House of Misrepresentatives

17 February 2012: DC Exile Day 24

Not that this news comes as any surprise, but this past week has been especially terrible for women in the US. In case you missed it, below is a brief rundown of what happened in DC and Virginia this week. (I write about Virginia for two main reasons. First, I worked there recently in reproductive rights and am plugged in to what is going on in that state. Second, I believe some of the bills under consideration in Virginia may serve as dangerous models for the rest of the country should they pass.)

In addition to the Virginia House of Delegates approving a measure to grant “personhood” rights to zygotes, legislators in the Commonwealth moved forward with other measures to destroy the rights of women. (An article from Chelyen Davis at and David Sherfinski at The Washington Times provide valuable updates on how “personhood” may affect in vitro fertilization.)

  • Chelyen Davis also reports on a bill from Delegate Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, that would block the ability of low-income women to access assistance for necessary abortion care.
  • The House of Delegates voted to approve a bill that would force women to undergo vaginal probe ultrasounds against their will and against the advice of their doctors. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia describe the invasiveness of the bill.

And of course, there was the unbelievable absence of female witnesses during a hearing on birth control in the U.S. House of Representatives. The chair of the committee, Rep, Darrell Issa, R-Calif, even claimed a female law student was not “qualified” to testify to the committee.

Wait. So women, who take birth control, are not qualified to testify about birth control?

This week points out the dreadful truth that Republican legislators, especially those in the House of Representatives (you know, that body that is supposed to represent us?), believe that only wealthy, heterosexual, Christian White men are experts. Our legislators believe that women are not capable of living their own lives and making their own decisions. Our legislators are cowards.

Sanctum Santorum

12 February 2012: DC Exile Day 19

A couple of days ago, I discussed the new no-cost birth control mandate. I just read an update from Reuters that President Obama is sticking by his decision despite continued whining outcry from Catholic bishops and Republicans.

According to the article, Rick Santorum (I’m sure you’ve heard of him by now), responded to Obama’s decision by saying,

They’re forcing religious organizations, either directly or indirectly, to pay for something that they find is a deeply morally wrong thing and this is not what the government should be doing.

Not that logic is ever part of the equation when it comes to debates like this, but the problem is not that religious organizations must pay for something – the problem is that religious organizations and Santorum consider birth control (especially affordable/free birth control) a “deeply morally wrong thing.”

He’s such a pill.


10 February 2012: DC Exile Day 17

Let’s get caught up on some news from the past week.

Big Miracle

On Thursday, GF and I went to see the new film, Big Miracle. The film stars John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore and Kristen Bell. The film’s plot revolves around three whales trapped under ice (much like James Hetfield was) off the coast of Alaska. It takes a daring young reporter, a fiery unstoppable Greenpeace activist and a host of other characters to deal with rescuing these adorable gray whales. The film had two highlights for me. The first involved seeing a Russian tanker (that’s a type of ship for you nautical newbies). Ever since I was in elementary school I had a passive fascination with Russia. It is one place on earth that has a magical, sexy allure for me. When I was a kid, I would stand in the shower (taking a shower) and point my pointer finger in the air. My pointer finger was crooked toward the right (east if you’re facing north) and I always said aloud to myself (quietly and in what I thought was a Russian accent), “Yes. It points to Mother Russia.”

The second highlight of the film was seeing the Russian ship crew taking shots of vodka. I learned that it must be ok to drink and drive if you’re driving a massive piece of metal that is generally in open water. (“Wait, what’s that poking out of the water up ahead? That looks like ice. Nah. It can’t beahhhhhhhh! Cue the violins!”)

Halting the Big Miracle

Catholic bishops and leaders have been wrangling with President Obama regarding the decision that all women should have access to free birth control. President Obama issued a compromise to the mandate that all employers offer no-cost birth control. The coverage from Slate and Mother Jones is helpful in explaining just what the decision means for women working at religiously-affiliated charities, hospitals and schools. NARAL Pro-Choice America calls the decision a “reaffirmation of the commitment to ensuring contraceptive coverage.”

Based on my initial understanding of President Obama’s decision, it seems like a fair compromise and one that will allow all women in the US to benefit from no-cost birth control despite the Catholic bishops’ best attempt to stop women from having access to the full rights of citizens.

Bigoted Miracle

Why do Catholic bishops have any say in the political decisions of this country? The answer should be “they don’t,” but that is sadly not true.

I do not believe that any religious organization should be allowed to open any sort of usually-public institution. Religious organizations should not be allowed to open hospitals, schools, universities, post offices, fire departments or police stations. Religion is inherently a private matter in which private citizens can make private decisions to follow make-believe. (I did it for a large portion of my life.) But those private decisions and beliefs should never get to sway public policy. If Catholic bishops are opposed to birth control – the end. There should be no more to that sentence because it doesn’t matter what comes after their belief as far as public policy is concerned.

Sometimes I feel that we wrongly assume “freedom of religion” is synonymous with and equivalent to “freedom of unchallengeable bigotry.”