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Media Matters is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to “comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the US Media”. These folks go through the media (written, audio and visual) with a fine-toothed comb and find any discrepancies. They’ve documented times when a politician has said something that directly contradicts what they’d said months earlier, when newscasters are blatantly favoring one side of a story or misconstruing facts and when obvious points are completely disregarded. These people rock. Most of the information that I found about the issue below is thanks to them. Please support them in any way possible.

I’m sure we’ve all heard about Mary Cheney’s pregnancy. Yes, she’s a lesbian and has a life partner. Yes, they used a donor. And yes, she is a declared Republican (which, as it were, happens sometimes with the gay community). The media jumped all over it and haven’t really let up since. It’s opened up the debate on gay parenting in a much more public light, which means that closed-minded conservatives get to construe hard facts and evidence however they wish. For example, remember when Kerry supposedly “outed” Mary Cheney in the 3rd presidential debate in 2004 (even though she was already publicly out)? The media had a field day with it and lambasted him for being insensitive and for invading her privacy. Well, 2 years later, Mary Cheney announces her pregnancy, and the media couldn’t jump all over it fast enough. Suddenly, it was OK to invade her privacy to no end. Interesting.

One certain crazy conservative who took advantage of the situation is James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family. In a recent article in TIME magazine, Dobson took the opportunity to spout his conservative nonsense about how children thrive and grow best in mother-father parenthoods and that, as his title states, “Two Mommies Is One Too Many.” He sited studies on the importance of a father figure done by Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School as well as from educational psychologist, Carol Gilligan. Did he represent these studies correctly? Of course not. In Dr. Pruett’s book, Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child, he states that “What we do know is that there is no reason for concern about the development or psychological competence of children living with gay fathers. It is love that binds relationships, not sex.” Both Dr. Pruett and Ms. Gilligan have separately stated that their research was twisted and distorted by Dobson and that none of their collective evidence points to the conclusions that Dobson came to, namely that gay parents are inadequate. Ms. Gilligan went so far as to request that Dobson never use her research ever again and demanded an apology. And yet thousands and thousands of people will use Dobson’s words as fact.

The American Psychological Association stated all the way back in 2004 that “[t]here is no scientific basis for concluding that lesbian mothers or gay fathers are unfit parents on the basis of their sexual orientation.” Also, ” Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents.” You can read their full study here. The American Psychological Association is a pretty reputable source, don’t you think? I’m probably going to listen to them a little more than some crazy conservative who founded an organization with an extremely deceptive name.

PS- For a nice counterpoint to Dobson’s op-ed, check out what Jennifer Chrisler, the Executive Director of Family Pride, had to say.

…feminist, activist, vegetarian, Return Peace Corps Volunteer, Chicagoan, agnostic, adoptee…woman. When someone is asked to describe themselves on the most basic level, I’m sure that one of the first things that comes to mind is “male” or “female”. (Of course, some don’t have the luxury of being born of both the same sex and gender, but that is definitely for another post.) The point I’m trying to make is that this blog here is being written from the woman in me. I’m not writing this as a scientist or a theologian. I’m sure I could do hours upon hours of research about abortion coming from a scientist’s or theologian’s view and come up with support for both sides. But, I’m neither of those. Many aspects of my life affect my view on abortion, but first and foremost, I’m a woman. That’s where I’m writing this from. So, when you read this, know that I don’t know the scientific facts about fetuses and pain and I won’t be able to quote any scripture that supports or condemns it. This is coming straight from the ovaries.

On December 4, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on what they call the “Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act.” Basically, this act would force physicians to provide brochures to women seeking abortions at 20 weeks or more after fertilization. The content of these brochures has been scripted by anti-abortion legislators, not actual physicians, and says that the woman’s “unborn child” will experience pain while “being killed in an abortion”. The physician is then required to offer the woman anesthesia to be administered to the fetus. The physician is liable to up to a $100,000 fine for refusing to take all of these steps. A second offense will cost the physician $250,000.

Not only does this extremely biased act promote using scare tactics and intimidation against women who have all made a very difficult choice, but it also makes it even more difficult to get an abortion: By requiring anaesthesia to be offered, doctors are forced to cover the costs of the service as well as the insurance and training involved in it. Abortion clinics, even those associated with such well-known groups as Planned Parenthood, are barely staying afloat as it is. Thus, the cost of an abortion will go up, making it even less viable for so many women who are already in dire financial situations.

Let’s not forget the fact that the term “unborn child” is used instead of “fetus”. This isn’t the first time that a fetus has been referred to as an “unborn child” in our legislation: In 2004, President Bush signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004, which provides that “any person who causes death or injury to a child in the womb shall be charged with a separate offense, in addition to any charges relating to the mother.” This act is better known as “Laci and Conner’s Law”, referring to the 2005 Scott Peterson case where Scott Peterson was convicted of murdering his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son, who was already named Conner. Connecting this act to a heinous crime made it much easier to swallow, as it garnered much praise while questions over how a fetus can have human rights and whether a repeal of Roe v. Wade was next fell to deaf ears.

Women’s rights are being snipped away with tricky wording and the pulling of America’s heartstrings right and left. Last month, the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguements in two different cases addressing the “partial birth abortion” ban that Bush signed in 2003. And although the South Dakota abortion ban was defeated this past November, Roe v. Wade is in danger of being overturned. The Dems have control of Congress again, but our Supreme Court still consists of a majority of conservatives.

If abortion were to become illegal, it wouldn’t go away. It would just relocate to back alleys and dirty rooms. Women would die from the procedures, or face terrible disease and infections. A woman has a right to her body, period. If we were considered to be alive and human beings at the beginning of conception, then 3 months after we were delivered, we’d be 1 year old. There’s a reason that the day we’re delivered is called our birthday. And, to steal from George Carlin, if we are alive and human beings in the womb, then why don’t we hold funerals for miscarriages?

Say what you want about whether you personally would be able to have an abortion or not. Even if you don’t think you’d be able to, even if you don’t agree with abortion as a form of birth-control, you can still be pro-choice and honor a woman’s right to her body. Think about it.

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Post-Script: On December 6, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act failed to pass in the House. Thank goodness!

“To people living with, living with, living with, not dying from disease.”
-“La Vie Boheme”, Rent the Musical

Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day, as declared by the UN 19 years ago. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the discovery of AIDS. Here are the latest estimated statistics for 2006 from UNAIDS:

Number of people living with AIDS: 39.5 million (56% men, 44% women)

Number of children (under 15) living with AIDS: 2.3 million

AIDS deaths in 2006: 2.9 million

Total AIDS-related deaths, worldwide: Over 25 million

Number of reported AIDS cases in the US (as of 2003): 405,926

These maps provide a breakdown of the statistics by country.
A timeline of AIDS for you history buffs.

If you’re from Chicago, please either go to a Garret Popcorn Shop or shop online. For today and today only, they’re donating 10% of all store and online profits to Howard Brown Health Center, the Midwest’s premier LGBT health care organization. Yes, I know the lines are always super long, but it’s worth it, don’t you think?

And this goes for everyone: Please take some time today and think about the AIDS/HIV epidemic. It may not touch your lives on a daily basis, and some of you may even be lucky enough to not know anyone currently battling this disease. But, it’s an epidemic that I think we’ve become complacent to due to current and emerging drug therapies. Regardless, just in the US, 25% of those with AIDS don’t know they have it. If you take the statistics from above, that’s over 100,000 people in the US who are infected and have no idea, and who could be unknowingly infecting others.

Also, for being the world’s only superpower, we sure do suck when it comes to our response to this epidemic. Take some time today and learn something new about AIDS/HIV and how you can help. There are plenty of organizations to choose from, all doing great things in AIDS/HIV research and support, many of them linked in this blog. At the very least, fill out this very easy form asking your congress representatives to support the Ryan White CARE Act, which is in serious peril of being underfunded or not reauthorized at all.

Regardless of religion, political standing or race, I think we all can agree that the AIDS epidemic is something that needs to be addressed, and it needs to be addressed now.

Support World AIDS Day

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