Tag Archives: children

Roe Back

“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Abortion-rights and anti-abortion demonstrators gather outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

It has been one dream of conservatives for decades: overturning Roe vs. Wade.  The landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision guaranteed women the right to abortion, in accordance with the 9th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  Now that goal has been achieved: earlier today, June 24, the Court has overturned Roe; thus gutting nearly a half century of reproductive freedom for women in the U.S.

It’s a stunning move and it’s left abortion supporters shell-shocked.  It doesn’t seem to matter that the majority of Americans support abortion to some extent.  Six justices on the Supreme Court have decided they don’t like the concept of abortion, so no woman should have access to it and no one should help a woman burdened with a crisis pregnancy.  It is the first time in U.S. history that a constitutional right has been granted and then rescinded.

Social and religious conservatives are ecstatic about this decision.  Although the Roe decision startled many people in 1973, the ruling didn’t really become an issue until the 1980s; when the evangelical Christian movement started to make its intrusive presence known.  They saw the election of Ronald Reagan as assurance that abortion would be outlawed in the U.S.

At least 26 states were ready to outlaw abortion under most circumstances, should Roe be overturned.  Now that it has, they are moving towards the annihilation.  Last year the legislature in my home state of Texas passed the so-called “Heartbeat Act”, which bans abortion after 6 weeks (before many women know they’re pregnant) and only allows it in cases where the mother’s life is endangered.  That means rape and incest victims will be forced to carry their pregnancies to term.  Any woman (or girl) who obtains an abortion and/or anyone who assists in that procedure could face up to $10,000 in statutory damages and face prison time.  Noticeably it doesn’t say anything about prosecuting men who rape women or girls.

The overturning of Roe perhaps will be one of Donald Trump’s greatest legacies, aside from his dismal handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.  But it won’t so much be his legacy as it will be that of right-wing extremists – the people who loudly proclaim to cherish personal liberty and freedom, but in practice, mean it only for themselves.  Everyone else’s personal liberty – that is, people who aren’t exactly like them – is somehow subjective.

Abortion opponents are now presenting – as they always have – what they consider viable solutions to the dilemma of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies; quick fixes that are ridiculously quaint and utopian.  They recommend creating a society where every child comes into the world loved and respected; that women always have a safe and effective way to carry out their undesired pregnancies.  It’s tantamount to beauty pageant contestants expressing their wish for the blind to see and the lame to walk.  It’s wonderfully idealistic, yet extraordinarily delusional.  Such answers to some of life’s most complex issues are typical of the conservative mindset: simple and unencumbered.  That’s why I always say my brain is too big to be conservative.

In the 49 years since Roe was passed, it’s estimated that some 60 million abortions have taken place in the United States.  Abortion adversaries groan that it means some 60 million children never got a chance to grow up and have fulfilling lives.  But millions of children have come into the world under the best of circumstances and have never lived fulfilling lives.  The future is always uncertain, and occasionally things go awry in families.

It’s also possible that those estimated 60 million children could have been subjected to abuse and neglect.  Children who come into the world unwanted often end up being unloved.  I have to wonder if abortion opponents are going to dish out any additional cash to help support all those children.  It’s easy for them to lounge in their ivory towers – the way religious leaders often do – and bestow well wishes upon troubled souls.  Good intentions don’t pay diaper and formula bills; they don’t provide housing and education; they don’t deal with the daily angst of raising children.  They’re glossy words that lack substance, unless solid and concrete action is taken to make those lives better.

Liberals and moderates are already concerned that other Supreme Court decisions are at risk, such as Griswold and Lawrence.  Even Brown and Loving may come under similar attack.  As part of his decision to overturn Roe, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” referring to decisions on contraception, sodomy and same-sex marriage respectively.

Remember, the original Roe decision developed under the auspices of the right to privacy and equal protection under the law.  Those are essential and undeniable features of a truly democratic society.  Stripping any particular group of basic human rights isn’t a sign of a moral culture, as many social conservatives would have us believe.  It’s more emblematic of a totalitarian world; a universe where a handful of people have blessed themselves with the power to decide what is and what is not appropriate for everyone else.

If abortion opponents think this Dobbs decision will end abortion in the United States once and forever, they are mistaken.  After the initial shock has worn off (which is already happening), people will begin to fight back and find ways around it.  Whether right-wing extremists like it or not, abortion will happen.  There will always be women who find themselves in very difficult situations and feel they must end a pregnancy.  It’s been happening for centuries and it will continue happening, even though a band of self-righteous elitists demand otherwise.

Just wait for it.  They’ve awoken a giant.

Leave a comment

Filed under Essays

Total Madness

Children flee Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022.

They’re like recurring allergies – they just keep hitting over and over.  But we have a bevy of cures for allergies.  We don’t seem to have many for the sickening epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S.

As of this day, the U.S. has experienced over 250 mass shootings in 2022 – more than the number of days thus far in the year.  A mass shooting is defined as an event where four or more individuals are shot, not including the actual assailant.

Two recent massacres – 10 people in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and 21 at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas – have garnered considerable attention.  The Buffalo calamity was racially-motivated, and the Uvalde event was the worst school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, ConnecticutBetween the Buffalo and Uvalde episodes, the U.S. experienced 14 other mass shootings.  Let that sink into your brain for a few minutes.

The gun issue has always been sensitive and controversial.  Hardline gun rights advocates have consistently placed the value of their sacred firearms over the right of people to live peacefully and happily.  Even more aggravating is a recent survey where 44% of Republican voters say mass shootings are one price we have to pay for living in a free society.  Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.  Ironically, many of these people consider themselves pro-life.

On the other side, far left gun control proponents want to eliminate all firearms for private citizens; believing that – in this violent, imperfect world – we only need herbal tea and kind words to solve every crisis.  These are the same people who get so emotional it’s almost painfully embarrassing to watch them recount their ordeals.  I understand these are horrific events, but the time for tears and anguish has already passed.

And that’s what I want to communicate to liberals.  Stop crying!  It’s time to get mad, stand up and yell back at these idiotic gun nuts whose only resolution to firearm blood baths is another weapon and a few thoughts and prayers.  Thoughts and prayers serve as little more than toilet paper for the carnage.

In the immediate aftermath of both Buffalo and Uvalde, as more talk of gun violence and gun control arose, we heard the usual cadre of right-wing loudmouths more worried (as always) that the rights of “law-abiding gun owners” could be desecrated.

Spare me the narrow-minded anxiety!

People have more of a right to live than anyone has a right to own a gun.  And no, they aren’t equally significant.  But conservatives campaigning for public office consistently point out one characteristic: they are pro-Second Amendment.  I see these ads every election cycle, especially here in Texas.  They always skip over the First Amendment, which ensures free speech and peaceable assembly and guarantees the right to vote.  Again, the twisted priorities of the conservative mindset.

Last year, when Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed several pieces of legislation into law that declared the state to be a “Second Amendment sanctuary”, I wasn’t shocked.  But I was angry.  This is the same governor who oversaw blatant attacks on the right to vote by dismissing the reality of gerrymandering in the state and allowing for partisan poll watchers.  In older days, partisan poll watchers across the South carried guns and would deliberately intimidate (mostly non-White) voters.  Conservatives steadily bemoan the myth of rampant voter fraud, while ignoring the very real pandemic of gun violence.

For the first anniversary of the 1999 Columbine school massacre, a national news network interviewed several of those first responders.  One man stated that he was particularly upset that the perpetrators (two teenage boys) had included girls among their victims.  He said could understand them shooting boys, “but they shot girls, too.”  I literally stopped when I heard him say that.  Aside from the shock value of the verbiage, that he could differentiate between the genders of the victims and therefore categorize his horror level proved how complacent people in this country have become towards violence.  It certainly was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.

The outrage continued in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, when the U.S. Senate held a hearing on gun violence in the nation and the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre sat with a scowl on his face and became defensively hostile with every question lobbed at him.  And, as usual, liberals wept, while conservatives grunted.  And then…nothing.  Nothing happened.  No new legislation to address gun violence; no new funding for mental health counseling…nothing.  With that, it seemed the gun violence debate in the United States ended.  We’d accepted the murder of helpless children and thus, nothing more could be done.

At this point, I really don’t hold out much hope for any kind of movement on the legislative front.  Politics has gotten in the way of public service.  So, what’s new?

I remain as tired of the crying from liberals as I am of the concern for gun owner rights from conservatives.  If only the latter group understood the extent of the damage caused by bullet wounds, then perhaps they’d rethink their commitment to ensuring gun rights over human rights.  It’s time for we progressives to get mad and shout down the right-wing extremists who proudly pose with their firearms for family holiday photos the way most normal-minded folks pose with their children and pets, armed with little more than smiles.  The saccharine responses from the horrified won’t result in any considerable change.  They’ll just fade into the morass of national traumas.

Then we’ll have another mass shooting – in a school or some public venue.  And the cycle of tears and excuses will begin all over again.

3 Comments

Filed under Essays

Best Quotes of the Week – May 21, 2022

People gather outside a grocery store in Buffalo, NY where an 18-year-old gunman shot and killed 10 people on May 14, 2022.

“I would like to see sensible gun control.  I would like to see ending hate speech on the internet, on social media.  It is not free speech. It is not the American way.”

Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo, New York, after a mass shooting at a local grocery store on May 14

Brown also declared, “We are not a nation of haters. We are not a nation of hate. We need to send the message that there is no place on the internet for hate speech, for hate indoctrination, for spreading hate manifestos.  I will be a stronger voice for that.  I believe that what happened in Buffalo, New York, yesterday is going to be a turning point.  I think it’s going to be different after this, in terms of the energy and the activity that we see.”

“Parents and caretakers across the country cannot wait.  They need our support now.  This bill takes important steps to restore supply in a safe and secure manner. Additionally, with these funds, FDA will be able to help prevent this issue from occurring again.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, after passage of a bill in the U.S. Congress that would help to alleviate the current baby formula crisis

One of the bills provides $28 million in emergency funding to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to address the shortage. The money would also be used to increase staff at the FDA, such as inspectors who could help the agency accelerate the approval process for formula manufacturers.

It has to be noted that an overwhelming majority of House Republicans voted against the bill, even though a majority have been complaining about the ongoing baby formula shortage.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Happy Mother’s Day 2022

“They say our mothers really know how to push our buttons – because they installed them.”

Robin Williams

Image: Business Today

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Right to Control

Many of the cases that arrive before the U.S. Supreme Court begin with individuals either trying right a wrong or make their own lives better.  They rarely expect to launch a national movement.  That was pretty much the case when Norma McCorvey found herself pregnant with her third child in 1969.  An unemployed carnival worker living outside Dallas at the time, McCorvey apparently had led a rough life and had given up her first two children for adoption.  She didn’t need – and couldn’t afford – to bring another child into the world.  However, the state of Texas didn’t allow for abortions except to save the life of the mother.  Even rape and incest victims couldn’t end their unwanted pregnancies.  Like so many women in her situation, McCorvey was too poor to travel to another state where abortions were safe and legal.  She even tried to obtain an illegal abortion, but again the cost was prohibitive.  She sought legal help and ended up under the guidance of attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington.

In 1970, after McCorvey had given birth and given up the baby, Coffee and Weddington filed paper work challenging the Texas law and bestowed the name “Jane Roe” upon their client.  They targeted then-Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade.  Wade had entered the national spotlight nearly a decade earlier when he prosecuted Jack Ruby for killing Lee Harvey Oswald who had been accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy.  (Wade would later come to light as a ruthless prosecutor who engaged in unscrupulous legal maneuvers to ensure criminal prosecutions, no matter the cost and despite evidence to the contrary.)

After McCorvey’s suit was filed, a Texas district court ruled the state’s abortion ban violated the constitutional right to privacy under the 14th Amendment.  Wade persisted, however, and vowed to prosecute any doctor who performed what he deemed unnecessary abortions in the state.  The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court and, in a 7-2 ruling on January 22, 1973, abortion was fully legalized in the United States.

That was pretty much the end of the issue until the 1980s, when right-wing religious leaders began stoking the fires of anti-abortion rhetoric.  It accompanied the presidency of Ronald Reagan who openly stated he wished for a return to an America before the 1960s.  That should say enough about his bigoted state of mind, but it aligned with a growing hostility towards progressive ideology and civil rights legislation.

Earlier this week the unexpected news arrived that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe vs. Wade by the end of its current term in June.  We wouldn’t know anything about this if it wasn’t for the leak of a draft opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito who declares the Roe decision “egregiously wrong” in terms of constitutional practicality.  Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed the veracity of the statement, but has joined many others in condemning the leak.

For many of us the leak isn’t the main concern.  It’s what it says.  There is now a very real possibility that nearly a half century of protection for that part of women’s overall health care could end because a handful of conservative extremists on the High Court want to inject their personal views into it.

For their like-minded ilk in the American public, the overturning of Roe marks the end of a long-fought battle in their alleged “pro-life” agenda; a perverted early Mother’s Day gift.  It doesn’t matter that a majority of Americans don’t want to see a complete ban on abortion.  They’ve been working for this moment over the past four decades.

For liberals, though, this is a much more dire situation.  While the current case that brought Roe back into the forefront is limited to just abortion, progressives see other seminal SCOTUS decisions in the judicial crosshairs.  It really isn’t extraordinary to see such cases as Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage, reversed.  Along with abortion, queer rights have been a target of far-right conservatives.  But, if the Court sees fit to outlaw abortion at the national level (and leave it up to individual states), it could also reasonably overturn Griswold vs. Connecticut, which ruled that states could not deny birth control to married couples.  Before that decision, married residents of Connecticut (and a few other states) couldn’t legally purchase birth control.

To some conservatives, abortion has become another form of birth control, which is not what contemporary feminists who jump-started the modern women’s movement desired.  The latter group had always declared that abortion should be a woman’s last choice.  But, with the overall concept of birth control in mind, is it possible a woman who has a tubal ligation could be criminally prosecuted?  For that matter, could men who have vasectomies be subject to criminal jurisprudence?  How about condoms or IUDs?  Could those be outlawed?

Why stop with Roe?  Aside from Obergefell and Griswold, could the Court target Loving vs. Virginia, the case that struck laws against interracial marriage?  How about Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, which outlaws racial desegregation in schools?

Remember that, when Antonin Scalia died in 2016, Republicans in the Senate displayed their usual contempt and disdain for President Obama by refusing to hold hearings on his nominee to the Court, until after Donald Trump got into office.  They stated that, since Scalia’s death occurred during an election year, the incoming president should select his replacement.  Yet, upon the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020, they rammed through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett – a character straight out of “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

That social and religious conservatives want to dictate what women can and cannot do with their own bodies conflicts with the long-held American vision of individual freedom.  Many of these people screamed at the thought mandatory mask-wearing or forced vaccinations at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; crying they should have autonomy over their own bodies.  Really?  What an original concept.

Conservatives herald the beauty of life, but a life costs hard dollars in the very real world of child-rearing.  Since 2019, for example, the state of Texas has experienced a 1,100% rise in children placed into foster care.  Love and compassion alone won’t pay those bills, no matter how much prayer one puts forth.  Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie once emphasized that pro-life means the entire life cycle – not just up to the moment the fetus is born.

The reasons why an individual woman wants to end a pregnancy are myriad, but it is no one else’s business.  As painful a decision as it may be, I’d rather see a woman end a pregnancy she doesn’t want than give birth to a child she doesn’t want.  Children who come into the world unwanted are often unloved.  That’s an awful fate for someone.

Regardless, pregnancy and birth are individual choices.  No one – not the Supreme Court and not a politician – has the right to interfere with that.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Worst Quotes of the Week – April 16, 2022

“What we have is kids not only being indoctrinated but groomed, in a very real sense, by people who are, whether they know it or not, sexual predators.  Are they abusing the kids physically? No, I don’t think so. But they are abusing them mentally and using sex to do so.”

David Mamet, offering his views on the “Don’t Say Gay” issue in an interview with Fox News

Mamet added, “This has always been the problem with education. Teachers are inclined, particularly men because men are predators, to pedophilia.”

“I had to do something to gain his respect.”

Dustin Thompson, a January 6 rioter, during testimony about his actions

Thompson said he believed Trump sent him to attack on U.S. Capitol and thwart certification of the 2020 elections.  He also stated that he had been laid off from his job as an exterminator at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and – feeling “isolated” and “stuck at home” – eventually “fell down the rabbit hole” of online conspiracy theories.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Tweet of the Week – April 2, 2022

Kelley Paul

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Parenting Tub Steps

Here’s an interesting dichotomy.  Please look closely at the photo above.  Is this what the tail end of middle age is all about?

Occasionally I receive mailings from a company that installs walk-in tubs – the kind used by, you know, old and or disabled people.  But, for the last couple of years, I’ve also been receiving periodicals from “Parents” magazine.  I suddenly feel like I’m one of the three last people on Earth – and the other two are a drug dealer and a politician.

Why?

I’m 58 now and am starting experience the early signs of an aging physique and mind: occasional loss of balance, difficulty squatting down and getting back up, saying whatever comes to mind with little regard for the consequences.  In some respects, I feel like both my body and mind have tired of me and want to lead separate lives.  For the most part I don’t blame them.

But note to self: I DON’T NEED A FUCKING WALK-IN TUB!!!

Not yet anyway.

The “Parents” magazine is more shocking.  I don’t know how I got subscribed.  It’s not like that time back in the mid-1970s when some neighbors – impressed with my curiosity and precocious nature – bought us a two-year subscription to “National Geographic”; a subscription I maintain to this day.

I literally had to do a double-take when I saw “Parents”.  It didn’t seem to be a complimentary issue; a trial run.  My name and address are on the label!

It’s a true irony, though.  I always wanted to be a dad.  To get married and settle down into a nice comfortable suburban life.  But I also wanted to be a world-famous scientist, an architect, an actor and singer.  Some things just don’t happen because there weren’t meant to happen.  Oh well…

I’m still a writer!  Something I definitely wanted to do with my life!

After peeling off the labels, the two above-mentioned items go into the recycle batch.  And I go into the kitchen to grab some wine!

Some things go just as planned.

Leave a comment

Filed under Wolf Tales

From the ‘Only in Texas’ Files – January 29, 2022

The Walmart store chain offers plenty of items for shoppers, but I don’t believe children are among them.  After all, this isn’t Russia!

But Rebecca Lanette Taylor, a 49-year-old woman from Crockett, Texas, apparently thought otherwise.  While standing in line at self-checkout lane at a Walmart in Crockett, Taylor allegedly offered another woman $500,000 in exchange for the latter’s child.

The Crockett Police Department indicated an officer was on patrol on January 13 when she received a phone call from the mother of the child, saying “a White woman with blonde hair approached her in the Crockett Walmart, wanting to purchase her son”.

According to an arrest affidavit, the mother had a baby in a car seat in the shopping cart, along with her 1-year-old.  Officials state Taylor “began commenting on her son’s blonde hair and blue eyes.”  She then asked how much she could pay for him. The mom tried to laugh off the comment, thinking Taylor was joking. However, Taylor told her that she had $250,000 in the car and would give that much for the baby.

The mother refused and left the store.  But Taylor supposedly followed her out to her car and asked again to buy the younger baby, adding she “been wanting to buy a child for a long time.”

The affidavit also declares that Taylor then “began screaming at the mom, saying if she wouldn’t take $250,000 for him, then she would give her $500,000 because she wanted him and she was going to take him.”

The mother got into her vehicle and locked the doors.  The children were safely inside with her. Taylor left the scene shortly after, but surveillance footage caught the incident on camera and a warrant was issued for Taylor’s arrest.  She is currently being held at the Houston County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

I think the bond should be set much higher…say, $500,000.  But that’s just a personal thought.

2 Comments

Filed under Curiosities

Father’s Day 2021

The Gift

By Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm

my father recited a story in a low voice.

I watched his lovely face and not the blade.

Before the story ended, he’d removed

the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,

but hear his voice still, a well

of dark water, a prayer.

And I recall his hands,

two measures of tenderness

he laid against my face,

the flames of discipline

he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon

you would have thought you saw a man

planting something in a boy’s palm,

a silver tear, a tiny flame.

Had you followed that boy

you would have arrived here,

where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down

so carefully she feels no pain.

Watch as I lift the splinter out.

I was seven when my father

took my hand like this,

and I did not hold that shard

between my fingers and think,

Metal that will bury me,

christen it Little Assassin,

Ore Going Deep for My Heart.

And I did not lift up my wound and cry,

Death visited here!

I did what a child does

when he’s given something to keep.

I kissed my father.

Li-Young Lee, “The Gift” from Rose. Copyright ©1986 by Li-Young Lee

2 Comments

Filed under News