healthcare, law

One brave Texas physician has already defied the new abortion ban…

The featured photo was taken at a Mexican restaurant in San Antonio, where Bill and I lived before we moved back to Germany, and where our absentee ballot votes go when it’s election time.

Abortion is probably the last thing I want to write about today. That’s why I reposted four book reviews. Trust me… this is a topic I’m getting really tired of revisiting over and over again. I feel like this issue should have been settled about fifty years ago. But it’s hot news right now, and too many people seem to think it’s right to deny women this basic right to determine what happens to their own bodies. So here I am, writing about this again…

Actually, today’s post may be a bit more upbeat than outraged. One of the first news items I read this morning was in the Washington Post. It was about San Antonio based OB-GYN Dr. Alan Braid, who wrote an op-ed about how, on September 6, 2021, he violated Texas’s new abortion ban law. A woman received an abortion from him. Although she was still in her first trimester, she was further along in the pregnancy than six weeks. According to the article:

“I understand that by providing an abortion beyond the new legal limit, I am taking a personal risk, but it’s something I believe in strongly,” Alan Braid, a San Antonio OB/GYN, said in an op-ed in The Washington Post. “I have daughters, granddaughters and nieces. I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. . . . I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”

As I read that part of the article, all I could think of was– wow… what a BRAVE man. This is a man who cares about women and women’s health. He’s put himself at great risk. I would say that not only is his career at risk, but his very life could be at risk. He practices medicine in a state where just about anyone is allowed to carry a gun, and there are many religious nuts running amok.

I had to read Dr. Braid’s op-ed for myself, so I clicked the link in the article I read about it. In his opinion piece, Dr. Braid explains that he started practicing medicine on July 1, 1972. I was eleven days old on the day Dr. Braid began taking care of women’s health. I will be 50 on my next birthday. This is a man who has been in his field for a LONG time, and has seen and done a lot.

Dr. Braid graduated from the University of Texas medical school, and during his time as a med student, he was taught that abortions are an “integral part” of women’s health care. However, when he began practicing, abortions were effectively outlawed. It was only legal for a pregnant woman to get one if a psychiatrist certified that she was suicidal. I find that limitation curious, given that some women have medical issues that would also call for terminating a pregnancy for the sake of her health.

In those days, if a woman wanted an abortion, Dr. Braid would advise her to travel to a state where abortion was legal– California, New York, or Colorado. Some would go over the border to Mexico, which incidentally just recently decriminalized abortion. That’s interesting, isn’t it? It used to be, people from Mexico would come to the United States for medical care; but now, thanks to the extremely high prices of medical care and ridiculous laws such as Texas’s S.B. 8, Mexico may soon see more American women coming into the country for medical care.

As of September 1, 2021, Dr. Braid found himself in a similar situation that he faced in 1972. A 42 year old woman came to see him. She was pregnant, though she already had four children, three of whom were under age 12. Dr. Braid told her she should go to Oklahoma, a nine hour trip one way. He even told her he could help with the funding. The woman said, “Who’s going to take care of my kids? What about my job? I can’t miss work.”

Dr. Braid wrote:

Though we never ask why someone has come to our clinic, they often tell us. They’re finishing school or they already have three children, they’re in an abusive relationship, or it’s just not time. A majority are mothers. Most are between 18 and 30. Many are struggling financially — more than half qualify for some form of financial aid from us.

Several times a month, a woman confides that she is having the abortion because she has been raped. Sometimes, she reports it to the police; more often, she doesn’t.

Texas’s new law makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

And I have noticed that Texas is also doing nothing to help pregnant women, either. I have not read or heard of any child or family friendly policies being put into place to help pregnant women get the care they need. I have not heard for a push for better sex education or making contraception widely available, easily affordable, and accessible to everyone. I have heard a lot of slut shaming, though.

Yesterday, I read another article about this new law. The focus was on Johnathan Mitchell, the main architect of this legislation that violates women’s self-determination and privacy. Mr. Mitchell is a graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, a very conservative Christian school. I knew about it before I heard about Mitchell, since I once worked with a guy who attended there. It was back in the 1990s. I remember my co-worker was very smart, even though he was selling ice cream at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was also VERY Christian. Anyway, I digress… except to say that I know Wheaton College is a prestigious, selective school, but it’s also a school for Christians.

Mr. Mitchell wrote, in a brief for the Supreme Court:

“Women can ‘control their reproductive lives’ without access to abortion; they can do so by refraining from sexual intercourse… One can imagine a scenario in which a woman has chosen to engage in unprotected (or insufficiently protected) sexual intercourse on the assumption that an abortion will be available to her later. But when this court announces the overruling of Roe, that individual can simply change their behavior in response to the court’s decision if she no longer wants to take the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.”

Based on this comment, I’m assuming that Mitchell doesn’t believe that women can get pregnant as a result of rape and incest. I’m guessing he’s akin to Missouri Republican Todd Akin, who famously said “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Did either of these two men ever take a biology class? Have either or them ever studied sex education? Sure, women sometimes get pregnant because they, or their partners, or both parties were “careless”. But not all sexual intercourse is consensual and, in spite of what these men seem to believe, sometimes women DO end up pregnant afterwards.

Aside from that, sometimes pregnancy makes women very sick. Sometimes it even threatens their lives. I don’t understand why, in the age of healthcare privacy laws such as HIPAA, a woman should have to justify her need or desire for an abortion to anyone. But I haven’t heard or seen any provisions in the new Texas law that allows for that scenario, either. Instead, the law encourages neighbors to spy on each other and file lawsuits in healthcare situations that absolutely none of their business. What makes this law even more sickening is the fact that the people might theoretically sue haven’t suffered a personal loss due to a woman’s decision to have an abortion. But, by suing, they may stand to gain a financial incentive, which seems very unethical to me.

I will admit, however, that Mr. Mitchell is certainly correct that a woman can “refrain” (I hate that word) from having sexual intercourse. And, quite frankly, it would serve the men of Texas right if women went on a sex strike and denied them that pleasure. In fact, I hope Mitchell isn’t having sex and never does again. If I were his wife, I would certainly keep my legs closed around him. He should be deeply ashamed of himself.

In another article I read about this issue, author Chavi Eve Karkowsky writes:

“Every week, I see examples of morally necessary pregnancy terminations that, under the Texas law, could put doctors in legal jeopardy. In one case, a 14-year-old with brain damage had been raped by a caregiver. In another, my diagnostic ultrasound 15 weeks into a patient’s pregnancy showed that her fetus had developed an empty space where a brain should be and would not survive more than a few hours past birth. In another case, a patient, whose heart had become weak during her previous pregnancy and had never fully recovered, sought an abortion so she could live to care for her toddler.”

Can you even imagine? Can you fathom being a woman in any of those situations? Or a doctor? It’s sickening.

I totally get that many people find abortion distasteful and morally wrong. I find it distasteful, too. It’s probably not a choice I would make for myself, but I can’t say I would never make it. Because there are situations when it really is the right thing to do. I am lucky enough to be in a situation in which I could go elsewhere for an abortion if I needed one. I am also at a point in my life at which I won’t be affected by potential pregnancies.

However, this new law does open up a Pandora’s Box that could affect other people besides women of childbearing age. Who’s to say that, based on this precedent, lawmakers don’t try to screw with people’s healthcare privacy in other areas? What if a law was designed to deny vasectomies to men? What if we incentivized private citizens into reporting on the men who want vasectomies by offering a $10,000 bounty? That’s just one example off the top of my head. The same theory could easily extend into other controversial areas… say, gender reassignment therapy, or marijuana use, or euthanasia… I’m sure I could think of more if I tried.

Anyway, my hat is off to Dr. Alan Braid. I think he’s a hero. This may be one of the most lifesaving actions he’s ever taken in his entire medical career. I know he’s a good man. I knew it when I read this comment from him:

I have daughters, granddaughters and nieces. I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. I have spent the past 50 years treating and helping patients. I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”

What a dedicated, brave, inspirational, kind, and excellent doctor Dr. Alan Braid is. He deserves all of the respect and all of the support that is coming to him.

politicians, rants

By golly, southern white men are so oppressed!

I could write several blog posts today. The news is positively swirling with controversial shit. Let’s see where my fingers take me, shall we?

Speaking of fingers, my injured one is somewhat better today. It’s still kind of stiff and hard to straighten, but the pain is cut by at least half of what it was yesterday. And it’s nowhere near as painful as it was on Tuesday, after I jammed the fuck out of it. So that’s good news.

Although I updated my post about Erin McCarty and her ovarian cancer battle, I want to report that she has, in fact, died. I don’t think that even she was expecting to die so soon. Just hours before she passed the bar, Erin wrote this:

This was posted not even 24 hours before she died… I am stupefied by how she was thinking of others even as death approached.

There are dozens of heartfelt tributes to her on her Facebook page. She was a woman with family members who cherished her as well as a whole lot of loving friends, many of whom she never met in person. I wish I’d had the chance to know her better. She was truly a ray of light to many people and is already missed. Here’s a link to her obituary.

And now… on with “the arts”…

Sometimes, I am just plain dumbfounded by the number of ignorant people who hold public offices, especially in the South. Warren Hurst, who sits on the Sevier County Commission in Tennessee, is definitely someone I would think of as ignorant. A friend of mine shared a Huffington Post article about Mr. Hurst’s recent homophobic, racist outburst in a meeting in Sevierville, Tennessee. The headline was definitely one that invited clicking: “County Official Rants About A ‘Queer’ Running For President, Loss Of White Men’s Rights”. Huh?

Really? What an ignorant man he is.

Warren Hurst, wagging his finger and using unrefined colloquialisms like “by golly”, laments that we have a “queer” running for president and that white men are “losing rights” every day. He thinks liberals are ruining things for bigoted old white guys like him and that if we don’t do something about “them liberals”, things are going to be ruined for his grandchildren. One lady got so irate at Hurst’s vile diatribe that she felt compelled to leave, while most everyone else in the meeting were laughing and applauding Mr. Hurst’s shamefully demeaning comments.

The crowd seemed especially amused when Hurst said, “We got a ‘queer’ runnin’ for president…” I’m assuming Mr. Hurst is referring to Mayor Pete Buttigieg who is gay, but also served honorably in the military and presents a competent, humane face to the presidential candidates who will be challenging Pussy Grabber in chief, Donald Trump.

So let me get this.. er.. “straight”– Hurst is fine with having an incompetent president who cheats on his wives and molests other women, but he’s got issues with a gay man with actual government experience and decent ethics serving as president? And then, after he rants about the “queer” running for president, Hurst complains about liberals “killing babies”? Well, who has fewer abortions than gay men?

And then he rambles about keeping his guns… even though a lot of babies that have already been born are being killed by them. Seems to me that Mr. Hurst cares more about controlling women and non-whites than he does about preserving the quality of human life and maintaining basic dignity for everyone.

Using that charming homespun phrase, “by golly”, once again, Hurst says “I’m not prejudiced, but by golly, a white male in this country has very few rights and they’re getting took more every day…” Personally, I think anyone who holds an elected position should have to pass a grammar test. I’ve also found that anyone who says something like “I’m not prejudiced” is usually lying, although I’m sure Mr. Hurst “has black friends”. I think it’s obvious that Hurst is not only “prejudiced”, he’s a doddering old fool with dangerously xenophobic views. In my opinion, it’s high time he resigned his post, but unfortunately, it looks like many of the people of Sevier County fully support what he says.

Glad to see that not everyone in Sevierville thinks the way Hurst does, even though many people applauded his disgusting comments.
Good for Sara Thompson, the lady who stormed out of that embarrassing display of bigotry. She’s brave and wise.

Living outside of the United States for the past five years has definitely opened my eyes to how we must appear to people from other countries. I grew up among people like Warren Hurst. I’ve heard that kind of talk my whole life. That meeting could have occurred in my hometown… or my parents’ hometowns. The folks who populate “Trumpland” are “down home” people who pride themselves on being good Christians. And yet they don’t seem to embrace the basic tenets of Christ’s message.

Erin McCarty, the lady I wrote about a couple of days ago and mentioned at the beginning of this post, was a devoted Bernie Sanders fan. She was also a committed Christian. And while I didn’t know her as well as I would have liked to, it was plain to me that she exuded Christian love to everyone. She was kind, thoughtful, caring, and accepting, and she had many people in her life who loved her for exactly who she was. By contrast, we have Hurst who laments the “moral decay” promoted by “liberals” who might not be straight, white, or male and want to “take away his guns” while they “kill babies” that will never be any the wiser. I don’t see guys like Hurst rushing into schools with their guns when one of their ilk– angry white men with arms– are mass shooting the already born children who are simply trying to grow up. Why be so insistent on promoting births when we do so little to protect the babies once they’ve been born?

Ah well… all I can do is shake my head at the idiocy of people like Warren Hurst and hope that his two grandkids are brought up better than he was. He’s truly a vile, despicable, inhumane example of an elected official, and he should be ashamed of himself. But he won’t be, because he’s too stupid to realize how wrong he is.

Moving on…

I see that South Carolina is doing its best to pass a ridiculously restrictive abortion law that removes rape and incest as exceptions to a proposed ban on the procedure. South Carolina legislators are trying to pass a “heartbeat bill”, which would ban abortion if a doctor can detect a heartbeat. That usually happens when a woman is about six weeks along. Many women don’t even know they’re pregnant at that point.

I used to work as a graduate assistant for the Department of Health and Environmental Control. The first job I had at DHEC was in healthcare policy. It was my job to track healthcare bills that came up at the Statehouse. So, though I am passionate about a woman’s right to have an abortion, I am especially interested in South Carolina’s take, since I lived and worked there. I was pretty disgusted by this comment from MALE Senator Richard Cash of Anderson, South Carolina:

How nice that MEN who will never be faced with pregnancy and are members of a political party hellbent on cutting health, education, and welfare benefits presume to lecture women about “killing”…

I’m here to tell Mr. Cash that anyone who is aborted while in the womb will not be any the wiser, because developing embryos have no concept of life or death. Moreover, not everyone is delighted that they were born. I know this because I often wish I hadn’t been born. I also know I’m not the only one who feels this way. And I was not conceived in rape or incest, but I did have parents who made it plain that my birth was neither planned nor particularly wanted. It really sucks to hear your mom tell you how difficult you made her life simply because she and your father weren’t as careful as they should have been. If she had had an abortion, it probably would have spared us both a lot of pain, although I know she’s glad I’m here now.

Every child should be a wanted child, born to people who are prepared to love them and raise them in a safe, nurturing environment. Although adoption is a good thing, it also has its own significant issues. I applaud those birth moms who give up their babies to couples who wish to adopt, but I also know it’s a lot to ask and not always the ideal solution.

I am SO SICK of men and menopausal women trying to dictate that women must stay pregnant, whether or not they are prepared to deal with pregnancy. I am SO SICK of the focus being solely on women, and not the men who get them pregnant and then leave them high and dry. And I am even SICKER of people wanting to butt into the personal medical decisions made by women who contemplate abortion. The fact is, sometimes abortion is a medical necessity caused by situations that are just plain no one else’s business. It’s not always done for the sake of convenience. And women who need to have an abortion for medical reasons should not have to tolerate having their privacy invaded, particularly by people who will NEVER be pregnant.

There’s a lot of truth in this. Maybe we should start paying more attention to the men who knock up women and abandon them.

We really are living in strange times. It’s hard to watch America backsliding in the Dark Ages as people like Warren Hurst and his ilk occupy elected positions. I guess if there is anything to learn from his rant, it’s that public offices are important. Not just anyone should be in these positions. It’s interesting that Warren Hurst laments losing rights as a white man, but he and his Republican buddies, like John McCravy and Richard Cash, seem fine with restricting women’s rights to bodily autonomy and privacy. I guess they miss the days when they could keep their women barefoot and pregnant and smack ’em around if they got too sassy.

I think of the loved ones I’ve lost recently and I think maybe they are the lucky ones. They don’t have to worry about this crap anymore. But I know it’s not cool to say that out loud.

Well… it’s Thursday, which means I have the dreaded chore of vacuuming ahead of me. Guess I’ll log off and tend to the housewife part of my day.