This has nothing to do with saving babies’ lives

Don’t kid yourself. The abortion debate isn’t about saving babies’ lives.

The attempt to criminalize abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, is about enslaving women.

It’s about taking control of our lives away from us.

It’s about keeping us in poverty and forcing our children to fight the endless wars of the uber-wealthy.

The policies of the people who call themselves “pro-life” are as anti-life as it gets.

The irony of their position is that they’re thrilled when I decide to continue with a pregnancy that could result in a child with serious birth defects, but once that child is here, they refuse to treat his medical condition, refuse to insure him, turn him away when he’s sick and refuse to even see him until they can make a profit from his chemotherapy. But before they’ll allow him access to treatment, he has to leave his wife because she has a newer model car and some tuition money in the bank. When he applies for disability because he’s now too sick to work, we make him wait 37 months and he’s  dead nine days before his first check comes.

Then these same “pro-life” people want to know whether he was working when he got sick, as though he somehow didn’t deserve saving if he’d been unemployed, as though he were morally inferior and didn’t deserve for anyone to fight for his life.

Sure, you’ll stop me in the parking lot of Planned Parenthood and scream insults at me, no matter the reason for my visit there, and accuse me of murder, and in the next breath trash the life of my son because he’s somehow not deserving of that life.

If you think it’s a life worth saving before birth but you don’t care about it after it’s born, you are the worst kind of hypocrite.

You want to insist I bear a child whose life ends with three years of unspeakable suffering because your “pro-life” policies care nothing for him or his plight? That’s not going to happen. I’m going to fight for women’s right to control our own bodies, plan our own families, make our own choices.

Now I get men telling me how precious that life is while it’s still in the womb, as though it were their lives at stake during pregnancy and delivery, as though they’re going to help raise it, pay me a decent wage so I can feed, clothe and shelter it, make sure it gets a decent education, stays safe from harm …

They want to be able to walk away if a woman gets pregnant because it’s her fault, as though their sperm had nothing to do with the pregnancy.

Or, they want to be able to rape me and then take over my life because the child deserves a father in its life, even if that father is a violent criminal. They want to force me to share parenting with a person who already has demonstrated that he’s not fit to raise a child.

They want my 11-year-old daughter to bear the child of a rapist and then have him in her life forever.

And then they romanticize it by finding a woman who had her rapist’s child and loves that baby. Awwww. Aren’t the rest of us craven murderers if we disagree?

Well, I loved my son. I tried everything I knew to get him the care he needed, but since he was born already, nobody cared.

Where were you “pro-life” people then? Where was your loving concern as my precious son lay dying? Where is your advocacy for the 45,000 people who die the same way every damn year? We’re closing on a half million deaths from lack of access to health care in the 11 years since my son died. Why do I hear nothing but crickets from you on this pro-life issue?

I’ll tell you why: You don’t care about human life, you only care about control of women’s bodies, that’s why.

And if this isn’t about controlling women, why are these same people attacking access to contraception?

The “Christian” patriarchy wants us to believe sex is a sin for women, but not for men. We women are seductresses and nothing more, they think. They have to control us because we can’t control our urges and we cause them to lose control of their own.

I know this to be true because I was raised among these people. I was taught very deliberately that I was less than a man, that my abuse at the hands of my grandfather — which began when I was just 3 — was my own fault, that I somehow seduced that poor man. They are hate-filled and despicable.

If you want me to believe you’re pro-life, then show up on the front lines of the fight for health care, a living wage, voting rights, mitigating climate change … Get arrested with me while trying to talk to a legislator about the importance of people’s lives after they’ve exited the birth canal.

Otherwise, perhaps you should just admit that you are not pro-life, you’re simply pro-fetus and pro-control of women.

But remember this: Women will rise up. We will not go back to enslavement or forced childbirth. We will learn ways to induce our own abortions, just as we always have.

Some of us will die because of your backward, amoral policies, just as we always have. But you’ve proven already that our lives mean nothing to you, so I don’t expect you to care about that.

 

 

 

One final belly laugh

Mike being Mike. His main mission in life was to amuse himself and others. He was a proud jackass and I still believe he chose to leave us on April Fool’s Day.

 

It was Sunday on this date 11 years ago. The crew from Savannah spent the morning and early afternoon with us, and when Mike was tired and needed a nap, they headed back south.

I took the opportunity to soak in the hot tub for a bit with two friends who were helping Mike plan his memorial service. He didn’t want to leave anything to chance. That service would reflect his desires for a funeral he’d be sorry to miss.

As we came back into the house, there was an insistent knock on the door, as though someone wanted to deliver an urgent message. When I opened the door, there was a woman I’d seen drive by a couple times, but I didn’t know her. She was tastefully dressed, a little overweight, had an unnatural shade of blonde hair and way too much makeup.

“What the hell are you doing parking all these cars on my street!” she demanded. “People have to drive here, you know. You don’t own the street and I’m getting tired of dodging all these party cars! I don’t know how long you’ve lived here, but you should know we don’t put up with that in this neighborhood …”

She ranted on for a minute or two and when she finally stopped to take a breath, I spoke.

“First of all, this is not your street. My taxes pay for as much of it as yours do,” I said.

She opened her mouth to speak again, her face still angry. I held up my hand.
“Nope,” I said, “I’m not done. These cars belong to friends of my son. They’ve come to say goodbye. He’ll be dead in a few days and then you can have your road back.”

I started to close the door and she put up her hand to stop me.

“Wait! Oh my god! Is there anything I can do?”

“Yes,” I said sweetly, “you can drive carefully so none of these people has to the add the burden of car repairs to that of the grief of losing a friend.”

And I closed the door.

Even 11 years ago, some people were mean-spirited by nature and not afraid to show everyone they encountered that they wanted people to do everything their way.

Later another neighbor would see me outside and ask, “I saw a lot of cars over the last week or so. I know it’s not always a good thing, so I just said a quick prayer that everything’s OK.”

Now, that’s the way to ask why there are so many cars parked on the street.

The nasty neighbor has never spoken to me again.

Mike woke up a little while after the angry neighbor left, and I told him what had happened. He had a good laugh over that.

“Oh, I wish I could have seen her face,” he said. “I’ll bet she was horrified. Good for you, Mom. Good play.”

It would be our final Cancer Card moment, his final belly laugh.

In 48 hours, he would be gone and I would never hear that laugh again.

When people tell me we should fix health care gradually so businesses and the economy don’t get hurt, I ask why they want to put the welfare of corrupt insurance companies and Big Pharma over that of the 35 million Americans who still don’t have access to health care, plus another 12 million or so whose insurance has such high co-pays and deductibles that they can’t afford to use it. That, after all, is the very basis of fascism — money over people, the good of corporations above the welfare of human beings.

Some 30,000-plus people are dying every year the same way my son did. and we have done almost nothing.

Yes, insurance companies can’t deny people with pre-existing conditions insurance anymore. In states where Medicaid has been expanded, poor people finally have real access to care.

But Big Insurance and Big Pharma don’t want these changes to stand and they’re paying out huge amounts of money to walk back what little ground we have gained.

Every day we don’t fix this, people die unnecessarily. Every damn day, more family members and friends go through the hell my family and I have gone through. In fact, about three times every hour, another American dies of lack of access to care, just they way my precious son did.

As I count down these days again every year, I spend a good part of my time in tears.

Why can’t we see that people shouldn’t be dying like this when it would actually be cheaper to take care of them — both economically and morally? I tried to explain this to someone yesterday who just said, “I don’t believe you. We can’t afford it,” and turned her back, completely unwilling to listen to anything not sanctioned by the liars at Fox News. I wanted to scream, to call her a fucking fascist, but I walked away instead.

On this beautiful spring day 11 years ago, I so desperately wanted to hold onto him. I still wish I could go back and get him. I think I’d want to take him along on the coming cross-country road trip with my pregnant granddaughter. I can’t even imagine what an adventure that would have been.

I tried to soak up all I could of him during these final days.

On this Sunday 11 years ago, everybody cleared out. James, Mike’s closest friend, and Janet, who still loved Mike and who was still adored by him, went back to pick up mail and check in with their bosses. Janet’s boss would fire her for not coming in on Monday; James’s boss told him to take whatever time he needed. They were both planning on returning Wednesday. Mike would not be here to greet them.

On this beautiful Sunday 11 years ago, we would have just two days left with Mike.

 

The irony of McCain’s cancer diagnosis

Photo by NBC News.

Not that many people get this, but is is more than a little ironic that John McCain’s brain tumor postponed the vote to take away access to health care for millions of Americans.

McCain was a sure “yes” vote on the “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act that Sen. Mitch McConnell was pushing. I don’t know that this diagnosis will change McCain’s mind on that vote.

Still, I would not wish this on him and I am grateful that he has access to the care he will need if he is to beat this.

My son never had that chance.

I’m being criticized today for saying this because McCain is a mean-spirited man who has fallen in willingly with thugs and thieves. He was set to help take away access to health care for 23 million Americans.

That is the aiding and abetting of murder.

To me, that doesn’t matter right now because when I say everyone deserves access to quality health care, I mean exactly that.

No one deserves to die the way my son did. No one. Period.

It would be the height of hypocrisy to stand up in public and say no one deserves to die the way my son did and then turn around and wish it on someone else, even if that someone is not a good person.

Conservatives say they don’t want universal health care because some people just want a handout.

That’s bullshit.

In my 30 years as a reporter covering social justice issues and in my nine years of health care advocacy work, I have not met anyone who just wants a handout.

My son wanted health care. He worked hard and he went to school and he was a community volunteer who gave selflessly of himself to help others.

And don’t tell me, “OK, your son deserved to live, but some people are lazy …” Who the hell are you to decide who deserves to live? Where do you get off condemning someone to die because you deem them too lazy, or too mean?

No one deserves to go without access to health care. No one. Period, end of discussion.

I don’t know John McCain personally, and I am not going to judge him other than to say he has done and said some incredibly mean-spirited things. Still, he does deserve health care.

I am grateful that his family doesn’t have to watch him die from medical neglect. Having watched my son die from lack of access to care, I am steadfast in my desire to see no one else die that way.

 

 

 

 

Let them know you care

The mindset of the American Tea Party.

The mindset of the American Tea Party.

The Tea Party-infused North Carolina General Assembly lost no time on the opening day of the legislative session letting us all know just how far-right they are.

Without consulting the new governor, who also is a Republican, they voted to go back on the decision by the previous governor to form a partnership with the federal government to build our health benefits exchange (the marketplace where people will buy insurance starting next year). They also voted to reject the Medicaid expansion, even though the state will pay nothing for the first three years and then just 10 percent thereafter.

North Carolina has 500,000 people who would benefit from the expansion and who otherwise will have no access to health care. Some will die.

Not that NC legislators care.

Fortunately, this decision is not up to them; it is up to Gov. Pat McCrory.

Which leaves us a little hope since he has not announced his decision yet.

So, we have to move quickly. Here’s what you can do. Visit http://www.governor.state.nc.us/contact and e-mail or call the governor to let him know you take this issue seriously.

The lives of a half-million people could be at risk if McCrory decides against expanding Medicaid to everyone whose income falls below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

What’s worse is that move is financially foolish. The federal government will foot the entire bill for the first three years and 90 percent thereafter. Compare that to the cost of more heart attacks, more strokes, more amputations, more kidney failure, more asthma, more advanced cancers and more intractable psychiatric illnesses among these 500,000 people.

There’s no compassion in the decision not to expand Medicaid, just a backward ideology.

Please let the governor know we need to expand Medicaid. If he hears from enough of us, he might listen.

 

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