Shared Suffering

Anyone who took the time to read my last post, may be a little surprised at what I say next.

Beneath all of the sadness and hiding behind all of the outrage…was pride.  Yes, you heard me, Pride!

Why?  What on Earth was there to be proud of??

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US!!

Not just the above us, but…

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THIS US!!

The us that stood together –  shoulder to shoulder, our voices mingling – to protest our displeasure.  Displeasure with a culture that hasn’t yet gotten over its biases.  Displeasure at how cases, involving our children, are handled.  Displeasure at how our laws are written.  Displeasure at how our justice system works.

A large number of Americans – all across the nation – came together for a common cause.   No matter our respective “colors”.  How’s that for tasting the rainbow?  You’re proud, too, right?

(Feel the but coming?)

But with that being said, many of us know that we are not headed for the pot of gold.  We know that our (individual) voices are often marginalized, if not silenced.

And as much pride as I have in what we did above, I fear that we won’t use that momentum going forward. 

That is because each of us is guilty.  We are guilty of paying especially rapt attention to the hot-button issues that touch us on a personal level.  And..we are ALL guilty of not paying (as much) attention to the suffering of others.  Sure, we are quick to jump to the defense of someone who has been blatantly wronged and gets enough media coverage (which seems to be up to fate).  But, then what?  We have a tendency to return to our respective corner, lick our wounds, and rest up for the next assault against our rights.

I, as a non-wealthy, cisgendered, black woman, have my own problems.  (You do, too.  Am I right?)  Sometimes it is difficult to step out of my shoes and into someone else’s.  Further, it is extremely easy to focus on what matters to me, to the exclusion of all else. 

I was as guilty as anyone else.  I spoke out against an injustice, here or there.  I volunteered for a campaign or two.  And I was proud of it.  But, I have come to realize that is not enough.  Not by a country mile.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.  – MLK

We must combine our grievances to fight for the common good.  We can not afford to become so encapsulated in our little bubbles, that we forget about the gay couple who asks only the freedom to marry.  We can not focus all of our energy on the plight of the woman when our oceans are becoming more acidic by the day.  It would be a mistake to disregard the plight of the immigrant, in favor of the black struggle.

Let’s be perfectly honest.  Any politician who does not believe that a woman is a fully cognitive being, capable of making her own decisions..probably won’t believe that poor people are not making a concerted effort to remain in poverty.  If any politician is able to look in your face and deny climate change, that politician is equally likely to think ‘drill, baby, drill” has no impact on the environment and that “education mills” have got it all wrong.  Any politician that doesn’t recognize the ingrained cultural biases in society..probably won’t understand why “the gays” are making such a fuss.  A future leader who will snatch your right to vote..will snatch your right to marry.  If he or she wants to pay for prisons and not schools..chances are he or she will not be too worried about the uninsured.  If a politician can’t value the unions..how much does he value the worker?

Consider this…

Those who have no problem stepping all over our rights have a plan.  They have a view of the world that we do not share.  Say what you will about them, they are tenacious.  They are determined and they are fighting with all they have.  They are investing millions and millions of dollars into their efforts.  They are buying the kind of country they want.  And have absolutely no guilt over it.  In fact, when we are hesitant to get with their program, we are labeled as lazy.  Or takers.  Or, sometimes, traitors.

And what are we doing?  We’re waiting..

Well, we can not afford to rest up for the next assault on our rights any longer.  We simply can not.  When we fight for the rights of the poor, the worker, the children –  we are fighting for our rights.  When we battle for the rights of our fellow citizens, we win the battle for ourselves.

As long as justice and injustice exist, human beings must be willing to do battle for the one against the other.

 – John Stuart Mill

Southern Style: Tar Heel Turnaround

Friends, it has been a while since our last stop on the Southern Express.  And, honey-chile, this one will be a real treat.  One you surely don’t want to miss.  So, go on, grab your sweet tea, immerse yourself in insect repellant, and…

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North Carolina.  Majestic mountains.  Beautiful beaches.

One of the more progressive southern states prior to the..

Tar Heel Turnaround?

The North Carolina that we are seeing today is at odds with the trajectory the state has been on in recent years.  The southern states may seem as though they are vehemently opposed to ideals like change and progress.  In my view, North Carolina has always been different.

A little history….

Even during our nation’s ugliest time, the Civil War, this state was a bit progressive.  “The second to last (technically the last) state to secede from the Union” did so reluctantly in 1861, and wasn’t as sold on slavery as the rest of the south.  They – along with Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas – initially chose to remain with the Union, after Lincoln was elected.  Confederate forces in South Carolina (Boy-oh-boy, our stop there will be fun!) fired on the Union, forcing the hold-out states to fight for the federal government or their neighbors.

The above facts, in no way, justify the actions taken statewide during Reconstruction.  The state did, however, make great strides once it became clear that they couldn’t put skeletons back in the closet.

The eat-ins and sit-ins led to incremental integration.  Education became a priority, and was heavily invested in.  Tobacco was replaced with textiles, then technology.

There was…progress.

North Carolina attempted to rise above the title of “confederate sympathizer”.  Instead, it focused on its memories of the Wright brothers and Kitty Hawk.  Those majestic mountains and beautiful beaches were boons for tourism.  I, myself, thoroughly enjoy time spent at Atlantic Beach each year.

Many have grooved to Thelonious Monk, Pink Floyd, and Roberta Flack. We were touched that James Taylor had Carolina in his mind.  The Andy Griffith show was mandatory viewing in many households.  And everybody wished they could jump like Mike!

North Carolina gave us Duke University, a pioneer in the medical field.  It gave us Shaw University, the first HBC,  as well as Salem College, the first school for young women.  The state’s Research Triangle brought in major industries – such as IBM, GlaxoKlineSmith, and LabCorp – providing jobs and careers for residents.

moral monday

 What a difference a (voting) day makes!

This is not progressive.

North Carolina’s Republicans took simultaneous control of the legislature and governor’s mansion in January for the first time in more than a century. The current session has been marked by sweeping conservative measures in what has long been counted as among the South’s most progressive states.

Arrests?  Of nearly 675 people since these peaceful protests began?  Because they do not approve of your policies, and are exercising their right to protest, they are “morons” who deserve to be arrested?  To further marginalize them, they are called “outsiders”.  Never mind the fact that arrest records show that nearly all are from within the state and the fact that slashing unemployment benefits for over 100,000 residents and decreasing benefits for the rest might be seen as irresponsible.

We can’t call this progressive either.

As legislators enter the final phase of closed-door state budget negotiations, young children could wind up being the biggest losers.

Children with special needs will lose much-needed services, like speech and developmental therapy.  Ten thousand Pre-K slots will be lost over a two-year period.  Prenatal care will be unaffordable for many.  The Child Fatality Task Force will be eliminated, even though child death rate has dropped 46%.  Healthier, more well-adjusted children is a smart investment that residents support.

Need more?

Repealing the Racial Injustice Act?  Not progress.  Because racial discrimination has never been the best option for a state, or the nation.

Quietly imposing “the biggest overhaul of the state’s tax system in more than a decade.”  … not progressive.  Decisions that impact a state should be discussed, no, especially when you’re favoring one segment of the population at the expense of another.  FTA:  Supported by Gov. Pat McCrory, the bill adds a sales tax to numerous exempt services, such as car repairs and appliance installations, to pay for moderate cuts in personal and corporate income taxes. 

The necessity for stealth doesn’t usually indicate progress.  I know we women can be freedom riders, but seriously?  One of the most basic human rights is full and complete dominion over one’s body.  Why not just ban women and be done with it?

Does anyone, especially college students, find this progressive?  I think not.  Because didn’t we already determine this was not the way forward?

In retrospect, perhaps we ALL should have been worried when this hit the news.  Because Church of North Carolina meet the Constitution, already!

So, yeah, I would say the Tar Heels got turned around.  Wouldn’t you?

What to do..what to do..

mm protest

THIS!!!

Protest.  And protest some more.  Transform “Moral Mondays” into “We, the people Week”.. “Month of Marches”.. straight to the voting booth!

Because this is not about conservative and liberal.  It is about right and wrong.

Once you were a progressive state.  You can be again.

Battle for the Ballot

America has celebrated another birthday.  Americans, all over the country, hung up flags and fired up grills.  We drunk ice-cold beer, ate, and laughed with friends and family.  We enjoyed parades and fireworks.  Pride in our country was evident, and rightly so.  I hope the day was enjoyed by all.

independence day

While Independence Day is over, the fight for those founding ideals rages on.  We are left to deal with this.  The Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-4 decision, dismantled the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  This will now allow problem states, mostly southern, to alter voter laws without obtaining advanced federal approval.

The majority (Justices Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito) held that Section 4 is unconstitutional, as the formula used is out-dated.

Regardless of how one looks at that record, no one can fairly say that it shows anything approaching the “pervasive,” “flagrant,” “widespread,” and “rampant”discrimination that clearly distinguished the covered jurisdictions from the rest of the Nation in 1965.

The minority (Justices Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayer, and Kagan) held that while there has been improvement, the legislation is still necessary.

Early attempts to cope with this vile infection resembled battling the Hydra.  Whenever one form of voting discrimination was identified
and prohibited, others sprang up in its place.

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Technically, both the majority and dissenting opinions have some validity.  The majority is correct.  There is no longer blatant violence keeping minorities from the polls.  The intelligence tests and poll taxes are a thing of the past.  The dissenting opinion, which I strongly suggest reading, is also correct.  Atrocious methods of the past gave way to all-white primary attempts and racial gerrymandering.

Think Voter ID.  Since last year, 41 states have introduced some form of restrictive voting legislation, and of those 18 passed laws. Among the most popular are those that require voters to show a photo ID in order to vote, which proponents say helps to counter fraud — a phenomenon that almost never happens, analysts say.

Both opinions clearly state that it falls to Congress to legislate a formula that discourages this type of strategy.

Optimistic?  Anyone?

While it is up to Congress to  come up with a formula that takes into account the types of racial voter discrimination we face today, it is up to us how we react to the Court’s decision.  One thing we can do is to contact our representatives.  We can let them know that we expect them to get off their asses and do something.  We can send letters and emails.  We can pick up the telephone and voice our demands.

That being said, if you have been paying attention the past few years, you know that train will be slow to leave the station.  I am not convinced that Congress can decide what to have for lunch.  I don’t hold out much hope that they can come to an agreement here.  Do you?

The best way to combat what we know to be disenfranchisement attempts is to…

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Vote when you are inspired by a particular candidate.  Vote when you are not.  Vote when you have a much-needed day off from work.  Vote when it takes your entire lunch break.  Stand in line, proudly, when the sun is shining.  Stand, defiantly, when it is raining.  Exercise your right, whether it takes fifteen minutes or five hours.

No matter which hydra head comes at you,…Stand and be counted.

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I am committed because of scenes like the one above.  My ancestors, and their freedom-loving allies, fought, bled, and died so that I could vote.

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Water hoses didn’t work.  Biting dogs didn’t stop them.  Baton beatings didn’t deter them.  Jail cells could only hold them for so long.

Burning homes and lynchings…Did. Not. Stop. Them.

I am not about to let a little redistricting stop me.  Nor am I about to wait around for Congress to pull its head out of its ass.

Voting is my right, my duty, and my privilege.

I will go to the polls because our power is in the ballot.  But, I will also go for my fellow citizens.

My thoughts will be with my children, and all children, who we encourage to participate in our democracy.  My thoughts will be with the working poor, who risk their jobs to cast their ballots.  And, with those who wait hour after hour to have their say.  I will stand in solidarity with immigrants, who have also been subject to discrimination and intimidation.

Inequality for one is inequality for all.

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I will stand and be counted, or the sacrifices made on my behalf were in vain.

Will you?

We’re #1 ..er..

America.

Wealthiest nation in the world.

It’s no wonder our middle class is number one in the world!

middle class

As the chart above clearly shows, America’s median income is the best in the…

Wait…WHAT??

We are not number one?  Or two, ten, or twenty?

According to this, America is #27.  Our middle class is being beaten by the likes of Germany, Canada, and Switzerland.  Topping the list is Australia.

But how can this be?  Our economy produces hedge fund managers that earn more per hour than the average family earns in two decades!

Surely, that kind of wealth is trickling down!!

So, why aren’t we drenched?  Hell, at least misted?

  • Healthcare:  We continue to pay more while becoming no more healthy.  And becoming seriously ill lands many in bankruptcy court.
  • Minimum Wage:  Our wage is indecent in comparison to the likes of Canada ($9.75), New Zealand ($11.18), and Australia ($16.45).  So much for claiming the top spot, again, right?  Not to mention that many other developed nations provide a month of guaranteed paid vacation time on top of paid sick days.
  • Wall Street:  Has gone wild.  Enough said.
  • Tax Structure:  Our code favors the wealthy with loopholes, tax havens, ridiculously low capital gains taxes, etc.
  • Higher Education:  The more you know, the more you owe.  In America.  Our counterparts are offering higher education practically tuition-free.

So, yeah.  No drenching, no mists, no trickles.

I think we were… PUNK’D!

deregulation

Financialization.  (Note when the two began to split.)

Financialization means the increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors and financial institutions in the operation of the domestic and international economies.   – Economist, Gerald Epstein

Financialization was labeled the most important factor in our stagnant middle class.  Deregulation of the 80’s has given rise to a whole host of problems.

  • It “made shareholder value the ultimate goal.”
  • Hedge fund growth began destroying the “productive wealth” in the economy.
  • “Too big to fail” institutions were created, and basically granted license to gamble with the economy.
  • Barely regulated world markets became responsible for financing globalization.

Why don’t we know how throughly we were played? Good question.

Wealth dominates the mediaThe idea of conservative media or main stream media is foolish.  There is but one media.  Corporate media.  And do we honestly believe that the guys ripping us off will tell us that they are doing so?  Pfft.  Just go back to fake scandals and Hollywood hook-ups, if you please.

Here’s another good question.  Why aren’t we working, with due diligence, to reverse this?

Wealth dominates our politics, it is true.  Corporate lobbyists are boldly buying representatives and co-authoring legislation.  They are using their extreme wealth to their advantage.  Who needs or wants a level playing field when pulling in the kind of dough they do?

They are buying the team, the field, the equipment, the concession stand, and referees.  But that is not all they are buying.  It seems they have also purchased quite a few fans.

There are actually those among us who don’t realize or acknowledge that they have been, are being, and will continue to be fleeced in this economy.  They believe more corporate freedom is an appropriate action.  They believe, and loudly regurgitate, policy that will only serve to keep them from ever seeing the trickle they so patiently await.  To do anything else would make you a “taker”.    They have difficulty separating who built that from who purchased that.

Looks like there is nothing left to do, but sit in the stands and clap.

Uhm, .. no.

The first thing we can do is recognize this for what it is.  Class warfare.

Next, we need to forget about changing the minds of the purchased fans.  If the past few years haven’t demonstrated the damage deregulation causes, nothing will.  The information about corporate greed destroying the economy is out there, and it is plentiful.

Protest what is being done.  You don’t necessarily have to stand in a picket line.  Petition.  Support local businesses over big box chains.  Start a garden.  Use the services of a local credit union in lieu of a banking institution.

Most importantly, instruct and supervise your elected officials, while keeping an eye out for their replacement.

  • Republicans:  we will not tolerate your policies of carrying the rich on the backs of the poor.
  • Tea Party/Libertarians:  Atlas Shrugged is fiction.
  • Democrats:  the pretty words are nice, but the time has come to try on a backbone, thank you very much!
  • Progressives:  Come out, come out..wherever you are.

They need to know this is our game, too.  Comply or face ejection.  Period.

Because… We’re #27… is  pathetic!  As a standing and a chant!

The Day after Memorial Day

Yesterday, Americans celebrated Memorial Day. Old Glory blew in the breeze.  Grill covers were removed.  Hot dogs and hamburgers were char-broiled.  Beer was consumed.  Cars and mattresses were purchased.  And those who have perished, in service to this nation, were remembered.

Those things are all fine and dandy.  But why not do something better?  The best way to honor those who have fallen is to support those who haven’t.

Perhaps,..a Call for a National Strategy on Veterans?  An all-encompassing one is needed, if we are to get our service members back on track to becoming members of civilian society.  In the coming weeks, we will discuss what the issues are.  And, there are many!  There are steps we can take, both individually and politically, to support our returning veterans.  But we, first, have to know what we are up against.

Here are startling statistics, as reported by the Center for American Progress:

** Nearly 1 in 7 homeless adults are veterans.

** 1.5 million veterans are at risk of homelessness.

** 30.29% of veterans, aged 18-24, were unemployed as of 2011.

** $31 Million of SNAP/food stamps (2008) were spent at military commissaries.

** 1.2 million veterans used mental health services in 2010.

As if those numbers are not shocking enough, Democracy Now! reports that military vets (including those wounded in service) are being kicked out, due to misconduct.  This causes them to lose medical care and benefits for life.  Young men and women, returning from the horrors of war, find themselves unable to cope.  Many have underlying health conditions, including Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Instead of providing help, they are given a bad discharge, and alienated even from the brothers in arms that they fought and died with.

In another article, the growing epidemic of military suicide, among other things, is addressed.  Every day, in America, 18 veterans are committing suicide.  17% of Afghanistan combat vets are on psychotropic medication.  1/3 of female service members are sexually assaulted.  From Defense Secretary,Leon Panetta, “Despite the increased efforts, the increased attention, the trends continue to move in a troubling and tragic direction.”

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As a member of a military family, I am grateful for those who “support the troops”.  I am honored to be among the families who have sacrificed.  I have, in years past, humbly accepted the love and support of friends, family, and strangers.

I am, also, all too aware of the difficulties such families face.  PTSD is not an acronym to me.  The psychotropic drugs, the therapy…are all too real.

We, as a nation, accept the sacrifice…physical, spiritual, or mental…of our young men and women.  We take them from their families.  We spend millions training them for combat.  We place them in unimaginable situations, and we ask them to do unimaginable things.

Isn’t it time we do more than pay them lip service?

The most important thing we can do is provide meaningful employment opportunities.  We must stop looking at the hiring of military veterans as charity.  These men and women have any number of combat skills that translate well in the civilian world.  VetJobs is an excellent resource that we can pass along to those men and women still seeking work.

Equally important is making sure our veterans are receiving necessary medical and mental health care.  The Wounded Warrior Project is a wonderful program that brings much-needed attention to the needs of returning vets with physical and/or mental health issues.  The project provides a myriad of services for returning veterans, through donations and fundraisers.  Visit their website to see how you can help.

Finally, we must not forget the spouses and families.  They are often invisible in discussing issues concerning veteran’s affairs.  If we are to successfully integrate these warriors back into civilian society, spouses and families must also have support.  Learning to live with an entirely different person is no easy task, let me tell you.  I have found that Military OneSource provides invaluable talk therapy for spouses adjusting to their new unfamiliar circumstances.  The National Military Family Association is a wonderful resource for financial concerns.  There are opportunities to donate to both these wonderful organizations and information can be located on their websites.

Supporting our troops isn’t simply a ribbon.  It would be wonderful if it was.  Our brave men and women need, and deserve, our support.  Sure, holidays are great.  They deserve those, too.  But our country can do so much better.

Take a look at the links.  Make a contribution.  Donate your time.  Put pressure on your representatives.

That is supporting our troops.

Down the rabbit hole, Out through the Chocolate Factory

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where-” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“-so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice Added as an explanation.

Lewis Carroll

Down the rabbit hole.  Our nation is down the rabbit hole.

Collectively, we feel trapped, confused, helpless, and angry.  We are afraid.

I, too, feel all those emotions.  But, what I feel the strongest is frustration.  Like Alice, all I want is to get… SOMEWHERE.

When did we fall down the rabbit hole?  Does it matter?  I would love to say it is irrelevant how we got here.  But, I can’t.  On our journey, we stumbled over our own fear..er..feet.  We’ve fallen, and can’t seem to get up.

We read our children stories, like Alice in Wonderland, hoping to teach them the importance of life choices.  We encourage them to dream and set goals.  We help them develop courage, determination, and perseverance.  We teach them that not trying is the only true failure.

Well, look at us!  Aren’t we quite the hypocrites?  Even now, when our inability to act is harmful to our children, we do nothing and go nowhere.  From our comfortable spot in the pit, we point fingers.  We blame blacks, women, gays, immigrants, republicans, democrats, or the poor.  Our children, remembering what they’ve been taught, see the grown-ups bicker, complain, and remain…stuck.

We stress to our children the value of education, yet do nothing about this and this.  If we proclaim that education opens doors for our sons and daughters, shouldn’t it actually do so?  We must prepare our children for adulthood by improving ALL of our schools.  Wealth and/or vouchers shouldn’t be necessary to receive a quality education.  Nor should college costs ride a person’s back well into middle age, forcing them to take up residence in a parent’s basement.

We teach our youth to play by the rules, yet allow this.  If we want them to know that playing by the rules is the right thing to do, we must ensure that they grow up in a world where that is expected.  Of everyone.  Corporations are allowed to (legally) cheat the system.  This is a no-brainer, right?  It’s broken, we fix it.  Ah, that would make too much sense.  So, our kids grow up observing that greed is the key to success.  There goes the sharing is caring lesson.

While we are pointing fingers on climate change, things like this happen.  Why is this even a continuing debate?  Overwhelmingly, scientists agree that our planet is being stretched too thin.  Natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy and the massive tornado in Oklahoma, are going to continue.  We have been warned, again and again, about this.  Is this garbage really easier to believe than 97% of scientists??

As we bicker about who is more patriotic, tragedies like Sandy Hook go unaddressed.  Unless you count this.  Our children are told repeatedly that violence is not the answer because it never solves anything.  Ha!!  Have you noticed that our culture is becoming more violent by the day?  Yeah, kids have, too.  When we have opportunities to come together, and make decisions that will save their lives, we should take them.  Perhaps, they need to give us a pep talk about bullying, eh?

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”  
J. K. Rowling

Let’s choose a direction.  We’ll never get somewhere, if we don’t.  Our children deserve that much.

To them, everything is magical.  Anything is possible.  Adults know better.  We are aware that no Cheshire Cat or Elder Wand exists.  Life is a series of choices (or unfortunate events, depending on perspective).  We learn from mistakes, and try again.

Enough crying and complaining!  The next generation is watching.  If there is an outcome we desire, let’s elect representatives who will help us achieve it.    Those that don’t..replace them.  Occasionally, we will learn that our ideas aren’t good ones.  If that happens, we change direction.  Life has taught us all that there is often more than one way to get where you’re going.  Remember, the failure is in not trying.

So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Roald Dahl
 
Choose to educate yourself.  Then, choose to act.
 

Safe & Legal Abortion: A matter of life and death

Heads up:

This blog entry IS graphic.

When I taught “Ethical Issues” at nameless State University, I inevitably lead a two week discussion about abortion. The first week was spent reading philosophical texts as to why abortion was a moral wrong; the second week we read philosophical texts defending abortion. (Should you be interested in these reading materials, drop me a line in the comment section.)

Throughout the whole course, no matter the topic, I kept my own opinion out of the discussion.

But I did open this topic, which I am definitely passionate about, with some basic statistics.

  • By the age of 45, approximately 35% of American women will have had at least one abortion. Think about that when you’re running errands, when you’re at work, etc, and you see a woman. Wonder, “Did she have one?”
  • More than one-third of American women will have undergone at least one abortion.
  • More than HALF of the women who found themselves pregnant were using at least one form of birth control.[i]

Of course, philosophy frowns upon logical fallacies, and citing carefully chosen scripture to make the case against abortion wasn’t allowed. I find it very interesting that all 140 students, most around 20-22, understood this and followed it for the entire semester, making the national conversation looks terribly immature.

Perhaps more importantly, any student of philosophy is well aware that name-calling is a logical fallacy, and it’s a weak one. After citing the basic statistics concerning the prevalence and note the silence—of abortion in my course, I would have students who were adamantly anti-abortion raise their hand and apologize for calling a woman who sought an abortion a “murderer” or some other term.

Those students realized that chances were 99.9% at least one person in our classroom of 140 had an abortion, had a friend who had an abortion, etc.

I really appreciated it, and it helped clear the air so we could debate academically, philosophically.

I premise all this because I feel it’s important that these statistics be more well known before we ever discuss abortion.

Shall we?

Philadelphia “doctor[ii]” Kermit Gosnell was recently found guilty of the murder of three babies and one woman at what has come to be known as his “house of horrors.” House of horrors is a good term, if not a tad too emotive (for the philosopher in me), to describe the crimes committed. The three babies were born alive, and there seems to be no question that he willingly and knowingly killed them after delivering them.

You can read the indictment here (in PDF). It’s a hard read, but it’s worth the read to fully understand the case, and sums up the charges against him.

You may wonder why these women sought late term abortions[iii]. I don’t know their personal lives, but I do know that 26 new laws alone restricting (and even banning) abortion have been passed this year alone. 33 states require a “delay” before a woman can have an abortion—these are also known as “waiting periods.” They are costly for women who must travel to seek medical help. In addition to that, 33 states have mandated doctors lie to their patients, usually (but not always) by floating the idea that their patient’s risk of breast cancer will increase.

We know many of Gosnell’s patients were poor and/or a minority. And given his conviction, it seems that Gosnell was preying upon poorer women who were desperate.

I’d like to note that stories such as Gosnell’s “House of Horrors” are rare. Most providers of abortion and reproductive issues care about their patients and believe in what they’re doing. They realize how stressful this situation is for many women. And of course, abortion providers are risking their life and face constant harassment.

Pennsylvania requires: biased counseling, a waiting requirement, restricts insurance coverage of abortion for poorer women. If married, the woman must sign a statement declaring she has notified her spouse of the abortion (and yes, this is illegal under Planned Parenthood of SE Pennsylvania v. Casey, yet is still on the books. *sigh* )

Laws restricting access to abortion have not been proven to deter women from seeking them. Instead, such laws place financial obstacles, and delay the abortion.

Restricting laws against abortion procedures also put the woman’s health at risk. She may very well turn to a charlatan such as Gosnell, who clearly lost/never had any interest in helping women.

“He was acting wholly outside the law, and the fact that that is the case really suggests the reason why we need to make sure that we have good providers, that abortion has to be safe and legal and accessible,”

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

As draconian laws limiting a woman’s bodily autonomy spread across the country, we are more and more at risk of losing women. This isn’t hyperbole. Due to unsafe and illegal abortions, women DIE.

Just ask the family of Geraldine “Gerri” Santoro (née Twerdy). You’ve seen her death photo.

I leave with with the words of a family who lost their daughter, their sister, and yes, their mother in the 1960’s.

Two lives were needlessly and sadly lost here. This horrible sad picture of death makes clear that illegal abortion not only harms and kills women, it has never ever saved one baby.

Gerri Santori. No one should die like this. EVER.

Gerri Santori, as she died. No one should die like this or face what she did. EVER.

 


[ii] I use the term “doctor” most reluctantly, as what this man was charged and convicted of is un-professional and certainly not behavior expected from a medical doctor.

[iii] A late term abortion is generally any abortion that occurs after 12 weeks gestation.