Category Archives: Contraception

Sage Slave

Thomas Hall was a slave in Orange County, North Carolina. He was 81 when he was interviewed by the Federal Writer’s Project in 1937. Our future comes at us at an ever quickening pace and with the chaos of a globalized community – we are not taking the time to learn about our past. Here is an excerpt of Thomas Hall’s words to his interviewer:

Getting married and having a family was a joke in the days of slavery, as the main thing in allowing any form of matrimony among the slaves was to raise more slaves in the same sense and for the same purpose as stock raisers raise horses and mules, that is, for work. A woman who could produce fast was in great demand and would bring a good price on the auction block …

The food in many cases that was given the slaves was not given them for the pleasure or by a cheerful giver, but for the simple and practical reason  that children would not grow in to a large healthy slave unless they were well fed and clothed, and give a good warm places to live. … – My Folks Don’t Want Me to Talk About Slavery Continue reading

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What is “Pro-Life”?

What is a “culture of life”? How do you define it? When someone speaks of a “culture of life” or “pro-life” agenda, it is usually assumed that abortion is the topic at hand. Abortion is not the only issue that pertains to the sanctity of life. If someone wants to literally be a pro-life voter, there are a wide variety of policies that that moniker supports.

How about starting with an easy one? The death penalty. Is there anything more clearly pro-death? There is no logic in calling yourself “pro-life” when you support the death penalty. If you support the death penalty you are saying that you are morally ok with not only killing people, but letting the (fallible) state decide which people to kill with your blessing.  Perhaps someone has other moral reasons they can cite for supporting the death penalty, but they can’t still call themselves “pro-life” with any integrity.

Here’s another gimme – war. War = death, it’s kind of the modus operandi for winning a war. Aside from the direct killing of soldiers by soldiers, with war comes countless life altering tragedies and injuries. The pollution of war equals death to those living things around it. The corruption inside war equals death for those willing to take risks for money or power. The private contractors are let loose to roam lawlessly across the land, bringing violence and oppression. Living in an occupied land means living in fear; simply being alive is not the same as living. Please don’t call yourself pro-life if you support war, especially pre-emptive ones wars of aggression.

Is it part of a culture of life to allow corporations to pollute our water supplies, harm our animals, disrupt natural systems, and poison our food? Is it life giving to look away as humans are abused and exploited in the name of profit? All life relies on a certain level of purity to our air, land, and water, there is nothing – no industry, no product, no privilege – that makes it acceptable to poison us all.  If you don’t believe in protecting the sanctity of nature and those natural systems that sustain life, you are not pro-life.

Universal health care is pro-life. We can live our lives when our basic health care needs are attended to. Unchecked pain, fear of debt, and exclusive access – hallmarks of a health care system that puts profits before patients – is not pro-life (it’s pro-profit). In fact, someone in a dismal health care situation is more likely to consider numbing pain or their reality in an unhealthy way.

Humans are not born to be slaves, we each want to carry on with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When corporations turn us into slaves, or indentured servants, or take away our dignity, or abuse us, or force us to work against our morals, we are alive, yet not. When a company sucks the life out of you so you have nothing for your family, no time for community, and no living wage, they are not working on a pro-life agenda. Like stories you can read from our own history of slavery, the plantation owners were all for more babies, they couldn’t wait for those babies to become commodities. In those stories you can read the anguish of the enslaved parents at bringing another life into the world under hellish conditions, knowing that their offspring will be treated like expendable chattle. An unregulated capitalist dynamic promotes death to humanity.

Guns may be useful in providing sustenance for families – we are at the top of the food chain and all humans (even vegans) have some amount of “death” in their diet (think of the earthworms). It is part of our natural evolution to eat meat, but guns aren’t a part of our natural evolution and they are used for so much more. Guns can and have brought about human death on an epidemic scale. Handguns and automatic weapons are designed to kill people (sure target practice is fun but you don’t need steel bullets to pierce a piece of paper-that is not its end use). Those working to limit the availability of guns and frequency of human death caused by guns would earn the “pro-life” moniker more readily than those that believe all guns should be available and unrestricted. Gun lovers want to be prepared kill; killing is pro-death.

Again, even with acknowledging our omnivorous tendencies, humans often kill animals unnecessarily. Animal testing, environmental devastation, cruelty, or entertainment. If you are a polluter, a trophy hunter, a sadist, an eater of factory farm animals, or a supporter animal testing – you can’t say you are pro-life. There are humane standards for how to treat animals – even how to end their lives if we are going to eat them. Treating animals humanely is pro-life.

The joining of a sperm and egg is a special moment in time – especially if that sperm and egg are going to unite, go full term and become a person. Eggs are fertilized round the globe, round the clock, in every species that procreates via sex.  All of those moments are special if they create another being. For some of us, we want to protect all of those zygotes – at least human ones, for others, we want to focus on the living breathing people that have already arrived. Those that are pro-choice may believe in the sanctity of life just as much as those who are anti-abortion; they could also claim the title of “pro-life”.

It is pro-life to help moms-to-be get nutrition and health care.

It is pro-life to help mom-to-be get educated.

It is pro-life to ensure the baby has adequate nutrition and child care.

It is pro-life to see that all families are earning living wages for their work.

It is pro-life to provide education for the child.

It is pro-life to require unpolluted space to raise a family.

It is pro-life to stop war.

It is pro-life to recognize that life is much, much more than anything that could be held in a petri dish.

Anti abortion advocates work for what they believe in, we should respect that they are following their own moral code at the very least. For many of them, the struggle is a spiritual calling, which is an honorable quest. However, a heightened level of sanctimony tends to come with the “pro-life” label and it is part of why this debate is so polarizing. Pro-choice advocate are not the opposite of pro-life, far from it. Many times those same advocates also don’t like war, guns, pollution, or our grave corporate machinery. Recognize that though your idea of life – no matter which “side” of the debate you’re on – does not have a monopoly on supporting life. We need to break this frame and call anti-abortion activists exactly that – unless they want to consider the entire roster of ways our state sanctions killing. Voting “pro-life” means voting in the interest of all living humans, not just one issue.

Pro-choice could be broken down in a similar manner. Both labels, “pro-life” and “pro-choice”, are the products of marketing an idea. They are good hooks, but inaccurate. Let’s use our hearts and brains to talk to one another about these issues important to us.

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Life Begins When?

Abortion is such a polarizing issue and hard to talk about with those that disagree. Leave it to the funny people with John Stewart to add some levity while making a point. At issue is the recent bill in the Oklahoma state senate that passed declaring that life begins at conception. The implications of this bill obviously would relate to abortion and birth control laws. Most women don’t know the moment that they become pregnant, so this bill covers something happening inside of women’s bodies that a woman is likely still unaware of. Several female state lawmakers have proposed bills in response to this far reaching legislation and the imposition it means for women. In Oklahoma a bill was put forth that got some men a little miffed.

Check out the video: Bro-Choice.

Go ahead, I’ll wait (the video is not compatible with this format, so I couldn’t provide it here, but it’s really funny so take a few minutes to watch).

It is funny hearing a Republican representative making the argument for men that is made for women when talking about personal liberty and privacy. The “investigative” comedian is hilarious and gives us a chance to laugh at ourselves.

Truly the jesters are the only ones who can tell the truth, point out the obvious, and mock the stalwarts and get away with it.  One unspoken value of America is our comedy. We’ve got all varieties and a whole lot of it isn’t funny, but it takes all kinds. Laughing together, at ourselves is one link to our shared humanity. Thanks to the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, SNL, and lots of others for bringing us together for a giggle. Long live the jesters!

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Viagra and “State Rape” – Sex and Violence Still Sell

We cannot keep our collective minds off of other people’s private parts. It is strange that on the one principle both parties can agree on – a government respecting an individual’s personal privacy – yet, Republicans do want to legislate those private parts and Democrats can’t help but react. We’ve had some one-upsmanship going on in the Ohio State Legislature, and some comic relief that isn’t funny at all.

Gary Trudeau, the cartoonist for the long running comic strip, Doonesbury, has made a statement around the systematic push of the Republican party to make birth control less accessible and abortions seekers subject to unnecessary violations. He sums up the situation pretty well:

“Ninety-nine percent of American women have or will use contraception during their lifetimes. To see these healthcare rights systematically undermined in state after state by the party of ‘limited government’ is appalling.  In Texas, the sonograms are the least of it. The legislature has also defunded women’s health clinics all over the state, leaving 300,000 women without the contraceptive services that prevent abortions in the first place. Insanity.”

In Trudeau’s strip that will run in his syndicated slot this week (published today), he pushed the envelope as to what to call the latest Republican approved procedures during the already painful process of making a decision about an abortion. The U.K. Guardian article describes it: Continue reading

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Tradition (or “It’s Policy”)

Here’s the scene: you are dealing with a company of some sort and you can’t quite abide by one of their rules – let’s say you are trying to withdraw some money from your bank or return an item to the store. You are halfway through the transaction when the person behind the counter throws a monkey wrench, “I’m sorry, we can’t give cash back on Saturdays” or “we can only refund this item if you are holding the card it was purchased with”, or some other cock-a-mamie rule that ruins your flow. You do a double take, “whaaa?”, you try to be reasonable -( you only needed a ten spot to pay the girlscout for the cookies you were about to pick up), you try to negotiate terms, but no… Continue reading

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