.

Of course I know that expecting people to be decent is probably hoping for too much. Weddington’s death has brought out the pro-lifers, who feel the need to voice their objections to allowing people to choose whether or not they wish to be pregnant and give birth. They love to bring up cardiac activity in a 22 day old embryo as a sign of life that should be respected. And yet, these same people so often have very little regard for people who have already been born, nor do they seem to give two craps about providing access to affordable and high quality healthcare to the people who are gestating those potential lives that are so sacred to them. One man wrote this:

…a fetus is not a baby…but it is a human life. It’s a separate being, with its own unique human DNA. That’s why there is such passion from the pro-life side of this debate…and why the pro-choice side is loathe to concede the humanity of the fetus.

I started to write the below response to the man who brought up the “humanity” of a developing fetus. I looked on his Facebook page. I see that he’s a fireman, and has probably saved a lot of lives. I commend him for doing that work. I do wonder, however, if he’s thought about what happens to the people he saves… I’m sure it feels good to help someone escape a burning building. But once they’re out of the building, then what?

Does he simply vote for “pro-life” candidates, even if they’re all about gun rights and keeping healthcare outrageously expensive? Does he support making birth control more accessible and affordable? Does he vote for paid time off for new parents? Affordable and accessible childcare? Affordable housing? Work policies that make it possible for people to raise their children? But anyway, I did not post the comment below, because I didn’t want to argue with a stranger, and I figured it wouldn’t make a difference, anyway, except to rally the like-minded.

Why don’t you have more regard for the people who have already been born and will be affected by the burden of gestating that potential life? Do you make it a policy to vote for leaders who want to make healthy pregnancies, anti-violence, affordable healthcare access, and family friendly work policies a priority? Or are you just concerned about saving that *potential* human life who has no concept of life or death?  

I don’t think most people who are vehemently pro-life actually care about other people. If they did, they might consider why a person might feel the need to make that decision and why it’s very personal and not any of their business. A person who feels the need to terminate a pregnancy may have very painful and personal reasons for making that decision. Many pro-life people care only about their religious convictions, and they want to impose their beliefs on everyone else.  

More often than not, it seems to me that MEN who are upset about abortion are really just angry that this is a decision that women can make without their input. They don’t think it’s fair. Well, a lot of women don’t think it’s fair when men have their fun in bed, but don’t actually do anything to support that *potential* life they’ve helped create. It’s not their name on the doctor’s bills. It’s not their body that is forever changed and potentially harmed by pregnancy. It’s not their life that is potentially upended.  

Unless you are the type of pro-life person who advocates for real change in US policies that support positive changes all of those babies being born, I’m not too concerned about your opinions regarding “humanity”. It’s sad that 50 years on, we’re still arguing about what should be a fundamental right for all pregnant people.  

According to The New York Times obituary, Sarah Weddington isn’t just a lawyer who argued for women’s rights to choose abortion. She was also herself the recipient of an abortion. In 1968, having recently graduated from law school, after having earned a college degree a couple of years ahead of the usual schedule, Weddington, who was then dating her husband, Ron Weddington, got pregnant. The two went to Mexico, where the former Sarah Ragle had a safe and legal abortion.

When she and Ron came back from Mexico, Sarah realized that she was very fortunate to have been able to get an abortion. Many pregnant people of that time period were not so lucky. Sarah became aware of women who had done terrible things to themselves in an attempt to abort. She wrote in the Texas Monthly in 2003:

I had had an abortion myself, during my last year in law school. I was not as sophisticated as I should have been about preventing pregnancy. I was seriously dating the man I later married, Ron Weddington, but I was determined to finish law school, and I wanted to put Ron through law school. There were a lot of considerations. And so we decided to have an abortion. You couldn’t look in the phone book then, but Ron found a name of an abortion doctor through a friend. We made an appointment and drove to Mexico. I will never forget following a man in a white guayabera shirt down an alley, and Ron and I having no idea where we were headed. I can still remember going under the anesthetic and then waking up later in a hotel room with Ron. Driving back I felt fine; I didn’t have any complications. But it made me appreciate what other women went through, who did not have someone to go with them or did not have the money to pay for a medically safe abortion, as I did.

Later, I heard stories of women who had not been so lucky. Some had beaten their own abdomens or jumped down stairs to try to induce an abortion. Others had eaten mixtures of chemicals and cleaning products. I’ll never forget seeing a photograph of a woman lying on a black-and-white checkered bathroom floor who had died from having an illegal abortion. Doctors told me about women whom they had seen hemorrhaging or in shock or with infections, who had stuffed all kinds of things into their uteruses because they were desperate to have abortions.

Don’t “pro-life” people care about the women who feel so desperate to have abortions that they’re willing to do things like take poison, stab themselves with coat hangers, or go to “butchers” who render them sterile, make them sick with infection, or even kill them? Don’t these people, so passionate about the “sanctity of life” and the “humanity” of developing embryos, give two shits about the situations facing the people whose personal situations don’t lend themselves to being pregnant? And who gets to decide when a person’s life is “threatened” enough that abortion becomes okay? And why should those situations be anyone else’s business?

Sadly, a lot of religious “pro-lifers” think that Sarah Weddington is now burning in Hell. One man commented thusly on Weddington’s obituary:

No, we’re not delighting in her passing. We’re simply stating that she will probably spend eternity with the Prince of Darkness. Even after her evil actions before the court, she could have repented and asked for forgiveness. I highly doubt she did either.

What the fuck?

I think about “Christian” people like Jim Bob Duggar, who recently lost his bid to become an Arkansas State Senator. His time as a reality star offers a treasure trove of proof of what religious people actually think about other people. Mr. Duggar’s wife, Michelle, famously counseled their daughter, Jill, to be “joyfully available” when Jill’s husband wanted sex, even if Jill was “big pregnant” and didn’t feel like having sex. Michelle told us all that being sexually available to her husband is a woman’s lot in life, and that no one else could righteously fulfill that need, other than a man’s wife.

Jim Bob and Michelle now, of course, have a son named Josh who is sitting in jail, awaiting sentencing for getting his sexual “needs” fulfilled illegally. Their son apparently didn’t get the message that his sexual “needs” should only be fulfilled by his wife– not that Anna hasn’t done her share. Jim Bob stated that he thinks rapists should be executed. I wonder if he’d like to start with his son, Josh… who was once a “precious” embryo in Michelle’s womb. Granted, even Josh has “value”, I guess. He is the father of seven, after all, and I’m sure his children deserve all the regard that any born person deserves. Life is about to get even harder for those kids and their mother, though…

I find it curious that Jim Bob Duggar, who is apparently so concerned about the rights of the unborn, thinks that already born people are expendable and should be executed for any reason… and that being truly “pro-life” can co-exist with also being “pro-gun”. Guns are literally devices that are intended to wound or KILL living beings, all of whom I assume were God’s blessings to someone or something.

As disgusted as I am about Michelle Duggar’s comments about being “joyfully available”, I also wonder how many times she felt forced to have sex with Jim Bob, a man with chronic halitosis and poor social graces, because his dick was stirring. And how much attention did Jim Bob pay to Michelle’s menstrual cycles, so he could force her to pop out as many of “God’s blessings” as humanly possible?

Seriously–there are men who are like this. Some of them even work(ed) for the federal government. And a lot of these men– many of whom vote for pro-life Republicans and screech about small governments and their personal liberties– don’t seem to realize that not so long ago, there were some communist countries that were all about forced birthing. And there are some countries where a woman can wind up in prison because she had a miscarriage. That doesn’t sound very “freedom-loving” to me. But even those countries are starting to understand that this is a decision that should be up to the person directly involved with being pregnant, not governments, law enforcement agencies, or MEN who will never have to face being pregnant.

The bottom line is that Sarah Weddington did a huge serve to many women when she took on the fight to allow women to choose. No one is forced to have an abortion in the United States. It’s a CHOICE. And it’s a choice that should be private, involving only the person who is directly involved in the pregnancy.

Whatever the pro-life men think of Sarah Weddington’s marvelously courageous work on allowing women to choose abortion, I think she was a brave and incredible person, and there was so much more to her life than Roe v. Wade, although that was VERY important work. She was a teacher, a traveler, and a brilliant woman who fought for other women. She has no reason to ask forgiveness for the very important work she did.

It’s too bad that some people think she’s gone to Hell, simply because she didn’t have the same views about religion that they do. More often now than ever before, it’s clear to me that a lot of religious people aren’t actually very good people, when it comes down to it. They care more about their “holy book” and religious platitudes than actually helping people. At least Sarah Weddington did not live to see the day when her work was ruined by Donald Trump’s stacked Supreme Court and so-called “freedom loving men” who only care about freedom for wealthy white people with dicks.

May Sarah Weddington rest in eternal peace. I’m sure wherever she is now, it’s better than down here.

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education, healthcare, law, rants, sexism, slut shamers, wingnuts, YouTube

Mama Doctor Jones gets called out by conservatives in Alaska…

Before I get cranked up with today’s post, I want to highly recommend my readers to watch the below video. Reading my rantings about this situation is simple extra credit. Mama Doctor Jones spells it all out pretty plainly, and what she says about this incident is probably enough. Also, if anyone progressive from Fairbanks, Alaska reads this and is offended by my comments, I apologize pre-emptively for lumping all Fairbanks residents in with Joel Davidson and his ilk. However, unlike Mr. Davidson and his grasp of subjects related to sex ed and women’s health, I realize that my opinions about Alaska are mostly formed in ignorance.

At the end of yesterday’s post, I referenced a YouTube video by Mama Doctor Jones, otherwise known as Danielle Jones, MD. Mama Doctor Jones, for those who don’t know, is a board certified OB-GYN who makes wonderful, informative, and entertaining videos about women’s health and pregnancy on YouTube. I discovered her a few months ago, when the new Texas abortion ban law came into effect. She made an excellent video about why the new law is potentially very dangerous, and why she, as a physician practicing in Texas, is against it.

Dr. Jones and her family have recently announced that they are moving to New Zealand. I don’t know how long she, her husband, and their four kids will be living in New Zealand, but their move does mean that she won’t be held to the new law in Texas. In any case, as a fellow American citizen who has also left the United States, I completely understand why Dr. Jones wants to leave, even if only temporarily. I think living abroad is an experience more Americans should experience, if only to shed the ignorant idea that the United States is the “best” country in the world. Or, even if someone still thinks the USA is the best after living abroad, they might realize that other countries are also pretty good places to be.

After I saw Mama Doctor Jones take on the Texas abortion law, I became a fan of her content. I don’t watch all of her videos, but I have seen a lot of them. I am always impressed by how engaging, charismatic, and at ease she is on camera, and how non-threatening she comes across as she explains women’s healthcare. Personally, I find OB-GYNs terrifying, mainly because I had a very traumatic experience with one when I was a young woman. Even though I, myself, have a background in healthcare, I have a really hard time seeing physicians. But, if I had an obviously kind physician like Dr. Jones, I would probably be a lot less reluctant to go to the doctor for screenings.

Suffice to say, I think Dr. Jones is the bomb. If I had children– boys or girls— I would want them to watch her channel. She’s really fascinating, and judging by the comments I have read in the Duggar Family News group, I am not the only one who thinks Mama Doctor Jones is awesome. So, imagine my shock when I happened to see her video about “being canceled”.

As this video started, I was thinking WTF… but then I was highly irritated by conservative idiots in Alaska!

Mama Doctor Jones then explains that she actually isn’t being “canceled” per se, but her name came up at a school board meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska. Apparently, some people were upset that some of Mama Doctor Joneses’ content was being used to teach sex education to adolescents. The situation was covered by Joel Davidson, a journalist who writes for the Alaska Watchman. Dr. Jones explains in her video that she was blissfully unaware of this issue until one of her viewers tweeted her with a link to Davidson’s first article on the subject. The article is salaciously titled, “Fairbanks teachers want 12-year-olds exposed to explicit sex-ed videos”, and it includes a picture of Jones’ face, plastered across the top of the page.

Before two days ago, I had never heard of Alaska Watchman. I don’t even know very much about Alaska itself, since I’ve never been there. Former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, gave a lot of us continental Americans a taste of Alaska’s apparently far right-wing culture, and I knew that it was a conservative place with a lot of independent minded people within it. I figured it was a beautiful place, too, albeit too cold for my tastes. Since I don’t know much about Alaska, I went to Alaska Watchman’s About Us page, where I found a description of this periodical:

The Alaska Watchman aims to raise awareness of key issues affecting Alaskans. Coming from a broadly Judeo-Christian perspective, we are committed to the highest standards of journalism and ethical reporting.

Our reports look to inform and equip Alaskans to effectively engage the culture for the common good. Please keep your comments respectful.

Okay then… so right off the bat, it’s obvious that this source is biased, and conservative in nature. That means it should probably be taken about as seriously as people might take my blog. However, in reading Mr. Davidson’s second post about Mama Doctor Jones and her “racy” content, I see that he’s in need of an editor:

Several board members raised concern about a YouTube video, Mamma Dr. Jones, which the district wanted to use for sex-education.

Later in the same article he writes:

The main problem I have with all of the videos links that were sent is that they create a trust with the name and source with the students,” [April] Smith said. “We are now putting into our children that Momma Dr. Jones is an excellent source of education.”

Hey Joel– on two occasions you spelled “Mama’s” name wrong, and it looks like you’re missing a preposition. So much for those “high standards of journalism”, right? But enough about my grammar snob tendencies. What really annoys me about Joel Davidson’s articles is that they are very obviously slanted, and it doesn’t appear that he’s spent much time actually watching Mama Doctor Jones on YouTube or objectively considering the value of her content. Maybe it’s because he’s a father of eight. Obviously, he already knows something about sex, and it’s clear he doesn’t care too much about women or women’s health. I won’t even get into what he likely thinks about people who are transgender or otherwise not cisgender, as he obviously is.

Where did those 8 children come from, Joel?

According to Mr. Davidson’s article from October 21, 2021, a 2016 era state law in Alaska requires all school districts to “get approval from local school boards before they can teach new sex education material to children.” I just did a very quick web search to find the law in question, and the first hit I came upon was not the law, but an article on a site called SIECUS (Sex Ed for Social Change). That site’s profile on Alaska indicates that the local culture is overall very much opposed to teaching contemporary sex education in public schools. In fact, it’s not even a requirement to teach sex ed in Alaska public schools.

Mr. Davidson even mentions that “over the past four years, Fairbanks has lost over 1000 students to other educational options”. School board member, April Smith, claims that the district has lost the trust of many parents and they are taking their children out of the public schools and either homeschooling them, or putting them in private schools. I just want to know– is April Smith really that sure that teaching sex ed is the reason this is happening? Because it sounds like Fairbanks school board members aren’t the brightest stars in the proverbial Alaskan sky. Couldn’t students also be leaving public schools because of other issues, like COVID-19, and the risks associated with that? Isn’t it possible that some parents would like their children to be educated on important things, like how their bodies work?

Anyway, I don’t think Mama Doctor Jones is necessarily as fussed about the antiquated local mores in Fairbanks as she is that Mr. Davidson’s articles are clearly biased, as well as borderline defamatory. He has also written quite a few outright FALSE statements about Mama Doctor Jones’ content, as well as certain subjects she covers. For example, he writes:

video for middle schoolers and high schoolers features OBGYN Danielle Jones stating that “50% of people have a vagina.” Jones’ video spotlights a young teen showing off her stained underwear and talking about the fact that vaginal discharge is normal. At one point Jones talks about what can happen when inserting a “toy or penis” into the vagina.

Okay… first off, as Dr. Jones points out in her rebuttal, Davidson doesn’t properly address her credentials. He should have written either Danielle Jones, MD, or Dr. Danielle Jones, OB-GYN. She worked very hard to earn a degree in medicine; she is board certified; and she CLEARLY knows a hell of a lot more about medicine than Davidson does. Please show some respect, Joel. Especially if you actually do care about “high standards of journalism”.

Secondly, how AWFUL it is that a woman who is an expert in women’s health actually covers women’s health concerns! Joel, as a father of eight, it appears that you have been sticking your penis somewhere. I don’t know a thing about you, but I gather those eight kids were not adopted. If they weren’t adopted, then you and a female must have engaged in some sort of normal biological activity to make those kids, right? What is wrong with teaching young people how all of that works? Perhaps if more adolescents knew the facts about sex, there might be less of a demand for abortions, or teenagers becoming parents before they’re really ready for the job.

Davidson also clearly likes the new law in Texas. He writes:

Other videos by Jones, which are not part of the Fairbanks curriculum, blast Texas’ new pro-life law banning abortion once a heartbeat is detected. Other videos celebrate transgenderism and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dr. Danielle Jones correctly “blasts” Texas’ new “pro-life law banning abortion once a heartbeat is detected” because it’s a DANGEROUS, creepy, and unconstitutional law. And if you listen to Dr. Jones explain just WHY that law is so dangerous, and consider that it will negatively affect so many women who legitimately need to be able to safely terminate their pregnancies, you might have more of an understanding why that law is wrong and needs to be struck from the books. Moreover, a woman’s need to have an abortion should be no one else’s business, particularly since no one seems interested in helping to make having and raising children feasible and affordable. There certainly doesn’t seem to be much of an emphasis on preventing pregnancies by making contraception affordable and available, and teaching young people about how babies are made.

As for the rest of that comment… I can’t even. I get that some people can’t wrap their heads around transgenderism and want to mock things they either can’t or won’t try to understand. I just think it’s very sad that so many of them call themselves Christians, but lack the ability to be kind and empathetic, as Christ was. And it’s even sadder that someone who calls himself a journalist and is, in fact, “editor-in-chief” of the Alaska Watchman, is pushing this bullshit and calling it news, when it’s clearly very biased and sometimes outright false information.

I will admit, I’m biased too, but the difference is, I freely state that this is clearly a personal blog, not a newspaper, and I am not a journalist, nor do I play one on TV. People who regularly read my blog– and there aren’t really so many– shouldn’t come here expecting to read news. No one pays to read my content– although apparently, the Alaska Watchman is a “free” paper. I still bet some people expect to read news on the Alaska Watchman, even though it appears to me to be a glorified blog.

Davidson then goes on to write:

A separate video for high schoolers attempts to convince teens that the Plan B (or Morning After Pill) does not cause abortions. The speaker repeatedly emphasizes that this drug “does not cause an abortion.”

According to the product label attached to Plan B, it can, in fact serve as an abortifacient by preventing “attachment of a fertilized egg to the uterus (womb).” Since a “fertilized egg” is in fact the earliest stage of human life, Plan B can kill this life by blocking access to the womb, which is necessary for nutrition and continued development.

As Dr. Jones points out in the above video, if there is no pregnancy, there is no abortion. What Plan B does is prevent pregnancy from happening by preventing a fertilized egg from implantation. It does not terminate an existing pregnancy. Since Plan B does not cause abortion, it cannot legitimately be called an “abortifacient”. And Joel Davidson should NOT be making false statements, especially when he clearly has zero experience or training in medicine or women’s healthcare, nor does he even have the physical body parts that women have. What does Joel Davidson know about the care of a vagina or handling a menstrual period? I don’t even think Mr. Davidson is a very skilled journalist. I certainly would not go to him for his opinions on women’s healthcare!

Having read both of these articles written by Joel Davidson, I’m left with the idea that people in Fairbanks, Alaska are not very bright, although I’m sure that’s not actually the case. He quotes a North Pole woman as saying Mama Doctor Joneses’s content is “basically porn”. I’ve seen some porn in my day, and I want to tell that person that if she thinks Dr. Jones’s content is pornographic, she obviously doesn’t get out much and hasn’t seen anything that is actually pornographic. According to Davidson, she continues with:

“It just does not belong in the school,” she said. “We’re not allowed to talk about religion or church or anything in schools and yet we’re going to bring this disgusting material to our children?”

“Disgusting material”? You mean material that teaches people about how babies are made, how they develop, and how sex– which is among the most basic and normal of acts– can be done without shame, humiliation, or embarrassment? If anything, I would say promoting specific religions and churches in public schools, which are supported by TAXPAYERS of all faiths or lack thereof, is a disgusting thing to do. Particularly since so many people have been abused and damaged by religion. Look at how many people have DIED or been abused due to religious beliefs. You don’t even have to think for very long. Just look at the Holocaust. But I’ll bet they don’t teach much about that in Alaska, either.

As for the allegations of “porn” on Mama Doctor Joneses’ channel, YouTube is pretty strict about what they allow to be posted, particularly on monetized content. For instance, I’ve noticed that a lot of content creators don’t use words or phrases like “porn”, “rape”, or “child sexual abuse”, probably because those words trigger YouTube’s algorithms and affect advertising revenue. So, instead of outright saying “child pornography” or “child sexual abuse” or similar things, content creators say “CP” or “CSAM”. Personally, I think that’s a very stupid practice, since we all know what those things are, and using the letters does not, and really should not, diminish the horror of them.

Dr. Danielle Jones makes content about women’s health and sexuality, so of course she’s going to be talking about sex. And the content she creates is factual and useful, but it’s also monetized, so there’s only so much she can say that isn’t “PG-rated”. Her content is certainly not porn. But I’m sure Mr. Davidson and his rightwing nutjob friends are big fans of Donald Trump, who is a big fan of sexually abusing women and has even outright stated it. The hypocrisy is astounding!

As a 49 year old cisgender woman who has not had children, but does have master’s degrees in social work and public health, and has worked in a rural healthcare setting with young people, I applaud Mama Doctor Jones for what she’s doing. I grew up in a rural county in Virginia, with parents who never talked to me about sex. I got my “education” from HBO, the neighborhood pervert who showed me men’s magazines (and voted Republican), and Coach Todd, the former pro football player who taught about health subjects between telling us lurid stories about his days in Vietnam.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVED Coach Todd’s surprisingly hilarious war stories, but they didn’t exactly prepare me for womanhood. I was fortunate enough to have parents who, despite being conservative and not talking to me about sex, were not opposed to letting me read whatever I wanted. So I was allowed to explore topics like sex education and sexual assault on my own, and somehow, I managed to marry my husband without a long history of sexual partners or the consequences that can come from having sex before I was ready. Not that I think having sex outside of marriage is necessarily wrong. The choice to have sex is simply a decision that should be made by mature people who are prepared to make it, and fully understand what results could come as a result of making that decision.

So many young people do not have the luxury of being able to learn what they really need to know. I know, from having been a social worker, that a lot of young people wind up getting pregnant, suffering from sexually transmissible infections, or being victimized in sexual assaults, because they have not been taught what they NEED to know. And if parents can’t or won’t teach their kids, the SCHOOLS must! Ignorance about these issues can and do lead to tragedies. Look at all of the brilliant young people who do not identify as straight who have suffered or even died because they had no one safe to talk to about these issues. Some of those kids who died too young were pointed toward “religion and church” for “help”, only to be told that their sexual orientations were “sinful” and wrong. I, for one, am GLAD Dr. Jones is willing to talk about transgender issues and other topics on YouTube that make people like April Smith and her ilk clutch their pearls. Maybe if more people talked about these topics in a non-judgmental way, there would be less suicide.

As to whether or not the Mama Doctor Jones YouTube channel is appropriate supplemental content for a school sex ed program, that’s a matter of opinion. Davidson may even be correct that Fairbanks educators acted illegally when they pointed to Dr. Jones’ videos as supplemental sex ed materials. However, that’s an issue that should have been discussed without dragging Dr. Danielle Jones and her Mama Doctor Jones channel through the mud. She had nothing to do with her channel being suggested as supplemental sex ed materials for kids, nor was she even aware that it had been recommended until one of her followers pointed it out to her. The fact is, Dr. Jones’ channel is outstanding, and I think it is a marvelous resource for the general public, even if some parents disapprove of the content.

I can tell by Mr. Davidson’s commentary that he’s conservative and pro-life. Well, if you’re pro-life, Mr. Davidson, you should be in favor of teaching young people the facts about sex. You should be for informing young people, so that they don’t fall prey to mental health issues that drive them to suicide. They should be learning how pregnancy works, what causes it, how to avoid getting pregnant until the time is right, and what is or is not normal in their own bodies. Young people are often afraid to talk to their parents about sex, but they badly need that information. And it’s pretty clear to me that a lot of the people in Fairbanks are not doing the job. I’m glad there there are people around like Dr. Danielle Jones and Dr. Jen Gunter (another OB-GYN who also puts out excellent content) to teach young people what educators can’t or won’t, thanks to conservative school boards who are “out to lunch” and think sex ed is akin to porn.

You should also watch Dr. Jen Gunter’s videos. She is awesome!

Besides helping young people avoid pregnancy, sex education also helps to prevent sexual assaults. Sexual assaults can lead to unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, abortions, and suicide. Seems to me that pro-lifers should be doing what they can to prevent sexual assaults in the form of teaching young people about sex. According to SIECUS, sexual assault is also a big problem up there in Alaska:

Half of all Alaskan women have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime and Alaska Native women experience sexual and relationship violence at even higher rates. While the Cook Inlet Tribal Council has received funding to adapt the Native Stand curriculum for Alaskan youth, it is not available statewide. Advocates report that ensuring sex education is culturally responsive to the needs of native young people, and includes instruction on healthy relationships and consent, is critical.

If you really care about young people, Joel Davidson, you should be grateful to the qualified physicians who are able and willing to share their expertise with the public. And, in the interest of promoting “excellent journalism”, you should stop spreading your ill-informed opinions about women’s health, a subject about which you clearly know very little. I, for one, applaud the school officials in Alaska who recognize the value of Dr. Jones’ content. Brave to them. And shame on MALES who want to keep women ignorant and subservient. They all obviously need to go back to school– preferably in a school district where high quality sex ed is taught.

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Duggars, lessons learned, musings

So much for “gifts from God”…

This is kind of a weird post. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the meaning of life and all… Using Boob’s picture again, because he looks so sheepish.

Earlier today, I reposted a blog entry from 2012. I originally wrote it on a Sunday morning, when for some reason, I had the Duggar family on my mind. I remembered how Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar would talk about how children are a “gift from God”, and they would always accept however many children God wanted them to have. On the surface, that seems like a nice plan. If you believe in God, and you think God has a plan for your life, maybe it does make sense to let the good Lord above plan your family. How many parents, when questioned by some busybody about the size of their family, can think of which child they wouldn’t have wanted to have?

But then the practical side of thinking jumps in to remind me that while children can be a blessing, they can also change a person’s life irreparably, sometimes for the worse. Raising children is a time and resource heavy commitment. Many times, things turn out beautifully. And sometimes, disaster strikes, such as it as with the families whose children go on to do terrible things. Recently, I watched a 20/20 special starring Sue Klebold, mother of Dylan Klebold, who was one of the school shooters at Columbine High School in 1999. Watching that video really put a human face on the parents of children who somehow go haywire.

I can’t even imagine what this woman has been through…

My own mom used to tell me about how she hadn’t planned for her children. She certainly wasn’t expecting me, when I showed up eight years after my closest sister, nor did she really want to have a fourth child. I used to be kind of hurt by those comments, and being a sensitive, yet talkative type of child, I would often tell others about it. One time, an aunt told my mom what I said, and my mom was embarrassed. She was angry that I had repeated her words, even though I was a child at the time, and it’s really hurtful to hear your mother say she didn’t want a fourth child. I think hearing that comment repeatedly when I was growing up really screwed me up in some ways.

Of course, now my mom is a different person. I think she really enjoys being on her own. These days, when I call her, she’s happy to hear from me. It’s as if those early years no longer exist. I like my mom. I always have. But she’s a lot easier to deal with at this time of our lives than she was when I was younger and needed her. Although she was always a God fearing woman, I don’t think she necessarily saw her children as “gifts from God”. She was never much of a “hands on” type. In my own experience, she basically left me to my own devices, most of the time. On the other hand, I don’t think she’d necessarily want to send any of us back.

So what does this have to do with the Duggars? Jim Bob Duggar is still apparently proud to call his eldest son Josh his own, even though it looks like Josh is on the way to the slammer. I can’t say I’d be surprised if Josh manages to get away with what he’s accused of doing. However, I also think it’s very likely that Josh will soon have a new address outside of society.

As most readers know, Josh Duggar is now on trial for some truly monstrous crimes. He is charged with receiving and possessing child pornography. These accusations have come from the federal government, and follow some truly sickening and troubling revelations from the past about Josh’s sexual proclivities. Personally, I think the accusations against him are probably true, but we’ll see what comes out as the trial progresses. It’s probably a good thing I live in Germany, where the coverage of this case isn’t everywhere. Instead, we’re just talking about COVID-19 mandates and the new government. It may be different without Mutti around.

Do the Duggars still think of Josh as a “precious gift from God”? Do they still think of Jill Duggar Dillard as a gift from God, even though she’s broken out of the toxic fold? It looks like most of Josh’s brothers and sisters are okay people. Or, at least they don’t have terrible issues with abusing women and children. Too many of them are “pro-life” and “pro-gun”, though, and that combination, to me, is kind of confusing. How is it that a person can be so focused on making babies, only to see them senselessly murdered by some gun toting nut or horribly abused by someone like Josh?

I’ve often wished abortion had been an option for my mom. Maybe she would have been happier if I hadn’t been born, even though I think I turned out okay. She did tell me that even if it had been legal the year I was conceived, she wouldn’t have done it. I think she thinks it’s immoral. I would submit that raising a child you don’t really want is also kind of immoral. Maybe she wanted me more than she realized.

I wanted to have a baby when I was a lot younger. Now, I think maybe it was a good thing I never did. I’ve seen a lot of people whose lives were permanently altered by children. Some people hit the jackpot and ended up with wonderful kids who are bright, talented, kind, and loving. And some people ended up with children who have done really terrible things. I guess, at least, we can’t say Josh has ever killed anyone… that we know of, anyway. There are worse men than him in the world.

I do think it’s interesting that in 2012, when I wrote today’s repost, I was thinking that Josie Duggar was the child who would cost the Duggar family the most. She was born very prematurely and had some significant medical issues. I have no idea if the Duggars have medical insurance, but all of the second hand buying, homemade laundry soap, and coupon clipping in the world won’t make a dent in hospital bills.

Now, I think that Josh is going to be the child who is the most expensive. He’s the reason the Duggars lost their lucrative TV show. He’s running up enormous legal bills. He cost four of his sisters their innocence. And he’s cost the family their reputation, although I recognize that the rest of the family– save for the parents– shouldn’t have to pay for Josh’s significant problems.

And I can’t say that I see Josh as a gift from God. I think if I were a Duggar, Josh Duggar would make me question that particular view. But he was their first.. and as I like to say, first children are sometimes turn out like first pancakes, especially when the griddle isn’t hot enough. Maybe Ma and Pa Duggar would have fared better with him if they’d waited longer to warm up the grill. Nah… they waited three years before making the disaster that is Josh Duggar. Who knew that years down the line, he would doom their family to infamy?

Anyway, if Josh goes to prison, Jim Bob still has his rekindled political career to focus on. Maybe he can make his mark on the world by being “pro-life” and “pro-gun” in Arkansas. Too bad he didn’t retire the gun that hangs between his legs.

Edited to add on December 8, 2021

This lady made a video that I think pretty much sums up my point in the post that begat this one. The Duggars weren’t satisfied with what they had. They pushed for more, and the kids suffered for it.

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar are called to repentance. Dayum.

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healthcare, law

When a miscarriage during pregnancy leads to a miscarriage of justice…

Last night, as the evening was winding down, I noticed an op-ed in The New York Times about a young woman from Oklahoma named Brittney Poolaw. I have gifted the op-ed in the above link, so if you don’t have a subscription to the paper, you should be able to read it for free.

So who is Brittney Poolaw, and why should anyone care about her? According to Michelle Goldberg, author of the op-ed, Brittney Poolaw is a woman who is sitting in prison because she miscarried during her seventeenth week of pregnancy. At the time of her miscarriage, Poolaw was just 19 years old. She was at home when the miscarriage happened, and had presented herself for medical attention at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.

A police detective interviewed Ms. Poolaw after she admitted to hospital staff that she had used methamphetamines and marijuana during her pregnancy. The medical examiner who examined Brittney Poolaw’s fetus cited her drug use as contributing factors in the miscarriage. Also cited were a congenital abnormality and placental abruption.

Poolaw was arrested on a charge of first degree manslaughter. She didn’t have the money for the $20,000 bond, so she spent a year and a half in jail, awaiting her trial. The trial finally occurred this month, and jurors spent less than three hours deciding Brittney Poolaw’s fate. She was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison, even though an expert witness explained that Poolaw’s drug use might not have been the direct cause of the miscarriage.

I recently mentioned that I’ve been watching a lot of videos by Jessica Kent, a YouTube personality who has a lot of experience with being in jail and prison. Jessica has done time in several states, mainly because she is a recovering drug addict. She also had the unfortunate experience of giving birth while incarcerated. I have been studying prison reform independently for years, but Jessica Kent’s videos have really opened my eyes to just how unjust and inhumane the U.S. prison system is, particularly for people with drug addictions.

Jessica Kent was pregnant in prison. She’s also a recovering drug addict.
One of Jessica Kent’s videos about her experiences with pregnancy…

I know a lot of people would say that the answer is simple; just don’t do drugs. And I think that advice is easy to follow if you are fortunate enough to come from a supportive family, live in an area where there are many opportunities for work and socializing, have access and the ability to pay for healthcare, and have the will and the drive not to succumb to temptation or peer pressure.

In Poolaw’s case, simply being able to get to a doctor and, perhaps, having an abortion available to her might have prevented her from being imprisoned. According to Goldberg’s opinion piece, Poolaw told the detective that “when she found out she was pregnant she didn’t know if she wanted the baby or not. She said she wasn’t familiar with how or where to get an abortion.” Seems to me that it would have been kinder and better if Brittney could have either had an abortion, or had access to a physician and, perhaps, a social worker or other advocate while she was pregnant.

When I was studying social work, I did part of my internship with what was then called Healthy Families South Carolina. It was a program that was affiliated with Prevent Child Abuse America, and it was designed to help people like Brittney Poolaw maintain healthy pregnancies and get very young children off to a healthier start. Those who were enrolled in the program got home visit services from workers who would help them access healthcare and teach them about making safe and healthy decisions for their babies. These families got coaching from trained parent educators and, in fact, that made a noticeable difference in the outcomes for a lot of the clients. That was something I noted in the massive paper I wrote and presented for my MPH/MSW degrees. Wow… it just occurred to me that the babies I saw when I was finishing my degree are now adults! Time really flies!

Why didn’t someone direct Brittney Poolaw to a program like that? My guess is because she couldn’t access the healthcare system and never got a referral. What would have happened if she could have gotten to a doctor early in her pregnancy? Maybe she would have chosen to have an abortion, or maybe she would have had her baby. And maybe she would have been able to access support from people who are trained to work with young people with big problems. I know nothing about Brittney Poolaw or her past, but experience tells me that a lot of people who end up in her situation have had some pretty terrible traumas in their lives and experienced abuse.

I know a lot of people think that Brittney Poolaw deserves to be in prison for taking drugs while she was pregnant. But having worked with young people who are poor, disenfranchised, and lacking meaningful mentorship, I can understand why she turned to drugs. It happens to so many people. And I think instead of prison, Brittney Poolaw should have gotten compassionate medical attention and real help from someone who might have shown her that she has worth. Having watched so many of Jessica Kent’s videos, I realize that Brittney Poolaw is probably facing even more abuse and degradation on a daily basis now. I don’t think that’s going to help her turn away from drugs when she is finally released from prison.

But, aside from the fact that I think Poolaw’s community really failed her, I also think that other women have much to fear from this ruling. It really is a slippery slope when pregnant women wind up in legal trouble for things they do while pregnant that lead to a loss of the pregnancy. In Poolaw’s case, the actions that contributed to her miscarriage were illegal, but what if she’d had one too many glasses or wine, or something? What if she’d been in a car without a seatbelt or was wearing it incorrectly? What if she tripped and fell down some stairs?

I think it’s very scary that any woman who gets pregnant might find herself being scrutinized by law enforcement after a miscarriage. Not only is it an invasion of privacy, but it also may cause women like Poolaw to avoid seeking medical care. That might be especially true if she’s doing something like drinking alcohol or using drugs. I know a lot of physicians would prefer not to have to deal with drug using pregnant women, but they are precisely the women who need the most attention from someone who has medical expertise. Moreover, it really is chilling to think that the developing fetuses in already born people are superseding the already born people’s civil rights.

The pro-life/anti-abortion movement has been working tirelessly to change laws so that developing embryos and fetuses are seen as “babies” and “children”. But if you take a close look at what happens during pregnancy, it actually takes a pretty long while before the developing embryos and fetuses turn into anything viable outside of the womb. Until then, they really are part of the mother, and it really does seem wrong to me that we should put pregnant women in a different class–with different rules and civil rights– than people who aren’t pregnant. It’s beyond creepy that some judges, particularly in the South, are using situations like Brittney Poolaw’s to chip away at Roe v. Wade and promote the whole “sanctity of life” movement. It seems to me that life is only sacred to these types of folks when it involves the unborn. Once a person has been born, they’re on their own… and God help them stay out of prison.

Should Brittney Poolaw have had an abortion? I suppose she should have, especially since she clearly wasn’t ready to be a mother and had no resources to help her maintain a healthy pregnancy. I’m not sure how open she would have been to receiving help from a social worker or someone else who works with at risk parents and children. But I do think she should have had the option presented to her. It sounds to me like she didn’t have anyone to go to for help when she got pregnant. Instead, she turned to drugs.

I admittedly haven’t looked at Oklahoma’s social welfare programs and I don’t what is available for young people like Brittney Poolaw, but my guess is that even if they are widely available, Poolaw didn’t know how to access them. That’s not really something that is taught in school, at least in my experience. In my first year of my MSW program, I did my internship at a multi-disciplinary rural physician’s practice associated with the University of South Carolina. My clients were referred to me by a family doctor in a rural community. But it sounds like Brittney didn’t have a doctor, and it looks like she was no longer in school… so where would she have gotten a referral to someone like I was when I was in graduate school?

Perhaps the police could have referred her, instead of arresting her and putting her in prison… Or… the medical staff, who should have advocated for her and helped her with her medical problems could have assisted her in finding someone to help her with her problems. Sadly, it sounds like instead of getting the help she obviously needs, Brittney Poolaw will be wasting four years in a prison cell… along with so many other Americans. I hope someday the United States gets over its obsession with incarcerating people. We’ve got to do better than this.

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