Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Running of the Bullshit

bullfightThe big strong men in Connecticut have collapsed with relief after successfully fending off a vote to hold Catholic hospitals, which receive state and federal monies through insurance and other channels, accountable for providing rape victims access to birth control. It inevitably became a debate on abortion and the right of the hospitals to remain faithful to their religious dogma against it, but face it---the Catholic position is to condemn any form of birth control regardless of how it works, so the abortion issue is merely a red handkerchief to goad the anti-abortion bull into charging. During deliberation, a young woman who had been gang raped and nearly killed gave testimony on the relief she felt at the hospital where she was treated after being given birth control. She was followed by a number of abortion foes who pleaded religious freedom while offering Christian crocodile tears for what the woman had experienced.

Yes people, it's life! Let's give you that, all right? The fertilized egg is life, just as the cells on the back of the hand are life, just like amoebas are life. But the difference between fertilized eggs and amoebas is that amoebas can live independently, eat, reproduce, experience a life cycle. And the similarity between fertilized eggs and cells on the back of the hand is that they cannot do any of those things, unless they are given an assist, the latter in a petrie agar, and the former via implantation into a uterine wall, which may or may not take. Blastocysts cannot develop independently on their own.

It comes down to this:
The National Institutes of Health, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and American Medical Women's Association all hold identical definitions of pregnancy, which, in the words of the AMWA's Position Statement on Emergency Contraception,
"defin(e) pregnancy as beginning with implantation. Emergency contraceptive pills work prior to implantation and therefore are considered by these respected organizations and AMWA as a contraceptive, not as an abortifacient. Emergency contraceptive pills do not affect an established pregnancy and numerous studies of the teratologic risk of conception during regular use of oral contraceptives (including the use of older, higher-dose preparations) found no increase in risk."
Why at implantation? Well, it may be because until implantation, the fertilized egg has no chance of growing into anything at all. It will wither and die without the sustenance provided by the endometrial wall. And many billions do. Women become pregnant regularly and cluelessly, and for her entire reproductive life each woman's menstrual waste in every country on earth has been sent over and over and over again to the garbage dump, carrying the remains of her countless failed conceptions. Speaking scientifically, blastocysts are cheaper than a dime a dozen...they are a dime a trillion, and if they weren't, not enough would successfully implant to continue the race.

Fertilized eggs are not babies, and no matter how much you may want them to be, the scientists and medical experts who know more about it than you do aren't going to call them pregnancies until they implant. And until they implant, they cannot, by any medical definition, be aborted. Anti-abortion and anti-contraception groups may devoutly wish it to be otherwise, but giving Plan B and RU-486 does not cause abortion.

You don't like it? Ok, you can define pregnancy to mean conception if you must. You can even define it to mean the first time you think about having sex with someone, or better yet, you can pass a law endowing personhood on every unfertilized egg and motile sperm sloshing around a human body, but wishing doesn't make it so. It won't make a few cells the moral equivalent of a real live woman or child. It won't endow those few cells with the capacity to suffer the pain and horror of a girl who has been eviscerated by thugs, and left to incubate their seed. But it will intesify that pain, and perpetuate it, and spread it cruelly amongst the people least able to avoid it.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Pill Nazis: "No Contraception For YOU!"

p1_1284_1Over at Tom Wicker's League of Gentlemen, the NYTimes is alerting the rabble to the dangers of contraception:
"Two more women have died after taking RU-486, the abortion pill. Officials said today that they did not know what caused the deaths, and they did not indicate when the deaths had occurred.
From September 2003 through May 2005, four women died in California from a rare and highly lethal bacterial infection after taking abortion pills."
The anti-choice people have been trying to shut down access to this drug since it became available in the US in 2000, and the good old "liberal" NYTimes is happy to give them an assist by placing the story prominently on the front page. Is it the danger to public health that the prominence of the article implies that it is? The FDA:
"The risks of death from infection after using the pill are similar to the risks after surgical abortions or childbirth, officials said."
From 1999 to 2003, a span of only 4 years, Merck's anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx was responsible for 27,785 deaths and cardiac arrests, out of 1.4 million who took the drug. That's 2% of those who took it. And despite the damning evidence that showed Merck had consistently covered up the fatalities to save it's fiscal hide and continue selling the drug, the FDA decided to allow it to go back on the market.

But RU-486? Four women, all within a specific radius of one another in the state of California, died from the same bacterial infection. Now 2 more deaths have come to light. 6 women have now died, out of half a million who took the contraceptive over the course of 6 years. That's 12 tenth thousandths of a %! Still, any death is enough to let loose the dogs of mysogynistic war, and the snakes of opportunism.

This is not to demean the deaths of those women. They were precious to their loved ones, and of themselves. But it points up the purely political way the FDA has been handling women's contraceptive issues since Bush stole the crown, and the ridiculously transparent approach they take to whose ox gets gored.

RU-486 had been used for years in Europe. This is what the site Religious had to say about it:
"RU-486 is a safe method to terminate a pregnancy, as long as it is not used on women with any of three contraindications -- a history of:
  • heavy smoking
  • heart problems, or
  • high blood pressure.
After extensive use in Europe, one fatality occurred to a woman who should never have been given the pill, because all three contraindications applied to her. In addition, an older form of prostaglandin was injected in her case. This is no longer used in France and elsewhere; misoprostol is now used in combination with RU486. One death in 500,000 times that RU-486 was used compares very favorably with the fatality rate if the pregnancies had been allowed continued to term. Trials have been conducted in 20 countries, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavian countries, the former Soviet Union, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the U.S. The U.S. trial was concluded on 2,100 women who had been pregnant fewer than 7 weeks.

One source compared the safety of various alternatives in North America:
  • RU-486: 1 death in 200,000 abortions.
  • Vacuum aspiration abortion: 1 death in 200,000 abortions
  • Childbirth 1 death in 14,300 pregnancies
  • Illegal abortions 1 death in 3,000 abortions. 2,3
After the pills had been available for about four years in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration reported that three women had died from bacteria infections in the uterus which later spread to their blood supply, leading to sepsis (a.k.a. blood poisoning). By that time, about 360,000 women had use RU-486. This is a fatality rate of 1 death in 120,000, which makes the use of the medication eight times safer than continuing the pregnancy to childbirth."
So maybe what's needed is a campaign against childbirth. Women are dying like flies all across the world. It's only common sense: babies=death!

Let's get on it, Fascists for Life.