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Religious Zealots Try to Impose Their Views on Women

21 Feb

Since when is bald-faced lying an acceptable religious practice?

In an amazing coincidence two groups of religious zealots have waded into the public fray. Both have done so ostensibly to promote American values. Both are attempting to control women’s bodies. And both groups are lying.

Catholic bishops claim that they are fighting for that quintessential American value, freedom of religion, in opposing a government mandate to include contraception in health insurance plans. Protestant zealots (joined in some cases by Catholic zealots) are blustering that proposed laws to mandate ultrasounds before abortion are nothing more than efforts to provide women with information needed to make the medical decision to terminate a pregnancy.

Both groups are lying. Both groups are attempting to violate that quintessential American value, freedom of religion. Indeed they are attempting to impose THEIR religion on people of other religions or no religion at all. And they are doing it in exactly the same way. They are committed to “rationing by inconvenience.”

Make no mistake; this is about Catholic zealots imposing their belief that birth control is immoral and this is about Protestant zealots imposing their belief that abortion is immoral. There has been no attempt to restrict their religious freedom. No one is attempting to force the Catholic bishops to use birth control and no one is attempting to force the Protestant zealots to have abortions. No one in either group is being forced to violate his or her religious convictions by engaging in a practice that he or she deems immoral.

So why are the Catholic bishops and Protestant zealots upset? Because they don’t want OTHER PEOPLE to use birth control and they don’t want OTHER PEOPLE to have abortions. Oops, let me amend that. They don’t want WOMEN to use birth control and they don’t want WOMEN to have access to abortion. What a coincidence. Both are trying to impose their religious convictions on WOMEN’S bodies.

Both the Catholic bishops and the Protestant zealots are trying to use the same method to accomplish their religious objectives: rationing by inconvenience.

Rationing by inconvenience is used by health insurance companies to deprive members of covered services. By making it difficult to access those services (mandating pre-approvals, denying payments, forcing members into complaint resolution and arbitration) insurance companies attempt to reduce use of expensive services or force members to pay out-of-pocket for those services in order to access them in a timely fashion. Rationing by inconvenience is used by religious zealots in precisely the same way. By refusing to pay for the health service of contraception, the Catholic bishops hope to discourage women, particularly poor women, from using birth control. Protestant and Catholic zealots hope to prevent women from accessing legal abortion by interposing inconvenience, whether it is waiting periods or mandate ultrasound exams that are both medically unnecessary and physically invasive. For example, religious zealots in the Virginia legislature are hoping that by mandating an invasive vaginal ultrasound, they can discourage women from having abortions.

That’s bad enough. What’s worse is that they are lying about it. Catholic bishops are trying to discourage the USE of birth control. Refusing to pay for it is just a tactic in preventing the use of contraception. It has nothing to do with the bishops’ religious freedom. Mandating medically unnecessary, inconvenient and uncomfortable procedures as requirement before accessing abortion has nothing to do with providing women with information.

These religious zealots should not be allowed to control women’s bodies by limiting their access to safe, legal medical TREATMENTS. They are attempting to impose THEIR religious values on women who don’t share them. These tactics should be rejected as fundamentally un-American attempts at religious coercion.

Cross posted on The Skeptical OB

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The Appeal of Vaccine Rejectionism: It Flatters the Ignorant

10 Feb

Famous faces and matching T-shirts do not experts make.

One of the most attractive aspects of vaccine rejectionism, indeed of all “alternative” health, is that no particular knowledge is necessary to declare yourself an expert. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have even the most basic knowledge of science and statistics. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have any understanding at all of the complex fields of immunology or virology. Your personal experience qualifies you as an expert. Hence Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, two actors with no training of any kind in science, are touted by themselves and others as “experts” on vaccination.

As the paper The Persuasive Appeal of Alternative Medicine explains:

The person-centered experience is the ultimate verification and reigns supreme in alternative science… Alternative medicine makes no rigid separation between objective phenomena and subjective experience. Truth is experiential and is ultimately accessible to human perceptions… [O]bjective diagnostic or laboratory tests that discern what cannot be felt never replace human awareness… [A]lternative medicine, unlike the science component of biomedicine, does not marginalize or deny human experience; rather, it affirms patients’ real-life worlds. When illness (and, sometimes, biomedicine) threatens a patient’s capacity for self-knowledge and interpretation, alternative medicine reaffirms the reliability of his or her experience.

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Homebirth Advocate Dies at Homebirth

2 Feb

Re: Inquiry into Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009 and two related Bills

I write to express my concern about the above bills. I understand that these bills will enable Medicare funding, access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and professional indemnity premium support for midwives providing care for women to give birth in hospital. Medicare funding for midwifery care is long overdue. It is not acceptable, however, to exclude homebirth from this funding and indemnity arrangement…

On a personal note, I am quite shocked and ashamed that homebirth will no longer be a woman’s free choice in low-risk pregnancies… I feel the decision to outlaw homebirth’s is contrary to women’s rights … Please find a solution for women and babies who homebirth after this date as their lives will be in threat without proper midwifery assisstance. And as a homebirthing mother I will have no choice but to have an unassisted birth at home as this is the place I want to birth my children.

Yours sincerely,
Caroline Flammea, Nick Lovell and daughter Lulu Lovell.

*****
Caroline Emily (Flammea) Lovell

LOVELL (nee Flammea). – Caroline Emily 15.07.1975 – 24.01.2012 Passed away suddenly after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. Beloved daughter of Jadzia (Jade), loving wife of Nick and exceptional mother of Lulu and Zahra. You taught us how to love Always in our hearts

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The Curious Silence about Babies Who Die at Homebirth

27 Jan

The CDC published an update on homebirth yesterday. Entitled Home Births in the United States, 1990–2009 and written by MacDorman, Mathews, M.S. Declercq, the data brief noted:

• After a decline from 1990 to 2004, the percentage of U.S. births that occurred at home increased by 29%, from 0.56% of births in 2004 to 0.72% in 2009.

• For non-Hispanic white women, home births increased by 36%, from 0.80% in 2004 to 1.09% in 2009. About 1 in every 90 births for non- Hispanic white women is now a home birth. Home births are less common among women of other racial or ethnic groups.

• Home births are more common among women aged 35 and over, and among women with several previous children.

• Home births have a lower risk profile than hospital births, with fewer births to teenagers or unmarried women, and with fewer preterm, low birthweight, and multiple births.

• The percentage of home births in 2009 varied from a low of 0.2% of births in Louisiana and the District of Columbia, to a high of 2.0% in Oregon and 2.6% in Montana.

But there’s one thing that the data brief didn’t mention at all: exactly how many of those babies died.

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Vaccine Rejection: A Flat Earth Theory for the 21st Century

18 Jan

The flat-earthers are back!

Well, not exactly, but their descendants have come up with the flat-earth equivalent for the 21st century. They reject vaccination.

Vaccine rejectionists are all over the web promoting the “dangers” of vaccination. Vaccine rejectionism isn’t about vaccination, though. It’s all about parents and how they wish to view themselves.

It is important to understand that vaccine rejection is not based on science. There is no scientific data that supports vaccine rejection. Indeed vaccines are one of the greatest public health achievements of all time and virtually every accusation about vaccines by vaccine rejectionists is factually false.

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The Misogyny at the Heart of Natural Childbirth

12 Jan

“The mother is the factory, and by education and care she can be made more efficient in the art of motherhood.”

That was written in 1942 by Grantly Dick-Read, widely considered to be the father of modern natural childbirth. Most people don’t realize that natural childbirth was invented by a man to convince middle and upper class white women to have more children and abandon their demands for political, economic, and educational equality.

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Is Science Male?

2 Jan

I asked my parents for a microscope when I was 10 years old.

That precipitated a major discussion. They pondered whether a microscope was “appropriate” for a girl. It’s not that surprising that it was a source of contention. I grew up at a time when science and math were considered “too hard” for women. When I told people I wanted to be a doctor, they told me to be a nurse. Even when I got to college, I was one of a very few women majoring in biochemistry.

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