It’s true, I did it. I’m guilty of all of these crimes.

By making this woman feel threatened and afraid for her life, I am guilty of assault and battery. By entering the premises without permission, I have committed burglary. By causing a general disruption that significantly impacts someone’s life as well as the lives of their loved ones and which has led to this day in court, I am guilty of disorderly conduct. By inflicting harm on this woman, by nature of my presence, I am guilty of domestic violence. By insisting that my presence be made known, by not going away when asked and by interfering with the safety of this woman, I am guilty of harassment. Once the camera is on me, and as I am sitting here naked, I will soon be guilty of indecent exposure. By the time this is all over, since my presence will have disturbed the general perception that everyone has of this case, I will also be guilty of contempt of court. -Fetus Pro Se

If I say that this quote is allegedly the statement of a fetus, you’d probably call me out as saying something absurd,┬áright? At least, I would hope that you would. It is absurd. The idea that a fetus could ever have the capacity to understand and utter such things is absolute nonsense. Fetuses don’t know anything!

But while the italicized comments are absurd, that doesn’t mean that a fetus can’t be used in a court case. In Ohio’s battle over abortion rights, that’s precisely what they want to do.

When the news that a fetus would be present in court, the Internet, of course, responded with mockery. Were it the case that the fetus were to articulate some sort of testimony in its defense, I’m sure that mockery would have been justified. That isn’t what is happening here, though. Instead, the fetus pro se is actually not pro se (as in, it isn’t testifying on behalf of itself). The fetus is there so that it may be displayed in court as having a heartbeat.

Of course, this move seems clever on the part of the pro-life crowd, but just because something is a clever stunt does not mean we can just dismiss it as invalid. Since the question on this case is if a fetal heartbeat is enough to grant a fetus rights. It does make some sense, then, to demonstrate something to the court as to why that would be. Enter: Fetus.

Court cases serve an important function, for us, and while this case is offensive and horrible because it is a proposal to steal away our rights, we still have to let the judicial process happen and that means that if the other side makes their case by putting a pregnant woman on display, than so be it. Let the fetus trial begin!

It isn’t as if there aren’t many, many ways to argue against such a display. If you want to follow the same route as theirs, someone could certainly produce evidence of parasites which pulse and move in the human body. It would be easy to point out that, while a fetus has a heartbeat early on, that doesn’t mean that the fetus isn’t somehow causing harm by existing where it may be unwanted. Regardless of if some pro-life group is doing this in seriousness or is trying to slip in some complicated emotional appeal in their case, we have to let it happen and ridiculing it and pretending it is something that it is not (a fetus taking the stand) is only entertaining the desire by pro-lifers to assign a personal connotation to the fetus, instead of approaching the matter with some level of maturity and logic. If we have a case in court about heartbeats, let them present a heartbeat.

Oh, and get off my lawn.

Recently, I observed that my Rehymenator comic has had the most positive response of any comic I’ve done thus far. The comic was created specifically in light of this post on secondary virginity. The comic pokes fun at something that is actually a very serious issue around the world and one about which Dr. Martin Rundkvist wrote an excellent post on his blog in 2008. his post is mostly about how Swedish healthcare should cover the procedure, but he mentions some other important issues that are related and are global concerns. I highly encourage you to go read it and then come back to finish reading what I have to say about it.

Finished?

Good.

Dr. Rundkvist ties the issue of hymen reconstruction to another important issue, circumcision:

This recalls the issue whether public health care should offer male circumcision. As I have argued before, all genital mutilation of minors should of course be illegal — but as long as male infant circumcision remains legal, it should be part of public healthcare to avoid a proliferation of amateur circumcisionists.

I completely agree that unless there’s some sort of medical problem that requires it, all forms of non-consensual genital mutilation should be completely discouraged. It is horrible that, in this day, we try to uphold old cultural norms just on the basis that it is considered ‘normal,’ especially when those norms result in physically altering someone’s body, causing them pain and putting them at risk for things like infection. I don’t agree with one thing, though. I disagree with the approach, at this point in time, of making it illegal. I think it is too early. Circumcision is very popular in many developed and undeveloped countries and making it illegal right away is likely to push the procedure into an underground market and that would put infants and children at risk when unskilled and untrained individuals begin putting knives to their genitals.

I think that a better approach is to educate people about circumcision, the history and how unethical it is. With education, cultures tend to change and I think that making this a bigger issue can make them change rapidly, so that we can get to a point where the procedure is so rare that making it illegal is not going to be so risky and can be considered an overall benefit, at least in the United States. I think that’s probably true in Sweden, as well, but I don’t live there so I have to make room for the possibility of missing some contextual information.

Another thing I thought I should comment on is the very last part of Dr. Rundkvist’s post:

So, should public health care offer hymen reconstruction? In my opinion, yes, because hymen obsessives pay taxes too. But the procedure should only be available to people over the age of 18, who have the right to vote and must be assumed to make their own decisions about their fannies. The latter assumption is of course highly debatable in situations where a young woman runs the risk of being murdered by her uncles and cousins.

The only part of this that I disagree with are the age and voting restrictions. Sadly, many of the countries that have cultures that value in-tact hymens also have very young ages at which they try to marry their children off. Furthermore, because of the control that the male populace has over the women, sexual abuse is likely very common (though, obtaining statistical information on this is difficult and complicated). This sexual abuse puts the young girl at risk and if the only way to protect her from her family, even as a young girl, is to get her a new hymen, then I don’t think she should be restricted by an age law. I think that protecting her life should be a priority above all else. Until we can get her culture to progress beyond such a horrific state, if her life depends on that little bit of flesh, then any country which offers the procedure should avoid restricting it.

I should repeat, though, that Dr. Rundkvist’s post does contain some great points so I highly encourage you to go and read it.

2010-09-12-candc-52-undo-buttonAbstinence-only programs have been an absurd educational joke from their inception – many hundreds of years ago, when chastity belts were cool and a pregnancy could get a girl killed. As the evidence stacks up against the arguments that abstinence-only advocates use, their cognitive dissonance seems to increase and they come up with new ways to make them feel better about their ideas. This includes ignoring the problem once it has clearly failed.

In case you hadn’t heard, in order to regain the attention of teens who have failed to succeed at abstinence, there is an answer. As it turns out, people who have had sex before can still commit to abstinence and they can become a virgin again! That’s right, your sexual experiences apparently come with an ‘undo’ button, after all.

According to Reap (which is a really creepy name for a Catholic website), secondary virginity is a restoration of one’s purity after one has had sex. They say:

God has the power to restore your emotionally, spiritually and mentally to a place where you can be pure and whole again. Committing to chastity after mistakes is possible and helps you become an amazing gift for your future spouse.

Continue reading »

notwhattheypngDebates surrounding the emergency contraceptives have existed since the dawn of the technologies that have led to Emergency Contraceptives and professionally issued abortifacient. With the FDA’s approval of Ella One, or ulipristal acetate, the debate is back in full force and myths about Emergency Contraceptives abound and are so common that even the mainstream media has the most important facts about them all wrong.

In order to correct the errors, though, people need to understand a few things about common emergency contraceptives. First, it is important to know that abortifacients and emergency contraceptives are not always the same thing. While some emergency contraceptives can be used as an abortifacient, most emergency contraceptives are intended to prevent pregnancy altogether. They’re a kind of last line of protection when other forms of protection have failed. They aren’t intended for the abortion of an existing pregnancy.

Why does this confusion exist? Well, mostly because the most famous of emergency contraceptives, RU 486, also known as mifepristone, is used as an abortifacient in the US, but is not allowed for use, by the FDA, as an emergency contraceptive as it is used elsewhere. The side-effects of RU 486 are harsh compared to other drugs and on very rare occasions, can be dangerous and have contributed to people viewing it negatively. The varying uses of the drug around the globe have led to people confusing other drug uses with that of RU 486, leading to the common assumption that emergency contraceptives can be used interchangeably as abortifacients. The problem is reinforced by a few cases where severe reactions to the drug have led to injury and a few deaths. These deaths have increased tension over debates about the drug, even in instances where it was lack of post-treatment that led to the deaths. The debate over RU 486 is important within the reproductive rights movement today and should not be ignored. However, it also should not become a part of the issues related to emergency contraceptives.

Aside from the confusion over terms related to emergency contraceptives, there is also a general misunderstanding about emergency contraceptives, how they function and their effectiveness. So, how do they work? Well, each one works differently:

Levonorgestrel, known as Plan B in oral form, uses progestin to prevent pregnancy. Sometimes it is combined with an estrogen regimen in order to improve effectiveness. Plan B can be used as late as 120 hours after sex in order to prevent pregnancy, even though the recommendation is commonly said to be 48-72 hours. This difference in suggested time frame has to do with the effectiveness of the contraceptive over time. Just as with any emergency contraceptive, the sooner it is used, the more likely it is to be effective and the most effective time frame for the use of this method is within 72 hours, though it still can be used up to 120 hours after sex. Levonorgestrel is also used on the Mirena intrauterine system as a contraceptive/emergency contraceptive. The side effects for Levonorgestrel are unpleasant, including flu-like symptoms, irregular menstruation and breast soreness.

When combined with estrogen, Plan B is called the Yuzpe regime. Like with Plan B alone, the most effective time frame to use this method is within 72 hours. Studies have shown that progestin-only methods are far more effective than this regime and so it is less common for the Yuzpe regime to be used. Neither Plan B or the Yuzpe regime is effective in terminating established pregnancies. The side-effects of this regime are the same as with Plan B.

When used as a contraceptive, the aforementioned controversial drug, Mifepristone, prevents ovulation and implantation. Working to inhibit the effects of progesterone has led to it being useful in the treatment of various related medical conditions, like endometriosis, uterine fibroid tumors, and other medical conditions. If the drug is used after implantation, it is considered an abortifacient. Unlike the other methods, RU 486 has a lot of very unpleasant side-effects. These side effects have contributed to intensifying the debate around the use of the drug, even though reductions in dosage reduce the side effects when it is used as an emergency contraceptive. The range and severity of side effects have contributed so much to the stigma attached to the drug that it often overshadows the most common purpose of the drug in debates, even though studies on many of the effects are limited. Alongside the flu-like symptoms the other drugs also have, RU 486 also causes abdominal pain, excessive cramping, excessive bleeding, incomplete termination of pregnancy and pelvic inflammatory disease. These other side-effects are not necessarily common, but have frequently been highlighted in the news and in the campaign against the drug being used.

The newly approved drug, EllaOne, is about as effective as other emergency contraceptives. EllaOne, though, does not actually contain progesterone, but, instead, inhibits progesterone’s effect on the system. Unlike other emergency contraceptives, EllaOne’s side effects are limited. Side effects include abdominal pain and bleeding.

In all of this, another point should be clarified about the use of emergency contraceptives. Many people seem to think, and this is reinforced in the news, that the effectiveness rating of an emergency contraceptive is in relation to the use of the drug. this is not the case. Unlike with other drugs, when they are tested to see if the drug improves a medical situation or not, emergency contraceptives are a preventative drug. As a result, the effectiveness of the drug is measured like other prevention practices. We know what the rate of pregnancy is with unprotected sex, overall. Using that, we then compare the rate of pregnancy with the use of the emergency contraceptive to the rate of pregnancy without contraceptives. This gives us information on how effective a drug is in preventing pregnancy.

When it comes to reproductive choices, contraceptives play a very important role in women’s lives. It is important to understand what we are doing to our bodies when we use a particular birth control method and exactly what the terms people use mean when we hear about the debates that are related to reproduction. Women need to study their bodies and their options and even if they have no intention of ever getting pregnant, it is very helpful to understand the entire menstrual cycle as well as early stages of pregnancy so that you know what is going on with your body when you make reproductive choices.

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