Posts Tagged ‘Activism’

How successful were the SOPA and PIPA Blackouts?

January 19, 2012

Welcome back to the internet, everyone! Did you miss it? I missed it, but there were a couple of amusing highlights:

1) @herpderpedia – User @qrush made this Twitter account, which acted as a repository for all of the tweets from people freaking out about Wikipedia going dark. The F*bomb was dropped quite a bit, many users mourned the “death” of Wikipedia with RIPs, and there were  frantic queries from students about how they were supposed to finish reports. If you suffer from an overflow of hope for the human race, this will bring you back down with a healthy shot of cynicism.

WTF, Wikipedia!? How am I supposed to graduate now? Thanks for nothing! Image source

2) #FactsWithoutWikipedia was a  hilarious timesuck. People created stories, lies, satire and other “facts” about life, the universe and everything. And of course, a quick Wikipedia search was unable to dispel any of these during the blackout.

3) After a full day of laughing at those afflicted with #herpderpedia, I went to put together my write-up for this weekend’s interview with Sean Faircloth on Atheists Talk radio, and I had a moment of panic when I clicked on the bookmark of his wikipedia page and was denied.

Image source

Okay, it was a very quick moment of panic, because there were very simple work-arounds for getting to Wikipedia yesterday (after all the point was to raise consciousness about SOPA and PIPA, not to deny people access to the site). But, I decided to get my information the “old-fashioned” by going to the electronic sources of the information that Wikipedia articles mine to get their information. You know, the number two and three results that come up when you Google a subject.

Wikipedia has a page up now with their estimates of the success of the blackout. From Wikipedia:

Was the blackout successful?

The English Wikipedia joined thousands of other web sites in protesting SOPA and PIPA by blacking out its content for 24 hours. The purpose of the blackout was twofold: to raise public awareness, and to encourage people to share their views with their elected representatives.

During the blackout:

The page also reiterates some of the basic information about the bills, what we can to do keep up-to-date on SOPA and PIPA as they progress through Congress, and next steps that we can take in working to defeat SOPA/PIPA.

Wikipedia wasn’t the only site that went dark in protest of SOPA/PIPA. How was you day affected by yesterday’s blackouts?

SOPA and PIPA Blackouts

January 17, 2012

Yeah, so…I guess there’s no Wikipedia tomorrow.

Image Source

I started hearing about the SOPA/PIPA Blackouts today on Twitter. I am an internet junkie – I love blogs and social media. I love instant access to news, maps, updates from friends and family. I am a content-generator and sharer – I blog at two websites and read about 40-60 new blog entries every day. Okay, some of those get more browsed than read, but you get the picture.

However, I am not all that internet savvy. I’m a biology major who went to college when computer science courses were for nerds who had a much better understanding of math than I did. To be fair, that’s probably still true. So, I don’t know how the internet works. I know how to navigate some of the more popular areas of the internet, and that’s about as deep as I get.

But it caught my attention when I learned that Wikipedia and WordPress – the website that hosts this Biodork blog – are “going dark” tomorrow, Wednesday January 18th, 2012, to protest these two bills moving through Congress. I decided that I needed to learn more about SOPA (Stop Internet Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) and to try to find out for myself if they are as offensive and dangerous as some groups and people are saying.

I found this blog post at ABC News. It seems like a easy, non-technical introduction to the SOPA/PIPA controversy. It briefly explains the SOPA and PIPA bills, the ideas behind them, the objections to the bills, and the protest movement that has arisen in response to the bills. It also has current updates on the state of SOPA and PIPA in the Senate and House.

Over at AmericanCensorship.org, there is a simple infographic that lists the implications of SOPA/PIPA becoming law.

Then I searched WordPress to find out why my particular blogging site is participating in the protests. I found this article entitled Help Stop SOPA/PIPA published last week (01/10/12). The post isn’t very good at explaining the details of SOPA and PIPA, instead leaving that job to a Vimeo video called “Protect IP / SOPA Act Breaks the Internet” on a site called fightforthefuture/PIPA.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

The video says that PIPA will “give the right to censor the internet to the entertainment industry”.

It explains that “Private corporations want the ability to shut down unauthorized sites where people download movies, TV shows and music.” And that because most of these sites exist outside the US and US jurisdiction, corporations will focus their efforts on shutting down and blocking funding of the infringing sites  by going after US-based search engines, directories, blogs, forums, advertisers and payment services.

It highlights some problems with the bills – that it won’t stop downloading, but will encourage less secure work-arounds by hackers, that it would allow corporations to sue companies that they feel aren’t doing a thorough enough job to try to stop copyright violations on their websites, that other countries may follow in our footsteps, leading to “different internets in different countries” and giving unscrupulous governments powerful tools to hinder free expression, and it points out that corporations already have legislation in place to fight piracy.

The video ends with this:

Now the government and corporations could block any site, foreign or domestic, just for one infringing link. Sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook would have to censor their users or get shut down since they become liable for everything users post. And ordinary users could go to jail for five years for posting any copyrighted work – even just singing a pop song.

That’s a freaking scary idea, isn’t it?

In other circumstances I’d like to learn more, to speak with people who I think have a better grasp on the implications of SOPA and PIPA than I do. But tomorrow is a country-wide day of protest against these bills, and if they really are as big of a danger as they appear to be in my limited research, then I want to add my voice with other protestors.

So tomorrow I will take a chance of erring in support of those who say that SOPA and PIPA pose a threat to our security, our free speech, our ability to freely share content and exchange ideas with most of the world, and our access to some of our most cherished and important social and media-sharing websites. These freedoms are too precious to not stand up and ask for those in Congress to proceed with caution.

I am not going to “black out” my site. I want to leave this post up here and visible tomorrow. But I will add the ribbon, I will contact my Senators and Representatives with my concerns, and I will try to keep up with the SOPA and PIPA bills as they move through Congress. I will also limit my online activity tomorrow, including this blog.

Am I wrong? Am I missing something? Can you clarify any of the points that I mentioned above? I’d love your input in the comments below. I’ll read them and respond to them…on Thursday.

Gay is the new black…or isn’t it?

January 11, 2012

One of my friends posted a YouTube video on his Facebook wall, and I thought it was interesting enough to listen to the entire 11:34 piece (woah, attention span…where did you come from? You usually take off once I sit down at the interwebs).

The author of the video is speaking in response to the rallying cry “Gay is the new black”, and specifically to this article published in the Huffington Post at the end of December.

Image source: Fox News

Monique Ruffin’s Huffpo article is an interesting piece on how the “Black Church” is supporting oppression of gays. She calls out black Christians who would deny civil rights to gay people. She is also wondering how some black people in general would bemoan the phrase “Gay is the new black”, and asks them to see the similarities between the black struggle and the gay struggle, not just the differences between the two.

For me, the sufferings of a person or a group of people at the hands of other humans are frightening and heartbreaking. Instinctually, I feel that if any group can be oppressed, then I can be oppressed. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made this very point when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This is why I’m always flabbergasted when I see some black Christians fighting against the civil rights of gays. We know firsthand the impact and dehumanization of discrimination.

Melvin too calls for blacks and gays to see the similarities of their struggles, but he lists 5 reasons why gay is not the new black.

1.You can’t compare oppressions. If I understand Melvin’s point, he’s calling out those who oversimplify the fight for civil rights undertaken by blacks and by gays and lumping them together in the phrase “Gay is the new black.” Like Ruffin, he asks us to avoid trying to say that one is more of a struggle than the other, but urges us to recognize that each had and has its unique challenges and battles; they are not the same. I liked this section:

Who the hell cares? Who the hell cares? Inequality and oppression are evil, regardless of the form they take. By comparing your oppression to someone else’s, you’re trivializing that person’s struggle and creating a hierarchy, which prevents you from seeing how the two struggles are related and building alliances.

2. Black is still black. “We can’t just hone in on homophobia and ignore other systems of inequality.” Here he describes how the struggle for black equality is not over, and those who lobby for gay rights under the banner of “black rights were then, gay rights are now” are blind to the the ongoing battles still being waged for black rights.

3.  _____ is the new black. I found this argument to be very similar to number two. Again, Melvin is pointing out that discrimination comes from all corners, and chastises people who are so proud to support gay or black rights and forget the Latina, the person with a disability, the woman, the muslim. The take away from this is we can’t just focus on homophobia and forget the other injustices being fought.

When I hear someone say that gay is the new black, and that gay rights are the new civil rights issue of our time, it makes me think they’re pretty ignorant. It makes me think, you know, that person just doesn’t really give a damn about people of color, women, people with disabilities, transgender people, or any other group facing discrimination these days.

4. Gay is not the new anything. Here Melvin gives props to the gay community. Gay is not new, gay oppression is not new, the gay struggle is not new. Gay people have been fighting their fight for over a century. He’s saying gays don’t need to tie onto the black struggle to get their message across because the gay community has been holding its own.

5. So, transgender is the new gay – not. This is a different presentation of 2 and 3: There are other marginalized groups out there, not just the gay community. He is specifically speaking about the transgender community here. Melvin makes an argument that the GLB community has for the most part largely ignored issues facing transgendered people.

In closing, Melvin tells us that we can’t compare gay oppression and the black oppression, but we can learn from the movements of both groups and the ways they have each organized.

So, is gay the new black?

In Ruffin’s Huffpo article she is using the phrase “Gay is the new black” to hit black Christians who discriminate against gays over the head. She is not breaking down the phrase to ask if it is a perfect metaphor, she is using it to remind black Christians that gays are being discriminated against, as they were once were (not in the same way, but nevertheless, they both have been are being oppressed). Melvin is more concerned with the actual metaphor and is asking us to stop using it.

Every activist group needs a battle cry, but is this the right one for the GLBT community? Does it simplify and trivialize other types of discrimination?

It is a frustrating situation; when it comes to civil rights, why is there any other distinction that “human”?

Delta Airs Anti-Vax Advertisement

November 4, 2011

I haz a sad.

I like flying Delta. There’s a huge hub here in Minneapolis. I have the Delta SkyMiles card so I can rack up points and fly places for free (well, freeish, but that’s another post), and I’ve generally had very good experiences on Delta flights.

So, I was sad when I saw this in my Twitter stream yesterday:

It turns out that Delta and In-Flight Media are presenting a nearly three-minute ad that trivializes the flu and tells the audience that:

  1. You don’t have to worry about preventing the flu – FALSE.
  2. Most illnesses that present with flu-like symptoms are not the flu – TRUE.
  3. Washing your hands is a good way to help you stay healthy. – TRUE.
  4. Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze is a good way to minimize spreading germs – TRUE.
  5. Drink water to keep your body hydrated – TRUE.
  6. Get the right amount of sleep and reduce stress levels to decrease your chances of getting sick – PROBABLY TRUE.
  7. Vitamin C and D – found in nutritious food  – are effective, natural preventatives – FALSE.
  8. Regular exercise helps keep your immune system strong. – TRUE.
  9. The flu shot is an option. Research the different types of flu vaccines your doctor may recommend. SURE, WHY NOT?

Who would advocate against being an informed consumer? I applaud people who are willing to research their health care options. But, when considering the source (psst – it’s one of the country’s biggest anti-vaccine organizations), and considering the place that they direct you to research flu vaccines (psst – It’s their hugely anti-vaccine propogranda-laden website filled with misinformation about all sorts of vaccines), the little alarm bells in your head should start to ring, buzz, sing, or talk – whichever you’ve got your alarm set to.

Elyse Anders – the president of the  Women Thinking Free Foundation and driver behind the Hug Me I’m Vaccinated Campaign brought this story to my attention via her article on Skepchick.org. Elyse has a list of things that you can do to help protest to Delta and the associated organizations that are allowing this ad to run.

  1. Sign the CHANGE.ORG petition. Add your name to those of us who would like Delta to remove the advertisement. Change.org works, and it’s an easy way to make your voice heard.
  2. Tweet: “#fludelta @DeltaAssist @Delta If you’re so concerned about safety, stop running potentially deadly anti-vaccine ads http://wp.me/pbblq-6qu
  3. Facebook/YouTube: Add your comments about the video here. The content has been removed from Facebook, but you can still see it on YouTube. The owner, In-Flight Media, has disabled commenting, but you can still downrate it.
  4. Share Elyse’s post on Facebook and Twitter.
  5. Tell your friends and family about the campaign and get them involved!

The last time Elyse was involved in a campaign against vaccine misinformation advertisements by this group placed in Times Square, the ads were pulled. With all of our help, hopefully we can make it happen again!

Fighting Kindness with Kindness

September 16, 2011

We’ve heard the stories of abortion doctors and clinic staff being harrassed at their places of employment and at their homes. Even those peripherally associated with clinics have been targeted by protesters for harrassment. 

A Germantown, Maryland abortion clinic landlord receives calls and letters from protesters every day. The anti-choice group Defend Life distributed to its members the landlord’s personal contact information, including the names of his wife and two children. Members were asked to write or call him to ask – in a polite, Christian manner – if he would evict the clinic occupants from his building. He reported that the phone calls and emails have so far been polite, but felt that the protesters went too far when this week they went to his children’s school and a held up a huge banner printed with his name, address, phone number and photograph and the words “Please Stop the Child-Killing” for all of the parents and children of the school to see. 

The landlord has had enough, and has decided to launch a counter-campaign to return the “loving” emails, letters and phone calls that he and his family have received since Defend Life has targeted them. From an article on the story from Alternet:

So he’s decided that it’s time to call back, politely, with thanks for the prayers and wishes he has received, and with the hope that a phone call and email will literally bring home to his “gentle” opponents what it’s like to have that safe personal space invaded–even by so-called well-wishers.

Here is one of the landlord’s original emails, which he sent to the early supporters of the campaign:

I would like to organize a campaign to call and email each of these “concerned citizens” back. It would be 100 times as thoughtful if each of the people who called or emailed me got 100 calls or emails from people who lovingly and in a Christian way said to them:

1) The family truly appreciates your prayers.

2) Your opinions and pleas have been heard but

3) Defend Life has unfortunately misinformed you about the [family]‘s legal rights regarding their ability to evict or terminate the lease of the clinic.

If you would like to help by sending polite emails, letters or phone calls to anti-choice protesters who have targeted the landlord, you can contact enddlterrorism@gmail.comto learn more. One thing to know: the landlord does not want people to be part of the campaign if they cannot be polite and non-confrontational. So no yelling, no threatening, no snark. If you can’t do that, don’t bother to sign up. Also, I volunteered to do some of this, but I’m watching out for my safety and privacy; I will be using a private, dedicated email account and a Google Voice phone number.

I think this is an interesting idea. I generally don’t engage in arguments with pro-lifers for the sake of attempting to change someone’s mind about the issue. But this campaign isn’t seeking to change people’s minds about abortion; it’s about getting individuals to rethink their tactics. If even one person is upset with the barrage of emails and phone calls that they’re about to get, perhaps they will understand how annoying and disruptive being on the receiving end of this type of campaign can be, and maybe they’ll decide not to engage in harrassing other human beings in this way in the future.

Boston SlutWalk 2011

May 18, 2011
I am very, very excited to introduce a guest post by Jo O. All words and photos are hers, and have not been edited from her original submission. For more of Jo’s photos from the Boston SlutWalk, please visit her BostonSlut Walk set on Flickr.
*******************

Last Saturday I attended the Boston SlutWalk, one of many satellite walks affiliated with the Toronto SlutWalk held in early April. The original SlutWalk was organized in response to a statement made in January by a Toronto police officer during a campus safety forum at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School where he stated “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

Although he eventually issued an apology, organizers of the Toronto SlutWalk were not deterred, stating that police failed the citizens by allowing this culture of slut-shaming to enter the ranks of those sworn to serve and protect. “With sexual assault already a significantly under-reported crime, survivors have now been given even less of a reason to go to the Police, for fear that they could be blamed.” And it’s not just Toronto Police that are the problem, which is why this message grew from a small group of people who heard the insensitive comment to the launch of satellite walks in London, Boston, Dallas, and many other cities (including Minneapolis on August 6th).

The belief that a woman’s choice of clothing could cause a man to lose control of his sexual urges is absurd and offensive to men and women alike. But this attitude exists everywhere, from the professionals to whom we report a crime to the communities expected to provide support. When an 11-year old girl was gang raped in Cleveland, Texas, the New York Times article about the case highlighted just how skewed some people’s views of the situation were. Interviews with residents familiar with the victim and the attackers focused on the fact that the victim “dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s” as well as concerns about how the young men involved would “have to live with this the rest of their lives.”

Admittedly, I’ve harbored similar prejudices in the past, which is why I came out for the Boston SlutWalk. It’s easy to say that under no circumstances is rape acceptable, but it’s more difficult to quiet that voice in your head that asks inappropriate questions that don’t matter, like “what kind of reputation does she have?” or “what was she wearing?” When I told a friend of mine I was going to this event, he asked me if I thought a man wearing a Rolex or flashing a wad of cash should be surprised when he gets mugged. It stumped me for a second, until I thought about how sad it is to assume that an expensive trinket in someone’s hand would cause everyone in the vicinity make a grab for it or that seeing a little cleavage would suddenly turn any man into a sex-crazed animal. It assumes that every person out there is a potential attacker, a likely thief or a possible rapist. It also wrongly puts fault on the victim, when the blame should always fall squarely on the shoulders of the actual perpetrators of violence.

In the build up to the event, people questioned why a SlutWalk was being held in Boston. Did we really want to take back the word “slut” anyway? Did we want to advocate slutty behavior? Was this really the message we want to send to the children spending a nice day in the park with their parents? The true message was obvious at the event, when two thousand people, young and old, male and female, gay, straight, bi, and transgendered all came together in Boston to say we would not tolerate slut-shaming or victim-blaming anymore.

As Jaclyn Friedman said during her speech, “It ends because there is truly nothing, NOTHING you can do to make someone raping you YOUR fault. It ends because calling other people sluts may make you feel safer, but it doesn’t actually keep you safer. It ends because not one more of us will tolerate being violated and blamed for it. And it ends because all of this slut-shaming does more to us than just the violence of rape. As if that weren’t enough. The violent threat of slut-shaming also keeps us afraid of our bodies and our desires. It makes us feel like we’re wrong, and dirty, and bad, and yes very, very unsafe, when all we want is to enjoy the incredible pleasure that our bodies are capable of.”

Jaclyn Friedman at Boston SlutWalk 2011

The SlutWalk wasn’t just about one stupid statement made by a cop. It is a response to the skewed way society looks at victims of sexual assault. It doesn’t matter how many sexual partners a person has or what they like to wear, rapes happen because a rapist is around. The SlutWalk is a call for people to stand up together and say I’m not ashamed of liking sex, I’m not ashamed of the way I choose to dress, and I will stand up against anyone who suggests a victim of rape was “asking for it.”

Planned Parenthood on Good Friday

April 22, 2011

Good Friday protesting is a tradition at the Highland Park Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, MN. Every year on this day a prayer vigil is held and hundreds of anti-choice supporters gather to pray to God for an end to abortion. In response, hundreds of pro-choice supporters gather to walk and cheer their support for the services that Planned Parenthood provides and a woman’s right to reproductive choice.

This is the first year that I’ve participated in the solidarity event, and the first time I have visited the Highland Park Planned Parenthood. I arrived at 7:30am and found a parking spot not too far from the clinic. Everything was very well-organized with cones, mobile fencing and plenty of uniformed police. An area for protesters was set up on one side of the clinic’s driveway, PPFA (Planned Parenthood Federation of America) supporters were on the other. There was a division between the two groups of about the length of the clinic itself, and the only people who were allowed to stop in this neutral zone were police and on-duty Highland Park clinic escorts.

The police and escorts were very good about keeping people from both groups off of the sidewalks and property unless they were walking through (that’s my way of saying I was wrist-slapped twice during the day for standing on the sidewalk while I took photos).  

Both groups were setting up when I arrived. I signed in at the pro-choice supporter’s booth, grabbed a sign (“Women’s Health Matters”) and joined a small group which had started walking clockwise around our “pen”.

The PPFA supporter sign-in area was in the clinic parking lot, but escorts did a great job of keeping the driveway entry clear for patients and staff.

At around 7:30am, the walk begins!

One of the first things I noticed as I was getting in line was a nearby run-down white building with a sign out front that said “Highland LifeCare Center”. I walked down to take a look.

Ugh. Yup – Crisis Pregnancy Center. CPCs usually position themselves close to clinics that provide abortions. This isn’t a medical clinic, but a “counseling” center. CPCs exist to try to keep women from getting abortions, and they have been known to use some pretty sneaky and underhanded tactics to achieve that goal. Bummer that this one is here.

8:00am and the crowds grow larger:

As time went on, more and more people showed up for both sides. There was no drama that I saw; both sides kept to themselves. The protesters chanted bible verses, sang hymns and church leaders showed up to give sermons and lead prayers. There were a few anti-choice signs, but nothing graphic, no bloody fetus replicas or yelling or screaming. I think that for most of them this was a pretty solemn occasion.

Okay, I swear that the appearance of the DQ Chicken Strip sign is purely coincidental and was not an attempt at humor. But it does kinda look like one of the marchers could be carrying it, doesn’t it? Pro-lifers for Chicken Strips!

There was little to do except chat, walk and cheer – which was a blast! I had a chance to meet some interesting people, including a lovely, charming woman who has been involved in the pro-choice movement since 1991. She told me about the illegal abortion she obtained back in the day, and how years she later she tracked down the doctor who had provided her abortion in order to thank him. I spoke with a gentleman who is interning with the MN National Organization for Women, and who I had met at the much chillier Walk4Choice back in February. And then I ran into some friends who I hadn’t even known were pro-choice supporters!


Walking at PPFA solidarity events is a great way to make new friends…


…and a good place to have surprise meet ups with current friends!

We were walking on Ford Parkway and there was a lot of passing traffic, a lot of supportive horn honking, and very little heckling. I did see one woman make a cross with her fingers (what are we – vampires? And get your hands back on the steering wheel, lady!), and I heard another walker exclaim, “I think that woman just hissed at us!” and start giggling. The supporters who drove by were very vocal and wildly waved out of their car windows or gave thumbs up. For those who didn’t agree with our message, well…Minnesota Nice kept them most of them politely disdainful and quiet.

Around 10am some of the PPFA supporters held a non-denominational service and sing-along.

And that was about it for me. There was a little drizzle, and the weather was cool, but not not horribly uncomfortable. I ended up leaving at around 11:30am when the crowds swelled so much that we could hardly move around our allotted space. I ran off to have lunch with the Hubby, and on the way back to his office we drove by and added some of our own honking and waving to the mix.

All in all, it was a really good experience and I’m glad I participated.

Anti-Vax Action Alert: VaxCBS

April 9, 2011

This advertisement by the Mercola and National Vaccine Information Center is set to run in New York City’s Time Square on the CBS Outdoor JumboTron on 42nd street.

Both of the groups behind this “PSA” are well-known for their anti-vaccination efforts. They want people to question the safety and efficacy of vaccines, to believe that it may be safer for your child to not vaccinate, that vaccines cause more injury than not vaccinating.

Forget that.

This is a dangerous advertisement, and while the ad might seem mild, what it implies is a lie that has been debunked time and time again by science-based medicine. What they want their viewers to believe has the potential to harm.

Elyse from Skepchick and Women Thinking Free Foundation is organizing an effort to make this ad not happen. From her post on skepchick.org:

Mercola and the NVIC are determined to convince Americans that vaccines are dangerous and optional, that more harm is done by administering vaccines than by letting infectious disease ravage a population.

And that message needs to be stopped. Especially right now.

Right now:

Right now we need to be promoting vaccines. Right now real people are at risk because of unfounded vaccine fears. Right now measles should be eradicated in the US.

If you feel that Mercola/NVIC’s deceptive advertisement should not air to hundreds of thousands of people on CBS’s JumboTron, here’s how you can make your voice heard:

As one commenter on change.org put it “This is not a case of two opposing but valid sides of a disagreement – this is a seriously damaging misinformation campaign that misrepresents established knowledge with speculation based on already-rejected nonsense masquerading as science.”

Let’s help make sure that we don’t give credence to this dinkus-ness, okay?

Walk4Choice Minneapolis

March 1, 2011

On Saturday I walked with the Minneapolis contingent of the nation-wide Walk4Choice, a visibility event meant to draw attention to the recent anti-health legislation being proposed by pro-life advocates at both the federal and state levels.

Several bills have been introduced in 2011 which would do (or would have done) things like expand conscience clauses, define murder of those who attempt to harm a fetus as justifiable homicideredefine rape so that some types of rape would be “worse” than others (and thus less deserving of abortion and funding for abortion), put financial pressure on insurance companies who cover abortions, and call for the investigation of miscarriages as prenatal murder unless they can be proven to be spontaneous.

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching bills are those like H.R.3: No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion, which would cut federal funding for organizations that provide any type of abortion services. That means that organizations like Planned Parenthood would lose federal funding for desperately needed services such as contraception, breast and cervical cancer screening, gynecological exams, STD testing and other routine lab work, treatment for urinary tract infections and yeast infections and countless other services, education and support.

And here’s the real kicker with these bills that are being introduced in the interest of “not forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions”: Because of the Hyde Amendment, Planned Parenthood (and others) already cannot use federal funding in the vast majority of abortion services. Planned Parenthood serves over five million clients a year, and only about 3% of their services involve abortion counseling and abortion procedures.  Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face.

H.R. 3 passed the US House on 2/18/11 and will next go before the Senate.

These types of bills are not intended to protect we taxpayers or to save lives; they are a distraction from greater problems that we face as a country. The lawmakers who are introducing these bills are wasting time until they can have a crack at the 2012 elections. Unfortunately, we can’t just dismiss these bills as the political posturing that we know them to be because people will suffer if we defund organizations like Planned Parenthood, if we restrict safe, legal access to abortion, if we stop offering affordable health services to men and women in a health care environment like the one we have in this country. So we write opinion pieces and blog posts, we call and email our congress members, we sign petititions, we send checks to organizations that support our rights, we have conversations with our friends and family.

And we walk.

Walk4Choice Minneapolis heads out from the intersection of 4th Street SE and 15th Ave SE in Dinkytown by the University of Minnesota, led by walk organizer Nora.

Walk4Choice supporters pose in front of the Minneapolis skyline on the Stone Arch Bridge. In total we had about 20 volunteers, with some people showing up later on the route.

In front of Minneapolis City Hall as the light rail glides by. Half of the group is huddling for warmth in the train shelter.


Two walkers laugh and cheer as we get shouts of support and honking from passing traffic. We had some hecklers and a few curses were thrown our way,
but for the most part people were polite. The honks, thumbs up, waves and cheers were very welcome encouragement.

Here we are on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. You can see the Pantages theater in the background. Halfway through the walk my lips and cheeks were so cold that I had trouble forming the word “women” when we chanted “Trust Women!”. We ended up walking about five miles on slushy, cold, icy, windy, snowy sidewalks and streets, and our organizer later used the hashtag #freeze4choice to describe our walk on Twitter.

What are you doing for Darwin Day?

February 11, 2011

Tomorrow is Charles Darwin’s 202nd birthday. How are you celebrating?

I’m going to the ZOO!

I’m pulling together an event with the Minneapolis Skeptics to celebrate International Darwin Day. We’re going to visit the Como Park Zoo’s primate house, chat Darwin, share our favorite evolution books, movies, and news, take pictures with our primate cousins and/or whatever else people feel like doing. We’ll be meeting inside the main entrance at 1pm, and I invite you to join us. If you come out, look for me – I’ll be the woman holding the Happy Darwin Day sign! 

If you’re not into the zoo, you could visit the Science Museum of Minnesota tomorrow between 1pm-4pm; they’re holding a Darwin Day event and showing a film called A Portrait of Charles Darwin.

And/or, go pick up a copy of Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth at Big Brain Comics in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday.  Bonus: The cartoonists, Zander and Kevin Cannon, will be signing their graphic novel about evolution at 4pm.

And finally – you can help celebrate Darwin Day and the importance of scientific inquiry by signing a petition hosted by Rep Pete Stark and the American Humanist Associateion in support of H. Res 81, which would recognize every February 12th as Darwin Day.

From the AHA website:

In a statement, Representative Stark said, “Darwin’s birthday is a good time for us to reflect on the important role of science in our society. It is also a time to redouble our efforts to ensure that children are being taught scientific facts, not religious dogma, and to fight back against those who seek to undermine the science of climate change for political ends.”

Go HERE to learn more and to sign the petition.

Happy Darwin Day!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers