Tag: abortion

How the Christian Right’s Sex Hangups Turn Zika Into a Bigger Crisis

Photo Credit: parinyabinsuk / Shutterstock
Photo Credit: parinyabinsuk / Shutterstock

Source: AlterNet

Author: Valerie Tarico

Emphasis Mine

Zika could have been an ordinary epidemic, like the ever-changing influenza that emerges each winter and spreads across the Northern Hemisphere with sad but rare complications. But the Religious Right’s antagonism to birth control and abortion—and honest conversation about sex in general—has transformed the Zika epidemic into a nightmare that will devastate lives for an entire generation.

In the absence of pregnancy, Zika usually isn’t a big deal. Only one in five people who contract Zika experience symptoms, and those who do mostly feel like they’ve gotten the flu. This is not to say Zika never does lasting harm to adults, just that, like the flu, those cases appear to be rare.

The difference, as most people now know, is that getting Zika while pregnant is really, really bad. The virus attacks the fetal nervous system, eating brain structures that have already developed and blocking development of others. Even babies who look normal may be damaged for life.

Unlike the flu, when it comes to Zika, pregnancy prevention or timing is everything.

Three Ways to Safeguard Families

Even if Zika spreads across its potential range of 41 states, a quick and targeted response could make lasting harm rare, at least within U.S. borders. The solution is simple and relatively cheap, but it consists of policies that the sex-obsessedpatriarchy-protecting Religious Right has been opposing for decades:

  • Information. Launch a huge public education campaign so all couples know how to prevent mistimed or unwanted pregnancy and can delay parenthood till the time is safe. Currently a third of pregnancies globally and almost half in the U.S. are accidents, with some of the highest rates where Zika-carrying mosquitos live.
  • Contraception. Make state-of-the-art birth control available to all free of charge, including the very best IUDs and implants, which drop the accidental pregnancy rate below 1 in 500. (With the Pill that’s 1 in 11; with condoms 1 in 6; with the rhythm method it’s closer to 1 in 4.)
  • Abortion. Ensure that couples who discover microcephaly and other fetal defects in utero can, if they prefer, abort a diseased pregnancy and start over. Millions of healthy children exist in this world only because their parents receive the mercy of a fresh start (like I did).Each of these steps is easier and cheaper than trying to eradicate mosquitos, prevent people from getting bitten, or develop and distribute a vaccine. With existing contraceptive knowledge and technologies, birth defects from Zika could drop to near zero. The problem is not a lack of means; it’s a lack of will brought on by religious teachings that generate resistance and controversy around anything that has to do with sex, gender roles or reproduction.You Reap What You Sow

    No matter what, tragic birth defects from Zika would have hit some families as the virus spreads out of Africa where it is endemic (and where most women appear to have immunity before they reach reproductive age). But without relentless promotion of ignorance and falsehood by priests and pastors—without anti-contraception campaigning by the Vatican in particular—birth defects from Zika would be a small fraction of what humanity now faces.

    Religious conservatives claim to love women and babies, especially unborn babies, but this claim is pure self-deception by biblical standards. The writer of Matthew warns of men who claim to speak for God but actually don’t. He says,

    “By their fruit ye shall know them.”

    What are the fruits of conservative Christian hostility toward judicious, planned, intentional parenthood? For generations, humanity has been battered by preventable harms from ill-timed and unwanted pregnancy: children bearing children in hopeless poverty, education foregone, abuse and neglect, family conflict triggered by stress, armed conflict triggered by population pressures and resource depletion; and starvation, illness and death.

    If the church hadn’t thrown its wealth and weight against family planning programs in the 1960s and every decade since, who knows how different life on Earth might be right now. Zika merely ups the ante.

    And the conservative Christian solution to it all? More prayer and less sex. If God’s self-proclaimed messengers actually loved women and children more than they love power and tradition, they would admit they have been wrong and would do what’s best for healthy families:

    • Stop using the political clout of the church to make birth control expensive and hard to get, especially for poor people and those at risk of Zika.
    • Stop goading conservative politicians to waste millions on bogus, indefensible anti-abortion laws, and work instead to make abortion less necessary.
    • Stop teaching young people that they should “let go and let God” determine how many kids they have (whether infected or starving or not). Start teaching that the ability to plan our families is a precious gift.
    • Stop pretending that vows of abstinence work for more than a few odd individuals. Start providing real information about healthy, respectful, responsible pleasure and intimacy.
    • Stop forcing doctors and nurses to follow anti-contraception, anti-abortion religious directives bordering on malpractice; and instead ensure that hospitals and clinics controlled by religious institutions provide model family planning care.The Zika wave will sweep over the Americas, and as immunity grows rates of infection will likely drop off. In that case, the suffering caused by church hostility to sexuality education and family planning will drop back to more familiar levels. But right now Zika presents a rare opportunity for religious leaders to show that they are not, as they often appear, so busy defending dogma that they have become morally bankrupt.

      Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington, and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light” and “Deas and Other Imaginings.” Her articles can be found at valerietarico.com.

 

See: http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/how-christian-rights-sex-hangups-turn-zika-bigger-crisis?akid=14602.123424.-FNXmC&rd=1&src=newsletter1063152&t=6

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Women Are Fleeing the Church, and It’s Not Hard to Understand Why

Source: AlterNet

Author:Patrica Miller/Religion Dispatches

Emphasis Mine

new Pew Research Center analysis of General Social Survey data confirms a long-simmering trend in U.S. religious observance: While attendance at religious services has declined for all Americans, it has declined more among women than men.

In the early 1970s, 36 percent of women and 26 percent of men reported attending church services weekly, a ten-point gap that reflected the long-standing trend of women being more religiously committed than men.

The gap reached its widest point in 1982, when it hit 13 percent, but then it began to shrink. By 2012, 22 percent of men reported attending church weekly, as did 28 percent of women, reflecting a “worship gap” of only six percent, an historic low.

Pew’s David McClendon gives several possible reasons for women’s declining levels of religiosity as measured by church attendance. One is the increase in the number of women in the workforce, which could theoretically decrease their leisure time and force them to cut back on activities like church. But as McClendon himself notes, “the fastest increase in women’s full-time employment” actually “occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, during which time the gender gap on religious service attendance actually widened somewhat.”

If women aren’t too busy with work to go to church, maybe it’s because they’re becoming too well educated. Higher rates of educational attainment are correlated to less church going, except McClendon notes that both more educated and less educated women are going to church less.

Finally, McClendon notes that the growth of the “nones” appears to having contributed to women’s declining church attendance, as “the rate of growth in the unaffiliated has been slightly more rapid for women than men,” which has “helped narrow the gender gap in weekly attendance.”

But it seems likely that more women becoming unaffiliated is part and parcel of the same trend of more women staying away from church. It still doesn’t explain why this is happening.

What McClendon overlooks is that the years that women’s church attendance began to decline are the very years when religious leaders in the Catholic Church and the evangelical movement fused religion with the culture wars, with overall attendance for women taking it’s first steep drop in the 1980s.

This drop in church attendance for women coincided with the period when the Catholic bishops began making abortion a litmus test for Catholic politicians, as in the 1984 election when Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro was attacked for being pro-choice.

And Pew’s own numbers appear to back this up. According to Pew, women are slightly more likely than men to say that churches should keep out of politics (55 percent vs. 53 percent), and overall 60 percent of Catholics say church should keep out of politics.

Women’s church attendance did recover somewhat in the early 1990s, but then began a long slide in the mid-1990s that continued to 2012, when the GSS data end. While the GSS numbers don’t break out attendance by religion, church attendance for both men and women appears to have bottomed out around the time the sex scandals broke in the Catholic Church in 2001. Other studies have a found “a significant decline in religious participation as a result of the scandals,” and it’s possible this decline was large enough to affect overall church attendance.

But while both men’s and woman’s attendance recovered somewhat after the early 2000s, women’s attendance dropped noticeably between about 2004 and 2012, while men’s remained fairly stable. This period saw evangelicals taking an increasingly hard line about traditional “Catholic” issues like birth control, which may have alienated some women.

And in 2004, the Catholic Church released a controversial document by soon-to-be Pope Benedict that was critical of feminism and said women’s characteristics were “Listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting.” The following years of Benedict’s papacy were particularly unwelcoming to progressive women in the church.

If McClendon is right and the trend of growing disaffiliation correlates to women’s decline in attendance, it’s also worth noting that Catholics make up the largest portion of the nones exiting a religion. Almost one-third (28 percent) of nones are former Catholics, which is the single largest share of any religious group.

Why have women stopped going to church? It isn’t because they’re too busy or too well educated. Maybe they stopped going when conservative politics took over the pulpit.

Patricia Miller is the author of Good Catholics: The Battle Over Abortion in the Catholic Church.

See:http://www.alternet.org/belief/women-are-fleeing-church?akid=14323.123424.W5XUWf&rd=1&src=newsletter1057755&t=24

4 Reasons the Christian Right’s Claims of Moral Superiority Over the Rest of Us Just Don’t Hold Water

Source: AlterNet

Author: Valerie Tarico

Emphasis Mine

When Bill O’Reilly recently tried to pin America’s spree of mass shootings on atheism rather than guns or mental illness, he hoped to tap a specific set of beliefs that is common among Bible believers— that morality derives from religion; that Born Again Christians are a light unto the world while atheists (who lack any basis for ethics or morality) spend their empty lives in pursuit of money and sex; that when Christians get raptured or otherwise lose the upper hand, America will descend into the orgy of sex, violence and anarchy depicted in the Left Behind books and movie.

This view feeds both righteous superiority and genuine anxiety among conservative Christians. Calvinists and other fundamentalists teach that humanity is “utterly depraved,” and that the only hope for our fallen world and for fallen individuals is the saving blood of Jesus. In the words of megachurch minister Mark Driscoll, “If the resurrection didn’t literally happen, there are guns to shoot, there are people to shoot, there are parties to be had, there are women to be had.”

In this view, the architects of America’s much lamented moral decay are godless atheists, and the growth of secularism means the growth of moral bankruptcy. Modernity is a grim slide into an end-times world where everybody lies, cheats, and takes whatever they can get. And here in America, this dark tide can be held back only by Christians in high places. 

But this common wisdom among right-wing Christians is being challenged by the public behavior of both the godly and the godless, by atheists who publicly embrace humanity’s moral core and spiritual quest; and by Christian leaders who keep getting caught, literally or metaphorically, with their pants down. The combination paints a picture that more than anything reveals our shared humanity—that the godless have their share of moral leaders and inspiring spiritual values, and the godly have their share of scoundrels. 

Atheists Bare Their Beliefs and Values 

Tired of being stigmatized and shunned, some atheists have set out to daylight the moral values they live by, and why. Some are specifically reclaiming words like morality and spirituality, which have long been owned by the religious sector. This summer, photographer and filmmaker Chris Johnson began screening A Better Life: Joy and Meaning in a World Without God. The movie follows a related coffee table book in which prominent atheists (and full disclosure: a few ordinary nonbelievers like me) discuss the values, loves, dreams and projects that give their lives purpose.

Small Sunday Assembly congregations around the world are continuing to experiment with building community around a three-part motto: live better, help often, wonder more. Blogger Neil Carter, a theology-trained former teacher, has amassed a following of thousands who read his wry, tender musings as he navigates being Godless in Dixie. Humanist chaplaincies like the Harvard Humanist Hub have been springing up on college campuses. Even the Satanic Temple (actually an atheist religion that eschews supernaturalism and embraces Satan as a literary rebel against tyranny a la Milton) has stepped into the public eye with a mission and a manifesto affirming broadly held humanistic values.    

Scandals Expose Hypocrisy, Rock Christianity 

Meanwhile, scandals have been hitting conservative Christianity, hard and fast. 

After Christian abortion foes launched a blood-and-guts media campaign based on staged entrapment interviews with Planned Parenthood staff, public opinion wavered. The campaign crumbled as forensic experts found 42 splicesincluding in “unedited” videos, rendering them useless as evidence. A seemingly unimpeachable witness, a disgruntled Planned Parenthood employee who claimed she had been forced to sell body parts, was impeached by past statements contradicting recent testimony, suggesting she was unreliable and a likely plant. Anti-abortion leaders found the moral high ground crumbling beneath their feet. 

Another Christian publicity stunt turned out to be fabricated by—to borrow a phrase from investigative journalist Chris Rodda—Liars for Jesus in the military. Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz has built his campaign around religious opposition to anti-discrimination laws, which some Christians claim violate their religious freedom and cause them to be persecuted. One ad features the story of Air Force Sergeant Phillip Monk who was fired by a lesbian superior for “expressing a traditional view of marriage”—except that he wasn’t. Oops. So much for the Bible’s prohibition against false witness. If Cruz had read some of the anti-Semitic, homo-slurring hate mail sent by military Evangelicals in the name of Jesus he might have been more wary.

A John Oliver August expose of televangelists exposed so much corruption, from multi-million-dollar tax-exempt parsonages, to personal trips on private jets, to manipulative but unfulfilled promises of healing, that if religion wasn’t exempt from truth-in-advertising laws the ministries in question would have their butts sued off. The wide blanket of “religious freedom” may provide legal cover for preachers like Robert Tilton or Joel Olsteen but it can’t cover the up the fact that their ministries stink of moral rot. Oliver launched his own church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, with dollars (and seeds and beef jerky) that flowed in from eager viewers, challenging the IRS to investigate—and not just Oliver.

And then, of course, there’s the ongoing scandal surrounding Ashley Madison, the matchmaking site for would-be adulterers hacked by possible extortionists who released member names to the public. Early controversy focused on the membership of Christian patriarchy leader, Josh Duggar, whose teen pattern of molesting younger girls—and the family’s response—recently cost his parents their multi-million-dollar reality show. “Family values” politicians like Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz, who flaunt their Christian credentials and lament how gays and feminists are destroying marriage appear to have lost their voices when it comes to adultery, a sin that—in contrast to gay marriage or abortion—the Bible unambiguously condemns.  

Moral Decay or More Transparency?

Have traditional Christianity’s claims of moral superiority always been mere conceit, now visible to all, or has something changed? Certainly the internet has made it harder to live a double life or hide hypocrisies, or to protect the faithful from outside information. I wrote about this in “Religion May Not Survive the Internet.” But there’s also reason to believe that Bible-believing Christianity once worked better than it does today as a guide for individual and community behavior:

  • Archaic sex and gender scripts drive hypocrisy. As gender roles and intimate relations become more flexible in modern society, the rigid Iron Age sex script gets harder and harder for Bible-believing Christians to impose, not only on society at large but even on themselves. Trying and failing, young Evangelicals vow abstinence until marriage but instead engage in impulsive, high-risk sex (because planning and protection would signal premeditation). Pastors, priests and patriarchal men—who often find the old script equally impossible—pay queer prostitutes, exploit their positions to fondle children and female parishioners, and fill the coffers of Internet porn providers, all the while loudly condemning the sexual obsessions of gays, women and youth.
  • Clinging to creationism drives rabbit hole reasoning. As evolutionary theory gets incorporated into computer science and the next wave of engineering and even manufacturing, creationists find themselves backed into a corner, needing to cast aspersions on the whole scientific enterprise(with a peculiar corollary emphasis on undermining climate science). More and more, the only way to preserve and protect a biblical world view is to engage in self-deceptive rabbit hole reasoning—a very bad habit for any individual or group that hopes to be a moral light in the midst of humanity’s darkness.
  • The quest for political power drives corruption. The fusion of conservative Christianity and conservative politics into the Religious Right has corroded Christian values and priorities in America and soiled Christianity’s good name. In the words of Sean Illing, “This unholy union of religion and politics has proven disastrous, particularly in the era of PACs, which allow economic libertarians to manipulate conservative Christians for political purposes.” Politics is a notoriously ruthless no-holds-barred affair in which power corrupts—sometimes absolutely. Right-wing candidates and politicians who tout their close relationship with God may baptize their own reputations, but they simultaneously foul the Church.
  • Bibliolatry drives moral stunting. As culture continues to evolve and moral consciousness deepens, the tribal, racistsexist worldview of the Bible writers appears ever more cruel and morally stunted. Bible literalists, who insist on treating ancient texts as if they were the literally perfect word of God, and their own interpretation of these texts as if it were the only one possible, end up coming across the same way. As their views become less appealing, young people motivated by an honest search for truth and compassion find the Church less and less appealing, leaving those with other priorities to wave the Christian flag.

In sum, conservative Christians are being Left Behind morally and spiritually; and they have responded by looking for love—and answers and power—in all the wrong places. If they find that Americans increasingly turn elsewhere for inspiration and moral values, maybe they should do a little soul searching instead of pointing the finger at atheists.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light” and “Deas and Other Imaginings.” Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/belief/4-reasons-christian-rights-claims-moral-superiority-over-rest-us-just-dont-hold-water?akid=13434.123424.Klc0Lz&rd=1&src=newsletter1041798&t=8

Papal Decree on Abortion Shows How Religion Hooks People By Inducing then Absolving Guilt

Source: Valerietarico.com

Emphasis Mine

John Stewart famously said, “Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.”

The painful irony of Stewart’s words is obvious to us all. What may be less obvious is the underlying pattern: Offering solutions to problems that religion itself has created is one of the key means by which religion propagates. The Pope’s recent limited-time offer of confession and forgiveness for women who have aborted pregnancies perfectly illustrates this pattern.

The Reality of Women’s Lives

Few women end a pregnancy on a selfish whim. All around us—all around you—are women (or couples) who have chosen to end pregnancies for reasons that are prudent, compassionate, service-oriented, or self-aware. Sometimes the reason is simply, “I can’t do this right now,” or “I don’t want to, and children should be wanted.” Sometimes a woman commits to an education, or to take one step forward out of poverty, or to join the military, or simply to devote her finite energy to the children she already has or to her community or our world. Under most circumstances, these are kinds of decisions that we honor, even if they are difficult and require letting go of one possible future to embrace another.

But choosing to carry forward a new life—or not—is one of the most momentous decisions a person can make, and inevitably some people regret it, just as some people regret smaller decisions like the choice of a college or career or spouse. Each of us is far more likely to feel regretful or even eaten-up about a decision we have made if it violates our own values or if people around us say that it should. And when it comes to parenthood decisions, that creates an opening for religion to create (or at least feed) a problem it can solve.

Turning Prudence into Sin

The Bible teaches that sin came into the world through woman, that a woman’s reproductive capacity belongs to man (her father “gives her” to a husband), and that women will be saved through childbearing. Biblical literalists who have internalized this view actively work to induce shame and guilt in women who end pregnancies, because a woman actively managing her fertility and her life fundamentally violates their worldview.

To make matters more complex, abortion is about ending a budding life that has the potential to grow into a person. Normal, morally intact people feel emotional resistance to ending a life—even that of a bird or mouse. We also feel an instinctive protectiveness toward things that remotely resemble human babies or children (for example, stuffed animals, puppies or big-eyed LOL cats). This makes it very easy for religion to induce distress about abortion, even to the point of inducing pathological shame, depression or trauma, or a sense of personal worthlessness and irredeemable guilt—from which it then offers redemption.

In some Christian churches this may take the form of offering abortion support groups that—rather than helping a woman embrace her own courage and wisdom or helping her process normal mixed feelings or regrets—that instead deepens her sense of guilt and shame. “You have committed murder,” she may be told, “But the blood of Jesus cleanses even the most depraved of sins.” She may be told she will meet her “child” in heaven, and may be given the opportunity to practice asking forgiveness. She may be given a diagnostic label coined by abortion foes—“post-abortion trauma syndrome”—to validate her conviction that she is damaged but can be healed by the solution they offer. All of this deepens her dependence on the religious community and their version of God.

A Catholic Self-Correction

The Catholic Church has long erred on the side of driving away couples or women who engage in thoughtful family planning, especially if this includes an abortion decision. Officially, since 1869 abortion has been a sin worthy of excommunication, for which only a bishop could grant absolution. But this harsh stance wasn’t working. Research suggests that Catholic women in the U.S. seek abortions at about the average rate, approximately 1 in 3 ends a pregnancy at some point during her childbearing years. The Catholic stance simply led women to avoid the Church and sacraments. By granting a reprieve and allowing women to confess to priests, Pope Francis puts a kinder, gentler face on Catholicism and invites these women back into the fold.

What he fails to do—and what the Church fails to do more broadly—is to recognize and honor their courage, wisdom and moral autonomy, the deep commitment to love and compassion that guides so many abortion decisions, and the extraordinary lengths to which women go to help ensure that their families can flourish. It fails to recognize that for women who choose abortion (like me), an acorn is not an oak tree and a fetus is not a child; that we women can hold ourselves deeply responsible to the people around us—their hopes and dreams and needs—that we can love our children to the point of being willing to give our lives for them, while remaining convinced that a fetus is only a potential person like the potential people we decline to bring into the world each time we use birth control or abstain from sex.

The Broader Pattern

The reason the Pope’s announcement so perfectly illustrates the Church’s broader pattern of inducing problems and then solving them is that (unlike the sectarian conflict cited by John Stewart) most of these problems are psychological in nature. They come from ways in which religious teachings create fear, guilt, helplessness, self-doubt, and even self-loathing that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

Guilt, Self-Loathing, and Absolution: If you listen carefully to the words of the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace,” you will hear the phrase “a wretch like me.” In contrast to Hinduism, which teaches that each child contains one spark of the divine light, Christianity teaches that we are all born bad thanks to Eve’s “original sin” in the Garden of Eden. Calvinists use the term “utterly depraved” to describe a person who isn’t saved. Fortunately, the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross offers us redemption. We are “washed in the blood of the lamb.” As one hymn puts it, Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

Helplessness, Dependency and Authority: According to Christian tradition, everything bad we do is either our fault or the fault of Satan working through us, but God or the Holy Spirit should get credit for the good we do. “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,” says the Apostle Paul (Galatians 2:20NIV). Christians are taught not to trust their own moral core, their own strength, or even their own intellect. “Lean not unto your own understanding,” says the psalmist (Proverbs 3:5), and his words are echoed in modern vernacular: Let go and let God. This attitude undermines autonomy and agency to the point that one Episcopal theologian, John Shelby Spong, commented in frustration that “Christians don’t need to be born again, they need to grow up.”

Fear of Outsiders and a Safe Haven: Many religious groups teach that outsiders lack a moral core and are not to be trusted, and even interfaith groups may teach this about atheists. Outcry erupted in Britain recently about Orthodox Jewish school materials teaching children that non-Jews are “evil.” This type of belief is common among Muslims and Christians as well, and it serves to create in-group cohesion and interdependence. Some former Christians describe being frightened of outsiders and even of themselves when they first left their church. If the outside world is a scary place, that makes the religious in-group all the more important, and it serves as a deterrent to leaving. Walls that might otherwise feel restrictive instead offer a sense of security.

Protection from Eternal Torture: “Devote yourself to me or I’ll torture you.” Wife abusers, dictators, gang members, and Italian mobsters use demands of this sort to elicit demonstrations of loyalty and faithfulness. And yet we all recognize that when a mobster provides “protection,” he is offering a solution to a problem he himself has created—the threat of his own violence. In an abusive home, this trade-off may be hazier, as in Pat Benetar’s song, “Hell is for Children,” in which she says “love and pain become one and the same in the eyes of a wounded child.” For centuries, Church leaders terrorized the faithful and those who were wavering with horrendous images of hell—from Dante’s Inferno, graphically illustrated by Botticelli (and now the underlying structure of a best-selling Dan Brown novel), to the iconic sermon by Puritan Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” to the hellfire and brimstone tent revivals of the 20th Century. Today many evangelists prefer to focus on the (dubious) delights of heaven, but few reject altogether the powerful threat of eternal torture.

Exemption from this torture is precisely what Pope Francis now offers women who have ended pregnancies, with the implication that it is otherwise deserved. For those who think it through, his proclamation rivals John Stewart for irony:

In his attempted kindness and mercy, Francis offers women the means to be forgiven for prudent, responsible, courageous, compassionate actions that the Church has twisted into sins. The offer extends only for those who accept the burden of theologically-induced guilt in order to be relieved of it, and only for a limited time. In exchange, women are granted protection from after-life horrors conceived in minds of Iron Age men and elaborated in the Dark Ages, when the Church’s inquisitors sought to foreshadow here on earth the tortures God had in wait for those who fail to repent.

But perhaps the greatest twist is this. Women are expected to be grateful and to see this as an act of conciliation—which, ironically, it is.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author ofTrusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.

See: http://valerietarico.com/2015/09/04/papal-decree-on-abortion-shows-how-religion-hooks-people-by-inducing-then-absolving-guilt/

42 Splices and Counting: Nine Facts You Should Know About the Planned Parenthood Smear Campaign

Source: Valerie Tarico.com

Emphasis Mine

Imagine that someone hated you (or your company) and wanted to make you look bad. So, he pretended to be a friend or colleague, went to your events, repeatedly asked you to meetings or lunch, gained your trust, and then spent two years recording private conversations. Could he find stuff that would make you sound like a heartless monster? If you’re like me, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, there’s no way it would take years.

Like me, you probably can think of five things you said in the last week that you would cringe to hear on the evening news. But would a selectively edited patchwork of your worst (or most easily misinterpreted) moments accurately reflect who you are? Almost certainly not.

The scraps of conversation with Planned Parenthood employees that were recorded and released by fundamentalist Christian David Daleiden and his front organization, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), sounded shockingly nasty. But as details of the smear campaign emerge, we probably should be surprised that they didn’t sound worse.

Here are nine facts that put what you heard in context:

42 Splices – According to forensic analysis by Fusion GPS, the first five videos released by Daleiden and CMP, contained 42 splices where sentences were cut and patched to create the appearance of a seamless conversation. By design, these edits changed the meaning of individual sentences as well as the overall conversation. In one example, a Planned Parenthood staffer’s comment about lab protocols was edited to sound like she was talking about abortion procedures. Her words got echoed repeatedly by mainstream media who falsely assumed they knew what she was talking about.

Contradictory Evidence Omitted – In a Colorado interview, a Planned Parenthood employee said 13 times that all fetal tissue donations must be reviewed by attorneys and follow all laws. All 13 times were omitted.

Edits in “Unedited Videos” – The “unedited” videos released along with shorter excerpts were themselves edited, rendering them useless as evidence in legal cases or regulatory hearings.

Thousands of Hours of Recordings – To shock audiences and create the appearance of callous wrongdoing, abortion foes selectively released less than one percent of their recordings, compiling even smaller fragments to create viral videos. By Daleiden’s own report, CMP agents recorded “thousands of hours,” from which they selected the ten or twenty hours of (moderately edited) recordings to obtain a few minutes of (heavily spliced) inflammatory sentences.

Expensive Taxpayer-funded Investigations Find No Wrongdoing – A growing list of government committees in states including Massachusetts, Indiana, South Dakota, Georgia and Pennsylvania have now cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing, and in California and Texas lawmakers have also called for investigation of fraud by the Center for Medical Progress.

Yuck Factor – Rather than seeking to expose wrongdoing, the campaign appears optimized to trigger a frenzy of disgust among religious conservatives, activating them for the upcoming campaign cycle. Research suggests that, in contrast to liberals (who base moral judgments primarily on questions of fairness and harm), many conservatives fail to differentiate between physical disgust and morality. Conservative campaigns leverage this fact. Homophobes wielded the “yuck factor” effectively for decades to block gay rights and are deploying the same strategy against reproductive rights. Repeated reference to fetal remains functions as a powerful arousal trigger for the Religious Right.

Gallows Humor – Because black humor is a way people deal with stress, CMP was virtually guaranteed to catch shocking “callous, inappropriate” comments if they recorded long enough. Gruesome humor is particularly common among soldiers, doctors, EMT’s, medical researchers, farmworkers, nurses and others who work around bodily fluids and death. One friend commented that her nurse colleagues will joke rudely about their patients at one moment and then will be crying for the same patients an hour later.

Letting Down – From a psychological standpoint, things we say and do in private (or among trusted, like-minded friends) are particularly vulnerable to being distorted by people with ill intent. That is because we rely on the other person to interpret any given statement within their experience of us. For example, after my bike is stolen, I can safely rant among friends about capital punishment for bike thieves only because my friends and family already carry the rest of the context: they know I oppose capital punishment. A Planned Parenthood employee joking about wanting a Lamborghini relies on the same unspoken understanding.

Not About Abortion – The CMP smear campaign was designed not to reduce abortion but rather to control who has sex, by heightening the threat of pregnancy and STI’s among young women. Secondarily, it was timed to feed Tea Party Republicans fodder for election campaigns .   Since public dollars pay for no abortions, defunding Planned Parenthood would eliminate only their preventive care services, including birth control, with the ironic effect of driving up need and demand for abortion. It is part of a broader anti-birth-control campaign aimed at protecting biblical (Iron Age) family structures and gender roles.

Don’t be deceived: The religious conservatives behind the Planned Parenthood smear campaign have shown repeatedly that they are willing to harm women and families and even drive up abortions in order to control the sexuality of females and youth. This isn’t about their hatred of Planned Parenthood, the healthcare nonprofit, it is about their hatred of planned parenthood, with two small “p’s.” It’s about their hatred of the changes in society that allow young people to create the lives and families of their choosing, free from the biological constraints that for most of human history have made pregnancy the price of sex.

Speaking of young people, online youth collective, Ultraviolet, has done a little selective splicing of their own. They just released a video in which Sean Hannity interviews Deleiden about Mike Huckabee’s sale of fetal squish. It is not to be missed.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author ofTrusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.

 

See: http://valerietarico.com/2015/08/31/42-splices-and-counting-nine-facts-you-should-know-about-the-planned-parenthood-smear-campaign/

http://valerietarico.com/2015/03/24/children-as-chattel-what-religious-child-abuse-and-the-pro-life-movement-have-in-common/

Source: author Valerie Tarico

Emphasis Mine

On the surface, valuing embryonic life and abusing children are at odds, but with a biblical view of childhood, these positions can go hand in hand.

Why do the same people who fight against abortion argue that parents should have the right to beat their children and deny them medical care or education, as some conservative Republicans have done recently?How can an someone oppose family planning because a pill or IUD might have the rare and unintended consequence of interfering with implantation, and then endorse beating a child, which might have the rare and unintended consequence of battering her to death?

These two positions fit together seamlessly only when we understand the Iron Age view of the child imbedded throughout the Bible, and how that view has shaped the priorities and behavior of biblical literalists.

Extreme Biblical Parenting

In 2014, Pentecostal parents Herbert and Catherine Schaible went to jail after a second of their nine children died from easily treatable bacterial pneumonia. The Schaibles belong to a sect that relies on prayer for physical as well as spiritual healing. In a police statement, Herbert Schiable explained that medicine “is against our religious beliefs.” Sects like their point to the New Testament books of Matthew and Mark, which both say that devout believers can pray for anything in faith and God will grant their request (Mark 11:24 and Matthew 21:22). All that is required, according to the writer of Matthew, is faith the size of a tiny mustard seed. The Schaible’s pastor blamed the deaths of the two children on a “spiritual lack” in the parents.

Most devout Bible believers turn to science when their children can’t breathe, but 38 US states have now passed laws to protect parents who don’t—along with parents who beat their children in accordance with biblical advice, or deny them education on religious grounds.

The Schaible case is a chilling example of how these laws work. In 2009, the Schaible’s two year old son, Kent, died of pneumonia after having his illness treated by prayer alone. Under Pennsylvania’s faith-healing exemption both parents were allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges. The result was a sentence of probation; and after agreeing to seek medical care for their children in future, the Schaibles were allowed to keep custody of their other kids. But In 2014 the Grim Reaper struck again. This time, the couple was jailed after 8 month old Brandon died of another untreated infection. The parents went to prison, not for killing a child, but for violating the terms of their earlier probation.

Republicans Double Down on Parent Rights over Child Wellbeing

In spite of similar tragedies around the country, legislators in multiple states are looking to expand laws that exempt parents like the Schaibles from criminal charges. Georgia recently introduced legislation that appears to offer legal cover to parents who beat their children (and men who beat their wives) for religious reasons. In Idaho, despite more than a dozen child deaths linked to one small sect called the Followers of Christ, Republican state legislators introduced a bill in February granting parents broader leeway to harm children—as long as their motives are religious. The bill secures faith healing exemptions from medical neglect laws; reduces the court’s power to protect abused children; discourages doctors and teachers from reporting suspected abuse; and excuses religious parents from education requirements that otherwise apply to Idaho residents. On March 23, 2015, it passed the Idaho Senate 27-7, along straight party lines.

In 2011, after a series of child deaths from medical neglect, Oregon’s governor took the opposite tack, stripping faith-healing parents of legal protection from criminal charges. Oregon children stopped dying, but some extreme families moved to Idaho. In the words of law professor Marci Hamilton, “Idaho has become a haven for parents who martyr their children for their faith.”

Emboldened by Hobby Lobby 

Since the Supreme Court’s 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, conservative Christians in the U.S. are testing “religious freedom” claims as a means to opt out of a wide array of rules and responsibilities that otherwise apply to all Americans. Much of the focus has been on exemption from reproductive healthcare, queer equality rights, and finances (what churches give and get when it comes to public funds and services.) But exemption from child rights and protections should be thought of as a fourth leg of the “religious freedom” agenda.

Evangelical Christian leaders fought the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, making the U.S. one of two countries (along with Somalia) that failed to endorse it. In some U.S. locales, like the State of Virginia, they have sought and Devout Bible believers regularly oppose child protective services, insisting that the right of religious adults to do as they choose trumps the right of children to be free from harm. won the right to deny children basic education, including the ability to read and write.

The Embryo Anomaly

But while conservative Bible believers look bent on depriving born children of any and all human rights, they simultaneously claim that every fertilized egg merits protection. Ignoring the fact that most fertilized eggs, when left alone, simply die before implanting or else self-abort, believers oppose stem cell research, abortion and even contraception that might harm embryonic human life.

The Religious Right’s extreme devotion to embryonic life was on display in a recent bill aimed at protecting women and children from sex trafficking. Conservative Republicans inserted language that would deny abortion care funding to young girls who got pregnant after being coerced into sexual slavery, forcing them instead to carry pregnancies and give birth.

To a person imbued with modern secular ethics, such priorities may be immoral; but in the Iron Age worldview of the Bible writers and fundamentalist believers, they actually make sense.

A Modern View of Childhood

Modern secularists think of children as persons with rights based on their capacity to suffer and feel pleasure, to love and be loved, to be aware and self-aware, to have preferences and intentions that are expressed via decisions and actions, and to have dreams and goals that place a value on their own future. These capacities, which make human life uniquely precious, emerge gradually during childhood, which is why children can’t take care of themselves. Parents are thought of as custodians, who have both rights and responsibilities that change over time, based on the ways in which a child’s own capacities are limited.

In this view, as children become more capable, their rights increase within developmentally appropriate limits, while parental rights and responsibilities decrease. If a five year old prefers vanilla ice cream over strawberry, most people believe that, all else being equal, he or she should be allowed to choose. A seven year old has little say in a custody agreement, but a fourteen year old who prefers to be with one or the other parent can get a hearing from a judge. Similarly, the capacity for sexual consent emerges gradually during adolescence. Young teens may be capable of consenting with each other, but their vulnerability to manipulation and exploitation means they are protected legally by the concept of statutory rape.

In 1923, Kahlil Gibran published his much loved book, The Prophet, which contains his poem “On Children.” Gibran’s poem, though deeply spiritual, reflects a modern view of childhood::

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

Gibran’s 20th Century view would have been completely alien to most of the Bible writers.

A Biblical View of Childhood

In the Iron Age mindset of the Bible writers, children are not individual persons who have their own thoughts, with corresponding rights. Rather, like livestock and slaves, they are possessions of the male head of household, and the biblical framework governing treatment of children is property law, not individual rights law.

The legal term chattel refers to moveable personal property, economic assets that are not real estate. In the Bible, children, like slaves and livestock, are chattel. Male children grow up to become persons, while females remain chattel throughout their lives, first as assets of their fathers, then as assets of their husbands.

The texts bound together in the Bible were written over the course of hundreds of years, and they reflect the evolution of social and ethical norms within Hebrew culture during that time span. Some express a more compassionate and dignifying perspective toward children than others. But fundamentalists and other Bible-believers treat these texts as a package, a set of perfect and complete revelations essentially dictated by God to the authors, which is why they all too often end up pitting themselves against ethical, compassionate treatment of children. Taken as a whole, the biblical formula for parenthood is based on several core assumptions:

  • Children are property of their fathers. This is why God can allow Satan to kill Job’s children  during a wager over Job’s loyalty—and then simply replace them. It is why a man who injures a woman causing her to miscarry must pay her husband for the loss.
  • Children are born bad. This mentality derives from idea of original sin, which posits that all humans are basically evil because Eve defied God and ate from the Tree of Knowledge. It is one reason that early Christians believed that Jesus, as the perfect “lamb without blemish” could not have a human father and so added the virgin birth story to the Gospels at the end of the 1st Century.
  • Children must be beaten to keep them from going astray. In the Gospel stories, Christ’s only teaching on the subject of physical punishment was “whoever is without blame, cast the first stone.” Unfortunately, many Christians prefer King Solomon’s“spare the rod, spoil the child” admonitions from the book of Proverbs.
  • A father’s right of ownership extends even to killing his child. This is why it makes sense for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac or Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter, or even God to give his “only begotten son” as a human sacrifice. In the Torah, a man can send his child into battle or sell his child into slavery. The Torah advises that a rebellious son should be put to death.
  • The primary value of adult females is to produce valuable children, meaning in particular male children of known origin. Hence, a female’s virginity is a core part of her economic value. This is why a rapist can be forced to marry the damaged goods in the Torah as is sometimes the case in conservative Islam today, or a female can be stoned for pre-marital sex. In the Hebrew Torah, the wives of the patriarchs send their slave girls to get pregnant by their husbands to up the baby count. In modern America, Evangelical girls attend purity balls and receive promise rings by which they can be “given in marriage.” In this context, the seemingly bizarre and hypocritical stance of defending embryonic life while simultaneously defending child abuse makes sense. A man has a right to offspring. Woman was made to bear them. (As both Bible writers and Church leaders through the ages have reminded us over and over, that is her purpose and her salvation, the way she makes up for Eve’s act of defiance, even if it kills her.) Within the hierarchy of the family, a woman has authority only over the children and only by proxy: she acts as an administrator of God’s will and that of her husband. A child is not a person with intrinsic rights but a man’s possession, to bring up according to his own values and beliefs, and paternal rights have few limits.By Way of AnalogyFor a modern reader, the concept of chattel is simplest and easiest to understand when applied to livestock: A rancher owns cows for the purpose of breeding them, and he guards their fertility carefully to manage the kind of calves he wants. A young, fertile cow is worth more than an older less fertile cow. A bred cow is worth more than an open cow. A cow has no right to avoid pregnancy, however unpleasant or risky, and no-one but her owner can decide when she has given birth to enough calves. Someone who deliberately caused a cow to miscarry would be stealing from the owner. Once calves are born, they belong to the owner, who has the right to poke or prod or hit or kick (or castrate) them to get the kind of behavior he wants.

    At one point in American history, this was how many Christians thought of slaves, and they cited the Bible to back up this view. Today most Christians find human slavery appalling, and the last remaining kind of legal living chattel is non-human animals. But because the Bible and Koran bind believers to the Iron Age, echoes of the Iron Age chattel structure can be found in the views and values of devout believers.

    Female Birth Control Violates Biblical Property Rights

    In this worldview there is little room for abortion or even pregnancy prevention, or for that matter any form of reproductive agency on the part of a woman. God is in charge, and every baby is a blessing, an arrow for the man’s quiver, one of his economic and spiritual assets. “Let go and let God,” women are told. A female is defined by her sexuality and childbearing—as a virgin, mother or whore—and contraception turns the first two of these into the third.

    Modern Catholicism’s Madonna-whore dichotomy and anti-contraceptive theology may have evolved as a competitive breeding strategy designed to serve the religion itself. But Catholic antipathy to female contraception has more ancient and primitive roots in the Iron Age culture of the Bible writers, and perhaps—beneath that—in the biological instinct that nudges individual males to control female fertility and engage in competitive breeding of their own.

    Coerced pregnancy is one means to this end, and freely given prior consent is “not a thing” in either the Hebrew Torah or the Christian New Testament: Eve is created for Adam when none of the other animals are found to be suitable companions for him. Women are given in marriage as transactions between men throughout the Torah. Sexual slavery abounds, with God providing instructions on how to purify virgin war captives before they are bedded. (See Captive Virgins, Polygamy, Sex Slaves: What Marriage Would Look Like if We Actually Followed the Bible.) In the gospel story of the virgin birth, Mary is told (not asked) by a powerful being that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and she will get pregnant. Of course she is thrilled—if a woman’s role is to bear children, what greater honor than to bear the child of a god?—but the bottom line is that intentional, volitional decision making by females about childbearing is simply beyond the consciousness of the Bible writers.

    Abortion—a woman’s decision to end an ill-conceived pregnancy—violates the biblical worldview in yet another way. In the Bible, bearing and ending life are roles that clearly split along gender lines. Females may have the power to bear life, but only males can end it. Man holds the right of life and death over his own chattel, just as God holds the right of life and death over humans, his sheep. The Bible says a man can beat his slave to death, and as long as the slave survives for a day or two afterwards, the owner is within his rights.

    In fact, the Bible endorses men terminating life for many reasons: eating or sacrificing animals, vengeance, territorial dispute, eradicating witchcraft or paganism, punishment, displays of power, and religious rituals, to name a few. However, it never endorses ending a life for reasons of compassion, mercy, or prudence—the reasons women often seek abortion.

    A Degraded Concept of Personhood

    What about the Religious Right’s Personhood movement, which seeks person-rights for embryonic humans? Doesn’t it contradict this framework? No. The anti-abortion Personhood movement, which attempts to equate personhood with human DNA, is part and parcel of this same worldview. In the Personhood movement, the qualities normally associated with personhood (sentience, feelings, thoughts, preferences, intentions, self-awareness, etc.), the qualities that create the basis for independence and rights, are irrelevant.

    The Personhood movement allows Religious Right leaders to co-opt centuries of human rights law and political philosophy while simultaneously undermining any concept of personhood that grants rights or autonomy based on the lived experience of another being. Consider, for example, the Alabama law which assigns “personhood” to a fetus—and then hands all associated rights to a (usually white male Christian) attorney. Fetal Personhood laws which equate personhood with DNA secure the Iron Age hierarchy of God and man over woman and child (and, tangentially, man over other chattel like non-human animals and artificial intelligences).

    Beyond the Bible

    In sum, it is much easier to extrapolate from the biblical worldview to the idea that a parent has the right to beat his child or withhold medical care, or that a teenage sex slave should be forced to bear a child, than to derive the idea that we have a responsibility to bring children into the world under the best of circumstances and to acknowledge their rights as individuals once they arrive. These are fundamentally post-biblical ideas, as is the notion that empowering women to delay or limit childbearing is a positive social good.

    For those who are not bound to the priorities of the Iron Age, fetishizing fetal life while hurting and disempowering women or children is morally incoherent. Thanks to science and scholarship, we know much more than our ancestors did about embryonic development–a reproductive funnel that requires many fertilized eggs to produce a few healthy babies. We also have learned much about child development, the gradual process by which a child takes on the unique psychological capacities of the adult human. And we know more than ever about the lived experience of sentient beings—including women and children. None of this knowledge supports the moral priorities of the Iron Age.

    Instead, it supports a worldview in which thoughtful, intentional childbearing empowered by the full spectrum of family planning care goes hand in hand with a value on thriving women and children. A woman is an independent person and so are her children, and it is her right and responsibility to plan her family so as to live her life to the fullest and stack the odds in favor of her children having rich, full lives of their own.

     

  • Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author ofTrusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.

 

 

see: http://valerietarico.com/2015/03/24/children-as-chattel-what-religious-child-abuse-and-the-pro-life-movement-have-in-common/

Megyn Kelly Misrepresented My Article About Contraception I’m an OB-GYN. She’s Not.

Source: New Republic

Author: Jen Gunter

I was quoted on a Fox show. While this is somewhat surprising, the fact that I was put in the same category as Jon Stewart (apparently we are both liberal ideologues) actually left me feeling honored. The issue, of course, is the four methods of birth control that Hobby Lobby is no longer required to cover under their employee health plan due to the recent Supreme Court ruling. Megyn Kelly of Fox apparently took issue with Jon Stewart calling out claims that Plan B is an abortifacienta drug causing abortionas “not true” (he is correct) and my statement that “three of the four contraceptives do not lead to abortion, even using “three of the four contraceptives do not lead to abortion, the conservative definition of when life begins,” which appeared in The New Republic. Ms. Kelly claims that Plan B and ella (levonorgestrel and ulipristal acetate postcoital contraception, respectively), and Mirena IUS and ParaGard (both intrauterine devices or IUDs), “Can and do end fertilized eggs.” She is wrong.Unlike my piece or the myriad posts I have written on the subject on my own blog, Ms. Kelly offers no scientific articles to bolster her claims, but rather rests her case on product monographsbasic descriptions of the drugsand the opinion of the Supreme Court majority. These are five men whose last biology class was likely 40 or more years ago (i.e., before the basic science evaluating these methods of contraception existed) and who do not practice medicine.

Let’s first dispense with the idea that a product monograph should even be considered. Product monographs do not contain the latest research; they are a compilation of FDA labeling requirements and corporate legal lingo used to deflect lawsuits. As more and more data emerges after a product goes to market, monographs become outdated because updating them offers no financial gain. Since I’m a doctor, not a lawyer, I’ll leave the specifics of how the case was argued to lawyers, but if the product monographs of Plan B, ella, Mirena IUS, and ParaGard were used as evidence to support the government’s case, then the government was relying on outdated and inaccurate information.

READ: The Medical Facts About Birth Control and Hobby Lobby—From an OB/GYN

As a board certified OB/GYN, I’ll stick to what I know. The medicine.

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) issued a statement in 2008 indicating that a post-fertilization effect for Plan B was not consistent with the mechanism of action and thus should be removed from the product labeling. There is a plethora of medical evidence (this 2013 review article has many excellent references, as does this 2011 FIGO statement) showing no post-fertilization effect on either the embryo or on the endometrium (lining of the uterus). Plan B works by inhibiting a specific hormonal surge that happens before ovulation. It doesn’t work when given on or after the day of ovulation. In one study when Plan B was given after its window of efficacy, the number of pregnancies was exactly what would have been expected had no method been used (i.e., it didn’t work). Were there a lining-of-the-uterus effect, Plan B would be expected to work after ovulation has occurred, but it doesn’t.

What about ella (ulipristal acetate)? The 2012 FIGO Medial and Service Delivery Guidelines on Emergency Contraceptive Pills state the following:

The primary documented mechanism of action for both levonorgestrel and ulipristal regimens is interference with the process of ovulation. … These regimens have been shown not to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus in several studies. …

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The single 30 mg of ulipristal in ella inhibits ovulation and is insufficient to have an effect on the lining of the uterus. Those who have argued against this claim point to the drug mifepristone (a different medication) and the effects the drug haswhen itis given every day (this is not the regimen for ella)so both are invalid arguments. What about the fact that ella can delay menses, does that belie a hidden effect on the lining of the uterus? A 30 mg dose of ulipristal acetate delays ovulation so menses may also be delayed. Further evidence for a lack of an effect on the lining of the uterus comes from the fact that subsequent episodes of unprotected intercourse after taking ella reduces its efficacy. When taken in the right reproductive window, ella delays ovulation for five days, allowing the sperm time to die, thus preventing fertilization. However, have sex a second time and the five-day hold on ovulation expires before the sperm. If ella affected the lining of the uterus, we would not see this increased failure rate with subsequent acts of unprotected intercourse. There is no basic science to support a post-fertilization effect, hence the FIGO statement. International organizations dedicated to the health of women don’t make such bold statements lightly.Kelly claims that the Mirena IUS thins the lining of the uterus, possibly creating an inhospitable environment for an embryo. While the Mirena IUS does affect the lining of the uterus, this is not believed to be its primary mechanism of action. To quote a 2013 study from the journal Contraception, “The major contraceptive action of the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) is cervical mucus thickening.” It takes five days for the cervical mucus to be affected, hence why we tell women to use a back-up method of contraception if the device is inserted mid-cycle. The levonorgestrel in Mirena and the inflammatory response may also affect sperm function, although this effect has not been fully elucidated. The effect of Mirena on the lining of the uterus clinicallyis similar to the effect of long-term use of birth control pills, but if this effect had a contraceptive action missing a few pills each month wouldn’t matter. However, missed pills result in pregnancies all the time.

The only method with a potential post-fertilization effect is the copper IUD, the ParaGard IUD. The copper in the ParaGard IUD causes a profound inflammatory reaction that covers the entire upper reproductive tract and that is toxic to both sperm and eggs. A post-fertilization effect is unlikely in this case, though, because fertilization is unlikely. In the rare cases where fertilization does happen (Copper IUDs do rarely fail and pregnancies do occur), there is no data to support that these fertilized eggs are less likely to implant than fertilized eggs conceived without a copper IUD in place. Further evidence for a lack of effect on the lining of the uterus is the fact that the copper IUD also reduces ectopic pregnancies (pregnancies outside the uterus in the fallopian tube). Experts interviewed by The New York Times also reached the same conclusion. While copper can theoretically damage a fertilized egg, there is no data supporting this as the mechanism of action. When a copper IUD is inserted as post-coital contraception the mechanisms of action are less clear, and a post-fertilization effect cannot be excluded, but most experts (and FIGO) believe even in this scenario it likely works by preventing fertilization. As of 2014, the bulk of the evidence suggests that thecopper IUD when used a standard birth control (i.e., not post coitally) works by preventing fertilization. In fact, with regard to both IUDs, a review article in the peer-reviewed journal Contraception concluded the following:

The common belief that the usual mechanism of action of IUDs in women is destruction of embryos in the uterus is not supported by empirical evidence.

The hypothesis that postcoital contraception and IUDs affect a fertilized egg is an old one that was generated before today’s technology. We now have a mountain of evidence that refutes the idea that Plan B, ella, and Mirena work by ending the “life” of “fertilized eggs.” It’s theoretically possible with ParaGard, but very unlikely. (Never mind that medicine doesn’t consider a fertilized egg a pregnancy). If using the wealth of scientific data (multiple basic science articles, statements of experts in peer-reviewed journals, and international organizations) makes me an ideologue, I’m fine with that. However, I’m not sure that I’d use “liberal” as the label, I think “evidence-based” ideologue is more accurate.

Dr. Jen Gunter is an OB/GYN and a pain medicine physician based in California. She blogs at drjengunter.com and authored the book, The Preemie Primer, a guide for parents of premature babies.

 

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118761/what-megan-kelly-doesnt-understand-about-contraception-obgy?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=TNR%20Daily%20Newsletter&utm_campaign=TNR%20Daily%20Zephyr%20with%20LiveIntent%20-%20July%2021%2C%202014

The Medical Facts About Birth Control and Hobby Lobby—From an OB/GYN

Source: New Republic

Author: Jen Gunter

If you’ve read the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby or the reaction to it, then you know what sparked the lawsuit. The Affordable Care Act says that employer-provided insurance must include essential health benefits, including all medically authorized forms of contraception. The owners of Hobby Lobby objected to this requirement, because they believe that four common forms of birth controltwo versions of the “morning-after pill” and two kinds of intrauterine devices (IUDs)are “abortifacients.” In other words, the owners of Hobby Lobby think these contraceptives end pregnancies rather than prevent them. And they believe that is tantamount to ending a life.

The claim, which you can find on virtually any conservative website, has been making the rounds for a long time. It’s stuck because the science on how these particular drugs and devices work wasn’t that great. But recent advances in medical diagnostics and some ingenious studies have changed that. We know a lot more about how the contraceptives work. We can be very confident that three of the four contraceptives do not lead to abortion, even using the conservative definition of when life begins, and we can be almost (although not quite) as sure that the fourth does not, either.

There are essentially six ways to prevent pregnancy:

  1. Make the cervical mucus inhospitable (sperm can’t get to the egg)
  2. Inhibit ovulation (prevent the release of an egg)
  3. Affect fertilization (the ability of the sperm to meet up with and/or penetrate the egg).
  4. Affect the fertilized egg (prevent implantation)
  5. Create an inhospitable uterine environment (prevent implantation)
  6. Affect the implanted embryo

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As far as the medical establishment is concerned, pregnancy doesn’t begin until implantation. (In fact, 80 percent of fertilized eggs never implant.) So under this “medical” definition of pregnancy, only method #6that is, doing something to the implanted embryowould constitute a form of abortion. But religious conservatives hold that pregnancy and life itself begin at the moment an egg is fertilized. Under the “religious” definition of pregnancy, methods 4, 5 and 6 would all constitute forms of abortion.

What does that mean for the four types of contraception at issue in the Hobby Lobby case? Let’s consider each one.

Birth Control or "Abortifacient"?

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Plan B, which is one form of the morning-after pill, clearly wouldn’t. It works by inhibiting ovulation when given during a specific 48 hour window of the cycle. It has no other method of action. This is undisputed scientific fact. (Plan B is one of the best studied of all the methods of contraception).

Ella (the manufacturer uses a lower case “e”) is another version of the morning-after pill. It too works by inhibiting ovulation, only it is better at it than Plan B. The 30 mg of ulipristal in ella has no effect on sperm quality, a fertilized egg, or the lining of the uterus. Higher doses affect the uterine lining, potentially creating a hostile environment that could stop a fertilized egg from implanting. But a 30 mg dose has the same impact on uterine lining as a placeboin other words, it has no effect. The only gray area is if a woman were to take ella not realizing that she is already a few weeks pregnant (an unrecognized pregnancy). The impact of ella in early pregnancy is currently unknown.

Mirena, one of the IUDs, changes cervical mucus. It also inhibits ovulation for a small percentage of women in the first year of use, but that is unlikely a major method of action. The Mirena IUD does thin the lining of the uterus, but there is no evidence to suggest this impacts implantation of a fertilized egg.

That leaves the ParaGard, which is a copper IUD. The copper in the device damages sperm and eggs, affects how the sperm and egg travel to meet, and may affect implantation. Some very complex studies suggest that a very small percentage of cycles with a copper IUD (around 1%) may result in a fertilized egg that fails to implant. But, as physician Aaron Carroll noted recently at The Upshot, that’s also the normal failure rate of the IUD. The bulk of the studies do not support a post-fertilization effect.

The only caveat is that if either IUD fails (and while rare, they do fail about 1 percent of the time) the resulting pregnancy has a higher risk of miscarriage.

The facts are summarized in the table above. There is no evidence that Plan B, Ella, or the Mirena cause abortion by any definition. The evidence that the ParaGard might affect implantation for a small percentage of women, thus leading to what some conservatives would call abortion, is thin. But we don’t have the information to discount it completely.

Is that a rational basis for refusing to pay for these contraceptivesand reducing the reach of a health care initiative that provides enormous benefits? Religious conservatives think so. And thanks to the Supreme Court, they will get their way.

Dr. Jen Gunter is an OB/GYN and a pain medicine physician based in California. She blogs at drjengunter.com and authored the book, The Preemie Primer, a guide for parents of premature babies.

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118547/facts-about-birth-control-and-hobby-lobby-ob-gyn?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=TNR%20Daily%20Newsletter&utm_campaign=TNR%20Daily%20Zephyr%20with%20LiveIntent%20-%20July%207%2C%202014

7 Jaw-Droppingly Dumb Things Republicans Think About Science

Source: AlterNet

Author:Evan McMurray

It was Texas Representative Michael Burgess’ turn on the GOP’s Bullhorn of Crazy this week. “You watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful,” Burgess said during a congressional debate on the House Republican’s absolutely pointless bill outlawing abortions past 20 weeks. “They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. I mean, they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to think that they could feel pain?”

Burgess’ prenatal masturbation musing is only the tip of the melting iceberg of Republican science denial. Here are seven battier things they believe, from trees causing global warming to fetuses in your Pepsi.

1. Abortion Leads To Cancer, Birth Defects, And Everything Else

Burgess’ absurdity actually masked a very serious GOP belief. The “fetus pain” theory, which holds that fetuses begin to feel pain around 20 weeks, has been the primary logic behind a slew of recent abortion bills in state legislatures. As no reputable science backs the theory up, the GOP has been forced to find anything wearing a lab coat to make stuff up.

Abortions are rare after 21 weeks, and usually occur when a woman develops serious complications with her pregnancy. But some Republicans go so far as to think the health exemption is a cover for the abortion industry. “There’s no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing,” Joe Walsh said in 2012 on his way to losing his House seat. “With advances in science and technology, health of the mother has become a tool for abortions for any time under any reason.” (Republicans have no problem invoking science when it suits their needs.)

Burgess is hardly alone in digging up scientific-sounding nonsense to back up his abortion views. Rick Santorum was the most recent peddler of the long-discounted theory that abortions lead to breast cancer, while out in Virginia, which has a nasty strain of abortion-based delusion, a state delegate advanced the notion that abortions lead to handicaps. “The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps have increased dramatically,” Bob Marshall said. “Why? Because when you abort the firstborn of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children.”

2. Everything They Say About Rape

Burgess’ comment was notable for not featuring the word “rape,” the hook on which many right-wing legislators hang their crazy coats, to the point that Stephen Colbert has instituted a “Days Without a Rape Reference” segment.

This started with Todd Akin’s famous “legitimate rape” comment last fall, though the theory is still being repeated. Akin’s comment was so bad that even lawmakers who didn’t entirely agree with it were caught in its net: Richard Mourdock blew a gimme election in Indiana when he tripped himself trying to get away from Akin’s remark.

Like Burgess, Akin’s comment was important not because it was an aberration, but because it reflected a real belief on the right, one that’s beginning to infect policy. Arguing against a rape exemption in his anti-abortion bill last week, Trent Franks stated that the incidences of pregnancy from rape are “very low.” Some see daylight between Franks’ iteration of the rape/pregnancy connection and Akin’s, but it’s minor. And while Akin’s view was rooted in medieval medicine, Franks’ theory traces its lineage right back to Nazi experiments. Whether dealing with centuries-old pseudo-science or its bleak modern mutations, the GOP’s rape/pregnancy link is bad science at its most savage.

3. Climate Change Doesn’t Exist, and If It Does It’s Caused By Trees

Not all Republican science denial involves evil lady parts. Their resistance to the very idea of climate change is so staunch that it bred an entire theory of GOP-specific ignorance.

The least crazy of the party acknowledge climate change is occurring but refuse to link it to human behavior, instead seeing the rise in temperatures as part of a natural cycle. After all, it’s not like Hurricane Sandy was the first extreme weather event in history. “I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy,” Texas congressman Joe Barton said during a House hearing on the Keystone Pipeline. (You will remember Barton from his apology to BP over the company’s oil spill.)

There’s one problem with this: refusing to link global warming to human behavior greatly reduces your options for curtailing it. See Dana Rohrabacher, a far-right California congressman, who found a natural solution to a natural problem. “Is there some thought being given to subsidizing the clearing of rainforests in order for some countries to eliminate that production of greenhouse gases?” Rohrabacher asked during a House hearing on U.N. climate policies.

This is for the Republicans who actually admit climate change exists. Many don’t, and they made sure we knew about it last year when they rejected an amendment that would have simply acknowledged the occurrence of global warming. The amendment didn’t garner a single GOP vote.

It gets worse. In 2012, North Carolina’s legislature went the full-ostrich route. Not only did they refuse to admit that global warming was happening, they actually banned scientists from researching it, passing a bill prohibiting the measurement of sea-levels so nobody could notice they were rising. (The ocean rudely rose anyway.)

4. Breast Implants, On The Other Hand, are a Fine Use Of Science

Okay, most of their science denial involves lady parts, but not all of it’s negative! Tom Coburn proves the GOP would be scientists’ best friend if those nerds would stick to expanding things men want to look at.

“I thought I would just share with you what science says today about silicone breast implants,” Coburn said during a hearing on class action lawsuits, a nagging problem for plastic surgeons. “If you have them, you’re healthier than if you don’t. That is what the ultimate science shows. . . . In fact, there’s no science that shows that silicone breast implants are detrimental and, in fact, they make you healthier.” (They don’t.)

5. No Dead Fetuses In Your Soft Drinks

But the GOP’s science permissiveness begins and ends with breasts; anything that might help with, say, medical research is off the table. Stem cells in particular give Republicans the bends. Where most see the frontier of medical research, Republican candidates for senate see islands of Dr. Moreaus.

“American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains,” Christine O’Donnell told Bill O’Reilly in 2007. Talking Points Memo guessed O’Donnell was referencing an experiment in which doctors grew human brain cells within mice—“not the same as an actual functioning human brain, but a demonstration that human brain cells can be made from stem cells”—but they didn’t sound too confident speculating on her inspiration.

At least O’Donnell wasn’t actually a lawmaker. Last year, Oklahoma State Senator Ralph Shortley got wound up over a zany Internet theory claiming stem cells were being used in the production of artificial sweeteners, and proposed a bill prohibiting companies in Oklahoma from using aborted fetuses to make food.

6. Evolution Is (Still) Out To Get Jesus

“I’m not a scientist, man,” Marco Rubio recently told GQ. “I can tell you what recorded history says. I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians. Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that.”

But Rubio’s fellow Republicans think they have answered it, as evidenced by the fact that they want schools to teach that humans and dinosaurs used to read GQ together. Republican-controlled state legislatures have been busy trying to pass bills forcing public schools from elementary to college to teach that the world was created 6,000-9,000 years ago.

Their cover for this is the necessity of “teaching both sides” of the debate—though only one has scientific backing—but Georgia Representative Paul Broun recently showed the right’s hand. “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell,” he said during his (unopposed) run for reelection last year. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

7. It’s Only Science If Republicans Agree With It

In perhaps the most unintentionally revealing law ever written by a Republican on science, Texas Representative Lamar Smith recently proposed that all scientific knowledge get his okay first. Called the “High Quality Research Act,” Smith’s bill would require any research receiving federal funds to go through Smith’s Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology, all in the name of “accountability.” Accountability in this case means agreeing with Smith, a climate change denier who has no problem going after projects he, or his donors, disapprove of.

If the GOP had its way, this is how all science would work: no rising sea levels to worry about, and all the breast implants Congress can afford.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/gop-science?akid=10604.123424.58nOvN&rd=1&src=newsletter858343&t=7&paging=off

 

no-birth-control-part-II-Romney-wants-to-eliminate-title-X

From:care2

“Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has recently come out in favor of “Personhood,” the idea of granting full legal rights to fertilized eggs, a plan that would not only eliminate abortion but could outlaw most forms of contraception, too.

But that’s not Romney’s only attack on birth control.  Numerous presidential candidates agreed to sign the Susan B. Anthony pledge, one of the platforms of which was to agree to defund Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest birth control and reproductive health provider.

Romney did not sign the pledge.  However, now he’s going even further than the anti-choice group itself has tried to reach.

He wants to eliminate Title X funding all together.

As Sarah Kliff explains: “Created in 1970 during the Nixon years, Title X covers reproductive health services like birth control, STD screenings, and cervical-cancer exams. In 2008, the program reached about 5 million Americans, mostly women. While the program does provide funds to abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, federal law bars the program from covering abortion procedures.”

Romney’s plan to eliminate federal funding for all family planning services can be seen by fiscal conservatives as a sign that he is ready to take a hard line on budget cutting, and sends a subtle message to the social conservatives so wary of him that he can be the champion for ending abortion, and even support for birth control.

The House Republicans desperately tried to eliminate funding in the first government shutdown battle.  It was only the president’s refusal to allow that to occur that saved the program.  If that president were Mitt Romney, that would be a very different story.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.care2.com/causes/no-birth-control-part-ii-romney-wants-to-eliminate-title-x.html