Hot Button Issue: Women’s Reproductive Rights. Part 4: The Social Benefits of Abortion and Contraception.

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PART 4: THE SOCIAL BENEFITS OF ABORTION AND CONTRACEPTION.

Before the legalization of abortions in 1973, it was estimated that there were approximately 800,000 illegal abortions a year. (Guttmacher Institute Jan/Feb. 2004).

Abortion pre Roe

 

That’s proof right there that criminalizing abortion will not STOP abortion. It simply drives it underground. On the other hand, legalization has created many positive options for unwanted pregnancies:

1) The average gestation period for abortions has dropped. In 1970, 1 in 4 abortions were performed at 13 weeks or later. 10 years later, that number had dropped to 1 in 10. More than half of the women obtaining abortions after 1980 did so at 8 weeks gestation or earlier (Guttmacher – same report).   Abortions are a fact of life in every human society, regardless of their laws and customs.  So, can all the “Pro”-Groups, at the very least, agree on encouraging and supporting abortion as earlier in the pregnancy as possible?

Abortion gestation chart

 

Guttmacher Institute

 

2) Early legal abortions were typically done in a hospital. But since the 1980’s those procedures were more commonly offered at Woman’s Reproductive Health Clinics that in addition to abortion, also provide women with family planning services, support networks, contraceptive counseling, routine out-patient gynecological exams, sterilization procedures and infertility testing. Closing such health clinics robs women of access to all important reproductive health services.

3) Deaths and complications from illegal abortions dropped dramatically after Roe vs. Wade. Abortion today is one of the safest medical procedures performed. (stat here?). Remember, making abortions illegal again won’t stop abortions – it will just drive them underground where they will become more dangerous and fatal. Legalization has also encouraged extensive research to find better, safer and more affordable procedures and birth control methods.

Abortion mother fatality rate

 

Guttmacher Institute

 

A 1999 Harvard University study reported these additional long-term social benefits:

“The sharp rise in legal abortions from fewer than 750,000 in 1973 to a plateau of around 1.5 million a year since the early 1980’s fits with the timing of the drop in national crime rates since 1991. The cumulative effect from abortions 15 to 25 years earlier can also explain why the national crime rate continued to fall through 1998 and is projected to keep falling for a further 10 to 20 years.”

“….New York and California legalized abortion by 1970, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973. As the theory implies, the early legalizers experienced falling crime rates sooner than the rest of the country. Finally, abortion rates responded to the legalization differently across states, and those with the highest rates of abortion in the 1970’s experienced the sharpest drops in crime in the 1990’s.

Read the full article at: https://scholar.harvard.edu/barro/files/99_0927_crimerate_bw.pdf

Just a shout out to the Jeff Sessions and Rudy Giuliani-types: legal, safe, effective, affordable abortions seem to have had a much greater effect on lowering the crime rate than your “stop and frisk”, “three strikes”, and mandatory minimum sentencing programs. Something we should all be talking about.

Violent-Crime-Rate-Chart1

If that’s not enough, there is one more big long-term social benefit. Overpopulation is one of human civilization’s greatest threats. At this current moment, we are failing to supply about 1/3 of the world’s population with the very basic necessities of life: adequate food, clean water, medical care and adequate shelter. By 2050, with an estimated world population approaching 10 billion, that shortfall will affect roughly 50% of all humans! (UN study, get specific reference). How can we maintain a stable society when half of all people don’t have access to the basic necessities of daily life? We simply cannot sustain our current quality of life without fundamentally changing the way we live.

Energy consumption by country

Americans are a huge part of the problem. Per capita, Americans consume 4 times as much of the world’s natural resources as British or French citizens. When compared to Chinese or Indians, average American consumption is 10-12 times higher. Americans devour 20 times more natural resources per capita than people in Brazil or Egypt or Pakistan. And compared to some of the poorest sub-Saharan African countries, American per capita consumption can range from 50 to 100 times higher.

Energy usage per capita

From a global perspective, we Americans are gluttonous, greedy pigs. Even though our birth rates are relatively low, it’s our massive appetite for Earth’s resources that makes  us such a danger to our species’ quality of life.

If we had any kind of conscience and compassion for our brothers and sisters around the world we would, and should, rethink, redesign and re-engineer all products, packaging, delivery systems and energy consumption currently in use. Unfortunately, that will likely take decades, if it happens at all.

In the meantime, the very last thing we should encourage is the gestation and birth of unwanted children. Such an attitude is bound in an ancient, outdated belief that humans have an obligation to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28, 9:7).  That seemed like a good idea thousands of years ago when there were under 50 million humans on this planet. Unfortunately, Western monotheisms continue to preach and defend this doctrine up to this very day.

Over Population be fruitful

We humans have been too fruitful and have multiplied into a ravenous swarm of billions that we cannot sustain. Like a virus that multiplies too successfully and kills its host. Earth is our host and out-of-control human population is killing our only habitat.

As urgently as we need this change of consciousness, it should be implemented voluntarily.  Smart governments will not impose mandatory sterilizations or one-child policies, nor should governments force women to remain pregnant and deliver children against their will. Instead we can dramatically reduce the number of abortions by providing women (and their spouses, baby-daddies and doctors) with the best possible health care and a broad range of prevention and pregnancy options which includes safe, effective abortion procedures.  Given those options, women will overwhelmingly make the right choices for their lives and future.  We must support that.

If we were to make abortions illegal again in this country (or with only an exception to save the mother’s life) we would join the company of the following nations:

Nicaragua                             Egypt
Venezuela                             Iran
El Salvador                           Lebanon
Haiti                                       Libya
Angola                                   Sudan
Chad                                       Syria
Nigeria                                  Yemen
Somalia                                 Indonesia
Uganda                                  Philippines
Afghanistan                          Ireland

Or, we can adopt sane and sensible abortion laws with viability restrictions, proper education, safe medical facilities and procedures like the following countries:

England                                 Italy
France                                   Spain
Germany                              Portugal
The Netherlands                 Israel
Belgium                                Greece
Norway                                 Japan
Sweden                                 Iceland
Finland                                 Canada
Denmark                              Switzerland

With whom shall we cast our lot? Countries run by tyrants, dictators, autocrats and religious fanatics (except Ireland where they will be voting on a constitutional referendum to liberalize abortion laws in May ‘18) or democratic countries that lead the world in per capita income and quality of life?

When will the United States take responsibility for consuming the lion’s share of the world’s resources? If we are going to be respected as the “Leaders of the Free World” then we must act like leaders and LEAD. We must be the role models. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard.

That means not emulating dictatorships and theocracies. That means having the best health care systems in the world that includes contraception, prenatal education and care, lowering our infant mortality rates, and as a last resort option, providing safe, effective and inexpensive abortions. It also means having the best adoption and foster care system in the world; ending child homelessness, malnutrition and providing health care for all children.

We cannot randomly, carelessly or thoughtlessly bring unwanted children into a country where they will consume 4 to 100 times more resources than children in other countries. Nor should we bring them into a country with a woefully under-funded, under-staffed adoption and foster care system.

Our priority must be for living children – for the 400,000 in foster care, the 20,000 a year that age out of foster care without a permanent family, the 2.5 million homeless children, the countless millions more without health care, and the untold number of children that are abused. Let us put all of our energies into solving their problems first instead of shaming, scaring and obstructing pregnant women.

Can we temporarily drop these unwinnable Abortion Wars and instead try working together to make our world healthier, safer, happier and more caring for our living children?  Politicians won’t like us working together — because they can manipulate us much more easily by dividing us and making us fear one another.   But together we can reduce the number of abortions, reduce infant mortality, give mothers and their children better healthcare and improve conditions for parentless children.

Let’s drop the polarizing rhetoric of “Life” and “Choice” and find the common ground. We’re all Pro-Child and Pro-Mother right?

END THE ABORTION WARS. 

PROTECT AND SUPPORT OUR LIVING CHILDREN & MOTHERS.

 

COMING SOON:  PART 5:  CONCLUSIONS AND SOLUTIONS TO THE REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS HOT BUTTON ISSUE.

 

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Hot Button Issue: Women’s Reproductive Rights. Part 3: The Anti-Choice Arguments and A Response.

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The Anti-Choice Movement has three fundamental objections to contraceptives and abortion:

1) Abortion and some contraceptives are murder. And using preventative contraception (like birth control pills/patch, diaphragms, and IUD’s) are violations of God’s law because they permit sex for recreational purposes, not child-bearing. The unwanted “babies” are then murdered in the womb.

2) Abortion and contraception allows people (women mostly) to avoid personal responsibility. This is the “It’s A Child, Not A Choice” argument. If you had unprotected sex (or even if your contraception failed) and you become pregnant, then it’s your (the woman’s) responsibility to carry that child to term, raise it if you have the means or put it up for adoption. Abortion is “the easy way out” and allows a woman to avoid taking responsibility for her actions.

Abortion -- its a child not a choice

3) At the very least, abortions and contraception should in no way be funded by federal tax dollars because that would violate the religious beliefs of Anti-Choice taxpayers.

All three are poignant arguments and therefore they should be addressed individually.

Response to #1):  Abortion and contraception are NOT murder (*see list of countries below where it is illegal – not exactly an “A” list of advanced democracies). Nowhere in our legal code does it say otherwise. Anti-Choicers may want it to be legally classified as murder, but as of the last time I checked, it’s not. Calling it murder is simply imposing your personal beliefs on a matter that has already been legally and frankly, politically decided. Your Anti-Choice position however clearly violates the private, individual rights of all women. We are not moved by your arguments about Scripture, God’s word or religious belief.  That may define who you are, but for the rest of us, it has no bearing on the issue whatsoever.

More generally, in what society or culture has a fetus ever been legally regarded as a separate, individual member? None that I’m aware of. (With the exception of a criminal act upon a pregnant women resulting in the death of the fetus.  But the death of a fetus without the mother’s consent is an entirely separate issue.)

Infant mortality rates US

In fact, many ancient cultures, where infant mortality rates where 2000-5000 times higher than today, had a completely opposite view: they didn’t even name a child until it reached 2-3 years old! Why jinx a name on a child that has a 20-50% chance of dying before it reached a certain age? In America today, where in the census are unborn children counted? When are most children named? When are children given a birth certificate and a Social Security number? Regardless of what it is called in the womb up to viability (blastocyst, zygote, fetus or baby) only after birth, does it become an independent person in the eyes of law.

If we were to make abortions illegal again in this country (or with only an exception to save the mother’s life) we would join the company of the following nations:

Nicaragua                        Egypt
Venezuela                        Iran
El Salvador                      Lebanon
Haiti                                  Libya
Angola                              Sudan
Chad                                 Syria
Nigeria                             Yemen
Somalia                            Indonesia
Uganda                            Philippines
Afghanistan                    Ireland*

*Ireland is currently working on liberalizing their abortion laws.  Stay tuned.

Response to #2):  Automatically saying that a woman is avoiding ‘personal responsibility’ by using contraception or having an abortion is not only a cheap shot and grotesquely ignorant but sexist as well. Anti-Choicers have no clue why any individual woman chooses to use contraception or have an abortion. Nor do most of them (men) have any idea of the emotional stress and trauma of carrying a child to term and then giving it away. And frankly it’s none of their f…ing business. Might some women use abortion as de facto birth control? Yes, but I have seen no statistics that suggest this is a common practice. Even in such rare cases, many of those women may lack access to health facilities and contraception.

What is to be done in the case of rape, incest or medical conditions that effect the life of the pregnant mother? Do you honestly believe in forcing a rape victim to carry the fetus to term? What does that have to do with ‘personal responsibility’? Same with forcing a woman to deliver a child that may result in the mother’s death or disability? These are the most highly personal decisions anyone can make. And you believe the Government should make that decision for the pregnant mother? Sorry, not in a free society.

But even in more normal, healthy pregnancies, how can we possibly justify allowing the Government (largely controlled I might add, by older white men) to take away the very right a woman has to her own body, to her own life, to her own future?

Abortion and men

Anti-Choicers tend to lean Conservative on many other voting issues. One of the hallmarks of Conservatism is limited government interference in people’s lives. EXCEPT WHEN IT PERTAINS TO WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS! Oh no, when it comes to that, Anti-Choice Conservatives want MORE GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE. In fact, many of them want the government to make abortion and contraception ILLEGAL, period, no exceptions.  Hypocrisy anyone?  “Don’t touch my money, my land or my gun but the government can go ahead and take control of all ovaries and uteruses”.

For a moment let’s consider what would happen if abortion and contraception became illegal in the U.S. The first thing you must understand is that ABORTIONS WON’T STOP. Sure, the number of abortions will appear to drop, in part because if they’re illegal, then no one will report them. But I guarantee you there will still be hundreds of thousands of abortions every year.

What would we do with women and doctors that have participated in an abortion? Arrest them? Put them in prison? “Yes”, you say? “Should have thought about that before you got knocked-up”, you retort? What if those women have other young children? What if they are single moms? And what’s the punishment? If you say terminating a pregnancy is murder, then these women and doctors should get life in prison? The death penalty? How can you justify putting hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding, tax-paying, child-rearing women in prison or to death for making an extremely difficult decision concerning their own bodies? Prison populations will explode.  Our foster care and adoption systems will be completely overwhelmed.  Rates of abandon, homeless and malnourished children will sky-rocket.   Crime rates will go up.  You will have a revolution on your hands. There will be blood in the streets.  And abortions will still continue.  This is not a sane, pragmatic solution.

Abortion for men

Response to #3):  I understand the religious objection to having tax dollars pay for abortions and contraception. I had moral objections to the Iraq War. I didn’t want my tax dollars going to fund that fiasco. Did I get an exemption or have a law passed saying my taxes won’t go to pay for the War? No. Second, funding women’s health programs and pre-natal care, encouraging healthy lifestyles, educating and empowering women, especially for financially struggling women, has a positive long-term effect on our entire society.  We should willingly allow a reasonable amount of our taxes go to funding such programs.  But Religionists are constantly claiming that all sorts of activities and beliefs violate their “religious liberties”: gay marriage, legal marijuana, inter-racial marriage, pornography, nudity, video games, transgenderism, science textbooks, evolution, not being able to put your Creche in the town square. We understand you disapprove of many of these issues, but their existence in no way prevents you from worshipping your God or practicing your religion! So please, can you let the rest of us exercise our non-religious liberties?

Abortion -- dont like abortions, dont have one

If abortion and contraception remain legal no individual* has to give up any existing rights. Anti-Choicers are not required or mandated to have an abortion or use contraception.

(*And no, I don’t consider a blastocyst, zygote or a pre-viable fetus to be an “individual”. Neither do our laws or the laws of most advanced democracies.)

If abortion and contraception become illegal, hundreds of millions of current and future women lose the obvious right to make their own decisions about their body, their life and their future.  Denying  those rights is autocratic and authoritarian.  It smacks of the kind of heavy-handed theocracy that most Conservatives find so distasteful about certain Islamic countries.   How ironic, those are the very nations we would emulate by making abortion and contraception illegal.

We can compromise on reasonable restrictions and even exemptions, but abortions and contraception must be remain legal. As a free and democratic nation we cannot severely restrict or deny the entire female population of our country the rights of reproductive freedom, regardless of what anyone’s religious or moral beliefs may be. If we do, we are no longer free or democratic. Your definitions of “life”, “murder”, “viability”, “child”, “individual rights” and “privacy” are simply different than ours. That’s why we have laws to sort these things out. It simply comes down to how we, as a society, protect the rights of the largest number of people possible. Living, breathing, out-of-the-womb people.

Abortion my uterus

COMING SOON:  PART 4:  THE SOCIAL BENEFITS OF ABORTION AND CONTRACEPTION.

 

Hot Button Issue: Women’s Reproductive Rights: PART 2: ALTERNATIVES TO ABORTION: FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION

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Adoption by the numbers

To Anti-Choice America, the alternative to abortion is to carry the fetus to term and either keep it or put it up for adoption. For many women, keeping the child after birth is not a realistic option. It isn’t (and shouldn’t be) necessary to spell out the hundreds of situations in which a pregnant woman may find herself where keeping the child would not be a good thing – either for her or the child or perhaps other family members. We don’t live in a perfect world and babies sometime happen unintentionally.

Adoption is a viable and crucially important option. If your newborn is healthy and white, finding adoptive parents may not be that difficult. But if your newborn is not healthy and/or not white, adoption is simply not the answer for every pregnancy. In fact, in some cases, adoption causes its own set of problems.

 

Here are some brutal facts about adoption:

— On any given day, roughly 428,000 children live in foster care in the U.S.
— On average children spend two years in foster care.
— The average age of foster care children is 9 years old.
— In 2015 more than one half of the children entering foster care were children of color
— In 2015 around 20,000 children aged out of foster care without permanent families.
(above statistics from childrensrights.org)
— In 2014, the National Center on Family Homelessness estimated there were 2.5 million homeless children in the U.S. (www.air.org).

Foster Care statistics    Foster Care Waiting Times

So yes, adoption is important. But it hardly solves the larger problem of unwanted children. On top of this, U.S. foster care programs are seriously underfunded (thanks in part to legislators that are also Anti-Choice – a horrible hypocrisy that will be discussed later).

Adoption creates additional issues all on its own. A report from the Institute for Family Studies in 2015 showed that:

“At the start of kindergarten, about one in four adopted children has a diagnosed disability, twice the rate of children being raised by both biological parents. Adopted children were significantly likelier than birth children to have behavior and learning problems; teachers reported they were worse at paying attention in class, and less able to persevere on difficult tasks.”
“…by eighth grade, fully half of adopted children have diagnosed disabilities. One third have received an out-of-school suspension by the end of that school year, compared to 10 percent of children living with both biological parents. And adopted students performed significantly below average on reading, math, and science assessment tests.”

I was unable to find any statistics about how adoptive parents handle the disabilities of their children. But suffice it to say that the more severe the disability, the greater the challenge it is for the parents.

Foster Care exit statistics

Notice in the chart above how in just 11 years the number of foster kids reunited with parents or primary caretakers has dropped 9%.  The number of adoptions has gone up 5%, the number of emancipations (children that aged out of the system without a permanent family) has gone up 4%.  These are not encouraging numbers.  And with all these children desperately in need of loving homes, there are some states that have passed laws that actually prevent some parents from adopting at all!

Foster Care discrimination

While it is safe to say that many children are adopted by caring, nurturing, loving and financially secure parents; many are not. If you take the disability statistics above and factor in less-than-perfect adoptive parents, many adopted children are getting a disadvantage double dose. I’m not suggesting that they’d be better off without parents; but we know that poor parenting is the cause of many childhood problems.

In the debate about women’s reproductive choices, adoption must play a critical role. But in order for it to be maximally effective, our adoption/foster care system needs a massive upgrade and an infusion of generous financing which must include healthy, viable programs to relieve child homelessness, poor nutrition and lack of medical care. Anti-Choice legislators have consistently and persistently voted against such programs and funding for 40+ years. Even with all of that, adoption is simply not a cure-all for many unintentional pregnancies.

Frankly, we as a country have failed to build such a network. If we’re not going to step up and make that a reality, then forcing women to birth unwanted babies is not only cruel but it’s a social disaster of unimaginable proportions. Or as the comedian George Carlin famously described the Anti-Choice mentality: “When you’re pre-born you’re fine. When you’re pre-school, you’re fucked!”

 

Coming soon:  Part 3  The Anti-Choice Arguments and A Response.

 

Hot Button Issue: Women’s Reproductive Rights: PART 2: ALTERNATIVES TO ABORTION: FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION

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Adoption by the numbers

To Anti-Choice America, the alternative to abortion is to carry the fetus to term and either keep it or put it up for adoption. For many women, keeping the child after birth is not a realistic option. It isn’t (and shouldn’t be) necessary to spell out the hundreds of situations in which a pregnant woman may find herself where keeping the child would not be a good thing – either for her or the child or perhaps other family members. We don’t live in a perfect world and babies sometime happen unintentionally.

Adoption is a viable and crucially important option. If your newborn is healthy and white, finding adoptive parents may not be that difficult. But if your newborn is not healthy and/or not white, adoption is simply not the answer for every pregnancy. In fact, in some cases, adoption causes its own set of problems.

 

Here are some brutal facts about adoption:

— On any given day, roughly 428,000 children live in foster care in the U.S.
— On average children spend two years in foster care.
— The average age of foster care children is 9 years old.
— In 2015 more than one half of the children entering foster care were children of color
— In 2015 around 20,000 children aged out of foster care without permanent families.
(above statistics from childrensrights.org)
— In 2014, the National Center on Family Homelessness estimated there were 2.5 million homeless children in the U.S. (www.air.org).

Foster Care statistics    Foster Care Waiting Times

So yes, adoption is important. But it hardly solves the larger problem of unwanted children. On top of this, U.S. foster care programs are seriously underfunded (thanks in part to legislators that are also Anti-Choice – a horrible hypocrisy that will be discussed later).

Adoption creates additional issues all on its own. A report from the Institute for Family Studies in 2015 showed that:

“At the start of kindergarten, about one in four adopted children has a diagnosed disability, twice the rate of children being raised by both biological parents. Adopted children were significantly likelier than birth children to have behavior and learning problems; teachers reported they were worse at paying attention in class, and less able to persevere on difficult tasks.”
“…by eighth grade, fully half of adopted children have diagnosed disabilities. One third have received an out-of-school suspension by the end of that school year, compared to 10 percent of children living with both biological parents. And adopted students performed significantly below average on reading, math, and science assessment tests.”

I was unable to find any statistics about how adoptive parents handle the disabilities of their children. But suffice it to say that the more severe the disability, the greater the challenge it is for the parents.

Foster Care exit statistics

Notice in the chart above how in just 11 years the number of foster kids reunited with parents or primary caretakers has dropped 9%.  The number of adoptions has gone up 5%, the number of emancipations (children that aged out of the system without a permanent family) has gone up 4%.  These are not encouraging numbers.  And with all these children desperately in need of loving homes, there are some states that have passed laws that actually prevent some parents from adopting at all!

Foster Care discrimination

While it is safe to say that many children are adopted by caring, nurturing, loving and financially secure parents; many are not. If you take the disability statistics above and factor in less-than-perfect adoptive parents, many adopted children are getting a disadvantage double dose. I’m not suggesting that they’d be better off without parents; but we know that poor parenting is the cause of many childhood problems.

In the debate about women’s reproductive choices, adoption must play a critical role. But in order for it to be maximally effective, our adoption/foster care system needs a massive upgrade and an infusion of generous financing which must include healthy, viable programs to relieve child homelessness, poor nutrition and lack of medical care. Anti-Choice legislators have consistently and persistently voted against such programs and funding for 40+ years. Even with all of that, adoption is simply not a cure-all for many unintentional pregnancies.

Frankly, we as a country have failed to build such a network. If we’re not going to step up and make that a reality, then forcing women to birth unwanted babies is not only cruel but it’s a social disaster of unimaginable proportions. Or as the comedian George Carlin famously described the Anti-Choice mentality: “When you’re pre-born you’re fine. When you’re pre-school, you’re fucked!”

 

Coming soon:  Part 3  The Anti-Choice Arguments and A Response.

 

HOT BUTTON ISSUE: WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: PART 1: ABORTION, A HISTORICAL CONTEXT.

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Abortion -- the debate

The abortion/contraceptive/reproduction rights issue has raged for 45 years. It’s time to put down our torches and pitchforks, establish a sane, pragmatic approach to this problem and focus our attentions, money and energy on more pressing problems facing our country.

The abortion question comes down to this: Should it be legal for a woman to terminate her pregnancy, within certain time constraints, or not? Or phrased another way, should federal or state governments be able to restrict a woman’s pregnancy options, and if so, how much?

First let’s establish one crucial point. Abortion, pregnancy termination and contraception is as ageless as sex itself. Every piece of historical evidence reveals that women have been trying to control their pregnancy options for as long as they have been getting pregnant.

References to abortion and contraception methods date back as far as 1550 BCE in the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus (Wikipedia) and those references continue consistently through history such as an 8th century Sanskrit text to “sit over a pot of steam or stewed onions” or to use massage/pressure techniques to induce abortions found on bas reliefs at Angor Wat in Cambodia from 1150 CE.

Midwives from past eras have prescribed herbal remedies as contraceptives and abortifacients (drugs that cause abortions): silphium, rue, birthwort, pennyroyal, hellebore, Italian catnip, savory, sage, soapwort, cyperus, brewer’s yeast, tansy, rubia tinctorum (madder), savin, Spanish fly, opium, watercress, iron sulfate, iron chloride, worm fern, the saliva of camels and crushed ants have been tried to varying degrees of success and danger.

In more desperate situations, women have been forced to undergo primitive surgical procedures involving bloodletting, perforation of the uterus with sharp objects such as annular blades, copper spikes and blunted or covered hooks for extraction. Another prescribed method was having pregnant women jump up and down while kicking themselves in the vaginal area each time.

Abortions -- ancient tools

Even the Bible describes an abortion procedure in Numbers 5:19-21 as a test for a pregnant married woman’s fidelity:

“Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the LORD cause you to become a curse[d] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

From this Biblical verse, one could reasonably imply that the LORD permits abortions (or intentional miscarriages) for a woman who becomes pregnant by an adulterous act. If so, that legitimizes about 80-90% of all abortions today! Author Sam Harris writes in “Letter to a Christian Nation”: “It has been estimated that 50 per cent of all human conceptions end in spontaneous abortion, usually without a woman even realizing that she was pregnant. In fact, 20 percent of all recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. There is an obvious truth here that cries out for acknowledgment: if God exists, He is the most prolific abortionist of all.”

The truth is, through modern science (not God) we have made birthing babies infinitely safer and more successful today than ever before. A much higher percentage of babies and mothers are surviving birth. The number of abortions performed every year is only a fraction of babies that died from natural causes or complications at birth than they did less than 100 years ago.

Human history clearly indicates that where there is sex, there will be abortions. In a perfect world, where every pregnancy is between two loving, married parents and where every new baby is brought into a caring, nurturing, financially secure household, there would be no need for abortion. But unfortunately we don’t live in that kind of world.

 

Watch this blog for PART 2: ABORTION ALTERNATIVES: FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION. Coming soon……

Don The Destroyer — Because destruction is easy and leaves more time for golf!

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Trump the Destroyer                                                   (Picture credit: knowyourmeme.com)

It’s so much easier to destroy than construct. It’s easier to rescind than create. It’s easier to repeal than replace. Criticism and ridicule is simple compared to governing or managing with efficiency, effectiveness and fairness.

Donald Trump is just the kind of lazy, vengeful fuck whose main mission as President has been to destroy shit, no matter what its merit. He doesn’t care. If it pleases him or his billionaire boys club or his base, it doesn’t matter who gets hurt or what the consequences are. And if it originated with Obama or the Democrats, it is automatically bad and needs to be destroyed.

Trump has been in office for over a year. He has built or created nothing new. Instead he has destroyed lives, beneficial government programs and protections for needy Americans. All Hail the Destroyer!

TRUMP IS HELPING TO DESTROY OUR ENVIRONMENT:

Coal Mining Pollution

He made it legal again to dump toxic coal waste in nearby steams and ponds (left).

He rescinded Obama-era regulations on oil companies that protect against another BP/Gulf of Mexico type oil spill and required oil companies to establish a fund to help clean up future spills.

Under Trump the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has eliminated the Clean Power Act which was designed to force coal and natural gas fired power plants to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions 32% by 2032 (NY Times 10/17).

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement which was the product of years of work by people around the globe, and agreed to by 193 nations in 2015. It is unquestionably the most important climate agreement in history and we Americans are now officially outliers.

Don the Destroyer (“climate change is a Chinese hoax”), said he would negotiate a ‘much better’ deal”. He hasn’t. In fact, he hasn’t said a word about a new deal since the withdrawal. Because withdrawing is much easier than leading.

TRUMP HAS PARTIALLY DISMANTLED AND SOWN CONFUSION IN AMERICA’S HEALTH CARE SYSTEM:

The Affordable Care Act has provided health insurance coverage to 20 million previously uninsured Americans. The percentage of uninsured Americans which hovered between 16-18% for decades has since dropped to below 10%. That’s a good policy that could have been improved upon by a willing Administration.

But Republicans ran on “Repeal and Replace”. And when it came time to replace, their plan was infinitely worse than the ACA. So Don the Destroyer could only weaken the program by reducing funding, limiting sign up periods and dropping the individual mandate.

As a result, during Trump’s first year in office, 3.2 million previously insured Americans have lost their health insurance (commondreams.org Jan. ’18) — proving that repealing a working, viable healthcare system is much easier than replacing it (with “something better”).

TRUMP HAS CRIPPLED CONSUMER PROTECTIONS:

The recession of 2008 was brought upon us by the reckless and illegal practices of a financial industry gone amok. They destroyed the wealth of tens of millions of Americans. As a result, Congress and Obama passed the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPB) to provide oversight for the predatory financial industry and prevent the abuses that caused the financial meltdown.

As of Oct. ’16 the CFPB had shown the following results in its first 5 years:
        $11.7 billion: Approximate amount of relief to consumers from CFPB supervisory and enforcement work.
$27 million: Consumers who will receive relief as a result of CFPB supervisory and enforcement work.
$573 million: Money ordered to be paid in civil penalties as a result of CFPB enforcement work.
1,000,000: Complaints CFPB has handled as of September 1, 2016
(from uspirg.com)

Smart, sensible and necessary. Many economists said the regulations didn’t go far enough to prevent another crash. But because it was legislation from Obama and a Democratic Congress, Trump had to destroy it. His administration has cut the budget, stopped prosecutions against violators, defanged the law and put one of his own henchman (Office of Budget Director Mick Mulvaney) in as interim director to make sure the Agency remains neutered.

Middle America should rest better at night knowing that Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Citi Bank and the usurious Pay Day lenders of this country can go back to manipulating markets and fucking us any way they please just like 2008.

How short are our collective attention spans?!

TRUMP HAS DESTROYED ANY GLIMMER OF FAIRNESS FROM OUR JUSTICE DEPARTMENT.

No President since Richard Nixon has so egregiously interfered with the operations and policy direction at the Department of Justice.

Trump has meddled deeply into the Russia investigation and ranted furiously that his Attorney General recused himself, which he was legally mandated to do. He has fired the FBI director because of the Russia investigation and he recently pressured the Acting Director to resign (same reason).

Trump has also taken the GOP mantra of “activist judges” (judges that make decisions that Conservatives don’t like) and doubled down to attack judges and denigrate the judicial system that block his imperial decrees.

Image:Trump and his evil elf Attorney General Jeff Sessions have reversed a 20 year policy of protecting citizens from police abuse and civil rights violations. They have frozen many of the lawsuits and consent decrees left over from the Obama administration and even suggested to police that they “not be too nice” to suspects when they are being arrested. With a wink of the eye Trump has let police know that this he is willing to turn a blind eye to abuses and civil rights violations. (Picture credit: alternativelyfacts.com)

And in another ridiculously destructive campaign, Trump and Sessions have threatened to fight the ‘budding’ legal marijuana industry, currently in 29 states. Legal marijuana is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, which has produced a rare win-win in legislative history: huge tax revenue increases and huge savings from law enforcement, judicial and incarceration costs. (See my blog  Americans Need More Marijuana for a full discussion).

But ‘liberals’ smoke pot, so Trump wants to destroy it.

TRUMP IS LITERALLY DESTROYING LIVES WITH HIS GESTAPO-LIKE TACTICS ON UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS:

The Destroyer is not just going after undocumented aliens with criminal records, he’s ordered ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to arrest any undocumented person: fathers arrested driving their children to school; successful and established business owners being arrested; and one story of ICE in a hospital waiting room to arrest an undocumented child after she was released from medical treatment. None of these people had criminal records. Most of them were law abiding tax payers who had been in the country for many years.

DACA deportations

But nothing has been as heinous and destructive as rescinding the DACA program. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program established by Obama in 2012 protected the young children of undocumented adult aliens who entered the U.S. illegally. Those children have grown up in the United States and a statistically impressive group of young people, highly educated, strong work ethic, law abiding and optimistic. These kids are American in every sense of the word. Deporting these kids to a strange country, without their families, without anything would be the cruelest act by a President since Andrew Jackson sent Native Americans on the “Trail of Tears” in 1830. Only a true Destroyer would even contemplate such a thing. Now the lives of 700,000 DACA kids hang in the balance. Cruel, barbaric and absolutely senseless.

TRUMP IS TRYING TO DESTROY THE FREE PRESS.

Free Speech quote Jefferson

Trump shows his autocratic side when he persistently degrades the American free press. No President has gone to such lengths to delegitimize the media. Every story that portrays Trump negatively is pronounced “fake news” by the Destroyer. A dangerous precedent that is common practice among aspiring dictators. In a government controlled by Republicans in every branch, mainstream media may be the only independent check on the abuses of this Presidency. And those come almost daily.

It’s particularly easy for the Destroyer to claim “fake news”. He doesn’t read anything anyway!

TRUMP IS DESTROYING THE LEGACY OF PRESIDENTIAL DIGNITY AND ETHICS.

The ethics violations of this Administration are unprecedented. Trump created more ethics controversies in his first month as President than Obama did in eight years.

Trump corrupt

Trump’s refusal to publicize his tax returns, to put unqualified, close family members in top administrative positions, his refusal to put his business assets (and Jared’s and Ivanka’s) in blind trusts, and to have key advisors who do not qualify for security clearances — are unlike the ethical standards every other modern day President. Unfortunately, our ethics rules are toothless and Trump knows it.

We will also have to beef-up enforcement of the ‘emoluments’ clause in Article 1 of the Constitution:

Emoluments Clause

The fact that the Emolument Clause has never been tested is itself a testimony to the general trustworthiness and ethical consistency of 44 past Presidents. Up until now, there has been no need to test this clause. But thanks to Don the Destroyer, there will be, and needs to be, a greater scrutiny of the law and hopefully some new legislation to clarify and fortify the Emoluments Clause.

In the future, we also may want to consider a thorough psychological exam and a CAT-scan for all presidential nominees. Oh yeah, maybe a literacy test too.

He has tarnished the very dignity of the office of the President with his incredulous support for White Supremacists in Charlotte; his false claims of felony wiretapping against the former President; his insulting attempt to comfort a war widow; his obvious fondness for thugs and dictators over our democratic allies; and his denigrations of women who have accused him of sexual predation. The list goes on endlessly. Trump is beneath the dignity of any other American President. He is a scum-bag, a scoundrel, a thug, a liar and a criminal.

TRUMP HAS FURTHER DAMAGED AMERICA BY BEING THE MOST DIVISIVE PRESIDENT IN MODERN HISTORY:

Without question, his most horrific behavior is his purposeful intent to divide this nation through outright lies and false accusations – solely for the purpose of getting himself and keeping himself elected. The path to American Greatness will never pass through a divided country. But Trump neither understands nor cares. The Republicans have been using the “Divide and Conquer” strategy for 20 years (see my blog The Successful Republican Election Strategy …..Divide And Conquer!”   Part 1 — Wedge Issues.). It has brought them political success, but it has done great harm to the fabric and foundation of our great country.

Like destruction, segregating Americans into “us and them”, “red and blue”, “good and evil”, “patriots and snowflakes” is much easier than working to build a more unified, more tolerant, more compassionate society.

Trump the babyThe Destroyer’s childish, divisive, insulting, denigrating and abusive behavior and speech have made his Presidency the most adversarial and least popular in modern history. Worse now I believe than Richard Nixon’s. Trump is a cancer upon the American Presidency. He is not a builder, a uniter, a healer, a constructor, or a mediator. He is a destroyer for two simple reasons:

1) Destruction is easier than Construction. And Trump is inherently a lazy fuck. He can get in more rounds of golf by being a Destroyer. With a short tweet, he can send the whole political world into a shitstorm.

2) The ashes of destruction are fertile ground for the birth of autocratic tyrants. Just look at the rise of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Castro, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, to name a few examples.

Trump clearly does not want “Checks and Balances” on his power. He neither knows nor cares what’s in the U.S. Constitution. The free press is an enemy to be defeated. He has no regard for American values of equality, fairness, decency or tolerance.

Don the Destroyer MUST BE STOPPED. And for the continuity of American Greatness, it needs to happen sooner rather than later. Every day he remains in the White House he destroys a little bit more of our American institutions, values and dignity.

Tuesday, November 8 must be the day of The Great Blue Wave. Every citizen hurt or sickened by the actions and policies of the Destroyer must show up at the polls. Trump is not on the ballot, but by voting OUT the obstructionist Republicans and voting IN Democrats and Independents, we can neutralize the power of the Destroyer, allow the Mueller investigation to run its course and one way or another, clear the way to remove the Destroyer from office.

In the meantime, resist, speak out, write your Congresspersons, register to vote, run for office, march, activate. Viva La Resistance American!

Vote Tues Nov 8

How a Trip to the Petrified Forest National Park Proves the Biblical Model of the World is All Wrong

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HOW A TRIP TO THE PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK
PROVES THE BIBLICAL MODEL OF THE WORLD IS ALL WRONG.

The Petrified Forest National Park (https://www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm) is located in Northeastern Arizona accessible off of Interstate 40 just east of the town of Holbrook. The Park encompasses 230 square miles of unsurpassed desert beauty along with showcasing over 200 million years of earth’s history.

There are three main features of the Park. Each, in its own way, is proof that natural history repudiates biblical ‘history’.

From the I-40 entrance, the first feature you come across is the Painted Desert.

Painted Desert

Painted Desert 3                                                                  Picture credit (above):en.wikipedia.com

The intense red soil color, locally known as the Chinle Formation, comes from sedimentary deposits that are rich in iron (hematite) and manganese (see graph below). The light gray bands were laid down by repeated episodes of volcanic activity in the region.

Colorado Plateau map

 

The entire area, known as the Colorado Plateau, which extends from the Grand Canyon to the Utah Canyonlands were created beginning about 5 million years when a massive uplift raised this area between 4,000 and 6,000 feet in elevation. Glaciers, rain and snowmelt quickly cut deep river beds in the highly erodible soil. The main drainage basin is the Colorado River.

The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest are on the southwestern edge of this uplifted area.

Picture credit: livescience.com

For you geology geeks, here is a cross-cut stratigraphy of the Petrified Forest area:

Petrified forest geology                                                                                   Picture credit:  nationalparkstraveler.org

What, you might be asking, does any of this have to do with the Bible?

The Bible would have us believe that God created the Earth roughly 6,000 years ago and the only major alteration to our planet since then was the Great Flood of Noah. *Author’s Note – the Bible doesn’t specifically state the Earth is 6,000 years old (or any age for that matter). That approximate number was calculated by numerous theologians during the Christian era, but most famously by James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh (Ireland), who in 1650, used a literal translation of the Bible to estimate that Creation took place on Oct, 23, 4004 BCE. The Church has vigorously and staunchly defended this chronology for a millennia or more.

In rebuttal, I suggest the reader start by checking the dates of the rocks of the Chinle Formation in the graph above – 201 to 228 million years old. This by itself completely shatters the notion of a “Young Earth”.

I also couldn’t help but wonder why, if God created the Painted Desert, he painted this desert and not most deserts, especially those deserts that were obviously most important to God, such as the Negev (near Jerusalem) or the Arabian Desert (around Mecca). Both of these places are considered among the holiest places on Earth.

Negev Desert                                  Arabian Desert

Those deserts are boring! No color, no paint. Just sand and gravel. Yet, these deserts are near the places where God supposedly spoke to Abraham, Moses and Muhammad. Why not spiff them up too? If any desert deserved to be made special by “painting” it, it was the Negev and the Arabian. Meanwhile, at the same time, there were people living in the Painted Desert. But they did not worship the One God of the Bible, in fact, they had no idea who He was and they still got the prettiest desert.

The second major feature of the Petrified Forest National Park are the ruins of Pueblo Culture dwellings and ceremonial centers (kivas) at Puerco Pueblo. These ruins are dated to 1250-1380 CE. Archeological evidence indicates that the area at that time was much more moist and verdant with streams that ran through the valleys. Petroglyphs left by those Native Americans show symbols of shorebirds fishing for fish and frogs. Today, the Petrified Forest Park receives less than 11 inches of rain a year on average and the only running steams are when sudden downpours create temporary “gulley washes”.

Clovis points

But the Pueblo culture, also referred to as the Anasazi, dates back to at least 100 CE and is believed to be closely related to the earliest known American culture, the Clovis culture. The Clovis culture is most readily identified by the development of advanced stone tools, in particular, distinctive arrowheads known as Clovis points. Clovis points have been found in 1500 different locations around the U.S. with the oldest dated 13,500 years ago in New Mexico and Texas, then, within a few centuries, the points show up in diverse places from Florida to Pennsylvania (Smithsonian.com).

Picture credit: insider.si.edu

What’s the ‘point’ you ask? Here was a relatively advanced established culture, living half-way around the planet from the Mesopotamian Cradle of Civilization, 9,000 years before the Biblical ‘Garden of Eden’ and the supposed first humans on Earth. How do we square the Clovis people with Adam and Eve? How did they survive the Noahan Flood?

The simple answer is the Bible was not, and could not, have been written by God. The Creator of the Universe would have known better. He would have told us that He didn’t create the first man out of mud 6,000 years ago. And that the story of Adam and Eve is quaint but false. He would have told us, with much greater accuracy, how old the Earth was, and the Universe too for that matter. He would have explained that over the billions of years of Earth’s history there had been tens of millions of different species of life and that 99% of all life He created has since become extinct. (God is Pro-Death!).

No, God didn’t write or divinely interpret the Bible. Impossible. The only author capable of producing such a flawed, contradictory, factually inaccurate piece of (mostly) fiction, are humans.

The third major feature of the Petrified Forest National Park are the Petrified Forests. There are actually fossilized remains of several ‘forested’ areas, most are many miles apart: the Blue Forest, the Jasper Forest, the Crystal Forest and the Rainbow Forest. The petrified trees that now lay broken and littered all through the southern end of the park have been age-dated to 200-225 million years ago. Once again, a date way off the Biblical charts.

But that’s not all. The most common tree found in the park is Araucarioxylon arizonicum, a coniferous tree found in low lying, swampy, tropical areas of the Triassic period that grew upwards of 9’ in diameter and 200 feet tall. Yes, I said tropical. At the time these trees lived, Arizona was a tropical region, perhaps 10-12 degrees above the equator. Due to continental drift and plate tectonics, the crustal plate carrying Arizona has drifted in a general northwesterly direction (a few millimeters a year on average) over those 200 million years to its current latitude, at the Park, of 35 degrees.

Petrified forest 1 (2)

Petrified forest original condition                                                                           Illustration credit: www2.palomar.edu

The Bible says nothing of plate tectonics. It implies a static Earth, one that doesn’t move, change or rotate. With the exception of the Great Flood and an occasional earthquake or volcanic eruption, the Biblical Earth is supposed to look, more or less, exactly the way God made it 6,000 years ago. It should not be possible then for dry, deserty, high altitude (ave. 5400’ above sea level) Arizona to have ever been a low-lying, swampy tropical forest, should it? But the facts on the ground and in the soil say otherwise.

There was no way for the human authors of the Bible to know any of this. To them, and their people, the mysteries, unknowns and unexplainables of Earth and life on Earth could only have represented the work of God. There was no other explanation. And that explanation has sufficed for thousands of years and become ingrained in the human psyche.

Modern science has produced a new model of our Earth. One that completely contradicts the Ancient/Religious/Biblical model. To best understand the Scientific Model, one needs to be literate, reasonably educated and to have skills of independent thinking that allow this new model to at least be possible. Sadly, most people still lack one or more of these skills or are afflicted with apathy or sloth. For them, it’s just so much easier and requires much less brain power to simply say God did it.

To accept the Scientific Model of the World also threatens the sanctity of Judeo-Christian-Islamic theology. As Sam Harris, author/neurosurgeon/atheist, so succinctly put it in his book “Letter to a Christian Nation”: “Either the Bible is just an ordinary book, written by mortals or it isn’t. Either Christ was divine, or he was not. If the Bible is an ordinary book, and Christ an ordinary man, the basic doctrine of Christianity (and Judaism and Islam – my addition) is false. If the Bible is an ordinary book, and Christ an ordinary man, the history of Christian theology is the story of bookish men parsing a collective delusion.” “The Bible is either the word of God, or it isn’t.”

It can’t be both. I highly recommend a visit to the Petrified Forest National Park. While you’re standing amidst 200 million year old fossilized trees, archeological remains from ancient civilizations and surrounded by the awe-inspiring vistas of the Painted Desert; try to reckon with yourself, Is the Bible the word of God or isn’t it?