Thursday, January 17, 2013

B is for Breaking Bonds

I mentioned in last week's post that I no longer felt I had to hide my altar; that I was happy that I knew no one would be entering my house who would judge me for it. There's a reason for this development. But first, some history.

I was raised very conservative Christian. I was the good little Christian girl. I was saving sex for marriage. I was homeschooled until eighth grade. I thought dinosaurs lived alongside humans in biblical times. (Hey, Job mentions leviathan and behemoth, those are obviously dinosaurs!)

It wasn't until a few years out of high school that I really started questioning those beliefs; Sascha helped a lot simply by asking me questions and encouraging me to think - really THINK - about why I believed certain things. Even so, while I was questioning things, I didn't really make up my mind until I moved away from my home state, away from my family's influence. Without the constant pressure to be the good daughter, without fear of family judgement, I was finally able to decide that no, I was not Christian. I don't believe in God and Jesus or hell.

Making this entire process slower was the way I'd been raised; women are subordinate in the household; you should be quiet and obedient. I mean, that wasn't said in so many words, but men were the heads of households. Men were pastors and elders of the church. Women don't get positions of authority. So mixed up in these religious beliefs were also beliefs about my place, and the lack of confidence in my own judgement and reasoning. (Trying to make a decision? Don't make it alone, look it up in the Bible and pray about it, because your reasoning is never good enough.)

That was five years ago. It's taken me this long to realize my judgement is sound; I can be logical and reasoning. I have a right to make my voice and opinions heard. And they are NOT the same opinions as my family.  I've even somewhat repaired the damage to my history and science education.

So this last holiday season, my family, as usual, made a big deal on Facebook about "It's Merry Christmas, NOT Happy Holidays!" and "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." Being a pagan who celebrates the Solstice, and having pagan and Jewish friends who are also celebrating holidays other than Christmas, I couldn't let this go. To one of my mother's posts (the one with Ben Stein saying he's not offended by Merry Christmas, if you know it) I posted three very long, very thought-out comments refuting the speech, statement by statement. Including the Snopes link saying that most of that is not, actually, from Ben Stein. My mother deleted the post.

My favorite cousin re-posted the Ben Stein thing about a week later, which was when I discovered my mother had deleted hers. I told my cousin I would have linked her to my response, but I couldn't find it, so I just left the Snopes link. My mother FINALLY commented in reply, saying "I don't care who said it" but then continuing on to say "I'm sorry we failed you and I hope you see the truth someday." Saying she didn't care about the truth of a thing and they saying she hoped I found the truth pissed me off and made me laugh out loud at the same time.

There were other Facebook posts that I objected to, and either didn't get replies to my comments or they were to the same effect. I did not get mad in my comments, I simply pointed out there were other holidays being celebrated at the same time, and I'd rather be inclusive with my "Happy Holidays" then exclude everyone who wasn't Christian.

Well, last week I posted a picture I found that said "If in 2012 I have said anything that pissed you off, annoyed you, or offended you in any way, SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP because 2013 isn't going to be any different!"

My mother replied and said since I was comfortable saying the "F" word but offended by Merry Christmas, she was blocking me from her Facebook feed. I promptly removed her, my father, a very religious aunt, and another conservative uncle, leaving only my older brother, his wife, and two cousins. I'm guessing my brother and his wife will probably follow shortly.

And I feel FREE. Holy shit. The last several months I'd gradually stopped censoring myself on Facebook; my friends know who I am. To try to pretend to please my family was tiring. But I still had the "well, I'm gonna get flak for that statement!" stress when I posted things I knew my family wouldn't agree with. And it's GONE.

It's taken almost six years, but I finally feel free to be my complete self. My pagan, feminist, pro-choice, liberal, profane self. 2013: the year I finally broke free.

Just a few quick but depressing links this morning

An Indonesian Supreme Court nominee says Women enjoy rape

Most Americans under the age of 30 don't know Roe v Wade was about rape (and other interesting statistics about people's SAD, lacking knowledge of this landmark ruling.)

Most poor women would have gotten abortions earlier if they could afford it

Fetal Heartbeat bills introduced in Wyoming (because obviously the fetus is more important than the mother.)

Troubling number of women denied their constitutional rights based on pregnancy status

Idaho lawmaker equates abortion to prostitution

In better news:
Indian Men don skirts to protest rape culture

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Abortion Laws - FL, GA, HI, ID

Part 3 in a series.

Florida - #29 - F
72% of Florida counties have on abortion provider.
Unconstitutional and unenforceable ban after 12 weeks.

Biased Counseling and Insurance Prohibition
May not obtain an abortion until provided a state-approved pack of information as well as a mandatory ultrasound.
Health insurance provided by the new state exchange established under the new health care laws may not include abortion if paid in part or full by state or federal funds, including tax credits or cost-sharing credits.

Refusal Clause
No one can be forced to provide any abortion OR CONTRACEPTIVE services. Yes, this means a pharmacist can refuse to fill a prescription for birth control.

Restrictions on Low Income Women's and Young Women's Access to Abortion
No public funds can be used for abortion services except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.
No young woman under the age of 18 can receive an abortion until 48 hours after one parent is notified by telephone or in person by the attending physician. If parents cannot be notified, there must be a 72 hour wait after notification is sent by certified mail. Not waived in case of rape, incest, or child abuse. Waived in case of emergency.

TRAP laws
Abortion clinics must keep records of patients for five years, organized for easy retrieval. No limitation on who may have access to the records, and no guarantee of privacy for the patient. Abortion clinics must also obtain special "abortion clinic" licenses.

Georgia - #30 - F
94% of Georgia counties have no abortion provider.
Abortions after 20 weeks prohibited. Unconstitutional, Unenforceable ban on abortion after 12 weeks.

Biased Counseling
24 hour wait after receiving a state-approved lecture covering the usual: age of the fetus, development, estimate of viability, adoption services, pre-natal resources, etc. If she chooses to review the materials in written form she must wait 72 hours.

Refusal Clause
No one is required to participate in an abortion. Pharmacists are not required to fill or refill contraception prescriptions. County and State employees are not required to participate in Family Planning Services. No one is required to participate in sterilizations.

Restrictions on Low Income Women's and Young Women's Access to Abortion
Prohibits public funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother.
Women under 18 must wait 24 hours after a parent is notified by the attending physician, or 72 hours after mailing notification by certified mail. No exception for rape, incest, or child abuse. The young woman can, however, provide a signed statement from the parent saying they've been notified; the 24 hour wait can be waived if the parent certified in writing they have previously consulted with the young woman or if the parent accompanies the young woman to the procedure.

TRAP laws
Abortion facilities must be "available at all reasonable or scheduled operating hours for observation and examination" by state officials. No regulations provided for the safety or privacy of patients. All abortions other than D&E procedures must be performed in a licensed hospital or ambulatory surgical centers.

News Stories
Georgia's 20 week ban blocked temporarily by state judge

Hawaii - #4 - A
20% of Hawaii counties have on abortion provider.
No bans other than the Federal ban

Refusal Clause
No person or hospital may be required to participate abortion procedures. They must make reasonable efforts to find the patient a doctor that will provide the necessary services and continue to provide care until the patient is transferred.
Religious employers, defined as non-profit organizations whose sole purpose is a religious one and primarily employs people who share the religious values of the company, are not required to provide coverage for contraceptive services in their insurance plans.

TRAP laws
Only a licensed physician, surgeon, or osteopathic physician or surgeon may perform abortions.

Idaho - #44 - F
95% of Idaho counties have no abortion provider.

Ban after 20 weeks, no exceptions. Unconstitutional, unenforceable ban after 12 weeks that also outlines punishments for providers, including jail time, fines, and loss of medical license.

Biased Counseling and Insurance Prohibitions
24 hour waiting period after being provided with state-approved packet of materials.
Disability insurance policies, individual insurance policies, and managed care plans may not include insurance coverage with an exception only to save the woman's life. Abortion coverage may only be obtained by an optional rider paid for with additional fees; no requirements for insurance companies to offer the rider. Health insurance offered in the new state exchange may not include abortion coverage with exceptions to save a woman's life or in cases of rape or incest.

Refusal Clause
No one can be forced to participate in abortion or sterilization services; refusal must be in writing. Exceptions for emergencies.

Restrictions on Low Income Women's and Young Women's Access to Abortion
Prohibits public funding for abortion except for saving the life of the mother, rape, or incest. Rape or incest must be documented by law enforcement or attending physician; a requirement that it be verified by two physicians was deemed unconstitutional.
Young women under 18 may not obtain abortions unless they obtain the consent of one parent, except in cases of emergency, rape, or incest. No exception for child abuse.

TRAP laws
Unconstitutional requirement that all second-trimester abortions be done in a hospital. Providers must have "satisfactory" transfer arrangements with one or more acute-care hospitals within reasonable proximity. No exceptions for rural area clinics, or requirements for hospitals to make the agreements. Only physicians licensed by the state to practice medicine and surgery, or osteopathic medicine and surgery may perform abortions.

Idaho state code states:
"The supreme court of the United States having held in the case of 'Planned Parenthood v. Casey' that the states have a 'profound interest' in preserving the life of preborn children, Idaho hereby expresses the fundamental importance of that 'profound interest' and it is hereby declared to be the public policy of this state that all state statutes, rules and constitutional provisions shall be interpreted to prefer, by all legal means, live childbirth over abortion." 
News Stories
Idaho lawmaker compares abortion to prostitution

Other posts in this series:
NARAL's Report Card
Part 1: Intro, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas
Part 2: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware
Part 3: this post
Part 4: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas
Part 5: Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland
Part 6: Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Abortion/Contraception Laws: CA, CO, CT, DE

California - #1 - A+
22% of California counties have no abortion provider.
No bans other than the federal ban on certain second-trimester abortions.

Refusal Clause
Allows certain people/organizations to refuse to have anything to do with abortion services; does not apply to pharmacists. Applies to doctors, nurses, and religious organizations. Does not apply in emergency medical situations. Health-care providers can refuse to provide care they don't agree with, but must assist the patient in transferring to a doctor who will provide such care. Religious employers who disagree with contraception may exclude it from their insurance plans.Only applies to employers who are non-profit religious organizations who primarily employ people who share the religious tenets of the organization.

Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion
Ruled unconstitutional and unenforceable, this law would require a woman under the age of 18 to obtain parental consent before getting an abortion, regardless of rape/incest/child abuse.

Only licensed physicians or surgeons may provide surgical abortions. Only licensed physicians, surgeons, or someone who has obtained a specific license for it may provide non-surgical abortions.

California has written the freedom of choice into their state laws:
"The legislature finds and declares that every individual possesses a fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions. . . Every individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse birth control. . . Every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child or to choose and to obtain an abortion. . . The state shall not deny or interfere with a woman's fundamental right to choose to bear a child or to choose and obtain an abortion. . ."

Pharmacists are prohibited from refusing to fill contraception prescriptions. California has a protection from clinic violence policy, and allows for Medicaid/public funds to be used for low income women's family planning and abortion services.

Colorado - #22 - C+
78% of Colorado counties have no abortion provider.
Colorado has an unenforceable, pre-Roe ban on abortion.

Refusal Clause
Hospitals, hospital staff members, and people employed by hospitals may refuse to do any abortion services, but the refusal must be in writing. Private institutions, physicians, and the employees of such may refuse to offer contraception or abortion services. County and City employees may refuse to offer family planning services. No hospital or person may be required to participate in a sterilization. None of these refusal clauses have exceptions for emergencies.

Restrictions on Low Income Women's and Young Women's Access to Abortion
Colorado prohibits public funding for abortion except in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother. Some of these provisions conflict with federal law that allows Medicaid to be used for abortion; therefore they are, for the most part, unenforceable.
Women under 18 must wait 48 hours after notification has been sent to at least one parent, by certified mail or personally delivered by the attending physician. Not waived in cases of rape or incest, but waived in cases of child abuse if the physician has reported the abuse. Also waived in emergencies. These requirements may be waived by a judge.

A law predating Roe v Wade requires all abortions to be performed in a hospital; ruled unconstitutional. Only licensed health-care professionals may provide abortions.  (I certainly have no problem with that.)

News Stories
Colorado Senate proposes "gender-based" abortions ban (uh, there's nothing suggesting these are happening...)
Bill proposed to make abortion a class 3 felony

Connecticut - #3 - A
13% of Connecticut counties have no abortion provider.
No bans other than the federal ban on certain second-trimester abortions.

Refusal Clause
No person may be required to participate in any part of an abortion for any reason. Religious organizations may refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception and abortion services.

Clinic that provide abortions, whether surgical or not, must have a standard operating room. Clinics must hire counselors who are supervised by a person with a graduate degree or training in social work, psychology, counseling, nursing, or ministry. Only licensed physicians may perform abortions; however the CT Attorney General has issued an opinion stating this only applied to surgical abortions, and that state-licensed nurses, mid-wives, and physician's assistants may provide mifepristone (medical abortion drug) as long as they are acting under a licensed physician.

Young Women's Access to Abortion
Women under the age of 18 must have a counseling session before an abortion, explaining options and exploring the possibility of involving the young woman's parents.

Delaware - #21 - C+
33% of Delaware counties have no abortion provider.
Unconstitutional and unenforceable pre-Roe blanket ban on abortion.

Counseling and Delay Requirements
Cannot receive an abortion until 24 hours after she gives her own written consent. Prior to giving consent, the woman must sit through state-mandated counseling. (Standard pack - other options, effects on future children, risks, etc) Waiting period has been ruled unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Refusal Clause
No person or hospital may be forced to participate in an abortion. Religious employers may refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception and abortion services.

Restriction on Low Income Women's and Young Women's Access to Abortion
Prohibits public funding for abortion unless the life of the mother is in danger, or the pregnancy is the product of rape or incest reported to the police. (Exception, the physician notes in writing that the woman had just cause for not reporting the rape to police.)
Women under the age of 16 may not receive an abortion until 24 hours after one parent has been notified. No exceptions for rape or incest, only for emergencies.

Only a state-licensed physician may provide abortions.

This is part two in my "Abortion Laws by State" series, you can find the other parts here:
NARAL's Report Card
Part 1: Introduction and Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas
Part 2: This post
Part 3: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho
Part 4: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas
Part 5: Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland
Part 6: Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi

Monday, January 14, 2013

Abortion/Contraception Laws: AL, AK, AZ, AR

Yesterday I posted NARAL's pro-choice report card of the United States, in which the country as a whole received a D. Which didn't surprise me, but did surprise Elena-Maria of Wiccan Fusion. Her comment made me realize that I do get page views from outside of the U.S. and those visitors probably don't know what's been happening here in regards to anti-choice laws. So in the next three days I'm going to go state by state and give a basic summary of the anti-choice laws.

As an overall view, yes, we still have Roe v. Wade at the federal level, meaning abortion is legal. Women have the right to an abortion. At the state level, governments have been putting in restrictions left and right "for the health of the mother." They're saying women can still get abortions, so long as abortion clinics obey new and extremely restrictive, hard-to-follow laws. Several states have had personhood amendments introduced (and thankfully defeated) that would have given fertilized eggs full rights as citizens, thereby making abortion murder. A personhood amendment has even been re-introduced at the Federal level by none other than Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president last year.

The Affordable Health Care Act (also known as Obamacare) requires that companies provide insurance plans that offer contraception with no co-pay. There are exceptions for religious organizations like churches, whose sole purpose is a religious one, but none for companies headed by religious people, such as craft store Hobby Lobby. They did come up with a compromise, in that if the company won't pay for the contraception, the insurance company will foot the bill, but that's not enough for some employers who continue to cry that it's against their religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby has reportedly stated that they will pay the fines (up to 1.3 million US dollars A DAY) rather than provide contraception coverage for their employees. Meanwhile, most companies still don't offer paid maternity leave, and still cover viagra in their insurance plans. (I don't know the details of Hobby Lobby's insurance or maternity leave.)

Federal funds are prohibited from being used for abortion; so non-profits like Planned Parenthood, that provide a huge amount of women's health services, very carefully do their accounting so none of their federal funding pays for their abortion services. Only about 3% of what they do is abortions; the rest are contraception services, mammograms, pap smears, cancer screenings. Nonetheless, conservative-run states have been trying to defund Planned Parenthood, even if it means giving up federal funds. Texas successfully defunded PP this year in their state, foregoing federal funding for their other womens' health programs to do it.

Today we'll go over the laws for four states, after the break.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Photo

So this isn't exactly a photo, but large graphics. NARAL just came out with their pro-choice report card, ranking the U.S. states by their pro-choice/anti-choice laws. I found it pretty interesting. (And I've added it to my resources for determining which states I will NEVER live in!)
So here's the map, followed by the actual report card:
I was very pleased to see my home state of Oregon got an A, as well as the state I live in now, Maryland. 

The actual report card:

This is the beginning of my summary of abortion laws by state. You can find the other posts here: