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.


Why would God use Trump to do “good” things?

Here’s a quick post for today. I probably won’t write tomorrow because we’re leaving town to pick up our new pooch. We may be pretty busy tomorrow.

As I woke up this morning, I got the news that Trump and Melania were supposedly exposed to COVID-19, courtesy of Hope Hicks, a Trump insider who tested positive for the virus. At this writing, the press is reporting that Trump and Melania are also COVID-19 positive.

I once said that the coronavirus might very well be Trump’s undoing. At the time, I meant it would undo him because of his lackadaisical response to controlling it. But if he really does have the virus, it could be very bad news for him. Grave, even… However, even though the press is reporting that he has the virus, I’m a little skeptical.

I didn’t actually watch the debates, but I know they were disastrous. Coming down with COVID-19 sure makes it convenient for Trump, not having to face Biden again for at least two weeks. He lies so much and so often… I could see this as a scam. Hell, he could claim he got sick, fake it, and then come back seemingly healthy as a way to show everyone that it’s “not so bad”. We’ll see what happens. I think Trump is desperate to win and will try anything.

Which brings me to today’s topic. A few days ago, I asked a Trump supporter who also claims to be a Christian how he could possibly champion Trump, who is so clearly not a follower of Christ. The guy told me, in so many words, that God is “using” Trump to do “good” things. That response left me scratching my head.

Why would God use someone like Trump to do good things? God has a choice of billions of people to do good works. Why would God choose an obvious conman who lacks decency and morals to do “good work”? Is Trump the kind of man people need? Do Christians want to follow someone who lies, cheats, and steals? Is he the kind of role model necessary to make positive changes?

And what, pray tell, are the “good things” Trump is doing? Is it simply about getting new Supreme Court justices into power who will overturn Roe v. Wade? I can’t, for the life of me, understand why Republicans are so hung up about abortion when we have so many people who have already been born and don’t have what they need. We can’t provide affordable healthcare. We can’t provide housing or decently paid work for everyone. We can’t feed everyone. People who are mentally ill go without the care they need, as do the people who care for them. Why are Republicans, who don’t want to spend money on taxes, so keen to see so many babies born?

Maybe before the advent of reproductive medicine, a bumper crop of adoptable newborns was a good thing. But for so many reasons, a lot of people would rather birth their own babies. No matter what, they want healthy babies. The way the system is now, there is no guarantee that a mother who wants to give up a child for adoption will even get decent, affordable prenatal care. And yet, these Christian Republicans who want abortion outlawed, are still all about forcing births without providing the necessary tools for safe, healthy pregnancies and childbirth.

But what really makes me scratch my head in wonder is how Trump is the best man to bring about these changes. Is it because he plays dirty and has no regard for the other side? He plays to win, even if it means screwing people over? And the anti-abortion folks just want to win at any cost? Wow… doesn’t seem very Christlike to me at all…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. As long as there are women at risk of dying due to pregnancy, and nine year old girls are being raped and impregnated, and fetuses have devastating illnesses that would make being born cruel, I will be pro choice. And if I would advocate for abortion to be allowed in those cases, I have to advocate for it to be allowed in most cases. I don’t like situational ethics when it comes to abortion. I think people have the right to privacy, and it’s none of my business why someone might want or need an abortion.

Aside from outlawing abortion, I would like to know how God is using Trump for “good”. I’m sure most of the answers I would get would not be very convincing. What I think of as “good” doesn’t seem to align with what Trump supporters think of as “good”. Either way, I don’t see why God would choose a man like Trump to do good things. It doesn’t make sense.

Well, we’ll see what happens. For now, I’m going to focus on a safe arrival of our new family member. We pray that it turns out better than our last adoption attempt.

condescending twatbags, history

knotty gets an unusual history lesson…

A couple of days ago, I was hanging out on Bernie Sanders’ Facebook page, and he made a post about the 47th anniversary of Roe v Wade. Naturally, people who are against abortion were also hanging out on Bernie’s page, ready to offer their opinions about the controversial court case that granted women the legal right to abortions. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that some people in the United States would like to see that landmark Supreme Court decision overturned, so that all pregnant women would be forced to give birth, regardless of their circumstances.

Those of you who read this blog regularly probably already know how I feel about the right to abortion. I have never had one myself, and doubt I would choose to have one, but I strongly support the right of women to access safe, legal abortions. I don’t believe in situational ethics when it comes to abortion. I don’t think it’s fair to allow abortion only under certain circumstances. While I would never encourage anyone to use abortion as a birth control method (and I highly doubt that many people do), I also think that another person’s pregnancy is their business, and it’s not right to force anyone to be pregnant.

Still, I know that a lot of people out there champion the “rights” of the unborn. I know many people feel the need to “be the voice” for those who can’t speak up about their “right” to life. It doesn’t seem to occur to these folks that forcing women who don’t want to be pregnant to give birth may not be the best thing to do, especially when we don’t routinely provide resources to those women to make giving birth more feasible. It’s as if some people don’t think pregnant women have any civil rights beyond incubating a fetus. I think that’s wrong.

A woman I’ll call Dee wrote this:

Right Bernie, abortion a constitutional right??? I’ll sign you up to do a few. That sounds like the job you should be doing instead of doing nothing in Congress.

And she was immediately taken to task by the next commenter, who wrote this:

what part about constitutional right confuses you? 🤔🤔

To which ol’ Dee responded:

what don’t you understand about the constitutional right of the unborn to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Hmm… at this point, I had to jump in…

Where in the Constitution does it specify that the unborn have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? How can a developing fetus be “liberated” or pursuing happiness? Those are things for people who have already been born.

So Dee then took me on…

it’s ok. I understand you have a limited knowledge. Keep working on it.

She followed up by providing a link, which of course I didn’t initially bother to read, because it had nothing to do with the answer to my question. Then, she posted this:

The second paragraph of the first article in the Declaration of Independence contains the phrase “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Jefferson’s “original Rough draught” is on exhibit in the Library of Congress.
Wikipedia › wiki › Life,_Liberty_a…
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness –

And by then, ol’ Dee had right pissed me off, so I followed up with an insulting comment of my own.

all of that is in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution… and while you’re at it, kindly go fuck yourself. Learn to recognize different documents… and if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one. Keep your opinions out of other people’s uteri.

I didn’t go back to see if Dee responded to me, because by that point in the evening, it was getting late and Bill, his mother, and I had spent the entire evening being entertained by lots of wine. It was time to go to bed, since I had moved clearly beyond the ability to be civilized.

No such luck.

In fairness to Dee, I think my profane response to her was borne out of frustration. She wasn’t the first person to give me a hard time yesterday. One of Bill’s friends accused me of bashing Donald Trump in “almost every post”. First of all, it’s not true that every post of mine bashes Trump. In fact, the post he commented on was originally about choucroute garni, which is an Alsatian dish that features sauerkraut, potatoes, and sausages. I had mentioned that it looked like a big platter of dicks (and it does)… See the photo below, for reference.

Another friend wrote, “choucroute Trumpi”, to which I responded, “Naw, that would require Vienna sausages. A few others chimed in, bashing Trump, which apparently offended the person and he felt the need to politely call me out. I patiently explained why I “bash” Trump, adding that he’s really the only president I have ever bashed on a regular basis. Then, I gently reminded him that the post he was complaining about was originally about choucroute garni, not Trump, and I wasn’t even the one who brought up his name. In that case, I was quite ladylike and didn’t even use any profanity, mainly because Bill’s friend had approached me respectfully. I don’t normally insult people when they approach me with respect.

I know it’s not right to insult people. I usually try not to, mainly because it’s a waste of time. But when people come at me with insults, sometimes I lose perspective, and I felt that Dee’s comments about the rights of the unborn were especially obtuse. She probably thought she sounded good when she invoked important American historical documents into her comments, then basically accused me of being “slow” because I didn’t see her point. But in ruminating about it some more, I’ve concluded that perhaps Dee would benefit from a few high quality minutes of critical thinking.

The Constitution, which came about in 1787, isn’t the same document as the Declaration of Independence is, which dates from 1776. I highly doubt anyone back then– particularly the Founding Fathers– was thinking about fetal rights. In those days, women were likely happy to survive pregnancy and childbirth. So making a statement about the Constitutional rights of the unborn to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is completely nonsensical and ridiculous.

George gets it right…

In fact, when you consider that the United States was founded by slave owners who “wanted to be free” and the Founding Fathers wrote that “all men are created equal“, yet in practice, they really meant white men– excluding women, children, and anyone else who didn’t have white skin– I don’t think that quoting either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution really strengthens anyone’s case for the “unborn’s right” to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Founding Fathers probably would have looked at the unborn in the same way they looked at everyone else who lacked white skin, sufficient age, or a penis. And frankly, even white men were discriminated against if they didn’t have money or the ability to read. So we should probably add poor white men to that list, too, and realize that, in reality, all men aren’t really created equal, especially according to the Founding Fathers. They certainly should be created equal, but when it comes down to it, they’re not.

The Founding Fathers may have written those words and, yes, they do still sound good today, but in practice, they aren’t really true. In fact, based on the way brown people are being treated at the United States’ southern border in the year 2020, it’s clear that many Americans who cling to historical documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution haven’t really given them much critical thought beyond their own narrow perspectives. Gun lovers are the first to crow about the Second Amendment whenever anyone dares to suggest gun control, but they forget all about that “all men are created equal” stuff when anyone brings up the way people of color and women are STILL being treated in 2020, 233 years after the Constitution was first a thing.

Personally, I think it’s best not to try to school people, especially strangers, on subjects for which one has limited knowledge and/or hasn’t really thought about in depth. I don’t think Dee has really thought long and hard about the American historical documents she trots out for the pro-choice people commenting on Bernie Sanders’ Facebook page. So, to Dee, I offer the following sentiment, as my friend Lori puts it…

Oh, I know… freedom of speech and expression and all that… Still, the sentiment is perfect.