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Politics / Business / Economics > A few steps closer to the Handmaid's Tale

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message 1: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments New Mississippi legislation:

If this ballot initiative in Mississippi passes, it will make a whole lot of women criminals in the eyes of the law. if she exercises her right to control whether she becomes pregnant — not just whether she will have access to abortion services.

Ballot Measure 26, which has the blessing of luminaries like Mike Huckabee and Brett Favre’s wife, Deanna is outrageous:

“[H]uman life would begin not at birth but at the moment of fertilization. If the amendment passes, it will outlaw abortion in the state entirely, even in cases of rape or incest. It might even leave some forms of contraception, and procedures such as in vitro fertilization, on life support.

Yes and the desired interpretation, led by the homo-hating, womb-controlling American Family Association and zygote Personhood movement advocate Les Riley, a former candidate for agriculture commissioner, and chair of the state Constitution Party is jaw-dropping.

Mississippi anti-abortion activists wants to define personhood as starting when a sperm fertilizes an egg. In that case, it would likely make intrauterine devices (IUDs), which can prevent pregnancy by blocking the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, illegal. (IUDs can also prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg in the first place, and IUDs with hormones also operate much like regular old birth control pills, but that doesn’t seem to matter to anti-abortion activists.).

…But the law could also introduce the possibility of banning any form of hormonal birth control. Generally, “the pill” (as well as the shot, the patch, and the ring) work by stopping ovulation. But some anti-abortion groups argue that there can be failures on that front, and the doses of hormone could possibly also work by stopping implantation should an egg and sperm still manage to meet up.

Bottom line: all sex that involves the potential creation of a citizen fetus is under attack. Irin Carmon at Salon:

If this initiative passes, and fertilized eggs on their own have full legal rights, anything that could potentially block that implantation—something a woman’s body does naturally all the time—could be considered murder. Scientists say hormonal birth-control pills and the morning-after pill work primarily by preventing fertilization in the first place, but the outside possibility, never documented, that an egg could be fertilized anyway and blocked is enough for some pro-lifers. Indeed, at least one pro-Personhood doctor in Mississippi, Beverly McMillan, refused to prescribe the pill before retiring last year, writing, “I painfully agree that birth control pills do in fact cause abortions.”

Actually, IMHO the amendment’s goal is worse than just banning hormone-based contraception. Based on the loose language — couldn’t this law also apply to condoms since they “prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg in the first place“? The use of the condom in hetero boot-knocking is preventing “what comes naturally” to these ignorant, judgmental uterus invaders, who apparently want state tax dollars (in a state as poverty-stricken as Mississippi) spent prosecuting women and their doctors. Will condom-using men get time in the joint as well?

message 2: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments And on the national front, the "Protect Life Act," which in fact would allow hospitals to decline a woman a life-saving abortion on "moral" grounds. It would also block insurance for paying for any abortions and allow health plans to refuse to cover screening and counseling for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, the human papilloma virus vaccine or even
cervical cancer screenings.


message 3: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11628 comments Any nice houses for sale in your neighborhood, Barb?

message 4: by Jammies (new)

Jammies Sarah, both of those are frightening.

message 5: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) It's just crazy. People focused on single issues like this one end up passing things like prohibition. And we all know how that turned out. This is so much more insidious, though.

message 6: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments The Protect Life act is co-sponsored by an Illinois Democrat, too. It got 251 votes. Fifteen Dems voted for it. Seven didn't cast a vote, presumably because they are either on the campaign trail (Bachmann, Paul) or otherwise unavailable (Giffords). Only two GOP reps voted against it.

It heads to the Senate next.

message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments With regards to that Mississippi law - Jim's comment in another thread made me wonder: could guys be prosecuted for having vasectomies? could women be prosecuted for saying no? Technically both of those are also actions that could prevent a fetus from being conceived.

message 8: by Jammies (new)

Jammies Sarah Pi wrote: "With regards to that Mississippi law - Jim's comment in another thread made me wonder: could guys be prosecuted for having vasectomies? could women be prosecuted for saying no? Technically both of ..."

Think of how many pregnancies a hysterectomy prevents! My dog, I could be doing 20 to life in a year.

message 9: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11628 comments My mom & sisters had hysterectomies. TO THE HOOSEGOW!

message 10: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Wait ... you abstention would be a crime? What a crazy world. I thought that was what they wanted.

message 11: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24153 comments Mod
This makes me feel sad for people in red, backward states. It just goes to show you: every single election matters, at the local level, at the state level. Don't vote for people who are going to restrict your reproductive freedoms.

It also reminds me of what they call a "Mississippi appendectomy:" a hysterectomy. Poor women on Medicaid, after they'd given birth, would be pressured to have a hysterectomy. It was extremely common. In previous decades, often black women would be given hysterectomies without their knowledge - sometimes even before they'd had a child. They would get married and try for years to conceive and never know why they couldn't, and then finally a gynecological exam would reveal why.

You can read about it in Uninsured in America: Life and Death in the Land of Opportunity.

message 12: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) OMG I never knew that.

message 13: by Scout (last edited Oct 28, 2011 08:05PM) (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 3403 comments This from an NPR story in June:

Barely 40 years ago, it wasn't uncommon for a single mother on welfare, or a patient in a mental hospital in North Carolina, to be sterilized against her will.

But North Carolina wasn't alone: More than half of states in the U.S. had eugenics laws, some of which persisted into the 1970s.

North Carolina is now considering compensating its sterilization victims. A state panel heard from some of them Wednesday. They were mostly poor and uneducated — both black and white — and often just girls when it happened.

If you want to read the rest, here's the link.


message 14: by Helena (new)

Helena | 1058 comments That is scary, one of the scariest things I’ve read for a while.

I sincerely hope that no nutbag politicians in Canada decide to take up this fight... there are more than a few that emulate their U.S. counterparts and there are a few sneaky bastards that would try to slip that in, not unlike Sharia courts.

message 15: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24153 comments Mod
The law failed.

In one of the biggest surprises of the night was Mississippi’s rejection of a far-reaching and stringent anti-abortion initiative known as the “personhood” amendment (that's the NYT's awkward grammar)

message 16: by Jim (new)

Jim | 6485 comments It failed fairly significantly which is also heartening.

message 17: by ~Geektastic~ (new)

 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments REJECTED. Woot!!

message 18: by Jammies (new)

Jammies Yippee!

I may re-read Handmaid's Tale this weekend.

message 19: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Yay yay yay!

message 20: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 3403 comments What?? People in Mississipi, a red, backward state, voted against a repressive law?? Big surprise, since they're stupid, Southern rednecks!!

message 21: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments That's a weird response, Scout. Nobody was saying anything bad about the people of Mississippi, merely against this potential law.

The language of the ballot summary read:

"Initiative #26 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to define the word 'person' or 'persons', as those terms are used in Article III of the state constitution, to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof."

I don't know about where you live, but I know that it is often the case that ballot initiatives come down to wording. People vote "yes" down all of the questions, so the fact that the language crafters made personhood the yes spelled potential victory for them. The fact that the opponents were able to inform and educate enough voters to flip that trend is a tribute to their hard work.

message 22: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 3403 comments Message #13 hit me wrong and pissed me off. I should have ignored it. Sorry, Pi.

message 23: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24153 comments Mod
I didn't mean the populace of the state was backwards. I meant the politicians were. The people crafting these awful laws.

message 24: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Scout wrote: "Message #13 hit me wrong and pissed me off. I should have ignored it. Sorry, Pi."

And actually, I had missed Message #13 or I probably would have gone off on LG instead of you. And then we'd still be at the same place in Message 26. :)

message 25: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24153 comments Mod
Why would people have gone off on me? I don't think I'm completely understanding. Because I used the word backward? Isn't this thread about the backwardness of a state that would have this kind of legislation on the ballot?

message 26: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) *shrugs* Beats me.

message 27: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Lobstergirl wrote: "Why would people have gone off on me? I don't think I'm completely understanding. Because I used the word backward? Isn't this thread about the backwardness of a state that would have this kind ..."

I agreed with most of what you said in the post. I think I just didn't like the characterization, which was in Scout's post, which was in reaction to yours...so really there's no issue. I just feel like a lot of times it is red, backward politicians leading states to places that they would not have gone on their own.

message 28: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 3403 comments Lobstergirl quoted the NYT: In one of the biggest surprises of the night was Mississippi’s rejection of a far-reaching and stringent anti-abortion initiative known as the “personhood” amendment.

It's one thing to say you feel sad for people who live in southern states that are red and backward. It's another thing entirely to offer a quote that expressed surprise at Mississippi citizens' rejection of a shit amendment.

message 29: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments But it IS a surprise. As I said earlier, the YES side of a ballot initiative nearly always wins. People don't take the time to read it or educate themselves ahead of time. I know around here the newspapers make endorsements on candidates but they rarely do line by line explanations of the myriad ballot initiatives. The fact that the people of Mississippi - or any state - took the time to read and vote no on the question is a surprise. The fact that they did so in a red state where on the same day Republicans were voted into office says that people read it and chose for themselves rather than following the party lines.

message 30: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 3403 comments I admire your diplomacy, Pi.

You know how you can say something about your own family member, but if someone outside the family criticizes, your hackles rise? Especially if your family history ain't that great and you feel the judgment isn't fair.

message 31: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24153 comments Mod
All of my ancestors are from the South. Lots of my relatives live in the South. It's not like when I discuss people from southern red states, I feel as if I'm talking about Martians.

message 32: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Y'all.

message 33: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 3403 comments Gracias.

message 34: by Sarah (last edited Mar 19, 2012 08:05AM) (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments This weekend's News for New Persons:


The Colorado House passed this bill:

From State Rep Daniel Kagan (D) regarding HB 12-1130:

"...we were unable to prevent the Republican majority in the House from passing on second reading the First Degree Homicide of the Unborn Child bill. Under some circumstances, it makes both termination of pregnancy and the use of the morning after pill a homicide. It also confers personhood on a newly fertilized egg."

Kogi, Ms. Petra, Sally. Call your state senators.

message 35: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11628 comments And Lee, you call, too.

message 37: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24153 comments Mod
Very powerful. Never thought about bulletproof glass at the doctor's office before.

message 38: by Stina (new)

Stina (stinalee) | 750 comments Lobstergirl wrote: "Very powerful. Never thought about bulletproof glass at the doctor's office before."

That part got me, too! I know it is there in the clinics, but using that to point out that there is a war on women... just kickass writing.

message 39: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24153 comments Mod
Not even there to get an abortion, just a pap smear or whatever....and still, the haters want to kill you.

message 40: by Spellbound (new)

Spellbound (spellboundreads) | 117 comments Maybe I'm a simpleton, ok I am a simpleton, but there is something I really don't understand. If you are catholic or any other religion that does not allow abortion/contraception/logic/understanding/whatever, DON'T DO IT! DON'T F***ING DO IT! Nobody forces you. Why on earth do you feel entitled to force behaviours on other people?

I am Italian, raised as catholic. I know the power of the Church.

This all makes me so sad.

message 41: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11628 comments BunWat wrote: "I didn't really understand it either. Are you saying that people who belong to a religion should follow its rules and the religion should leave the rest of us out of it?"

I believe Spellbound meant the latter, not the former. I, like many others, have no problem with people who, for religious or other reasons, choose not to do certain things. The problem arises when they then try to legislate that behavior for everyone.

In this instance, many catholic institutions are suing the federal government because of the part of the ACA that says contraceptives must be included under health plans offering prescription drug coverage. Banning coverage of contraceptives for their employees is seen, by HHS, as denying equal medical coverage for women.

I believe Spellbound is expressing anger at those institutions for trying to force, through restrictions on health care, their own dogma on all in their employ.

message 42: by Spellbound (new)

Spellbound (spellboundreads) | 117 comments Thank you Phil, it is what I meant. You expressed it much better than I did.
I have nothing against religious people, of any religion, what I fear is the power concentrated in religious institutions that concern themselves more with politics than with the spirit. I fear the power battle over women's bodies that I see in several countries, including Europe and the U.S..
As an example, the law that regulates abortion in Italy has recently undergone restrictive modifications under the pressure of the Catholic Church. In many hospitals it is almost impossible to find a doctor who will perform an abortion (even for medical reasons, even if the law guarantees it) because being pro-life is a great incentive to one's career. In some pharmacies in Rome, accidentally close to the Vatican, there are no condoms for sale. I find this unacceptable.

Then I read things such as this:


and I can't help feeling a step closer to "The handmaid's tale".

message 43: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Well said, Catherine.

message 44: by Hazel (new)

Hazel | 37 comments after catherines post, I feel these are pertinent:


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message 45: by Hazel (new)

Hazel | 37 comments hello :D

message 46: by Jammies (new)

Jammies Catdoz, just because you're in pain doesn't mean you aren't 100% right.

message 47: by Spellbound (new)

Spellbound (spellboundreads) | 117 comments Zardoz is in the Tardis wrote: "Second verse, same as the first:


An article about anti-choice laws."

For f**k's sake! Is this even legal? What about privacy, what about personal details? And a picture!?! This is the kind of extremism that should not be tolerated.
Does this moron really think that abortion is EASY for a woman, for any woman?
I suppose in his mind women are free to do as they are told. Such cold and cruel-hearted creatures can't be expected to decide for themselves, after all child-bearing is a public matter, not a private one. What is private is child-caring and all its costs. (!)
As I said earlier, I am a simpleton, I still can't grasp this concept which seems so obvious to governments/employers/extremists.

Why don't these people use their time and energy and resources to help out the existing children, to make a better life for them? Oh, wait... a life matters only if it is unborn or in vegetative state. :-/

message 48: by Hazel (new)

Hazel | 37 comments I suspect some people here will find they resonate with this episode of Godless Bitches:


message 49: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/...

An Oklahoma emergency room doctor refused to provide emergency contraception to a 24-year-old female rape victim because the medication violated the health provider’s personal beliefs, a local CBS News affiliate reports. The hospital also denied the victim a rape kit, noting that it had no appropriate nurse on staff to administer the test.

“I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my beliefs,” the doctor allegedly told the rape victim and her mother, Rhonda. “She knew my daughter had just been raped. Her attitude was so judgmental and I felt that she was just judging my daughter,” Rhonda told the news station.

message 50: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments And bonus: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05...

""My question today... when is Tommy boy going to weigh in on all the Lilly Ledbetter hypocrites who claim to be fighting the War on Women? Let’s hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won’t abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector."

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