Thursday, July 31, 2008

GUILTY: Cruel & Unusual Punishment

There seems to be no end to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals propensity to drive their judicial oversight states back to the dark ages. And that comparison isn't hyperbole - not when we are talking about a Federal Court that just OK'd the shackling of pregnant women while in labor. If that's not medieval I don't know what is.

In concert with Arkansas, the 8th Circuit said it's OK to violate basic human rights and engage in cruel and unusual punishment directed toward women who are pregnant and about to deliver. In bone-chilling language the Court ruled ...

"The policy of placing a restraint on [a woman] while in a hospital bed is unequivocally related to a penological goal and is not constitutionally excessive," the court wrote. "[her] experience does not rise to the level of unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain."

The Marquis de Sade couldn't have written more frightening words.

Why are we, as a people, not outraged at rulings like this? Why aren't we saying "Were tired of this, we won't take it anymore?"

Get outraged, & get involved in the struggle to protect pregnant women. Call or write the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. Act now.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Museum of Sex

Have you ever smugly thought "I've seen it all. There's nothing that would surprise me anymore." And then, one night, poof - you see things you never dreamed possible?

That's what happened to me last night when I attended a benefit for Planned Parenthood of New York City at the Museum of Sex in Manhattan.
There I was viewing exhibits of outrageous and outrageously funny sexual nature and content with 400 people I never met before - not exactly a touchy-feely sort of experience ;-) I saw things last night that I am sure will either give me nightmares or send me to therapy. And I have one lingering question - who has the time to dream up all those weird machines?

But one thing was without question. Summer, Sex & Spirits, the benefit for PPNYC, was a gargantuan success. The benefit committee , made up of members of the Activist Council, sold the place out. There were raffles for gifts throughout the night and a very cool array of choices in the super-popular silent auction. Original art and photography by top artists, spa sessions by Providence Day Spa & Euphoria Spa, a night at the Gershwin Hotel along with dinner at Philippe, goody baskets provided by Babeland and the Pleasure Chest, private yoga lessons, a cooking lesson from professional chefs Nancy Wong & Alice Levin - along with a bottle of Barolo! A signed "Sex and the City" script was a big winner as were a wine tasting party, and strip tease lessons.

There was even a lunch for 4 with Dr. Ruth auctioned off - I actually wish I had won that one - I now have some issues I need to discuss with her.

The catering provided by Apartment 138 in Brooklyn was great - the dates wrapped in bacon were hot, savory & sweet, and the veggie burger sliders were out-of-this-world. And there was lots of wine and beer flowing all night long.

This might have been the coolest party in town this week. Congrats to everyone at PPNYC who helped pull this off. The crowd was super diverse with a wide range of ages - all coming out on a hot & muggy night to help support the great work of Planned Parenthood.

Oh, the best part of the museum for me? The film with Smally Paulie - but that's all I'm telling you - you'll have to go see the ending for yourself!

Monday, July 28, 2008

South Dakota: The Badlands of Reproductive Freedom

Planning a vacation to South Dakota? Don't forget to stop into a local women's health center and listen to a doctor who is being forced to read a court-ordered script to women who are seeking abortion services. The language of the script reads like a bad science fiction novel - but sadly it's not.

Effective immediately,
doctors in South Dakota are being forced to tell a woman seeking an abortion that the procedure "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being." So, it's come to this - we now live in a country where the practice of medicine is fully in the hands of extremist politicians and judges. And we have the brilliant scholars of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, who recently lifted a preliminary injunction that prevented the language from taking effect, to thank for this.

And, that's not all ... Under the law, doctors must say that the woman has "an existing relationship" with the fetus that is protected by the U.S. Constitution and that "her existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will be terminated." Also, the doctor is required to say that "abortion increases the risk of suicide ideation and suicide." The message must be delivered no earlier than two hours before the procedure. The woman must say in writing that she understands.

Really, doesn't that read like a bad science fiction novel? Trouble is it contains 0% science and 100% ideology!

Let's help preserve justice, dignity and rights in South Dakota - take the pledge and stand-up for South Dakota

And stay tuned - because South Dakota will once again try to ban abortion when they put the issue to a referendum on November4th, 2008.

South Dakota - truly the Badlands of Reproductive Freedom!

Bad Bedroom Behavior

Oh, I get it now. Having a good time in bed is the reason that the world is seemingly falling apart. How could I not know that all that sex was contributing to the overall decline of our planet? Damn, I'm so stupid. I should have known there was price to pay for all that joy, and love, and intimacy and sharing.

Why just yesterday Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales told married couples that “there should be discipline and self-control” among couples.

Couples who have the discipline to practice the Church-sanctioned natural family planning methods are “in possession of true values of life” and tend to pass it on to their children. They also tend to be good citizens, he said.

“If there is discipline in the marital bed, then there is discipline in the streets, there is discipline in schools, there is discipline in the government,” Rosales added.

OK people? Control yourselves in bed already! Got it? I mean who isn't jonesing for more government discipline?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Catholics Asked to Tell Their Bishops to End Ban on Contraception

It has been 40 years since Pope Paul VI made a decision that plunged the Catholic Church back into Medieval times concerning the lives and health of women.

According to
Catholics For Choice, "... a decision was announced that has had a catastrophic impact on the poor and powerless around the world. On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI slammed the door on the hopes of the vast majority of Catholics and confirmed a complete prohibition on modern methods of contraception. The papal encyclical Humanae Vitae was a defining moment in modern church history and continues to be a source of great conflict and division in the church. It is a little-known fact that before Humanae Vitae was released the hand-picked Vatican Birth Control Commission voted overwhelmingly to recommend that the church rescind its ban on artificial contraception. However, the pope rejected that recommendation and today, the rupture that Humanae Vitae caused between the Vatican and lay Catholics remains."

Join Catholics For Choice is calling for a ban on this unfortunate policy.

“It is well known that Catholics, particularly those in the global north, have ignored this ban. It is time for them to speak out and say enough is enough. We need Catholics to pick up the telephone or send an e-mail to their local bishop saying that it is time to change church policy. Less-privileged people—who often only have access to health care through Catholic-run facilities or live in countries where the Catholic hierarchy has considerable influence over public policy—are dying as a result of the ban,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice.

"...Today polls show that Catholics, at least in the West, dissent from the teaching on birth control, often by majorities exceeding 80 percent. And that ... "it will also continue to be the most widely flouted injunction of the church at the level of practice," writes John L. Allen Jr., the senior correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter in today's The New York Times.

Sadly, there is a brutal double standard inherent in that reality - while Catholics in developed nations openly flaunt the policy due to ready access to health care, women in developing nations are enslaved by the policy and suffer dire consequences at its hands.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Bush Payback to the Right Wing

In the final days of his failed administration, George II is preparing to screw women as never before. His proposed regulation redefining abortion rules is aimed squarely at denying woman access to critical health care.

We need to inform everyone we know about this travesty and get them to
contact the White House and let this administration know how they feel.

Please act now! Before Bush takes away more of our rights!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Birth Control and tennis?!

Very interesting column by Elizabeth Toledo today of Camino PR... see below:

Birth Control at Wimbledon

July 6, 2008 ·

“The patch is a small, flesh-colored square that is barely noticeable.”
- Web MD

The Williams sisters were riveting on the tennis court Saturday. I completed a record number of miles on the elliptical machine because I couldn’t stop watching their Wimbledon match (and the TV only works if you keep peddling).

Serena Williams and Venus Williams were joined by Billie Jean King and Martina Navratolova, who cheered them on in the stands. Aside from the amazing athletic feats they have all logged, the social prejudices they challenged have paved roads on which, to some extent, we have all traveled. Billie Jean King “proved” that women and men were equal, Martina Navratolova heroically advocated for LGBT equality, and the Williams sisters broke racial stereotypes in tennis. As if all that awesomeness wasn’t enough on center court, there was Serena Williams wearing the birth control patch in full view.

Media accounts claims that the Williams sisters were conceived after their father hid their mother’s birth control pills, creating two successful unintended pregnancies. Although their mother was resistant to the idea of more children, he had already hatched a plan to raise world class athletes.

When King first graced center court birth control was banned, and when Navratolova reigned advertisements about birth control were still banned from the airwaves. It wasn’t until 2000 that the first birth control brand aired television commercials. Ortho advertised its birth control pills and also now is the only pharmaceutical to manufacture the patch.

This weekend Serena Williams put the patch visibly on the front page of the New York Times. When Ortho first introduced the patch they described it as “flesh toned” and advertised its discreet design. After objections from many women whose flesh is not light beige, the company changed its description. They now describe the patch as “beige”, and claim they don’t produce other colors because beige “best maintained its appearance over the 7-day wear period”. It’s hard to imagine exactly what dye challenge exists at Ortho.

Bandaid has been one of the major marketers of “flesh tone” over many decades, but over the year’s they upgraded their marketing to avoid the term “flesh”. Back in the 1960’s Crayola renamed its “flesh tone” crayon “peach”. In fact Crayola now sells “multicultural crayons” which are intended to represent the flesh tone of people around the world, which apparently is black, sepia, peach, apricot, white, tan, mahogany, and burnt sienna. I never got the multicultural crayons as a kid, we had the sensible-sized crayola box though we all longed for the massive box of crayons with the built in sharpener. I didn ‘t even realize I ought to be buying multicultural crayons for my kids and now I fear they are beyond crayolas. I am determined to get some this summer, however, so I can find out which crayola color matches my skin.

It’s a bit ironic perhaps that the most famous user of the patch is a far cry from the “flesh toned” standard that Ortho had envisioned. Makes you wonder if, in retrospect, Ortho wishes desperately that they had invested in a multicultural branding initiative in the early patch advertising days.