How to eliminate extreme poverty according to the UNFPA

Via Planned Parenthood, the UNFPA has recently released its 2005 State of the World Population report. Which in my opinion states the obvious. That the elimination of extreme poverty cannot be achieved without ensuring gender equality and making reproductive healthcare readily available to all women, especially those living in ‘developing nations’.

[...]The report focuses on the fact that the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight goals aimed at eliminating extreme poverty worldwide, cannot be achieved without significant investments in furthering gender equality and reproductive health.

Gender inequities can take the hardest toll on women living in poverty. Gender discrimination in education and employment can lead to poverty. Today, nearly twice as many woman as men are illiterate, and women continue to face discrimination in employment and lower pay in the workplace.[...]

And we are living in a world where millions of women have no access to reproductive health care, because they cannot afford services, because their husbands or parents won’t allow them to get services, or simply because there is no provider available.

The lack of access to care is compounded by harmful traditional practices like female cutting/female genital mutilation, early marriage, and transactional sex, which increase women’s risk of HIV/AIDS and leave many women unable to negotiate sex or condom use.

The Results?

Every minute of every day, a woman dies of a pregnancy-related cause. In sub-Saharan Africa, one in 16 women is likely to die as a result of pregnancy. In some of the poorest parts of this region, as many as one in six women face these odds. (To compare, this risk is one in 2,800 women in industrialized nations.)[...]

A severe lack of access to family planning leads to 76 million unintended pregnancies each year in the developing world alone.

When women cannot decide freely when and whether to have a child (or even when or whether to have sex) they are left with multiple unintended pregnancies, which prevent them from working outside the home, trapping them in poverty.

Too often, to make ends meet, parents decide to pull their daughters out of school so they can earn money or marry their daughters off to have fewer mouths to feed.

Giving women the right to education, the right to control their bodies, and the right to equal treatment in the workforce can help break the cycle of poverty.[...]

But we cannot achieve these goals unless governments commit to gender equality and reproductive rights.

Guess one of the nations that’s not entirely committed to this effort.

Though UNFPA is the only multilateral agency devoted to providing adults and adolescents with family planning and reproductive health care services, the Bush administration has withheld congressionally approved funding to UNFPA for the past four years.[...]

And with Bush nominating people like Ellen Sauerbrey to be Assistant Secretary of State on the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, there’s no doubt of how “committed” the administration is to this effort of eliminating poverty, via gender equality and reproductive rights.

[...]Sauerbrey, the current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, is not well prepared to take the job, having little experience working with refugees and a long record of opposing reproductive rights.[...]

However, Sauerbrey’s record on reproductive health and family planning raises more than a few red flags:

—She has not only repeatedly stated her opposition to the right to choose abortion but has also declared that abortion is not a legitimate element of reproductive health assistance.

—She approves of President Bush’s withholding of funding to UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, charging that the money is “being used for coercive abortions in China,” despite numerous findings to the contrary.

—Sauerbrey has also denied that adolescents have any right to exercise autonomous control over their reproductive health and has called abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education the healthiest and most responsible method of HIV prevention suitable for adolescents.

Along with opposing reproductive health and rights, Sauerbrey has taken extremist positions on other women’s rights issues in the context of the United Nations.

In her role at the U.N. she has opposed ratification of the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a United Nations treaty agreed to by more than 180 countries (excluding the United States), and has also objected to language in U.N. documents that requires countries to “condemn violence against women and refrain from invoking any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination as set out in the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.”[...]

So does allowing governments to invoke certain religious customs in the form of the law, no matter how misogynist they can be, take precedent over ending violence against women–because it’s “religious?” And does ideology take precedent over helping efforts such as the UNFPA’s to eliminate extreme povery, by supporting gender equality and reproductive rights? Perhaps for people like Sauerbrey and this administration it does.

This entry posted in Abortion & reproductive rights, Anti-feminists and their pals, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc., Feminism, sexism, etc, Gender and the Economy, International issues, UNFPA. Bookmark the permalink. 

77 Responses to How to eliminate extreme poverty according to the UNFPA

  1. 1
    Kyra says:

    “So does allowing governments to invoke certain religious customs in the form of the law, no matter how misogynist they can be, take precedent over ending violence against women”“because it’s “religious?” And does ideology take precedent over helping efforts such as the UNFPA’s to eliminate extreme povery, by supporting gender equality and reproductive rights?”

    Duh. It’s the Bush administration.

  2. 2
    Kyra says:

    “has also declared that abortion is not a legitimate element of reproductive health assistance.”

    Well, I can see where she might come up with that . . . I mean, slaves can be “healthy” despite being forced to labor against their will.

    Y’know, I’ve been thinking about how accurate the “slave” analogy is in regards to forced pregnancy. Aside from the obvious lack of control over one’s own body, the idea that “someone wants something (in this case live babies), therefore they force other people to create that thing (via pregnancy), is pure slavery, plus there’s the added insult that once it’s created, the people who forced its completion don’t care about it anywhere near enough to justify all the time and effort that went into it. This has strong overtones of classism—that one person’s months of work, forced at that, is worth almost nothing to the people who demanded that it be done. The anti-abortion, anti-birth-control, anti-welfare, anti-education conservatives are the equivalent of a rich slaveowner, who has her slaves spend months creating a fantastically beautiful, intricate, labor-intensive dress, wears it once, and throws it away, or perhaps doesn’t even bother to wear it at all. Their months of labor are not worth so much as a half-hour of her time, and certainly aren’t worth any compensation beyond that which keeps them alive to do their job, and sometimes not even that.

  3. 3
    Barbara says:

    Is there any reason to believe that there is a groundswell of support in the U.S. or at least in the Bush administration for eliminating poverty among women in the developing world? Everything the administration does can be expected to be a narcissistic extension of its domestic political positions. Nothing more, nothing less. Even when it tries to look good as when it did by extending aid to Africa for HIV drugs, it isn’t earnest — the money had already been allocated to foreign aid, it just came from some other program, and most of it was earmarked to buy U.S. drugs at the usual inflated prices. The U.S.’s role in the U.N. with regard to advancing the status of women has been to stand tall with the Vatican, Saudi Arabia and other bastions of female power.

  4. 4
    RonF says:

    The President’s views are one thing, and not particularly favorable to those who frequent this blog. But witholding money from that corrupt cabal known as the U.N. is not de facto evidence that you oppose their stated aims.

    …She has not only repeatedly stated her opposition to the right to choose abortion but has also declared that abortion is not a legitimate element of reproductive health assistance.

    Well, Bush’s constituency is generally anti-abortion, so this is pretty much to be expected. And to call abortion “reproductive health assistance” seems like misleading rhetoric to me. I can see treatment for venereal disease, cervical cancer, variocele, etc. counts as reproductive health assistance. But how many people need an abortion to maintain their health, reproductive or otherwise?

    …She approves of President Bush’s withholding of funding to UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, charging that the money is “being used for coercive abortions in China,” despite numerous findings to the contrary.

    Who made the findings? Anybody that can be trusted? A large fraction of the UN’s membership are countries that are dictatorships and oppose America’s policies. I’m willing to believe that the UNFPA does, in fact, keep their funds from funding abortions in China and that Bush is being an asshole about this, but I’d like to know who’s auditing the books.

    …Sauerbrey has also denied that adolescents have any right to exercise autonomous control over their reproductive health

    Does this mean that she opposes allowing a kid who can’t legally authorize a school nurse to give them an asprin without their parent’s permission the right to get an abortion without that same permission? Good.

    and has called abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education the healthiest and most responsible method of HIV prevention suitable for adolescents.

    This is debatable? Do the authors of this report think that having sex and using birth control is healthier and more responsible for adolescents than abstinence? Yow. Obviously a lot of adolescents (what are the official age limits on adolescence?) are going to have sex and should be given the information necessary to not catch AIDS or other diseases and not get pregnant. Fine. But would these authors hold that this is more responsible and healthier than abstinence?

    In her role at the U.N. she has opposed ratification of the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a United Nations treaty agreed to by more than 180 countries (excluding the United States), and has also objected to language in U.N. documents that requires countries to “condemn violence against women and refrain from invoking any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination as set out in the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.”[...]

    Sounds serious. Does anyone know what the rationale for the American position on this was?

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    AAAARGH!

    I’m very sorry, but I just accidently deleted someone’s post by hitting the wrong button. It was a short post, at least.

    If you posted here a little before noon pacific time, and you don’t see your post here, please repost it. And again, I’m really sorry.

    (P.S. You may have noticed that this post appears on two threads. It’s not because I made the same dumb error twice; it’s because I’m not sure which of these two threads the post I deleted was on).

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    Who made the findings? Anybody that can be trusted?

    RonF, you can read a longish answer to your question here.

    Short version: Multiple investigations have found that UNFPA isn’t supporting coercive abortion in China, including at least two that can’t credibly be accused of pro-UN bias: a delegation of British MPs headed up by a pro-lifer, and a team from the Bush state department.

  7. 7
    Kyra says:

    “I can see treatment for venereal disease, cervical cancer, variocele, etc. counts as reproductive health assistance. But how many people need an abortion to maintain their health, reproductive or otherwise?”

    Included in the concept of “health” is to not have a condition impede or restrict your normal activities, or cause discomfort or inconvenience, or change your body and/or appearance in an undesireable way. It is defined not only in terms of medical risk but in terms of unwanted physical/psychological effects. Some physical or emotional condition that interferes with your enjoyment of day-to-day life is a health issue, regardless of its health *risk*, and one’s expectation of health care includes as much help as possible to be free of these things.

    A common cold, for example, has little medical risk, but it’s not fun at all suffering several days breathing through your mouth and not tasting food because your nose is completely stopped up. It’s not a risk at all, but it’s a health problem because it makes life unpleasant. A different cold might have the same medical risk, but much lighter symptoms, and thus be considered less of a health problem. They have equal medical risk, they’re the same disease, but one causes negative physical effects and therefore becomes more of a health problem.

    Pregnancy’s negative effects are subjective. Some women enjoy being pregnant; some hate it, some have no strong feelings about it, some find it an inconvenience to be put up with for having children. Some don’t find it inconvenient at all, others find it terrible. Without going into detail about the variations in different pregnancies, complications, etc, there are effects that pregnancy almost always has, and there are many women who consider them to be negative and unwelcome and interfering with their lives. As such they do not consider themselves “healthy,” although they may be in perfect health, because they find the pregnancy to be something wrong with their bodies.

    Pregnancy swells up one’s abodmen to huge proportions. It stretches skin and muscle out of shape, often disfiguring the skin permanantly. This is a significant physical change, and often a very unwelcome one. People can legitimately complain about smaller swellings, and expect treatment for them, so it is not suitable to tell someone to just live with it. Pregnancy causes an increased demand for nutrients and oxygen, and minerals such as calcium are diverted to the growing fetus before the woman gets any. Other conditions which interfere with one’s body’s access to nutrients and minerals are considered to be health problems, and treated, as are conditions that cause increased blood pressure, increased demand on one’s kidneys, and even fluid retention.

    Pregnancy also interferes with many normal activities, and a few not-so-common ones that some people enjoy greatly and do often. A person who drinks alcohol on a regular basis will find that pregnancy interferes with their ability to do so, and any other condition which makes the consumption of alcohol dangerous can be considered a health problem. A pregnant woman might not be welcome to compete in a martial arts or boxing tournament, just like a person with a recent injury might be unable to compete—and treatment is available for injuries, rather than waiting for them to go away on their own. Pregnant women may not ride roller coasters, and the other things that prevent people from riding them are all health conditions which, if untreatable, are not for lack of trying.

  8. 8
    cooper says:

    With the possible overturning of roe v wade this country will be doing the same thing in perpetuating the poverty of the already struggling lower socioeconomic class of women as that is the only class it will really have an effect on. The misogyny has not even begun to be addressed in the rest of the world despite it all. How could this country with this administration even present a pretense of supporting such when all that is going on here points n the exact opposite direction.

  9. 9
    NancyP says:

    In the third world, women DO die of pregnancy. They get eclampsia, they have non-progression of labor and uterine rupture, they have puerpural sepsis, and if they don’t have money, don’t live near surgical care – they die. In some countries (worst cases, such as Afghanistan) there is a 3% risk of death during each pregnancy. This is similar to the situation in medieval Europe. Furthermore, pregnancy in rapid succession tends to render third world women anemic and malnourished, as well as making both mother and existing children more vulnerable due to loss of health and labor of the mother, required to feed the existing children.

    I just love how smug anti-abortion people living in wealth in advanced-medical-care countries are about the lives of poor rural women elsewhere in the world. Go read the series in Lancet last year about reproductive health in third world countries.

  10. 10
    RonF says:

    Lancet used to be a reputable medical journal. But after they published that “study” that estimated that over 100,000 civilians had died in the Iraq war, only to find in the fine print that the estimated error was about 90% of that, their work is a little suspect.

    Having said that, though, it makes sense that in third world countries, where people have health problems that we in the industrialized world don’t have to live with, pregnancy would be more hazardous than it is here. Partly because of the availability of pre- and post-birth health care, and partly because the women weren’t healthy to begin with when they got pregnant. I absolutely agree with the UNFPA’s statement that poverty in the third world will not be eradicated until women in the third world have control over their reproductive lives that they do not now have. Of course, it’s not the only factor that causes poverty in those countries (the presence of socialist or dicatorial governments have a lot to do with that), but it’s a factor.

    Hell, look at our own country; women who actually DO have control over their reproductive lives and choose to exercise that control by having more children than they and their children’s fathers can or will support end up mired in poverty.

  11. 11
    RonF says:

    Y’know, I’ve been thinking about how accurate the “slave” analogy is in regards to forced pregnancy.

    I don’t think it holds up well at all, depending on what you call “forced” pregnancy.

    If I am abducted, taken somewhere, and forced to work against my will, then I’m a slave. I didn’t look up the exact definition, but perhaps this will serve.

    On the other hand, say I sign a contract that says, “If A, B, or C happen, then this contract is fufilled by a sum of money X or a term of work Y. But if D happens, then a term of work Z is required.” where Z is very much greater than Y. Signing the contract, I know that A, B, C or D could all happen. I don’t want D to happen, and I can take steps to very nearly ensure that D doesn’t happen, but if D happens, I have to do Z. That’s not slavery. That’s a voluntary agreement.

    People who engage in (particular forms of) sex can get pregnant. The people engaging in sex know this. They know that the use of certain forms of birth control can lower the odds of pregnancy, sometimes to vanishingly low probabilities if they use more than one simultaneously. They know that sometimes birth control methods fail. If the individuals involved have sex, they’ve signed off on this. They may certainly not want to get pregnant – they don’t want D to happen – but they know it can happen. They should either consider and prepare for it (a condom and a diaphram will get the job done), or not engage in sex that can lead to it.

    Failure of support for abortion is not forcing people to become pregnant. Abortion opponents are not forcing people to have sex; generally, more the opposite. They are in favor of taking away the option to end a pregnancy that the individuals involved voluntarily took a chance of starting, but that’s different than forcing the pregnancy. It’s holding people to a responsibility that they voluntarily took a chance on.

    Pregnancy is slavery if the pregnant individual was raped, but otherwise I don’t see it.

  12. 12
    RonF says:

    Is there any reason to believe that there is a groundswell of support in the U.S. or at least in the Bush administration for eliminating poverty among women in the developing world?

    Hah. Not that I’m aware of. It would tend to cut down on the cheap labor force that made the gym shoes for NBA millionaires and most of the rest of the world.

    But I’ll say this; while the UNFPA is right as far as they go, there’s a lot more other factors that affect poverty in general in the developing world besides this. It’s a laudable goal. For that matter, so is eliminating poverty among men in the developing world.

    What would you think are the primary factors affecting the existence of poverty in the developing world? How many of them are factors external to these countries? How many of them are internal?

  13. 13
    RonF says:

    Amp, thanks for the link. Kyra, I need a little time to look over your post. All I can say right now is that linking inconvenience and undesirability to health seems wrong to me. But that’s not a coherent answer.

  14. 14
    NancyP says:

    I guess I’d be more impressed with RonF’s altruism if he donated a kidney to a complete stranger. Or cut off his dick, thereby removing the possibility that he would burden some woman with an unwanted pregnancy – after all, if she has to pay the penalty for having sex, or do without, why shouldn’t he be made to do without?

    And I agree that Lancet is at the level of New England J. Med. – tending to publish “hot” items, not all of which are perfect statistically. The “green journals” (for whatever reason, the top general internal medicine, general pediatrics, and general ob/gyn journals all had green covers at one point and are informally referred to as such) actually might be a better bet on average for more solidly documented, if less current, research.

  15. Ron,

    It’s important to distinguish in this light between impregnation and pregnancy.

    If a woman chooses, based on informed consent and active desire, to have sex, then she accepts a chance of impregnation. That’s cut and dried.

    Does this make her responsible for nine months of pregnancy, labor, and anything else that society might demand of her?

    . . . if there is a case for that, it is not what you have written above.

    Knowing what society will ask of her isn’t enough to make her responsible for it, and here is why.

    It is always possible for a person or a society to say: “If X happens, I’ll do Y.”

    A bully can say, “Don’t stand up for yourself, or I’ll hit you.”

    A cop can say, “Don’t rob that store, or I’ll arrest you.”

    A cop can say, “Don’t commit civil disobedience, or I’ll arrest you.”

    A cop can say, “Don’t drive while black in my town, or I’ll arrest you.”

    A lawyer can say, “Don’t break your contract, or I’ll sue you.”

    A corrupt regime can say, “Ignore the human rights violations, or I’ll imprison you.”

    And society can say, “Don’t get impregnated, or we’ll force you to carry the child.”

    When are you actually responsible for these consequences?

    Well, that’s what the question of “is it slavery?” is [I]about[/I]. That’s the whole issue—whether anyone can demand that labor of the woman or not. And making the analogy to contracts is assuming your conclusion. Contracts exist as a social structure to define a certain specific kind of responsibility for the consequences. So when you make that analogy, you’re assuming the same level of underlying consent not just to impregnation but to pregnancy as there would be from a contract, sought out willingly, based on informed consent.

    Women don’t sign that contract with society, or at least not by choice.

    Some women seem to make that contract with God or with the potential baby. That is their choice. They know what they’re getting into.

    But some women don’t.

    Rebecca
    barren, barring medical miracles
    likes babies
    hates coathanger deaths

  16. 16
    Kyra says:

    RonF, I’m equating health with well-being, with being fundamentally satisfied with how one’s body is functioning and its effects on one’s life, not just in medical terms but as regards to a general lack of impediments to enjoying one’s existance.

    You’ll never have to deal with it, but many women would consider living with the equivalent of a watermelon in one’s abdomen to be somewhat undesireable. More so if said woman is a committed athlete, or sleeps on her stomach, or has health problems already. What’s more, with most other health problems, you can take some kind of medication to lessen your symptoms—but there’s nothing that can let an eight-months-pregnant woman can do to put the symptoms of pregnancy aside for a night and walk around with a flat stomach, no extra weight, and the ability to have a few glasses of wine over dinner.

    As for your critique of my slavery analogy . . . which wasn’t a critique so much as an assertation that anyone so enslaved deserves it . . . well, seeing as you didn’t make much of a point beyond that, that’s what I’ll address. Having sex and getting pregnant are two different things, despite the fact that one on occasion leads to the other, just as driving a car and getting in an accident are two different things, despite the fact that one occasionally leads to the other. Yes, pregnancy is sometimes a consequence of sex, just as accidents are often a consequence of driving. But seeing as we have the ability to make these consequences less severe, to rape victims and non-rape-victims alike, there is no longer any case to consider a full pregnancy the natural consequence of sex; only the perspective of “you chose a, therefore you deserve b” can do that, which can only be achieved by the view that sex is wrong somehow, wrong enough to justify a nine-month sentence for one partner, yet right enough to let the other partner off scot-free, when it is perfectly possible to let the first partner off with a $400-ish “fine” and a clinic visit or two. When the risk of pregnancy *can* mean the risk of very little physical inconvenience, very little time, and comparatively little cost, it is entrapment, bait-and-switch, fraud, cruel and unusual punishment, and yes, slavery, to force anyone to continue a pregnancy they wish to end. A woman who chooses to have sex for its physical benefits chooses to have sex. No one calls off the EMTs and police from a nasty car accident saying “Well, you chose this, live with it.”

    And, last I checked, slavery is still slavery even if it’s only convicts who are enslaved, if you won’t budge on the “she deserves it” bent. Especially if those “convicts” are guilty of nothing more than raising their risk by a couple percentage points. TRY proclaiming that those Africans who were captured outside their village *deserved* to be enslaved. TRY proclaiming that victims of fraud deserve what they get for not being more careful. Just try it—you’ll get cut to shreds.

  17. 17
    Kyra says:

    By the way, I am so sick of people who try to insist that people ought to rewrite their lives around lowering the risks they run to the absolute minimum.

    “If you don’t want to be pregnant, don’t have sex.” This is the worst. Forget taking birth control, which takes maybe ten seconds a day out of your life; instead abstain. ALL THE TIME. In order to decrease your risk of pregnancy from around 1% to around (but not quite; you could get raped remember) zero. Well, you know what? That’s a hell of an inconvenience to lower your risk from the normal contraceptive-free risk, let alone the much lower protected-sex risk.

    And look, it gets better! Don’t want to get pregnant this month? Abstain from sex for the entire month. Don’t want to get pregnant next month? Abstain from sex for all of next month, too. IT NEVER ENDS; you never get a break from it. It’s like a protection racket; keep paying and paying and paying to maintain the status quo. Quit paying, and suffer the consequences. And then once the consequences are all done, well, no they’re not done, ’cause if you don’t start paying again, you get the same thing all over again. No break, no vacation, no grace period, you’re back to spending every minute of every day abstaining from sex. And if you’re someone who loves sex, well, is it any surprise that so many people decide it’s not worth it? A jump in price from ten seconds to all the damn time, just for such a tiny increase in efficiency?

    What’s more, what does a woman do when she loves sex and hates pregnancy pretty much equally? When she really can’t decide which is worse, pregnancy or abstinence? Here’s a hint: it comes in a little round case, or a little foil wrapper. Or else it comes in a clinic surrounded by protesters. Or else it comes from that big rod near the top of the closet.

    Consensual sex, control over one’s own body, options to maintain that control in a meaningful way—these things fall under the right to persuit of happiness. And I for one have no intention of letting any one of them go, even if it means I have to become proficient in the use of coat hangers. Goddess forbid.

  18. 18
    Marka says:

    RonF -
    The whole abstience thing is a red herring. Not only is it the most impractical expectation, most women do not have complete autonomy over their sex lives. I was going to give examples of child brides and most patriarchal religous societies, where it is the religous duty of the wife to “provide” her husband with sex on demand. But there is an example rather closer to home: me. I am married with two young children. Adding another child to the family would be a financial and health disaster – and we have modern health care! Under the whole “be abstienent” flag – that may be 30 years for us! And while I am sure the anti-choice position would gladly tell me to suffer – I wonder what they would tell my husband?

    Marka

  19. 19
    RonF says:

    I guess I’d be more impressed with RonF’s altruism if he donated a kidney to a complete stranger. Or cut off his dick, thereby removing the possibility that he would burden some woman with an unwanted pregnancy – after all, if she has to pay the penalty for having sex, or do without, why shouldn’t he be made to do without?

    Please quote where I have proposed that anyone do without sex.

    Your view that pregnancy is something that a man imposes on a woman is I hope a minority opinion around here; if you recall, I except rape from this discussion.

    What the heck does kidney donation have to do with any of this?

  20. 20
    alsis39 says:

    Marka writes:

    “I wonder what they would tell my husband?”

    A) Pray

    B) Fuck around behind your back and lie about it to your face.

    C) Force sex on you and then later claim Satan made him because you’re the daughter of Eve and it’s not his fault.

    D) Some combination thereof.

    That’s pretty much how it usually works amongst the godly patriarchs, no ?

    RonF wrote:

    Please quote where I have proposed that anyone do without sex.

    Kyra already answered that:

    And, last I checked, slavery is still slavery even if it’s only convicts who are enslaved, if you won’t budge on the “she deserves it” bent.

    If women want to escape your view that pregnancy is mandatory following sex, we’ll do without.

  21. 21
    Jesurgislac says:

    alsis39: If women want to escape your view that pregnancy is mandatory following sex, we’ll do without.

    Or have sex in a way that can’t end in pregnancy? That is, assuming that RonF had the power to mandate that consenting to heterosexual sexual intercourse means consenting to being enslaved, then give up heterosexual sexual intercourse. Have orgasms some other way. Just a thought… (of course, it’s dependent on a male partner being willing to try other means of having sex and being unwilling to place his female partner in effective slavery).

    RonF’s view of sex would appear to be pretty close to Andrea Dworkin’s. Odd that.

  22. 22
    Barbara says:

    I have a friend who worked for a Catholic health agency in an African nation (I think it was Uganda) and when she offered women “counting beads” as a form of birth control they laughed at her. She might as well have said, “If you don’t want to be pregnant don’t have sex, oh, and by the way, we will treat you if your husband beats you up for your nonobedience.” This is the developing world, not the U.S., where abortion takes place for totally different reasons, among a totally different population (by and large married women), and where the consequences of pregnancy and additional children are far mor likely to be catastrophic than they would be here.

    Don’t ever forget, that when the rich catch a cold the poor get pneumonia. In the developing world a few extra kids (try to remember that women by and large are married at an earlier age) means you might have to choose between food and education, or selling your daughter into an early marriage or worse.

  23. 23
    Samantha says:

    RonF’s view of sex would appear to be pretty close to Andrea Dworkin’s.

    No, it’s not. He is suggesting women have complete control over their reproduction via birth control and abstinence and so can avoid getting pregnant if they weren’t lazy, careless, or whatever dumb judgement of women who get pregnant when they don’t want a child he’s basing his premise on.

    Andrea Dworkin would be much more in alignment with Marka saying, “most women do not have complete autonomy over their sex lives.” and Kyra saying, “Consensual sex, control over one’s own body, options to maintain that control in a meaningful way…these things fall under the right to persuit of happiness.”

    I’m still working through my thoughts from the original post calling prostitution “transactional sex” and would like to hear other opinions on it. Language choices like this are made consciously and impact how the message is received.

    My initial thought is “transactional sex” places prostitution more in the realm of commerce and trade than sexual violence and gender inequality, which is at odds with UNFPA’s stated intent to highlight gender issues as the key to unraveling poverty.

  24. 24
    RonF says:

    Well, my understanding of what “health” means is what it says in the dictionaries:

    “the condition of an organism or one of its parts in which it performs its vital functions normally or properly : the state of being sound in body or mind ; especially : freedom from physical disease and pain

  25. 25
    Charles says:

    So RonF,

    If your doctor told you that you had a condition that would cause you to have frequent boughts of nausea for the next 3 months, followed by severe bloating of your abdomen with a likely weight gain of 20-30 pounds, painful distortions of your hips, back pain, hemeroids, and the potential for long term nerve and joint damage, that for several months, you might be unable to safely lift more than 25 pounds, might develop diabetes or hypertension, and that all of this was leading up to ,8 or 9 months down to the line, a potentially life threatening event that could last as long as 24 hours and that would almost certainly be one of the most painful things you had ever experienced, but that all of this could be prevented by a relatively simple outpatient surgery, your response would be, “I don’t understand what this has to do with my health.”

    Interesting.

  26. 26
    Charles says:

    Samantha,

    Given that “transactional sex” is specifically mentioned in a list of harmful practices, I would imagine that the point is to broaden the category from overt prostitution in which money changes hands to include socially forced sex or the trading of sex for favors. I think the idea is that not everyone who engages in transactional sex would recognize themselves as being prostituted (of course they wouldn’t recognize the term transactional sex either, but at least they would be less resistant to being identified as someone who engages in it).

    I may be misreading, and I agree that using “transactional sex” to refer specifically to prostitution would be muddying the water no matter what your views on prostitution might be, but I think the usage here was intendedto muddy the waters by creating a broader category that includes prostitution, rather than just redefining prostitution.

  27. 27
    mousehounde says:

    RonF Writes:

    “the condition of an organism or one of its parts in which it performs its vital functions normally or properly : the state of being sound in body or mind ; especially : freedom from physical disease and pain

    Well, then. Being pregnant could be considered unhealthy. Pregnancy is a drain on “an organism”. It interferes with normal vital functions. It can cause long term health problems, both physical and mental, and causes pain. So abortion, to alleviate the condition of pregnancy, should be considered “reproductive health assistance”.

  28. 28
    mousehounde says:

    My initial thought is “transactional sex” places prostitution more in the realm of commerce and trade than sexual violence and gender inequality, …

    “Transactional Sex”. The term does seem a bit dry. But in the context of the post, it is accurate. Sex is a transaction for a great many people. It means that women, children, and some men, perform certain sexual acts and in return they get to eat that day or not get injured, maimed, or killed. And then the next day, they get to do it all again.

    Which term or phrasing do you think should be used?

  29. 29
    RonF says:

    Marka writes:

    The whole abstience thing is a red herring.

    Quite true. I haven’t advocated it, so to use it to attempt to refute me is a red herring.

  30. 30
    RonF says:

    The discussion of what is health, etc., stems from my comment that I don’t see what abortion has to do with reproductive health. Part of the response to that is to point out the various effects on one’s health that pregnancy has. My wife and I are parents, and I was around for all phases of the pregnancies and births. I’m well aware of the problems that can occur during pregnancy; my wife had some of them, one or two that required treatment during the pregnancy to preserve her health. There’s no disputing that pregnancy can affect the mother’s health.

    But the reproductive system of a pregnant female (and that of her sex partner) is apparently working fine – absent complications with the pregnancy itself, where in some cases abortion might be necessary to preserve the mother’s life.

    When I hear the phrase “reproductive health”, it brings to mind problems with one’s reproductive system that keep that system from functioning properly, much like “mental health” concerns the functioning of one’s mind or “cardiac health” concerns the functioning of one’s heart. So while getting an abortion can improve one’s overall health picture, depending on the course of the pregnancy, I don’t see what it does to improve one’s reproductive health. Extending abortion provision to be covered under the term “reproductive health” seems in general to be deceptive.

  31. 31
    RonF says:

    Examples were given that physiological changes during pregnancy can affect someone’s ability to function as they did when they were not pregnant. In some cases, that’s clearly a health issue. My wife had some blood pressure problems when she was pregnant, which I related in detail on another thread. This required treatment to ensure that no damage would occur to either her or our child.

    But I cannot accept extending the concept of health impairment to things such as not being able to consume alcohol without damage to the fetus. Just because something is inconvenient does not make it a health problem.

    If you equate health with being “fundamentally satisfied with how one’s body is functioning and its effects on one’s life”, then some guy who isn’t satisfied unless he can screw for 4 or 5 hours straight has a health problem that can be cured with a box of (that pill I can’t mention because of the anti-spam filter). Some woman dissatsified with size B breasts that thinks they’re having an effect on her sex life has a health problem that can be cured with implants. But these are not health problems by any definition I’m familar with. That guy’s penis and the woman’s breasts are (presumably) functioning quite normally. You can be fundamentally dissatisfied with normal physiological function. That’s not a health problem.

  32. 32
    Samantha says:

    I think the idea is that not everyone who engages in transactional sex would recognize themselves as being prostituted

    Possibly; I wouldn’t doubt that as a contributing factor. I’m not entirely sure who the intended audience for the report is, though.

    I agree it’s technically accurate, mousehounde, and I’m not lock-solid on it as a good or bad alternative overall. Generally I try to call people what they want to be called and this usually translates into using either “prostituted person”, “survivor”, or “sex worker”, but the abstract term for what is most well-known as prostitution isn’t bound by that rule so it’s trickier to decide the appropriateness of “transactional sex.”

  33. > But I cannot accept extending the concept of health impairment
    > to things such as not being able to consume alcohol without
    > damage to the fetus.

    *shrug*

    It seems like you’re missing a good opportunity to let the world challenge you here. Why not assume that the women who think of it as a major health issue are good, honest people expressing a real concern and see where that takes you?

    Rebecca

  34. (edit: “it” = pregnancy, not specifically “cannot drink alcohol”)

  35. 35
    NancyP says:

    I wonder if RonF is willing to eat out his wife, and get only blow jobs, for the next 30 years or until menopause. No vaginal-penile intercourse for him!

    RonF’s altruism is likely to be limited. He’s mighty glad that he is male, and thus can avoid pregnancy risks or other potential pain or limitations on his body function. He’s not about to make his body into life support for another being – no living non-related kidney donation in store for him. Nor would he likely even bother with a painful but risk-free bone marrow donation, and would likely take great umbrage if told that his civic and moral DUTY was to donate that marrow, or that kidney, and that he would be a MURDERER of the sick recipient if he refused to do so. And he would scream to the heavens if a law was passed mandating that he owed bodily support of this sort.

  36. 36
    Ampersand says:

    I wonder if RonF is willing to eat out his wife, and get only blow jobs, for the next 30 years or until menopause. No vaginal-penile intercourse for him!

    Nancy, I really think this is going too far – I think this sort of statement is far more likely to spread anger and/or chase dissent away, than it is to encourage real discussion.

    You could have made the same point, but phrased it in a much more considerate way. I think that would have been better.

    (That said, I want to point out that I’m speaking as a reader, NOT as a moderator. Moderating this thread is up to P-A’s discretion, not mine, and I have no special authority here.)

  37. 37
    skeptic888 says:

    An administration that promotes abstinence-only sex education isn’t going to support the distibution of birth control technology – condoms, diaphragms, the pill – so let’s assume that most of the women in question don’t have that option. Abstinence-only education may seem like a responsible option, but it denies the reality of human sexuality, and is extremely racist and classist and Eurocentric. Abstinence-only sex education as practiced here in the U.S. doesn’t adequately deal with the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases – look at polls of young people who don’t qualify oral sex as “sex” and thus are still practicing “abstinence” but exposing themselves to a host of STDs. What right do we have to project our sex-adverse Puritanism on the rest of the world? Those who question the damages pregnancy, even wanted pregnancies, can cause in situations of inadequate health care should research fistulas and compare the frequency of fistulas among women in the west versus those in Africa, as one example.

    I have to wonder if those who would withhold medical abortion and birth control from the women in other countries also expect abstinence from their own children, deny them full sex education, deny them access to birth control, and expect them to carry all of their pregnancies to term?

    I applaud Rebecca’s statement, “Why not assume that the women who think of it as a major health issue are good, honest people expressing a real concern and see where that takes you?”

  38. 38
    RonF says:

    What right do we have to project our sex-adverse Puritanism on the rest of the world?

    The rest of the world has every right to reject us from coming into their countries and teaching a morality that is at variance with theirs. OTOH, we have every right to refuse to pay for any sex-education program that we don’t agree with. Now, I’m sure many here would disagree that the programs as proposed by UNFPA are ones that we don’t agree with, but that’s an internal American issue. Once you get past that, doesn’t the administration have every right to say, “If we don’t agree with the aims of this program, why should we pay for it?”

    There’s one thing I’ve been wondering lately, that has come to my mind after reading some of these posts. Is the UNFPA going into countries and teaching sexual health practices and other related topics that are at variance with the cultural and legal practices of those countries?

  39. 39
    RonF says:

    I appreciate the concern, Amp, but I prefer to let such commentors speak what’s on their mind. That way, I only have to read the first sentence of the post.

    Kind of why I oppose “hate speech” laws; such speech makes it easier to identify who the fools are.

  40. 40
    RonF says:

    It seems like you’re missing a good opportunity to let the world challenge you here. Why not assume that the women who think of it as a major health issue are good, honest people expressing a real concern and see where that takes you?

    Rebecca, if anyone wants to expand on this I’d like to hear it.

  41. 41
    RonF says:

    Let me be clear, BTW, that I don’t favor abstinence-only sex education programs either domestically or in foreign countries. While abstinence is a 100% effective birth control method, many people simply won’t use it. Just like any other birth control method, if you don’t use it, it won’t work. Additionally, sex-education classes may be the only classes where the students pay close attention to the basic biology lessons they contain, information that is immediately useful and that they’ll need later on in life when they do want to have children.

  42. 42
    Jesurgislac says:

    RonF: While abstinence is a 100% effective birth control method

    Actually, it’s the birth control method with the highest failure rate both for preventing conception and preventing spread of STDs.

  43. 43
    Jesurgislac says:

    RonF: Once you get past that, doesn’t the administration have every right to say, “If we don’t agree with the aims of this program, why should we pay for it?”

    Why should the Bush administration have the right to impose their peculiar and destructive beliefs on health programs that the majority of US citizens do agree with? International aid seems to be seen by the Bush administration as a means of getting cheap Brownie points from their Christian-right base – withdrawing US support from effective health programs in other countries doesn’t directly affect Americans, but can be spun into something good in the sight of the kind of wingnuts who’d rather see women suffer and die.

  44. 44
    Robert says:

    Why should the Bush administration have the right to impose their peculiar and destructive beliefs on health programs that the majority of US citizens do agree with?

    Because that’s what the Constitution says.

    Was this a rhetorical question?

  45. 45
    Pseudo-Adrienne says:

    Robert, why the hell are you on my thread? (hint, hint your banned ages ago.)

  46. 46
    Robert says:

    Sorry. Didn’t see it was yours.

  47. 47
    Jesurgislac says:

    Oh well, in that case it would be taunting Robert to respond to him, and that would be bad, right?

  48. 48
    Lee says:

    RonF: While abstinence is a 100% effective birth control method

    Jesurgislac: Actually, it’s the birth control method with the highest failure rate both for preventing conception and preventing spread of STDs.

    Huh? I’m not trying to pick nits, but… Every birth control method fails if you don’t use it, so I don’t understand how you can conceive if you are not having sex. My understanding of birth control failure rate is that it represents the rate at which conception occurs while that method of birth control was properly in use. If you normally use condoms but don’t use a condom that one crucial time, is that a failure of the condom? If a condom breaks during normal use, I would call that a failure of that birth control method. I agree that abstinence is an ineffective approach to birth control, in that most people do not abstain entirely, but as long as you actually abstain, conception should not occur. (Note to other nitpickers: I am only addressing heterosexual intercourse. :->))

  49. 49
    RonF says:

    Why should the Bush administration have the right to impose their peculiar and destructive beliefs on health programs that the majority of US citizens do agree with?

    Leaving aside the rhetorical allegations that their beliefs are peculiar and destructive, they won the election. That gives them the right. Certainly there are limits to that power, but within those limits they have every right to do exactly what they’re doing. If you don’t like it, win an election.

    International aid seems to be seen by the Bush administration as a means of getting cheap Brownie points from their Christian-right base – withdrawing US support from effective health programs in other countries doesn’t directly affect Americans, but can be spun into something good in the sight of the kind of wingnuts who’d rather see women suffer and die.

    Or it can be seen as a means of fulfilling the principles that they have stated time and time again that they believe in. The Constitution gives the Executive branch of our government far more discretion in foreign policy than it does in domestic policy. The administration would love to restrict abortion domestically as well, but there they are more constrained.

    You see this as a cynical ploy to get votes. Have you considered that it’s simply an attempt to do what they consider morally right? Just because their actions are in accord with many of their constituents doesn’t mean that the purpose is to pander to those constituents. Correlation doesn’t equal causation.

    Or, to paraphrase what Rebecca asked me, “Why not assume that these are good, honest people expressing a real concern and see where that takes you?”

  50. 50
    RonF says:

    One thing I have learned in hanging around here is that the pro-choice forces often paint the pro-life forces as paternalistic religious nuts seeking to enforce a male hegemony on women. Has it ever occurred to anyone here that a great many people who hold the pro-life view honestly and with both emotional and intellectual consideration believe that life begins at conception (or implantation) and think that abortion is murder? That their viewpoint is not a means to impose some nefarious end but is simply what they say it is?

  51. 51
    nik says:

    [Re: contraception failure rates] If you normally use condoms but don’t use a condom that one crucial time, is that a failure of the condom?

    Studies do sometimes measure practical failure rates – as opposed to failure rates under perfect use. So getting pregnant after forgetting to take the pill counts in determining the practical failure rate of the pill. Getting pregnant while doing everything that it says on the box counts towards the perfect use failure rate. So human falibility is sometimes taken into account.

    You’re perfectly right that contraception failure rates and STI transmission rates are calculated given that you’re having sex. So it’s entirely meaningless to say that abstinance has a “failure rate”. It’s just a contradiction in terms, given abstinance there’s nothing to fail.

  52. 52
    Anne says:

    Has it ever occurred to anyone here that a great many people who hold the pro-life view honestly and with both emotional and intellectual consideration believe that life begins at conception (or implantation) and think that abortion is murder? That their viewpoint is not a means to impose some nefarious end but is simply what they say it is?

    Of course it has; I’m not sure why you’d assume it wouldn’t have. But their sincerity doesn’t make me any more eager to live my life by THEIR religious beliefs — the “nefarious end” they want to impose no matter how kindly they may mean it.

  53. 53
    Jesurgislac says:

    Lee: Every birth control method fails if you don’t use it, so I don’t understand how you can conceive if you are not having sex.

    The failure rate of abstinence is measured by the number of people who resolve to use abstinence as a contraceptive method, but have sex anyway. Which is a far higher number than the number of people who use condoms, and have the condoms fail on them.

    And the canard “abstinence is 100% effective” isn’t true even if you just don’t count people who intended to be abstinent but then changed their mind: RonF evidently just doesn’t want to think about rape.

    RonF: Has it ever occurred to anyone here that a great many people who hold the pro-life view honestly and with both emotional and intellectual consideration believe that life begins at conception (or implantation) and think that abortion is murder? That their viewpoint is not a means to impose some nefarious end but is simply what they say it is?

    Nope. Because so-called “pro-lifers” invariably restrict themselves to trying to make abortion illegal, and/or trying to harass women who have already decided to have an abortion. Often they also try to restrict children and teenagers from access to sex education and contraception, and recently, they’ve tended to side with people (or be people) who want to prevent any woman from getting access to contraception.

    Someone who genuinely felt abortion was fundamentally wrong, because life begins at conception, would work hard to prevent the maximum number of abortions they could. Because they had respect for life, they’d want abortion to be legal, safe, and accessible – they wouldn’t want any woman to die or be made sterile because of an illegal abortion – but they’d want women to have free maternity medical care, they’d want all kids under 18 to have free health care, they’d want free (or affordable) day care to be available for all children from an early age, they’d be campaigning for paid maternity (and paternity) leave: they’d want the minimum wage to go up, they’d want anyone with children to have the legal right to be able to go part-time without being discriminated against: they’d want a major change in the work-life balance in the US.

    I’ve never met a so-called “pro-lifer” who did hold all those views. They’re mostly right-wingers who put their right-wing politics very far ahead of their “pro-life” politics; they’ve either never thought things through and they honestly (and very stupidly) believe that if only abortions were illegal, women just wouldn’t have abortions (and they don’t give a damn about what happens to the babies after they’re born): or else they really aren’t “pro-lifers” at all – their primary interest is in making sure no woman has control over her own body, so that she cannot decide for herself whether or not she wants to have a child.

  54. > Rebecca, if anyone wants to expand on this I’d like to hear it.

    Oh! This thread woke up. I’ll see what I can do!

    I guess that my basic observation boils down to this. I read both the posts that you responded to and your post and felt that the actual effects of pregnancy were irrelevant to the arguments on both sides. That is, that the same arguments could be made—and probably would be made, by others if not by the specific posters in question—if the only physiological effect of pregnancy was “can’t drink alcohol” or, conversely, if it always crippled the woman afterwards so that she could never walk again.

    Either way, it’d be “natural”—just something that happens, you know, when our species reproduces. Either way, it’d be a burden only on the woman, a minor burden on those who desire it and a major burden on those who find it unwelcome.

    In this light, I have to say: as a kid, before I was trained in how society accepts these things, when my mother was pregnant with my stepsister, it looked an awful lot like a serious health issue.

    I mean, let’s face it. Her stomach swelled up, she got sick a lot, she was tired, she was mobility-restricted, and there was a chance she could die. Then she went to the hospital and apparently there was a lot of screaming and work and pain and stuff. I’ve only had screaming pain from migraines, but, you know, those were pretty bad.

    If you strip it of connotation—what it means to you, what it means to the woman in question, what it means to society—well, a lot happens to the woman’s body in pregnancy.

    I think it’s always going to be easy to take things that happen to others and say, “That’s natural. It’s okay. They don’t mind.”

    It’s the easiest thing in the world, if it won’t happen to us, and it’s also pretty easy if it’ll only happen to us when we want it to.

    But I think we can’t do that, as human beings.

    I think it’s important to actually face the fact that plenty of women look at pregnancy and say, “Gah! Major health issue!”

    To face that and say, at least “Oh.” if not “Wow.”

    The idea that it’s just natural—that going through all that is just a fact of life—*is* an oppressive mentality. It *is* saying “this is your role, go do it, don’t make waves, Heaven has spoken and it supports, as it so often does when there aren’t any prophets around, the will of the people on top.”

    Going through pregnancy to bring a new life into the world is bloody heroic, and the fact that it’s a very common kind of heroism doesn’t change that.

    This isn’t a glorification of women—it’s not that men can’t or don’t face at least that much pain and trouble for at least as great a cause in huge numbers. They do.

    But it is a fact. Pregnancy is a *huge* thing. I mean, Confucius mentioned that you could carry your parents on your shoulders for a hundred years and not repay your debt to them—well, the woman’s making the first giant gift to society and the child right there, before it’s even born, and another installment when it’s born, and this deserves not the false pedestal but the honest recognition and gratitude of society.

    It’s bad to preferentially take the sacrifices and heroism of one group and declare it natural, ordinary, unimpressive, uninspiring. It’s one of the core bad things, up there with ignoring the raw value of people.

    That’s an explanation. If this is a debate, let me know, and I can rewrite it into a compelling argument. ^_^

    Rebecca

  55. 55
    Lee says:

    Jesurgislac: Someone who genuinely felt abortion was fundamentally wrong, because life begins at conception, would work hard to prevent the maximum number of abortions they could. Because they had respect for life, they’d want abortion to be legal, safe, and accessible – they wouldn’t want any woman to die or be made sterile because of an illegal abortion – but they’d want women to have free maternity medical care, they’d want all kids under 18 to have free health care, they’d want free (or affordable) day care to be available for all children from an early age, they’d be campaigning for paid maternity (and paternity) leave: they’d want the minimum wage to go up, they’d want anyone with children to have the legal right to be able to go part-time without being discriminated against: they’d want a major change in the work-life balance in the US.

    If I agree with 99% of what you say, does it count? I don’t think health care and day care should be free – I think they should be based on ability to pay. I also support comprehensive sex ed, although I also think that it should be broken up into units with DVDs for each unit that the students check out of the library and have to view with the parents (does this make me too radical?). And I believe that contraceptives should be available from your health care provider of choice based on ability to pay.

    Parental notification laws should be less punitive somehow (I just haven’t figured out how to get there). As a parent, and the one legally responsible for my minor children, I need to know that my child is sexually active and has had an abortion or is taking contraceptives. If my child is hiding this stuff from me, not only is something broken in our relationship, but also I could make a decision for my child based on ignorance that would have very serious consequences. OTOH, I know there are many children out there who can’t approach their parents about this stuff, for a whole bunch of scary reasons, so they need secret access to services. Tough problem.

    The whole father-notification aspect I also find difficult. Absent gross deception or failure of birth control, should the father’s input be valued at zero between ejaculation and childbirth? If the father wants the child and the mother doesn’t, there is no current feasible way for the father to take on the prepartum duties – that’s something only a woman can do, and I don’t think post-implantation fetus transplants are available. But if the father does not want the child, then he could have abstained – as the parish priest used to say, “If you didn’t want to go to Chicago, why did you get on the plane to O’Hare?”

  56. 56
    Jesurgislac says:

    Lee: I don’t think health care and day care should be free – I think they should be based on ability to pay.

    Day care I think you can make a good argument for being based on ability to pay, so long as “ability to pay” isn’t set up so that women are stuck in poverty-trap jobs because they can’t afford to pay for day care if they get a better-paying job and stop being eligible for free/cheap day care… etc.

    If all that anyone cares about with regard to health care for children is that women don’t decide to have an abortion because (or even partly because) they know they won’t be able to afford the health care costs of having a child, then basing access to health care on ability to pay makes sense.

    If a person cares about the health of children – something you’d think would go along with being “pro-life”, if being pro-life meant what it says on the tin, then of course all health care for children should be free. It would be fundamentally wrong for a child’s access to health care to depend on whether or not their parent(s) feel they can afford it. Of course, that “fundamental wrongness” is taken for granted in the US, but it’s still wrong. A child who needs eyeglasses shouldn’t have to do without them because their parents have to budget and eyeglasses are expensive.

  57. 57
    Lee says:

    If health care is based on ability to pay, then the parents would know that they could afford it. My concern is to make sure the system is status-neutral. For instance, if a child has a disability requiring lots of health care or other specialized health services, I wouldn’t want access to health care to stop or be constricted merely because the child becomes 18 years old. For instance, a friend of mine has a son with severe cerebral palsy who will be turning 18 next month – under your free care for children proposal, would this mean that she would have to start paying health care costs for someone who is still and will always be dependent on her?

    If we base access to health care on ability to pay across the board, I feel this would be: 1) fair to children, because there are no financial barriers to access to health care; and 2) fair to adults, regardless of their employment status, disability status, or responsible-for-children status.

  58. 58
    Jesurgislac says:

    Lee: If health care is based on ability to pay, then the parents would know that they could afford it.

    That’s absurd.

    Sorry, but it is.

    Let’s suppose that the cost of a new pair of reading glasses for a child – that she’ll need in order to read the blackboard at school – is set at 25 bucks for a woman whose monthly income is $1000, and who already pays $600 a month in rent and therefore has $100 a week to spend on all other expenses. Let’s suppose that the system budgeted this on the principle that the kid’s prescription won’t change more often than once every six months, and the woman can afford to pay out $25 every six months. Let’s even suppose that this is true…

    …until the day the kid (as kids do) breaks her glasses, say, one month after her new prescription. And the mother, who already budgets damn carefully to fit in the $25 every six months, is faced with either paying out $25 from her $100 for this week – which may mean they don’t have money for food, or to pay utility bills, or set aside money for clothes: or telling her daughter “Sorry, you’ll just have to put up with not being able to read the blackboard at school for five months. I can’t afford new glasses for you till then.”

  59. 59
    Jesurgislac says:

    Lee: . For instance, a friend of mine has a son with severe cerebral palsy who will be turning 18 next month – under your free care for children proposal, would this mean that she would have to start paying health care costs for someone who is still and will always be dependent on her?

    Oh hell, Lee, you’re talking to the wrong person. I live in the UK: under the health care system I pay for – which is genuinely affordable across the board, because it comes out of your wages and is a graduated tax – of course your friend’s son would go on getting free health care.

    But it’s not an “either/or” proposition. The NHS isn’t perfect, but it’s so much better than the US system where health care is dependent on ability to pay. You can have free-at-point-of-use health care for both children and adults: my point was simply that the right-wingers who lose interest in children’s lives the instant they’re born don’t have any right to call themselves “pro-life”.

  60. 60
    Lee says:

    I don’t think the extreme right wingnuts “lose interest in children’s lives the instant they’re born” so much as they rely on those old predetermination memes. I think they would be truly shocked if someone told them predestination as interpreted by them profiles as Darwinian.

  61. 61
    Lee says:

    Oh, and Jesurgislac, I agree there are many aspects of universal healthcare as practiced in the UK that are really terrific. Implementing a similar system in the U.S. would be virtually impossible without a fiat, I think. The haves would scream mightily about the degradation of quality of care for them, and since they have their paws on the controls, it ain’t gonna happen.

  62. 62
    gengwall says:

    I was reading merrily along without comment until I got to this diatribe, which I will parse and deal with point by point.

    Because so-called “pro-lifers” invariably restrict themselves to trying to make abortion illegal, and/or trying to harass women who have already decided to have an abortion

    Wrong – pro-lifers spend equal amounts of time working with women to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies, working with pregnant women on alternatives to abortion such as adoption, and working with women in crisis centers who will face serious and even life threatening situations if they carry the pregnancy to term.

    Often they also try to restrict children and teenagers from access to sex education and contraception

    Darn right. Do you have kids? I have two teenage daughters and you bet I restrict their access to CERTAIN forms of sex education because I do not agree with them. Is not that my right as a parent – to deal with sex education in MY home the way I choose to?

    and recently, they’ve tended to side with people (or be people) who want to prevent any woman from getting access to contraception.

    Who the heck do you get your information from. I know of no one, pro-life or pro-choice, outside of catholic circles, who feels adult women (and men) should not have access to contraception. I can’t even imagine where you come up with something like this.

    Nope. Because so-called “pro-lifers” invariably restrict themselves to trying to make abortion illegal, and/or trying to harass women who have already decided to have an abortion. Often they also try to restrict children and teenagers from access to sex education and contraception, and recently, they’ve tended to side with people (or be people) who want to prevent any woman from getting access to contraception…blah blah blah

    I certainly don’t expect some pro-choice person to know what a pro-life person wants and you prove the point.

    They’re mostly right-wingers who put their right-wing politics very far ahead of their “pro-life” politics; they’ve either never thought things through and they honestly (and very stupidly) believe that if only abortions were illegal, women just wouldn’t have abortions (and they don’t give a damn about what happens to the babies after they’re born): or else they really aren’t “pro-lifers” at all – their primary interest is in making sure no woman has control over her own body, so that she cannot decide for herself whether or not she wants to have a child.

    Ya, right. Do I get to give my definition now of what I think a pro-choice person is all about?

  63. 63
    gengwall says:

    Opps – repeated something there

  64. 64
    Jesurgislac says:

    Gengwall: Is not that my right as a parent – to deal with sex education in MY home the way I choose to?

    You may or may not have a legal right to decide that you won’t impart certain information to your children, even if knowledge of that information could save their lives: you probably do, in fact, because it would be very difficult to enforce a law against your right to keep your children ignorant even if it kills them.

    Your moral obligation is to keep them safe, however. And “keep them safe” does not equate to “keep them ignorant”.

    Let me be clear about this. I think you have a right to educate your children about your moral values, and an obligation to your children to show, in your daily life, how your moral values inform the way you live your life: and to hope (no one can do more) that your children will be inspired by your moral values and the way you live your daily life, to accept your moral values as their own, and to live their daily life accordingly. That is the right, responsibility, and obligation of any parent.

    It isn’t right, responsible, or obligatory to keep your children ignorant.

    One strong reason for parents to keep their children ignorant is the fear that, if their children are as well-informed as their parents, they might not accept their parents’ moral values unquestioningly. The lesbian child of anti-gay parents, for example, might discover that her feelings for her own gender are a normal part of human sexual orientation, and need not be regarded (as her parents have tried to make her believe) as a horrifying sin. Instead of trying to force herself to have feelings for the opposite gender, or feeling ashamed of her feelings for her own gender, she could decide that she would find a local support group for LGBT teens and learn to deal with her parents’ hostility.

    Or a heterosexual teen might find out that condoms protect against disease and pregnancy, and make up her mind that any boy she has sex with will use them.

    Or any child might discover that, if their parents are completely hostile to their having sex before the age of 18, there are other sources they can go to, to get help or advice or free contraception, if they do decide they want to have sex.

    . I know of no one, pro-life or pro-choice, outside of catholic circles, who feels adult women (and men) should not have access to contraception.

    Then you clearly haven’t been following the news about the pharmacists who claim they have the right to prevent adult women (not men, just women) from having access to contraception.

    Do I get to give my definition now of what I think a pro-choice person is all about?

    Sure, if you like.

  65. 65
    gengwall says:

    You presume any pro-life parent’s way of dealing with sex education keeps their children ignorant. You couldn’t be more wrong. Although there are certainly visible cases such as you have outlined, they are rare. Unfortunately, it is the rare cases that grab the headlines. Don’t presume that the millions of pro-life parents out there behave like the few “bad apples”.

    Then you clearly haven’t been following the news about the pharmacists who claim they have the right to prevent adult women (not men, just women) from having access to contraception.

    I think if certain pharmacists have a moral objection to dispensing contraception that is their choice. That does not make it an overriding plank of the pro-life movement. I run in pretty conservative, religious, pro-life circles and I know of know one who has an complete objection to contraception. Within the pro-life movement there may be some disagreement on certain contraceptive methodologies but it is “way out there” to say that there is a general anti-contraception move in the pro-life camp.

  66. 66
    Lee says:

    Gengwall, there is a small percentage of parents in the U.S. who do not inform their children about even the most basic facts about their bodies, either out of religious conviction or out of sheer embarrassment. Many public school teachers would be able to tell you that they have had girl students who needed to be sent to the school nurse for an explanation about menstruation or hygiene during menses, or that they have had parents refuse to sign permission slips for the breast cancer education movie.

    As a fairly conservative religious person, I think that -some- aspects of sex education definitely should be left to the parents. But I also think that discussing this stuff with my daughter and explaining my take on this information, putting it into the context of our faith and the teachings of the church, is by far the best way to go, rather than leaving her to find out what Seventeen or Cosmopolitan magazines has to say about it, or what the rumor mill at school puts around. (I had to explain French kissing to her when she was 6 because of a billboard ad, OK?) I was lucky enough to have parents who were very proactive about explaining some things (although I think they might have started a little early – the main thing I remember from their “where babies come from” talk was that they were both NAKED when they had sex!), plus my best friend was the daughter of our town’s OB/GYN – she actually got into trouble by being a little too detailed and clinical when debunking urban myths.

    When kids can get the most appalling misinformation off the Internet any time they go to the library, ignorance is NOT bliss – you have to be ahead of the rest to put your spin on it!

  67. 67
    Lee says:

    Jesurgislac, I just saw your post #58 (I don’t know why it didn’t show before). I can’t argue with the example you gave, because it is one plausible scenario. For instance, my host family in Germany had to let one of their sons run around with a horrible toothache for 2 weeks because he inconveniently lost a filling right after the other son had an ear infection. Plus, the amount of money the typical U.S. family has for discretionary spending (not fixed expenses) is steadily shrinking. But I was thinking more of office visits and physicals than glasses, because many low-income families here don’t take their kids to the doctor on a regular basis – they go to the emergency room when the kids are sick.

  68. 68
    gengwall says:

    I think that -some- aspects of sex education definitely should be left to the parents. But I also think that discussing this stuff with my daughter and explaining my take on this information, putting it into the context of our faith and the teachings of the church, is by far the best way to go, rather than leaving her to find out what Seventeen or Cosmopolitan magazines has to say about it, or what the rumor mill at school puts around.

    I’m not sure what I said that makes it seem I disagree with you. I don’t. I also don’t know why “ignorance” keeps coming up. As I said before, my kids are not ignorant in any respect nor do I think kids should be. I have no problem with public sex education as long as it keeps to the “hows” (and I mean that in very basic terms – I don’t think school should teach french kissing or oral sex or…well, that’s graphic enough) and stays out of the “whos”, “wheres”, “whens”, and “whys”.

  69. 69
    gengwall says:

    I Said:

    I have no problem with public sex education as long as it…stays out of the “whos”, “wheres”, “whens”, and “whys”.

    Which, by the way, is why, even as a “right wing religious nut” I have a problem with Abstinence based programs. They get into the “w’s”. I think that should stay in the home. It is a shame that our sex education programs have gotten so radically into encouraging, supporting, and legitimizing teen sex that abstinence based programs had to be developed to combat them.

  70. 70
    Jesurgislac says:

    gengwall Writes: You presume any pro-life parent’s way of dealing with sex education keeps their children ignorant.

    No, I just presume that anyone who makes a point of saying they restrict the education of their children (as you did) wants to keep their children ignorant.

    I think if certain pharmacists have a moral objection to dispensing contraception that is their choice.

    Well, certainly it’s their choice if they want to quit their jobs. If they want to carry on being pharmacists, they have no legal and no moral right to decide which prescription medications they will or will not permit access to. They get handed a prescription: it’s their job to fill it. If they don’t want to do their job, they can quit.

    but it is “way out there” to say that there is a general anti-contraception move in the pro-life camp.

    If you consider yourself to be in the “pro-life” mainstream, and you think pharmacists have a right to refuse women access to contraception, then it’s perfectly accurate to say that there is a general anti-contraception move in the so-called “pro-life” camp. You’re part of it.

  71. 71
    Jesurgislac says:

    . I have no problem with public sex education as long as it keeps to the “hows” (and I mean that in very basic terms – I don’t think school should teach french kissing or oral sex or…well, that’s graphic enough)

    I think that if a sex education teacher is asked “What’s French kissing”, s/he should answer. Likewise, if asked “What’s oral sex?” And opportunity should be made to let the kids ask such questions, as anonymously as they feel comfortable with.

    And I also think that a good sex education program will indeed include the why’s: it should be taken for granted that sex is part of life, that people will want to have sex, and that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that so long as both you and your partner want to have sex – it’s wrong to give into coercion, it’s wrong to coerce or hurt or embarrass someone else. And that there are safe and safer ways of having sex that won’t spread STDs or result in pregnancy. It would be wrong to just do the biological basics and not include the emotions, too.

    Then it’s your job to make clear to your kids what your moral values are about sex, in such a way that they’ll want to live by them.

  72. 72
    gengwall says:

    No, I just presume that anyone who makes a point of saying they restrict the education of their children (as you did) wants to keep their children ignorant.

    Actually, “restrict” was your word. My point is that I don’t know any pro-life parents who don’t think their children should have sex education. They simply prefer the ciriculum, if you will, to be developed by them rather than by the school or the government or, quite frankly, even the church.

    If you consider yourself to be in the “pro-life” mainstream, and you think pharmacists have a right to refuse women access to contraception, then it’s perfectly accurate to say that there is a general anti-contraception move in the so-called “pro-life” camp.

    The pro-life mainstream is not anti contraception. That was your contention. Its wrong.

    I think that if a sex education teacher is asked “What’s French kissing”, s/he should answer. Likewise, if asked “What’s oral sex?” And opportunity should be made to let the kids ask such questions, as anonymously as they feel comfortable with.

    I think the teacher should say “ask your parents”

    And I also think that a good sex education program will indeed include the why’s

    I’m sure glad you’re not bringing up or educating my kids.

    Clearly – we have different perspectives on child rearing as it pertains to sex education. That’s fine with me. To get back to the point, your contention that pro-lifers are against their children being educated about sex is wrong. We simply want to be the primary educators.

  73. 73
    Jesurgislac says:

    Actually, “restrict” was your word.

    Nope, you used it: “I have two teenage daughters and you bet I restrict their access to CERTAIN forms of sex education because I do not agree with them.” In short, you’d rather your daughters were ignorant: it would be rude for me to speculate why you’d rather keep your daughters ignorant, but you yourself admitted that you would rather keep your daughters ignorant.

    The pro-life mainstream is not anti contraception. That was your contention. Its wrong.

    You yourself argued that pharmacists ought to be allowed to deny women contraception, and you claimed to be part of the pro-life mainstream. You think you’re not anti-contraception? Then you need to oppose pharmacists who think it’s their job to decide whether or not women should have access to contraception, not go along with them.

    I think the teacher should say “ask your parents”

    It’s not a teacher’s job to keep your children ignorant.

    To get back to the point, your contention that pro-lifers are against their children being educated about sex is wrong

    No, evidently, it’s not. You’ve said yourself that your preference is to keep your daughters ignorant, and that you would rather teachers kept all children ignorant.

    We simply want to be the primary educators.

    Which would be fine, if your preference wasn’t, as expressed by you, to keep them ignorant.

    It’s your job to impart your moral values so your daughters will want to live by them.

    When parents make clear that they don’t trust their children to live by their moral values unless the children are kept ignorant, I tend to wonder if the parents mistrust their children, or their moral values.

  74. 74
    gengwall says:

    You continue to insist that my children are ignorant – they are not

    You continue to insist that my parenting approach keeps my children ignorant – it does not

    You continue to insist that my recognition of a pharmacist’s concientious objector rights means I’m anti-contraception – it does not (incidently, who said I don’t oppose this stance by pharmacists? I simply said it is their right. I oppose flag burning as an activity but I also agree with it’s current status as a free speech right)

  75. 75
    Jesurgislac says:

    Gengwall: You continue to insist that my parenting approach keeps my children ignorant

    You yourself admitted that your parenting approach is to keep your children ignorant.

    You continue to insist that my recognition of a pharmacist’s concientious objector rights means I’m anti-contraception

    Yes, you are. If you continue argue that a pharmacist has a right to deny a woman contraception, by calling it “conscientious objection”, then you are anti-contraception. If you support the right of all women to get access to whatever contraception they want, then don’t support pharmacists in their muddled opposition to that right.

  76. 76
    gengwall says:

    Well, our discussion has gone beyond absurd. I choose to drop the rope. What was this entry about again? I’m quite certain it wasn’t my kids even though they sometimes think EVERYTHING is about them.

  77. 77
    Jesurgislac says:

    gengwall, you’re the one who brought your kids into the discussion.