Thursday, October 1, 2015

It's my Grand Old Party and I'll lie if I want to (even if it leads to terrorism)

The claim that abortion is baby-murder hasn't worked.

More Americans are now pro-choice than pro-life. Most Americans also support the federal government continuing to fund Planned Parenthood, knowing that some Planned Parenthood clinics provide abortions. There could be many reasons for that.

Maybe they know that abortions are only 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides, and that most of its work is actually about providing contraception, STI testing, pap smears, breast exams, etc., and they think that these benefits for the entire country are worth it.

Maybe they know that because of the Hyde Amendment, it's illegal to use federal funding for abortions except for circumstances involving incest, rape, and/or saving the life of the woman, so concluding that funding Planned Parenthood = funding abortions is a non-starter.

Maybe they think it's great that Planned Parenthood provides even a small number of abortions and find the Hyde Amendment an unnecessary impediment standing in the way of providing a costly procedure for frequently low-income patients.

But whatever the reason, it apparently has convinced conservative-leaning America to step up its game when it comes to the attack on women's' reproductive rights.  Now it's not just about right-wing talk show hosts lying that abortion kills babies.

Now it's about GOP presidential candidates lying that Planned Parenthood solicits ignorant women to get abortions so that it may profit off the sale of the "babies'" organs. Now it's about those candidates swearing up and down during a debate to have witnessed video of one of these aborted babies with a beating heart, kicking its legs while a Planned Parenthood employee off camera talks about keeping it alive so that they can harvest its brain.

Never mind that it wasn't a video from Planned Parenthood. Never mind that there's no voice talking about keeping it alive and harvesting its brain. Never mind that it probably wasn't even from an abortion, but rather a miscarriage.

No, let's vote to freeze federal funding for an organization that prevents 516,000 unplanned pregnancies a year.
Let's launch inquiries in multiple red states into Planned Parenthood's practices in an effort to defund it on a local level.
Let's call Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards into a hearing before Congress and interrupt her testimony repeatedly, cutting her off forty-four times as she tries to speak.

It makes me think of this cartoon that Barry Deutsch drew after the murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, committed by anti-abortion terrorist Scott Roeder:

Only now, the man screaming accusations stands for the entire Republican party, including its presidential candidates.

And the acts of terrorism include:
Guess what, GOP? This is what you've created.

I wish I could believe it was unintentional.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Conservative fantasy vs. reality, pt. 3

I took the "most likely" out, because this is just reality.

Dan Lietha's comic about Planned Parenthood:

My response:

The facts:
  • Planned Parenthood services help prevent approximately 516,000 unintended pregnancies each year.
  • Planned Parenthood provides nearly 400,000 Pap tests and nearly 500,000 breast exams each year, critical services in detecting cancer.
  • Planned Parenthood provides nearly 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including 700,00 HIV tests.
  • Three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services.
This means, I would point out, that Planned Parenthood prevents far, far more abortions than it helps to provide, by preventing so many unwanted pregnancies. But I would also point out that there is no number of abortions that counts as "too many." Abortion should be safe, legal, and accessible. It's just so sad, so devastatingly sad, for people to think that they're curbing unwanted pregnancies by cutting funding to Planned Parenthood. They are not.

I often wonder if people who rail against Planned Parenthood-- overwhelmingly male-- have ever set foot in one. Have they ever discussed their services, and the experience of receiving them, with a girlfriend, wife, sister, mother, or female friend?

I've been to Planned Parenthood many times, in Texas and then in Kansas. I spent a long time without health insurance, and that was the best and easiest way to get the care that I needed. Every woman over 25 should receive a cervical cancer screening, or pap smear, once a year-- they're commonly called a "yearly" for a reason.

Along with a yearly exam you get your blood pressure taken, an STD test if you elect to have one, and a consultation with a doctor about birth control options. Depending on the services offered by the Planned Parenthood you visit, you can walk out with either the birth control itself (priced based on a sliding scale, depending on income) or a referral for where to get it.

I'm watching the second GOP debate while writing this. I'm honestly convinced that no Republican candidate for president gives a damn about any of this. I find it quite easy to believe, in fact, that they don't care about female reproductive health needs at all, except when it comes to persuading women to have babies.

We are not baby machines.
We are equal.
We deserve autonomy.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Rearranged pond scum

I decided to go for a reductio ad absurdum this time.

This cartoon has an identified author/artist-- hooray! Dan Lietha does the CreationWise cartoon for Answers in Genesis, and that link and his Facebook page both have treasure troves of fatuous nonsense in comic form.

It's a common trope of evangelical glurge to portray atheists as ignorant. Usually the portrayal is that atheists are ignorant of Christianity and the Bible, because it's simply impossible that a person could know anything about those and yet not be a Christian. There is no such thing as an informed rejection of the Truth (note: heavy sarcasm in use here).

But in this cartoon, the atheists-- who apparently are synonymous with evolutionists, because all atheists subscribe to evolutionary theory, and all people who subscribe to evolutionary theory are atheists (!)-- are ignorant of their own ideology. And not only that, but they're so ignorant of their own ideology that a school child who has just learned of it is able to point out an implication they'd never considered.

That implication is, of course, that if you evolve from pond scum (which is not actually what evolutionary theory says, but in the interests of time we'll gloss over that for now), all you are is just "rearranged pond scum," and therefore morality is meaningless and pointless. Genetic fallacy be damned, apparently.

Which is just a weird thing to conclude, because umm.....don't creationists believe we came from dirt?
Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
But apart from that, and more importantly, who cares what we're made of?

If you were to construct a person out of silly putty, and that person had thoughts and feelings just like you do, it would be incumbent on you to treat that person morally. Because unlike Shylock, a person made of silly putty might not bleed when pricked, but if they can think and feel just like you, they would have the capacity for suffering just like you. They would have desires, just like you. They would have intellect, just like you. Which means that lying to them would be just as wrong as lying to a person made of blood and guts and bones and tissue. You know, what we-- all of us-- are actually made of.

So for my reductio ad absurdum cartoon I decided to depict two people whom I know to have considered the implications of evolutionary theory inside and out. Arguably, they have considered the implications of evolutionary theory more than anyone currently alive. I took these two people, and imputed to them the moral perspective that Lietha believes is the corollary of being an evolutionist. Just to see what that would look like.

Hat tip to Dan Linford, whose Facebook post on Lietha's cartoon brought it to my attention.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Conservative fantasy vs. most likely reality, pt. 2

I decided that depicting a more realistic version of a conservative cartoon was pretty fun, and decided to take another crack at it.


My revamp:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pages from a pregnancy crisis center manual

I currently live in Wichita, Kansas. It's where I was born and raised.

I moved away for college, and then elsewhere for the rest of college, and then out of the country for grad school, and then back to the states and back to Wichita. It's a good city in which to be a kid or adult, but in various ways the city has continually been linked with one thing in my mind: abortion.

The so-called Summer of Mercy occurred in Wichita in 1991, when I was in middle school. Two years later Shelley Shannon shot Dr. George Tiller, provider of late-term abortions, five times while he was sitting in his car. In 2009 Scott Roeder succeeded in assassinating Tiller at Reformation Lutheran, my family's church. Now, South Wind Women's Center has arisen, in the face of continued difficulty, in Dr. Tiller's former clinic, managed by Julie Burkhart. Last year, my mom and I attended their one-year anniversary party.

That's a condensed history of my personal associations between Wichita and abortion rights, in order to provide some background for the significance of something I found on my walk this morning.

I found some pages to an instructional manual for A Better Choice, a Catholic "pregnancy crisis" clinic in Wichita. PDF available here.

Walking by the grocery store, I saw a piece of paper on the wet sidewalk, and stopped to read what it said:

"Huh," I thought. Took a picture, and kept walking.

Then, I found three more pages. Print on both sides. These I carefully picked up, folded, and took with me. Those are the pages in the PDF. As you'll see, they were not in the best shape-- it rained this morning, which I'm sure didn't help.

The first page appeared about two blocks from Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School, which I have little doubt is where they came from. Some high school student was likely walking home after being encouraged to volunteer at A Better Choice, and.....didn't think too highly of the opportunity? Not sure there. I do know it's not exactly out of character for high school students to be destructive of property.

But hey, it felt like a fun WoW quest, picking up those pages. I was disappointed when they stopped appearing.

And then disappointed again when I read this:

And then this:

At the bottom of each page....

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Conservative fantasy vs. most likely reality

I saw the following comic shared by someone going by The Comical Conservative on Facebook:

And felt the need to reply with the more likely scenario: