women’s medical freedom

In 1999, I voted for the Green Party in the Governor’s race. I was young and idealistic. I voted for a candidate who really fit with my values. After Jesse Ventura was elected Governor, a lot of people told me it was because of people like me not sticking with the Democrats. Back then —whether the corporate world had already purchased our government or not, I don’t know (I was young and idealistic, remember)— I believed everyone’s vote made a difference, so I believed my vote had ultimately been a bad decision.
Here we are again, but the stakes are much higher. The idea of voting for a candidate who truly represents my values is terrifying. The consequences could be deadly, without any exaggeration (a President Trump would lead to many deaths around the world, I have no doubt).
At this point, I have no allegiance to any party or any candidate. People who know me are surprised to find I’m not an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders. It’s not that I think he’s not an amazing politician; I just don’t think he’s radical enough to change our broken system. I’ve given no energy in the time of primaries as the Democrats have selected their candidate. If I’m going to vote for the “lesser of two evils,” I’m simply going to vote Not Trump.
As I stay in my place of indecision with my mind as open as it can be, I do wonder if perhaps the time is right for real change? What if everyone who loves Bernie Sanders for all of his progressive and practical values really looked at Jill Stein as a candidate? What if the major media outlets all included Jill Stein in their reporting? What if…?
A lot of people hate Hillary Clinton. I don’t. I think she’s about the same as President Obama. Both are owned by Wall Street but both care deeply about trying to do the right thing with the cards they feel they were dealt.
What if everyone who recognizes Donald Trump for what he is — a very, very dangerous man — took some time to look at Jill Stein’s plan? What if there was an actual revolution in our political process? What if we tell the corporations we’re sick of them making all of our decisions, that we want to create a government by the people, of the people, and for the people in ways it never has been before?

In my late 30s (in the early 2000s), the Houston Press hired me to write a review of a play showing in Austin, The Vagina Monologues. By now, most people have heard of the play, I’d imagine.
Guess what I found out as I watched the play? I found out that my vagina isn’t my vagina. That is, the vagina is actually the soft tunnel that leads from the outside of a female’s body up to the cervix (which leads to the uterus).
A vagina is not, it turned out the whole squishy area on the outside. That, I learned, is called the vulva.
Did you know that?
A lot of people, full grown adults, don’t know that. In fact, I’d venture to guess a lot of people will find the word “vulva” very silly sounding.
I was in my 30s. I was an adult. I didn’t know the name of my own body parts. I was not alone.
Why does this matter? Why am I writing about it?
I’m writing about it because this kind of knowledge is power. I saw an article recently advocating for using proper names for body parts when teaching children. You know, instead of hoo-ha or pee-pee, use the correct language. It was a good piece. But, guess what? It referred to the female parts as “the vagina!” Even an article stressing the value of naming body parts correctly got it wrong!
It winds me up because we women (cisgender) are encouraged to live in ignorance. How can we accept ourselves unconditionally when we don’t even know ourselves?
I’ll end with this post I saw recently that I think illustrates my point well:

“Imagine if male genitals were treated like female genitals? Like testicles weren’t even referred to as testicles and some men didn’t even know what they were actually called and the general area was just called “penis”.

Imagine if boys were told that their prostate doesn’t exist. Imagine if hairy genitals on men were called “bearded snakes.” And they don’t know how many different holes they have until adulthood. Imagine.

imagine if men were flocking en mass to get “testicle tightening” surgeries.  imagine if men weren’t taught that they could have orgasms.  Imagine if it were considered rude to say “penis” even in debates regarding legislature involving medical care about men’s penises.  Imagine penis was a word that was considered too “dirty” to be said on television. Imagine if penis’s were depicted only as meat-sticks that fit in vaginas with no other value.  Imagine if teenage boys heard joke after joke about how all dicks smell terrible no matter what

Imagine if people thought the more a penis was used, the smaller and more useless it became.
Imagine if people didn’t understand how penises ‘work’ and therefore their orgasms didn’t matter.
Imagine if having a penis meant you were paid less money.”

Let’s say you believe life begins at conception. Personally, and by that I mean for me, I believe it does. We’ll start with that assumption. In fact, let’s just agree with the Republican Platform where they “affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed…and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.” Additionally, all Republicans who receive support from the national party believe this. Let’s be Republicans for a moment here. Not right-wing-extremists. Just Republicans, moderates, left-leaning, even. But we are Republicans who are receiving support from the national party. So. Life begins at conception. Got it? Okay.
Here’s what I encourage you to consider.
The house is burning down. In the room most consumed by flames there is a three year old child, screaming, crying, pleading for your rescue. Next to the child is a petri dish containing live human cells about five days after fertilization, at the blastocyst stage. They are about to be transferred into the waiting mother that evening. You are only able to save one of these babies.
Which baby would you save?
How would you feel if you could only save the younger baby?
How would you feel if you could only save the older baby?
How are those feelings different?
Now, a second story for your consideration.
Again, a fire is consuming the building. In the room, engulfed in flames is a crying infant. A newborn, just hours old. Next to that baby is a woman, comatose or in a “vegetative” state. All medical personnel have agreed she will never wake up. She is, however, carrying a baby inside her. She has almost reached full term. Most reasonable people would describe her as having a baby inside of her. If it were born now, it would survive.
There is no time, though, to take time for considering your options. You will either save the crying newborn, or the effectively dead woman and her live baby.
Which baby would you save?
How would you feel if you could only save the younger baby?
How would you feel if you could only save the older baby?
How are those feelings different?
Probably, when faced with this sort of decision you feel even more serious discomfort. Perhaps you are the sort of person who simply can’t deal in hypothetical questions or think they are pointless. That’s fine. Don’t do it. If you are like me, the conflict is so great a choice seems impossible.
You see, as most of us recognize, abortion is complicated. And, you may see in that first example, there is a point where most reasonable people will put the life of the born child before the unborn child. The second example is more complicated, but, if you are anything like me, you might lean toward the born child. It’s even horrible and shameful just typing that.
If you vote for a Republican, though, no matter how moderate or centrist, if they have support from the national party, you are voting for someone who has said in writing they believe those cells in the petri dish have as much a right to life as that crying toddler. Either they believe this, or they lied to get the support of their party.
The Republican party is run by extremists who don’t speak for most Americans. We progressives have done a horrible job exposing their immoral behavior.
If you know someone who believes Republicans stand for family values, please ask them to talk with their representatives. Have they signed the Republican platform? Do they believe in what they signed? Or, were they lying so they could get the support of the party?
Cells in a petri dish = a toddler. Or, lying just to get elected.
Those are the choices for Republicans.

She was only ten when he started coming in to her room at night. “Just let me lie with you,” her Daddy said.
By the time she was sixteen they had sex once a week when her Mother was at the gym. Sometimes more often when her Mother was out of town.
The week before she went to college she found out she was pregnant. She had been with no other men. Only her Father.
The Republican platform would require this girl to carry that child to term. She would have no other legal or safe options.
Some of the Republicans who stray from their party’s official platform might require her to go ask her parents for permission to get an abortion. Imagine her asking her mother or father that question.
Abortion is complicated. No one thinks it is a simple issue. No one has clear answers. No honest person really believes it is ever easy.
Surely, though, we can all agree that this child abuser, this perpetrator of incest, this “Father,” shouldn’t have more rights than his daughter? Should she be forced to spend nine months carrying that baby?
The Republican platform says she must.
For those of you who so desperately cling to the idea that, “Oh, that’s just the freaks on the far right, *real* Republicans understand there are situations where a woman should have a right to an abortion,” consider this: Any Republican who wants to get financial support from the party must sign the platform. So, if they want to have the support of the Republican party they either they agree that abortion is always wrong, or they are liars.