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Monday, April 30, 2012

Why "When does life begin?" isn't a valid anti-choice question, Part I

A friend of mine said that he's mostly pro-choice, but that he gets stuck on the argument when staunch anti-choice advocates ask him "When does life begin?"

This is such a bullshit question, posed by the anti-choicers to roadblock us from thinking about the subject of abortion any further.  I'm so fucking tired of this, and I want to explain over the next few posts why this question is invalid.

First of all, just about everything is alive, is life, on some level.  You have bacteria growing on your countertop, fungus in your shoes, viruses on your hands and all three growing on the dollar bill in your pocket.  A single sperm is a living cell.  A single egg is a living cell.  They're both destined to live very short lives if they don't meet.  So are they a human life separately?  Just about everyone will agree that they're not.  And if they are, we need to get some laws on the books preventing men from wasting so much "life" while masturbating.  I suppose at that point, women would need to be on some sort of ovulation suppressants to prevent the waste of life during a month when she would not expect to get pregnant.  Then again, that would be birth control.  Wouldn't want women to have access to that!

So, the sperm and egg miraculously meet and the zygote (fertilized egg) divides within itself and becomes a morula, then a blastocyst.  A fertility specialist prefers to transfer a "hatching blast," or a blastocyst that is spilling out of the original casing into the uterus.  Is this now a human life?  If the conditions in the uterus and the mother's hormones are right, if it's genetically viable, if nothing traumatic happens to itself or its environment, it MIGHT become a human life.  Let's face it, if there is a god, that god performs more miscarriages, also called spontaneous abortions, than we as people ever could.  Human beings miscarry all the time.  Quite a few happen before 5 weeks, called a chemical pregnancy, which means some women think their period was a few days late and thus have no idea they were ever pregnant.  In fact, it's estimated that about 50% of all pregnancies end in some kind of miscarriage and 15% of all recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage.  Wow, that means the VAST majority of miscarriages happen in pregnancies that end unnoticed by the woman miscarrying.  Interesting.  If god was anti-abortion, maybe he should stop causing so very, very many of them.

In a way, some women choosing abortion are simply speeding up the process.  Statistically, quite a few of the pregnancies that ended in abortion would have ended in miscarriage, anyway.

So we've now established that abortion is a very natural thing.  This argument certainly covers the morning-after pill (MAP,) which would be just like having an unrecognized miscarriage if the egg had even had a chance to become fertilized.  Please recognize that the MAP works against pregnancy as a three-pronged attack.  First, if taken early enough, it will delay ovulation.  Second, if ovulation has started, but the egg has not been released, it will stop the release of an egg.  Third, if the egg has been released and fertilized, it will prevent the egg from implanting in the uterus.

Back to my original argument, is an embryo a life?  It has the possibility to become one, certainly.  I'll agree with Bill Maher on this one.  If you can put it in the freezer, thaw it out later and everything is fine, it is NOT a baby.  This is still not a human life.  When shall we consider it a human life?

I've also heard the argument that, "If you leave it alone and it becomes a human being, it's a life!"  Well, we've already established that 50% of these "lives" abort themselves, so I think at this point we need to move the debate from "will it become a human=life," since half of them won't become a life all by themselves, to "when it can be self-sustaining being=life."

I would say that when it can survive on its own, it is a human life.  Viability, or the ability to exist as a being separate from the mother, is debatable to be sure.  The policy in the United States is that babies born before 23 weeks are to be given only "comfort care," not life-saving interventions, because the odds of them surviving and living full lives are so slim.  Babies born at 25 weeks have only a 50% chance of survival, even with all our medical advances.  Of those survivors born before 26 weeks, nearly half of them will have moderate to severe incurable disabilities such as cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness and low IQ scores.  

I think it's safe to say that 26 weeks should be the minimum considered viability date, due to the statistics stated above.  So, at the very least, abortion should be legal for any reason before 26 weeks because the fetus could not reasonably be expected to survive on its own and have a good quality of life.

So, if it's now a human life, should abortion be restricted past 26 weeks?

No.  Absolutely not.  But I'll cover that one in my next post.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

To all the NRA voters...

Dear NRA members/Rabid 2nd Amendment supporters,

Congratulations.  If politics is a game, you have effectively won.  In Arizona, in particular, the only bills that even get looked at are bills to deregulate arms usage and to restrict women's rights.  I'll hand it to you,  you guys are SUPER effective at getting each other to show up to the polls.  More than that, I know a lot of you vote on gun rights ALONE.  Yeah, some of you are only concerned about whether the politician you're voting for is an NRA member/staunch 2nd Amendment supporter.  Hell, I even know a couple of people who admit that they vehemently disagree with ALL the other political views of the Republican candidates they voted for.  But keeping the 2nd Amendment rigidly supported is what's most important, and so, term after term, they keep voting in crazy people, supporters of heinous, misogynistic legislation, all in the name of keeping the right to bear arms.

So, I think it's time to let you guys in on a little secret.  Or maybe it's not so secret.  We, the supporters of gun control, are multi-faceted voters.  Yup, we care about more than one issue.  In fact, I have never, in my 32 years of life, met someone whose #1 voting issue was being pro-gun control.  We may feel strongly about it, but ultimately, we have bigger fish to fry.  If a politician is very pro-choice, pro-women's rights, pro-education, pro-universal healthcare, I will still vote for him/her, even if they are an ardent, card-carrying NRA member.  Hell, if they are strongly for 2 of the issues I listed, I'll still probably cast my vote their way.

Why?  Because, while I think the lax gun laws in this state, and many others nationwide, are dangerous, I think that all the recent anti-choice legislation is a lot MORE dangerous.  I think that funding education and healthcare is more important than keeping guns at home in locked safes.  I think that there are SO many more things out there that need my attention and focus than gun laws.

I'd wager that just about any liberal you talk to is just like me.  I'm tired of people who are liberal on every other issue claiming that they're "politically moderate" because they're pro-gun, who then turn around and vote conservative on election day.  I have a message for them: You are a right-wing enabler!  You've helped this state become a complete mess!  Time to clean it up!

The jig is up.  We, the pro-gun control liberals concede.  You won this one.  Can we focus on getting this state back to political health now?  Can we join forces to get the crazy people who want to legislate  their religion out?  Can we get women's issues, like keeping Planned Parenthood funded, keeping the right to choose legal and protected, keeping birth control covered by ALL insurances (EVERYONE benefits from this one, trust me on this!) under control before we bring up the gun debate?

I know a lot of you are doubtful of President Obama's sincerity in his vow that gun control is not his focus or his issue.  I have no idea why you are so skeptical of this, especially since in his 3 1/2 years in office he has kept silent on all issues 2nd Amendment related.  Let me be frank with you.  He's got bigger fish to fry, as well.  More than that, he has an entire coterie of 2nd Amendment advocates he would like to court as voters, or at least not piss off so as to fail to get anything else done later on.  You know, stuff he'd like to accomplish that we as liberals think MATTER.

I, a card-carrying liberal, hereby promise to put all arguments about the 2nd Amendment, and what it does or does not mean, aside until future elections.  I promise to focus my vote on things that matter, such as the economy, women's rights, jobs, healthcare, and education.  Will you please join me?  I'll keep my mitts off your guns if you'll keep yours off my uterus!

I can't take it anymore!

I've officially had it.  I'm starting a blog because I just can't handle the crimes against women this state is perpetuating on us, with their misogynistic laws and unjust treatment of us in the media.  I've been ranting on Facebook for a while now, but I feel like this GOP War on Women is too big for FB ranting alone.  It's too big for the national media alone, as well, but whatever I can add to it will be worthwhile.  

There have been a lot of things going on in the AZ legislature lately to inspire this rage, but yesterday I attended the Unite Against the War on Women march in Phoenix to help be a part of the solution.  It was amazing upwards of 500 people showed up to throw their support behind women's rights in this backward state.  Buses of supporters from Tucson came, and the lawn was covered in picketers with signs, people collecting signatures (to recall Jan Brewer, among other things,) and the Pro-Choice groups NOW and NARAL were represented, as well.  We had a stage, live entertainment, guest speakers including Democratic state Senator Linda Lopez of District 29, and we held our ground for over 4 hours.  For a rally put together in such a short amount of time, it was really quite impressive.

And for our efforts, we were covered by ONE media source.  Thank you, Phoenix New Times, for covering important events like this.  And Fox 10 Phoenix?  Oh, they showed up.  They pulled out their camera and then....aired nothing on us.  Instead, they covered the Arpaio "rally," a gathering of ultraconservatives with about 200 attendees.  Really?  Yes, really.  This gathering my friend said looked like, "it had been put together on the back of a napkin" was deemed more important than fighting for women's rights by Fox 10 News.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the ineptitude of Fox in exploring and uncovering real news in the world, but I suppose I had higher expectations of local coverage than I had in the national media.  I'll make sure not to expect that next time.

Phoenix New Times article:

Fox 10's coverage of the Arpaio "rally":