Category Archives: women’s health

Don’t Spank Your Mother

You don’t spank your mother do you?“, the friendly man asked. I looked up and saw him grinning. He was commenting on my technique – I was learning to build a cob house. What I was doing is putting “loaves” of cob – which is just clay, sand and straw mixed up – in a course to make a wall. After you do a few, you need to step back and “massage” the wall into proper plumb and form. I had been smacking my wall trying to get it to move a little inward. The friendly voice suggested that I stop slapping at it and put more slow moving muscle into it. It’s a bit of natural building humor, but the message sticks, “Don’t spank your mother.” It reminds me a little of the Mother Nature margarine commercials of the 70s – “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

Mom Nature sees through the rug we’ve been sweeping our garbage under. Continue reading

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NC Fracking – Legal by Mistake

If fracking is harmless to water, perhaps we should make coffee with the chemical concoction that is injected into the earth and serve it at the RNC, they shouldn’t object – according to them the chemicals are harmless.

Another case of “gotcha” politics has played out in the North Carolina legislature. In a late night vote that “took her by surprise”, a veteran Democratic lawmaker, Becky Carney of Charlotte, accidentally gave Republicans the vote they needed to override the Governor’s veto of fracking legislation. Even though seconds after Congresswoman Carney pushed the incorrect button, she attempted frantically to change her vote to the one of her true intention, House Speaker Thom Tillis would not recognize the legislator’s requests for recognition and a switch of the vote – something typically granted by leadership when a request is made. Tillis says he is “comfortable” with the process, according to the N&O article on the late night vote.

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Boon for Biz: Healthcare Mandate Upheld

“Chief Justice Roberts sides with the left”   says the liveblog of the SCOTUS from HuffingtonPost. They’ve upheld the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. It is being treated as a tax by the courts – that is the interpretation. There is a provision of a sort of state’s rights caveat, but conservatives may be disappointed and shocked, especially with Roberts. What is being parsed here is one of the factions of the conservative movement.

The Official Opinion on the ACA Act:http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf

“The Left” liked the mandate because they are empathetic to all, Roberts liked it – more likely – because it goes a long way in marrying private interests with government requirements in which the values responsible are questionable.

The values of the ACA supporters are up for debate, but the values behind for profit health care are not. If the legislature and court are going to uphold the idea that the government can tax and require Americans to buy a product or service, the least they could do is insure that service has Americans best interest in mind – not theirs. This decision is a victory for empathy among the people but also for Big Business related to the the health care industry. It’s a blow for individual choice but a victory for a sense of a shared human (American) condition.

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Let Them Eat Cake – After They Mow

Severe scarcity is a harsh reality for more and more Americans. The stories from the depression don’t seem so far away anymore. Folks without healthcare have been coping without – and suffering the lack of care. Jobs available, if they can be attained, are often in very low paying positions with tough physical demands and no health insurance. Someone with a known health condition has to be very careful about the balance of exhaustion/physical ailments and the cost of attending to those ailments while trying to keep the job. It is a vicious cruel cycle that did not happen by accident, it is all part of the Republican plan to disempower American workers so that they will grovel and beg to simply keep their families alive. Mitt Romney is a big fan of this sort of slash and burn method that leaves workers jobless and on the edge of survival.

Denise Morrison, a resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma is one of these Americans. She has health conditions and has been unemployed. In order to eat and have some medicine, she planted her yard full of edible plants. She read the rules governing the shape of a yard and followed them – anything over 12″ high must be edible – every plant is producing something edible (more on lawns in a bit). For those international readers that aren’t familiar with the lawn police, in America, if the city or neighborhood does not like how tall you’ve allowed the grass to grow around your house, you can be fined and the local govt. may decide to cut your lawn for you then send you a (ridiculously expensive) bill. Denise checked the rules before she bought the house, and then proceeded to create an edible garden all the way around the property including medicinal plants for her health issues, produce, fruit and nut trees, herbs for cooking. She had over 100 varieties of plants she was using. Denise’s story and video is here.

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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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