Posts Tagged agency

Deserving Better

deserve abortion

Actually, women deserve better than to have their agency and right to bodily autonomy undermined.

They deserve better than to be treated like incubators for fetuses. 

They deserve better than seeing their lives valued less than the lives of the fetuses they carry.

They deserve better than having to stand by and watch when others seek to legislate control of their body without their consent.

They deserve better than having to let others make decisions about their body without their consent.

They deserve better than being constantly subjected to hostility of both their autonomy, consent and personhood. 

They deserve to have a choice and a say over what do with their bodies, and by extension, with their lives.

Women having control over their reproduction is one of the most important factors in their empowerment because not having control over ones body, reproduction and ultimately life is inherently dehumanizing as well as hostile to agency.

Women who do not have control over their bodies and reproduction are more subjugated, they are poorer and overall more disadvantaged economically; they are nothing but disempowered puppets in the societies they live in. They are breeding machines, a means to an end;  second class citizens and human beings.

Not having access to safe abortions harms women as they will then have to turn to backdoor alley procedures and abortion pills from across the border to have a procedure performed to which they have every right.

I fail to understand how undermining safe access to abortion can be considered a thing that makes one pro-life.

Having control over one’s body is a right and has nothing to do with deserving unless one considers human beings having their agency and autonomy respected and upheld as something we all deserve.

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The Death of Roe v. Wade

As mentioned before, restricting access to safe abortions has become a matter of slowly chipping away at abortion rights and access through various ludicrous state level restrictions but without having to actually and necessarily overturn Roe v. Wade.

Abortion opponents have realized long ago that bombing abortion clinics, murdering abortion doctors, civil disobedience, blockades and legal action are not getting them very far with respect to taking away a woman’s right to choose, so they have turned to state level legislators to put an end to their anti-choice and pro-birth agenda. These new state-level restrictions, in turn, have made it too expensive or logistically impossible for many abortion facilities, that also offer a host of other medical services to women, to remain in business. 

As Bloomberg reports, abortion clinics are closing at record rates after anti-abortion activists have managed to have states enact ever tighter restrictions. Since 2011, one in ten abortion clinics have shut or stopped providing the procedure altogether.

As the pious Reverend Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition (of course) remarked “We don’t have to see a Roe v. Wade overturned in the Supreme Court to end it. … We want to. But if we chip away and chip away, we’ll find out that Roe really has no impact. And that’s what we are doing.”

This, pretty much, sums up the entire Right wing, Republican, Christian approach to abortion in this country.

That is why it is especially disheartening to see that despite this unrelenting, unprecedented assault on choice, bodily autonomy and agency, progressive leaders, especially the President, an ostensibly pro-choice man, do not believe it necessary to have a national conversation on the issue, calling out on the various and many and callous ways in which women and their bodily autonomy and agency over their medical care have been systematically undermined and violated. A lack of interest and priorities that have resulted in those very leaders to fail to enact legislation that constitutionally guarantees a woman’s right to choose as opposed to making it a matter on which everyone else should have a say.

It is disappointing to see a president who was elected on the votes of women who were promised that he would “protect Roe,” silently oversee its slow subversion by a myriad of legislative cuts. And I remain flabbergasted and deeply disappointed at not only the President’s silence on the issue, but especially at the lack of outrage across the progressive blogosphere and advocacy groups at this silence.

The only time abortion rights seem to come up for our elected leaders on the national level is when they are politically expedient, such as around election time where the President or other leaders pretend to care about such issues to secure the votes they need, just so they can abandon them right after the election has ended while anti-choice Conservatives take advantage of that apathy to continue gnawing away at those rights – slowly yet steadily.

Ten percent of the nation’s abortion clinics have been legislated out of existence with the systemic assault on choice and agency growing everyday and we do not have a national conversation about it.

It is important to understand that this stuff doesn’t happen in a void and that continued and deliberate silence in the face of injustice carries with itself a price. In this case, that price being the number of women who do not get to have safe access to abortions and legislation aimed at making sure it stays that way.

Staying silent on such an important issue also sets the tone, signaling that you, as the pro-choice President actually don’t care as much, thereby giving credence to the hostile activities of the anti-choice movement.

When those who call themselves the purveyors of pro-choice and bodily autonomy stay silent when that bodily autonomy and choice get trampled on and subverted everyday, that says a lot about their priorities or lack thereof. No wonder the anti-choice movement has gained such a momentum and has been able to slowly but steadily gnaw away at a woman’s right to choose: our leader has turned a blind eye to the issue; it is not even on his radar. He cannot even issue a critical statement about it, let alone enact legislation to address it.  This makes me wonder, with allies like this, who can blame the anti-choice movement?

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Religion Is Harmful

atheists are so mean

Religion is harmful. I cannot repeat this enough and I am going to continue repeating it a hundred million more times: religion is harmful.

Religious people, especially in this country, always piss and moan about how unfair everyone is to them. That their god, and Jesus, and Bible and Cross and Guns and Christmas and overall “right” to shit on people as they feel they are entitled to, are all under so much assault by them evil, gawd-less atheists, homosexuals and Liberals.

The hatred and vile diatribes lodged against women, homosexuals, transgendered people, atheists, liberals and evolutionists is mortifying but religious people continue playing the victim card, branding critics as intolerant, militant and haters.

Criticizing religion and speaking up against the religious powers (and lobbyists) that be is often futile and is generally considered bad form. “Ohhh, don’t criticize the religious person and their faith, you hurt their feelings“. “Oh no, you cannot say that to them, it is rude.” “Just be careful to not hurt their feelings – oh no.”

You should respect people’s beliefs“, I am always told. “It is not polite to criticize someone’s faith“, a guest once said to Bill Maher, trying to shame Maher who was, rightfully so, speaking out against the massive amount of ignorance and hatred religion spreads and purports, into not “criticizing” people for their faith. Often you are dismissed as being miserable, unhappy, bitter, picky…you name it.

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My own co-worker who considers himself a man of god has an irrational disdain for gay people and has, on many occasions, referred to them as “faggots”. Yet when I even make the mention of religion, I am admonished and asked to “not start again.” He can go on and on about how terrible atheists and gays are trying to “impose” their lack of religiosity and homosexuality, respectively, onto others, and he makes sure anyone who may be interested finds out just how critical he is of atheists because they are “so extreme”  but if anyone mentions the widely-spread religious bigotry in this country, including his homophobia, he feels offended and under attack, playing the wrongfully vilified victim.

Then there is the  often-used bad-apple analogy: “I am religious but my group/church/denomination is totally not like that. The problem is not religion, it is just those religious extremists that are the exception/a small minority“. You will be hard pressed to find a religious person who does not employ the “oh yeah them, not me” trope. Only that even so-called moderates subscribe to unfounded and harmful beliefs that they then want to impose on others in the form of legislation.

Case in point, the theocratic government of Arizona, a state whose legislature is infested by religion and religious ideology to such a degree that the long list of measures and laws the state has enacted resemble more something the Ayatollahs in Iran might agree with than legislation one would expect to find in the constitution of a state of the United States.

The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP),  a conservative Christian advocacy organization, is responsible for having backed and co-drafted 123 laws and measures since the group’s 1995 establishment, including the state’s 2008 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That effort was spearheaded by the group’s president, Cathi Herrod.

Just this month, measure SB 1062 was signed into law — a measure that would have allowed business owners to reject services to any individual on religious grounds, effectively discriminating against the LGBT community. While that measure was vetoed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R),  on Thursday, the state House passed another controversial measure: the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” (I love it how they try to drown the harmful legislation they just drafted in euphemisms) or HB 2884 which seeks to permit surprise inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant.

Despite the national outcry and bipartisan opposition to the group’s most recent legislative affront on LGBT rights, a number of CAP’s controversial bills continue to make their way through the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature. Here are four more such similar legislation pushed entirlye by the state’s religious activist groups, seriously bringing into question religious peoples’ claims that their beliefs are  “merely private” and do not hurt anyone:

HB 2565: Criminalizing assisted suicide
Passed the House, referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Although Arizona already has a law banning assisted suicide, HB 2565 seeks to expand the definition of manslaughter to include “offering or providing the physical means that another person uses to commit suicide, with the knowledge” that the individual intends to end his or her life.

HB 2284: “Women’s Health Protection Act”
Passed the House, headed to the Senate.

House Bill 2284 would allow unannounced government inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant. The legislation also seeks to make it a class 1 misdemeanor to help “a minor avoid Arizona’s parental consent requirements” to obtain an abortion. Furthermore, the bill would require abortion clinics to submit an extensive report of each abortion performed at the facility, including “what steps are taken to save that child’s life.”

SB 1048: Corporate scholarship tax credit
Passed the Senate, passed the House Ways & Means Committee. Referred to the House Rules Committee.

By expanding Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program, SB 1048 would permit small businesses organized as S corporations to claim tax credits for contributions to “school tuition organizations” — tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations that allocate the majority of their annual revenue to scholarships or grants for private schools. Opponents of the bill argue that it would divert funding from public school districts.

HB 2281: Property tax exemption for religious institutions
Passed the House, transmitted to the Senate.

House Bill 2281 would exempt nonprofit religious assemblies, as well as institutions leasing “property, buildings and fixtures,” from paying property taxes. A similar CAP-backed effort was vetoed by Brewer in 2013.

Here are 13 of the 123 CAP-supported bills that have been signed into Arizona law:

    • Prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, strengthening informed consent requirements and requiring FDA compliance for medication abortions (2012). The 20-week ban was later ruled unconstitutional.
    • Exempting religiously-affiliated employers from being forced to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs or contraception (2012). Viagra is ok, though.
    • Ensuring that arts funding is not spent on obscenity or material that disgraces the flags of Arizona or the United States (2012).
    • Requiring an ultrasound before an abortion, banning telemedicine abortions and “improving” safety standards for abortion clinics, also known as meddling in. (2011).
    • Ending taxpayer-funded insurance coverage for government employees’ abortions (2010).
    • Banning partial-birth abortion (2009).
    • The Abortion Consent Act: requiring informed consent, enhancing parental consent and expanding rights of conscience protections for healthcare workers (2009). Also known as shaming and manipulating a woman into carrying to term a pregnancy she does not want and overall making access to abortion as hard as possible for women.
    • Defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the Arizona Constitution (2008). This bill was advanced through a ballot initiative.
    • Funding community-based marriage classes (2007).
    • Funding for abstinence-until-marriage education (2005, 2006 and 2007). In 2008, former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) rejected federal Title V abstinence-until-marriage funding.
    • Banning taxpayer funding of human cloning (2005).
    • Providing equal access for religious groups to rental of school facilities (2003).
    • Prohibiting physicians’ assistants from performing surgical abortions (2002).

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Religion a private matter?

Religion does not hurt anyone?

One should not criticize religion?

I beg to differ and the facts about the harm of religion stand for themselves.

Religious people have set into motion a plan and worldview which is a slap in the face to the enlightened and reason and they keep getting away with it by pulling the “right to religion” card not realizing that their “right” to religion ends when someone else’s rights are being trampled upon by that religion.

The First Amendment separates church from state, explicitly saying that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Religious people are, per the First Amendment, free to exercise their faith without government persecution but they are not  free to make laws or establish policy that incorporates and respects their faith.

Why do religious and non-religious people alike not understand that and call demands for them to stop infesting public policy and government as infringing upon their freedom to religion?

It is like the King of France saying that the demands of his subjects for equity constitute an infringement upon his rights to oppress them. It is utterly absurd.

For far too long, religious people have put intellectuals and rational people on the defense forcing them to, time and again, guard against and explain themselves to these delusional fools.

It was about time, however, that religious people started defending their unfounded stance, their delusions, their fairy tales, their bigotry, their hatred, their ignorance. No one should have to politely nod when religious people and their actions hurt people in a very real way while taking humanity down a dangerous path.

Religion is harmful.

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Pro-Life

People who are against abortion usually label themselves as pro-lifers or “pro-life”. Pro-lifers, in turn, are almost always Conservatives who vote for politicians and policies that favor and help wealthy entities so they can enrich themselves at the backs of the poor and middle class wage earners, while having manipulated their voter base, that mostly consists of poor and middle class wage earners, to subscribe to bullshit bootstraps narratives and other associated Gordon Gecko prosperity dribble.

The real problem arises because Conservatives categorically vote against social safety net programs that lend a helping hand to people who cannot afford to properly provide for, oh, I don’t know, the children they were just forced to have.

A social safety net program may include anything from minimum wage laws, union representation to welfare checks. Pro-lifers are categorically opposed to a host of social safety net programs aimed at keeping the middle class strong and prosperous, instead of weakened and exploited.

 The pro-life advocates are the same people who vote against unions – which are in place to protect workers against exploitative employers; they are the same people who vote for giving the wealthy and corporations tax breaks they do not need at the expense of the middle class, which then will have to pick up their slack; these are the same people who vote against proper safety standards on the job and unemployment/disability benefits; they are the people who vote against increasing the minimum wage and providing everyone with affordable, proper access to health care regardless of their employment status. These are the people who think people aren’t entitled to food!!

The thing is, when you, for example, vote against unions, fair wages and benefits and thus take away a person’s ability to protect themselves against their employer, or when you subscribe to the notion that people aren’t entitled to food, then not only are you not “pro-life”, but you render people vulnerable to a host of exploits and abuses by their employers, thus ultimately leaving them unable to properly provide for themselves and their families, including the baby you just forced them to have.

When you do not have protection on the job and become subject to a host of exploitative tactics by your employer. without any avenues of recourse available to you to protect against such exploitation, you slide down and eventually end up needing assistance too.

Note how these things are interconnected: when you vote against unions, fair wages, overtime laws and so forth, you help create more poverty, which then results in people having to rely on welfare programs that you voted against as well.

Despite these realities, one will, however, be hard pressed to find a so-called pro-lifer who would vote for social safety-net programs such as unions.

What they do want to do is be able to shame and coerce a woman into giving birth to a child she does not want to have, under the guise of love, god and reverence for life. After having shamed and coerced said woman to give birth to a child she does not want to have/cannot afford, they then refuse to vote for policies that would allow that woman to properly provide for said child.

That anti-abortionists would call themselves pro-life is both ironic and deeply hypocritical because their position is anything but pro-life as they merely want a child to be born, but not fed, or educated, or clothed, or housed, because doing so would require prioritizing and funding social-safety net programs instead of defunding and de-prioritizing them to subsidize corporations, the wealthy, banks and oil companies – thus effectively siphoning and redistributing wealth from the bottom to the top under the guise of The American Dream, hard work and other such prosperity gospels.

To be clear, wanting a child to be born but then not giving a damn what happens to it once it is out of the womb is unequivocally not pro-life but, it is, in fact, hostile to life. Theirs is a position that is pro-birth and there is a chasm of a difference.

We need to really think about, and ask ourselves, what the morality of the pro-life position is and who  in this debate really has the welfare of people in mind; who the entity is that respects agency  –  which is related to acknowledging  a person’s (in this case a woman’s) consent, boundaries, and autonomy – and which entity does not,  thus resulting  in women being dehumanized by being repeatedly robbed off their ability to consent and set boundaries and maintain autonomy over their own bodies, including their reproduction and family planning.

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Walgreens Fires Employee Who Refuses To Sell Plan B Because It Violates His Religious Beliefs

atheists

Being religious in this country is really hard, just as Jesus predicted it would be. After all, there is so much bigotry, ignorance and hate to spread, so much discriminating, judging and pissing on people to do, so many rights to take away and so much damage to be done to reason and sanity – yet so little time – even in Biblical terms.

Case in point, “Dr.” Philip Hall, a Walgreens pharmacist of six years who was fired at a Walgreens store in Jamestown, Tennessee because he, a Baptist with deep religious convictions blah blah blah, refused to compromise said religious beliefs (which his attorneys assure us are protected under the US Constitution that was clearly written by the Founding Fathers and the Twelve Apostles)  by selling Plan B, also known as the “morning after pill” to patients, because selling an “abortion-inducing drug”, as the Christian Newswire is erroneously calling Plan B, was allegedly “in violation of his constitutionally and statutorily protected right to freedom of religion.”

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Ok so now that we all had a good laugh at the expense of Mr. Hall’s (and his attorneys’) hilarious assertions (boy they must be giving away law licenses these days),  let us return back to fact-based reality and remember the following:

1) Plan B is not an abortion-inducing pill.

Repeat after me: Plan B is not an abortion-inducing pill.

One more for the cheap seats: Plan B is not an abortion-inducing pill. 

Plan B is an emergency contraceptive preventing ovulation or fertilization and thus inhibiting implantation. It is not effective once the process of implantation has begun. As in, it will not induce abortion. That is what RU-486 is for. Not Plan B.

Dr. Hall appears then to be against contraception, which is strange because I am sure he had to dispense contraceptives of all kind. If not and he really thinks Plan B induces abortion, then, quite frankly, he needs to have his medical license revoked and not be a pharmacist. He may, however, consider a career in the church business.

2) Religious organizations wish to fire people left and right because they don’t believe. Yet here they are complaining that they are being treated unjustly and violated for their religious beliefs and how that is totally unfair. So which is it then? You can’t have it both ways. Or you can, especially if you are a contemptuous hypocrite who believes that the freedom to believe what one wants should only apply to religious people who’d like to impose their beliefs on everyone, and to no one else – especially not to lowly, misguided, god-less atheists whom the gates of hell are anxiously awaiting.

3) “Dr.” Hall works for a private company and the company’s rules dictate the terms of his employment as well as obligations contained therein. If he doesn’t like them, he doesn’t have to work for them. Simple as that.

At any rate, can we stop accommodating religious people? Fuck them. I am tired of calls to accommodate their backwards, harmful beliefs under the guise of “fair play” and “respect” for their beliefs. No one is under any obligation to respect the beliefs of religious people. We have to acknowledge that they exist but we are not obliged to respect them.

Respect denotes “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” There is nothing I particularly admire about religious people and religion – qualitatively or otherwise – other than its immense ability to spread mass-delusion and ignorance until the bitter end (although I will acknowledge that when religion and religious people are not busy fucking up someone’s life, the tenets surrounding religious belief certainly create all sorts of food for hilarious musings).

Yes, the government may not persecute them or deny them their basic civil rights because of their privately held beliefs but other than that they are not owed  anything.

Religious people are not owed employment and understanding and embracing of their beliefs. Society doesn’t owe them anything, especially if what religious people think they are owed and entitled to is harmful on so many levels to people in a real, tangible manner.

“Dr.” Hall deserved to be kicked out on his ears because he was unprofessional, because he doesn’t know that Plan B is not an abortion pill and because society does not owe him accommodation in the form of employment, of his personal beliefs – especially when those personal beliefs interfere with other peoples’ rights and prerogatives.

This is not a case of wrongful termination. This is just another case of a religious person whose actions harm society playing the victim and whining discrimination because those who have been subject to the religious person’s abuses are pushing back, refusing to become collateral damage on the religious person’s road to salvation by an imaginary figure.

Frankly the fact that they may exist is already one concession too many in my opinion.

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