Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

But it’s not just Ireland

Nov 19th, 2012 12:44 pm | By

Ann Marie Hourihane has an interesting piece in the Irish Times on how awkward it is for her to be in the US right now, because of all the shocked questions about how that hospital could have let Savita Halappanavar die rather than perform an abortion to complete the miscarriage that was already happening.

Perhaps America is tired of Ireland’s excuses. The sad bewilderment among liberals here, when they heard the news of Savita Halappanavar’s death in a Galway hospital in October, is worse than any aggression. The thing is, Americans just can’t understand why surgical treatment for a miscarriage can be withheld from a woman on the grounds that the foetal heart is still beating, when medical staff have already agreed that the pregnancy has no chance of survival, as is claimed to have happened in this case. This is proving rather difficult to explain.

But it can happen here too.

Clearly very few Americans know this. That really needs to change.

It is surprising how much Americans know about Irish abortion law, or the lack of it. “The mother’s life has priority, right?” they ask. Since Wednesday there has been no clear answer to that question. Is it, “We would like to think so”? Is it, “Well, it depends on where you are in Ireland, and also where in Ireland the pregnant woman is at the time”? Or is it “Er, we’d prefer not to think about that, if you don’t mind. Now bung us a couple of call centres, and leave us in peace”?

But that’s true here too. The ERD says no, the mother’s life does not have priority no matter what. The US Council of Catholic Bishops says no, definitely not, and it tried to force St Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix to sign a written statement agreeing to that. The hospital refused. Not all hospitals refuse! And there is apparently no oversight, no enforcement, no one making sure that all hospitals give the mother’s life priority.

Americans really need to know this.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

2 weeks in jail for liking a harmless Facebook post

Nov 19th, 2012 12:25 pm | By

India is still in a committed relationship with censorship. The Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray died on Saturday, and Bombay was shut down by way of farewell.

On Sunday, the police in Palghar, in Thane district, on the outskirts of Mumbai, arrested Shaheen Dhadha after she posted a status update on Facebook that questioned the shutdown, also known as a bandh. A local daily, the Mumbai Mirror, reported that Ms. Dhadha, 21, had written, “People like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a bandh for that.” The police also arrested her friend who “liked” the post, whom NDTV identified by her first name, Renu.

Got that? The head of a far-right Hindutva political party died, Bombay closed down for 30 hours as a result, and a young woman posted on Facebook questioning the closing down. She was arrested and so was someone who clicked “Like” on her post.

It’s madness.

The two women, who were sentenced to 14 days in jail by the court, received bail after a bond of 15,000 rupees ($270) was paid, reported NDTV.

The Times of India reported that a mob of 2,000 Shiv Sena workers vandalized her uncle’s orthopedic clinic in Palghar. Repeated calls made to the Dhada orthopedic hospital in Thane went unanswered, while Harshal Pradhan, a Shiv Sena spokesman, said that he was unaware of the incident.

Religious fascism everywhere we look. Golden Dawn, Shiv Sena, the priests in Ireland, the zealots in the US, Boko Haram, the mullahs in Iran…It’s everywhere.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Nov 19th, 2012 11:54 am | By

Iran is worried about its shocking ungodly laxitude about the always-vexing problem of women going anywhere without permission. It’s thinking about tightening up.

The draft law, set to go before the 290-seat Majlis, stipulates that single women up to the age of 40 must receive official permission from their father or male guardian in order to obtain travel documents.

Under current law, all Iranians under 18 years of age — both male and female — must receive paternal permission before receiving a passport. Married women must receive their husband’s approval to receive the documents.

The proposal is expected to find support in the conservative Majlis.

I don’t think I knew that single women in Iran were required to have male guardians. I thought that was a Saudi thing.

Anyway – you get the drift. Unmarried women under 40 can’t be allowed to go places without permission, because they’re whorey sluts who will fuck every man they encounter unless they have permission to go places from a man. Permission from a man obviates the whole whorey sluts thing. It’s magic.

Iran’s civil code overwhelmingly favors fathers and husbands in all personal matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and child custody.

Girls may be legally married as early as 13, and some lawmakers argue the age may, under Islamic interpretation, drop as low as 9. All women require permission from a male guardian to marry, regardless of their age.

Under Iranian law, women are also strictly compromised in terms of rights to compensation and giving legal testimony.

They are also bound by a strictly observed Islamic dress and conduct code, which forbids casual contact with the opposite sex and ordains that a woman must keep her hair and body covered in public.

That’s because everything is more of a guy thing. It’s all perfectly fair.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Nov 19th, 2012 10:42 am | By

The new issue of Free Inquiry is out. It has a special section on the Women in Secularism conference. I did an article for that section, based on my part at the conference but not restricted to it. It is online.

The basic idea is that the stereotypical idea of women is not very well suited for overt rebellion against god.

The main stereotype in play, let’s face it, is that women are too stupid to do nontheism. Unbelieving in God is thinky work, and women don’t do thinky, because “that’s a guy thing.”

Don’t laugh: Michael Shermer said exactly that during a panel discussion on the online talk-show The Point. The host, Cara Santa Maria, presented a question: Why isn’t the gender split in atheism closer to 50-50? Shermer explained, “It’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it; you know, it’s more of a guy thing.”

It’s all there—women don’t do thinky, they don’t speak up, they don’t talk at conferences, they don’t get involved—it’s “a guy thing,” like football and porn and washing the car.

Dude, your shit was in our way. It’s as if you’ve never heard of the self-fulfilling prophecy. That seems impossible for a skeptic, but there you go – dudely skeptics seem to misplace their skepticism when explaining why you don’t see so many women in the Atheist Clubhouse. No, it’s not because it’s more of a guy thing; it’s because so many people think it’s more of a guy thing and keep saying so and keep forgetting about the many many women who do stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, be intellectually active about it. (Can you say “do be”? No. But sometimes you need to, so I do it anyway.)

It’s not more of a guy thing. Move the fuck over, and you’ll find that out.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Monday morning

Nov 19th, 2012 10:03 am | By

We’ve got new people joining Freethought blogs – it’s going to be great.

Lalala I can’t wait to say who they are but I have to, we don’t say until their blogs are up and running, lalala I can’t wait.

You’ll be thrilled. I guarantee it.

(Well. When I say “you” I mean people who read B&W because they like it – not because they agree with every word of it, but because they like it as opposed to hating it. I don’t mean people who read it solely because they hate it and more especially me, and are monitoring it for things to spit bile at – thus increasing my hit count and causing millions of dollars to flow directly into my wallet every day. Those people aren’t “you.” You people reading this because you hate me with an obsessive hatred – you won’t be thrilled. The guarantee doesn’t apply to you. No refunds.)

Stay tuned.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Hundreds of girls were cut

Nov 18th, 2012 5:26 pm | By

A festive Sunday morning in Indonesia in 2006, with coconut cakes and Javanese music and lots of women in hijabs and lipstick. They were there to chop up the genitals of 248 little girls.

It is April 2006 and the occasion is a mass ceremony to perform sunat perempuan or “female circumcision” that has been held annually since 1958 by the Bandung-based Yayasan Assalaam, an Islamic foundation that runs a mosque and  several schools. The foundation holds the event in the lunar month of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and pays parents 80,000 rupiah (£6) and a bag of food for each daughter they bring to be cut.

The foundation pays the parents to slice up their daughters’ genitals.

At the mass  ceremony, I ask the foundation’s social welfare secretary, Lukman Hakim, why they do it. His answer not only predates the dawn of religion, it predates human evolution: “It is necessary to control women’s sexual urges,” says Hakim, a stern, bespectacled man in a fez. “They must be chaste to preserve  their beauty.”

Otherwise, they get all crusted over with ugly because of the oozing disgusingness of women’s sexual urges.

…far from scaling down, the problem of FGM in Indonesia has escalated sharply. The mass ceremonies in Bandung have grown bigger and more popular every year. This year, the gathering took place in February. Hundreds of girls were cut. The Assalaam foundation’s website described it as “a celebration”. Anti-FGM campaigners have proved ineffective against a rising tide of conservatism.

Although Indonesia is not a country where FGM is widely reported, the practice is endemic. Two nationwide studies carried out by population researchers in 2003 and 2010 found that between 86 and 100% of households surveyed subjected their daughters to genital cutting, usually before the age of five. More than 90% of adults said they wanted the practice to continue.

Between 6 and 100%. I wouldn’t have guessed that if you’d asked me beforehand. That’s almost up there with Egypt. It’s also in the most populous majority-Muslim country – the third most populated country on earth. That’s a lot of chopped-up women.




(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Nov 18th, 2012 4:58 pm | By

This thing on Facebook…

Photo: Click[Share]<br />

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Within the Catholic moral tradition

Nov 18th, 2012 4:21 pm | By

A reader pointed out an article at “Catholic Health World” -

Interjection: what the hell is “Catholic health”? I know, that’s not what they mean, it’s just the name of a publication of the CHUSA, the Catholic Health Association of the US. But that’s stupid too. We’re deadened to all this because of habituation. We’re used to it so we don’t notice how ridiculous it is, let alone how dangerous it is. Catholic health? Catholic health care? What the hell, man? There is no such thing. Health is health, it isn’t Catholic or Jewish or Baptist. Health care is health care, it isn’t Lutheran or Muslim or Hindu.

An article at “Catholic Health World,” I was saying. Pregnancy complications can bring on complex ethical questions.

Well I can think of some possible ones – like what to do about a woman who wants to risk her life to try to save a fetus that can’t be saved, or even a woman who wants to give up her life to try to save a fetus that can’t be saved. That might be a complex ethical question, because there’s an intuition that it should be her decision, but it has to be horrible to let someone die when you know you could save her.

But that of course is not the kind of complex ethical question they have in mind at CHUSA.

They offer hypotheticals. This one for instance -

A second fictitious case concerned a mother at 15 weeks’ gestation whose fetus is missing part of its brain. The baby will almost certainly die within days of birth. The physician recommends that the mother terminate the futile pregnancy to avoid the psychological distress of carrying a nonviable baby to term.

Slosar said that, applying directive 47, this termination would not be justified because the mother’s life is not at risk — the condition only affects the health of the baby. Also, the reason for the termination — to relieve the psychological burden to the mother — is not considered proportionate to the effect of the act, that is, the death of the baby, within the Catholic moral tradition.

How hateful. The “psychological distress” is grief for the baby and the futility of it all. The stinking CHUSA makes it sound selfish and callous. What good does it do the baby to have a few days outside the uterus? The Catholic moral tradition is brutal.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Being Eric Dondero

Nov 18th, 2012 12:50 pm | By

I don’t keep up with everything. I should but I don’t. A friend mentioned Eric Dondero to me and I had to resort to Google, because I hadn’t kept up. He’s pretty funny.

 Republicans around the country are responding to President Obama’s reelection in a variety of ways — among them: anger, depression, finger-pointing. But nobody had the same reaction as Eric Dondero, a former Ron Paul aide who blogs at In a post yesterday, Dondero, reasoning that the only recourse to Obama’s victory is “outright revolt,” laid out the terms of the “personal boycott” against Democrats which he plans to maintain for the rest of his life and which he hopes his followers will as well. What does the boycott entail? Cutting all ties with Democratic family members, friends, and lovers; refusing to work for a Democratic boss; spitting on the ground when a Democrat talks to you; and possibly shitting on your Democratic neighbor’s lawn, among other things.

That last one would be really hard to do! Think about it. You’d have to set the alarm for, like, 2 in the morning, because if you tried it at 11 or midnight, you just know some nocturnal nabe down the street would be walking a dog and the dog would totally run over to you while you were squatting there, and knock you over and jump around and bark while the human shouted “WHAT ARE YOU DOING THERE?!!” It would be soooo embarrassing. You’d have to move out. So you get up at 2 and go over to the neighbor’s lawn – and force yourself to shit? Yeah good luck with that.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

We have always been at war with the insect peoples

Nov 18th, 2012 12:08 pm | By

And it continues. Remember the crazed reactions to Rebecca’s article in Slate? In particular the one where Russell Blackford took the trouble to tweet a reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in order to call Rebecca a liar? This one?

He’s at it again, or still. He’s still doing what he can to harm Rebecca.

 Why? I don’t know. I do not know.

He might say it’s because of Stef McGraw, but that doesn’t make sense. Stef McGraw doesn’t consider Rebecca the world’s most evil monster bully. Remember?

Photo Photo by Brian S. Engler.

 There are a lot of crazy people out there who want to destroy Rebecca. And there’s Russell Blackford, who also wants to destroy Rebecca. I don’t understand that.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Bring out the hemlock

Nov 18th, 2012 11:34 am | By

Moving from Dublin and Galway to Athens for a moment – actors in and the producer and director of “Corpus Christi” have been charged with blasphemy.

A production of “Corpus Christi” in Athens was canceled this month after weeks of almost daily protests outside the theatre by priests and right-wing groups, including deputies from the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party.

Charges of “insulting religion” and “malicious blasphemy” have been filed after Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus lodged a lawsuit against those involved in the play, the officials said.

Our worst nightmare, eh? Fascists joining priests, priests joining fascists. Teaming up to stamp out everything that’s not fascist and priestly.

Dozens of demonstrators, including some from Golden Dawn, blocked the entrance of the theatre and clashed with police on the night of the play’s premiere last month.

Bearded black-robed priests holding crosses were shown on television tearing up posters promoting the play. A powerful institution, the Orthodox Church plays an influential role in Greek society.

The prosecutor’s decision to press charges against Corpus Christi was condemned by anti-fascism groups who said political instability in the country was pushing the conservative-led coalition to turn to the far right for support.

“It’s the bullies and the neo-Nazis clashing outside the theatre who should be put on the stand and not the actors,” said Petros Constantinou, head of the United Against Racism and Fascist Violence Movement.

Sparta defeats Athens all over again.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Whether and under which circumstances

Nov 17th, 2012 4:44 pm | By

There’s a group that’s going to examine the A, B and C v Ireland judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. It was set up as of January 13th this year…so it doesn’t seem to be breaking its neck in the rush to get the job done.

The Expert Group is to report back to Government within six months with options on how to implement the judgment of the European Courts.

The European Court held there is no right for women to an abortion in Ireland, emphasising that there is no straightforward right to an abortion under the Convention, and that member states have a broad margin of appreciation to prohibit abortion.  However, given the violation of applicant C’s right to privacy, the result is that Ireland may have to further clarify whether and under which circumstances an abortion may be performed to save the life of a pregnant woman.

Ireland may have to further clarify whether and under which circumstances an abortion may be performed to save the life of a pregnant woman.

So as of now it’s not clear whether an abortion may be performed to save the life of a pregnant woman?

This is why people are so angry, you see. It’s become unpleasantly clear what that means in practice. It means women actually die because of a protracted miscarriage.

The Expert Group will be chaired by Justice Mr Sean Ryan and consist of the following 13 members:

  • Dr Peter Boylan, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
  • Dr Mary Holohan, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
  • Dr Imelda Ryan, Psychiatrist,
  • Dr Ailish Ni Riain, General Practitioner
  • Dr Mark Walsh, General Practitioner
  • Ms Christine O’Rourke, Office of the Attorney General
  • Ms Mary O’Toole, Senior Counsel
  • Ms Joanelle O’Cleirigh, Solicitor
  • Ms Denise Kirwin, Solicitor
  • Dr. Deirdre Madden, Medical Council
  • Dr Maura Pidgeon, An Bord Altranais
  • Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health
  • Mr Bernard Carey, Assistant Secretary, Department of Health

We’ll have to find out who they all are. We need to know if any are acting for the church.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

See what I did there?

Nov 17th, 2012 3:26 pm | By

For the sake of the record, because it’s part of the wallpaper at the place of slime and therefore stupid people think I meant it literally and are recycling it as if I had - here’s the context of that comment. The comment that ends with: ”I can say that without using sexist epithets. I don’t know why you pricks can’t manage that.”

First of all – I did it on purpose. That was the joke. Derrr.

It was Monday, 04 January 2010. There was a post at RDF, about a terrible article at Comment is Free on the Danish Motoons by someone named Nancy Graham Holm. Holm’s article included this weirdly censorious paragraph:

Why did the editors of Jyllands-Posten want to mock Islam in this way? Some of us believed it was in bad taste and also cruel. Intentional humiliation is an aggressive act. As a journalist now living in the same town as Westergaard, I thought some at Jyllands-Posten had acted like petulant adolescents. Danes fail to perceive the fact that they have developed a society deeply suspicious of religion. This is the real issue between Denmark and Muslim extremists, not freedom of speech. The free society precept is merely an attempt to give the perpetrators the moral high ground when actually it is a smokescreen for a deeply rooted prejudice, not against Muslims, but against religion per se. Muslims are in love with their faith. And many Danes are suspicious of anyone who loves religion.

I commented at C is F and wrote a post, and I dropped in at RDF to see if anything interesting was being said there. I found pointlessly sexist comments. I was annoyed. I commented to say this:

Can’t you guys ever manage to disagree with a woman without calling her a bitch? Must it be all locker room all the time here?

I disagreed with her vehemently at C is F, three times, and in a post at my place, but I didn’t call her a bitch, nor did I need to.

There was some back and forth. That was then – I still thought sexism was a small part of the atheist scene. It seems so long ago now.

So, there was some back and forth, including this comment of mine:

And no, the ‘sticks and stones’ thing is no good. If the author of the article were African-American, would people here be breezily calling her a stupid nigger? I reeeeeeeeally don’t think so. Racial pejoratives are taboo, but sexist ones are just fine. Why is that? What does that say about routine contempt for women? Volumes, if you ask me.

Like Richard, I consider that article the most disgusting thing I’ve seen at the Guardian in some time, but I can say that without using sexist epithets. I don’t know why you pricks can’t manage that.

The irony was intentional. I’m not that stupid. Really.

The guy I was chiefly arguing with apparently thought I meant it literally. He was kind of a pre-slimepit slimepitter, but he changed later on, if I remember correctly. Anyway, I set him straight at the time.

Oh and for the record, ‘Saint Stephen,’ the irony of ‘pricks’ was (obviously!) fully intentional. Your bray of laughter seemed to indicate that you thought it was unconscious. Duh – it wasn’t.

If it’s true that Richard approves of this crap and tells off women who object, I think that’s appalling.

I said that last thing because people were claiming that. Well ha – Richard commented to say that he doesn’t and he doesn’t.

Again, that was then, of course. It would all play out differently now. But at the time, it was pleasant to be vindicated.

And at any rate: the irony was intentional.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Not just remembering

Nov 17th, 2012 11:24 am | By

There are a lot of tweets about the terrible way the RTE is reporting on the Savita case and the protests against it. I’d already noticed its ridiculous headline.

Rallies held in Dublin, Galway in memory of Savita Halappanavar

Uh, no – those were protest rallies, not memorial services. They weren’t about just remembering Savita, they were about trying to make sure that what happened to her doesn’t happen to other women.


Several thousand people are marching through the centre of Dublin to attend a rally in memory of Savita Halappanavar, the woman who died following a miscarriage at University Hospital Galway.

That is one misleading subhead.

RTE talked to an official.

Earlier Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch said if the expert group on abortion recommends legislation to deal with the issue, the Government will have to act on it…

She said she was a great believer that if you put an expert group in place, you must wait to see what their recommendations are…

She agreed with Eamon Gilmore who said doing nothing is not an option.

However, equally it would be a very challenging and complex piece of legislation but it was more important to get it right rather than quick.

What’s so challenging and complex about it?

It’s not challenging and complex unless you let priests throw up a lot of obstacles.

I wonder how many priests are in that “expert group on abortion.”

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton has described the abortion issue as complex and very challenging.

It’s not. It’s not complex and very challenging (I like the way they switched the word order for the sake of variety – it reminds me of Apollo 13 – “Remember, you’re happy and thrilled and very proud”) unless you create pointless complexity.

Speaking as he arrived at the TEEU conference, Mr Bruton said he understood the report was coming to Government on Tuesday week when they would have an opportunity to discuss it.

He said the Programme for Government had resolved that abortion was an issue that would be addressed and that Government had rightly decided to have an expert group work over the ground for them and provide the insights to make the proper decisions.

We need to know who is in that expert group.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

That’s a lot of people

Nov 17th, 2012 10:58 am | By

There was a big rally in Dublin in the name of Savita Halappanavar to say Never Again. It just ended, I think. There are lots of pictures of the crowd on Twitter. I got permission to post one, by Gavan Reilly at

 Embedded image permalink

Here’s another great photo, by Cathy Heffernan.

 Embedded image permalink

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

How to tell the diff-er-ence

Nov 16th, 2012 4:59 pm | By

There’s a difference between saying “selfish cunts” as a misogynist epithet and saying it as a joke about people who are sekrit misogynists under a veneer of respectability.

I bet you knew that. Not everyone gets it though. Some people see the latter and think it’s a justification for the claim that “cunt” is not a misogynist epithet. Some people see Jon Stewart doing the latter and think it’s the same as doing the former and therefore it’s  a justification for the claim that “cunt” is not a misogynist epithet. Siiiiiiiiigh.

You see what Stewart did there, right? The demographic that went for Romney. Married women. Fox News women doing commentary, saying “responsible,” “concerned about their children, and the future of the country…”

And Stewart says, in mimic vein – you know how his face and gestures change when he’s being not himself but the object of mockery – with a big shrug, “not just selfish cunts.”

It’s irony. Attribution not use. He’s paraphrasing what the Fox commentators are really saying under the verbiage. That’s why it’s funny. It would not be funny if he simply called the commentators cunts, for instance.

That’s because it’s a misogynist epithet. Using it “sincerely” is not funny.

Oy. How is this not obvious?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Part 3 of the Legion of Death’s “Directives”

Nov 16th, 2012 3:54 pm | By

The instructions.

Prenatal diagnosis is not permitted when undertaken with the intention of aborting an unborn child with a serious defect.

No matter what the defect. No matter how unable the parents are to deal with an infant born to suffer and then die. No matter how much futile suffering is in store for the infant.

Those evil bastards.

52. Catholic health institutions may not promote or condone contraceptive practices but should provide, for married couples and the medical staff who counsel them, instruction both about the Church’s teaching on responsible parenthood and in methods of natural family planning.

53. Direct sterilization of either men or women, whether permanent or temporary, is not permitted in a Catholic health care institution. Procedures that induce sterility are permitted when their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available.

Then get out of the field.

I’ll skip the rest for now, because it’s separate from the “when in doubt, refuse the woman treatment” issue.

This situation is an absolute nightmare. Because of the free exercise clause of the Constitution, the US government is very leery of messing with churches, even with churches that are simultaneously running a huge chunk of the health care sector and refusing to provide certain kinds of care on dogmatic authoritarian reactionary religious grounds that should have no place in a health care system. That means that the US government allows churches to run health care systems but refuses (or at least neglects) to monitor them properly.

Catholic bishops are in charge of a big fraction of the US health care system.

That needs to change.




(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The ERD part 2

Nov 16th, 2012 2:55 pm | By

The US Catholic bishops’ orders to Catholic health care providers.

Page 20 still.

28. Each person or the person’s surrogate should have access to medical and moral information and counseling so as to be able to form his or her conscience. The free and informed health care decision of the person or the person’s surrogate is to be followed so long as it does not contradict Catholic principles.

Doesn’t that sound familiar. From the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam:

Everyone shall have the right to enjoy the fruits of his scientific, literary, artistic or technical production and the right to protect the moral and material interests stemming therefrom, provided that such production is not contrary to the principles of Shari’ah.

(a) Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari’ah.

(b) Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari’ah

(c) Information is a vital necessity to society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith.

All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.

The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.

You can haz all the rights to all the things so long as it does not contradict Catholic principles/in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari’ah. You can haz all the rights to all the things we say you can have, and no others.

Back to the bishops. Page 21.

36. Compassionate and understanding care should be given to a person who is the victim of sexual assault. Health care providers should cooperate with law enforcement officials and offer the person psychological and spiritual support as well as accurate medical information. A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum.

Fuck you, bishops.

Page 22.

37. An ethics committee or some alternate form of ethical consultation should be available to assist by advising on particular ethical situations, by offering educational opportunities, and by reviewing and recommending policies. To these ends, there should be appropriate standards for medical ethical consultation within a particular diocese that will respect the diocesan bishop’s pastoral responsibility as well as assist members of ethics committees to be familiar with Catholic medical ethics and, in particular, these Directives.

In other words, all ethics must be Catholic “ethics” – i.e. church dogma.

Page 24.

For legitimate reasons of responsible parenthood, married couples may limit the number of their children by natural means. The Church cannot approve contraceptive interventions that “either in anticipation of the marital act, or in its accomplishment or in the development of its natural consequences, have the purpose, whether as an end or a means, to render procreation impossible.” Such interventions violate “the inseparable connection, willed by God . . . between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive and procreative meaning.”

Absolutely none of your business. Butt out.

Page 25.

41. Homologous artificial fertilization (that is, any technique used to achieve conception using the gametes of the two spouses joined in marriage) is prohibited when it separates procreation from the marital act in its unitive significance (e.g., any technique used to achieve extracorporeal conception).

Oh ffs. Get over yourselves. “Ew no conception in a petri dish, ew.”

Page 26. Here we go.

45. Abortion (that is, the directly intended termination of pregnancy before viability or the directly intended destruction of a viable fetus) is never permitted. Every procedure whose sole immediate effect is the termination of pregnancy before viability is an abortion, which, in its moral context, includes the interval between conception and implantation of the embryo. Catholic health care institutions are not to provide abortion services, even based upon the principle of material cooperation. In this context, Catholic health care institutions need to be concerned about the danger of scandal in any association with abortion providers.

Then get out of the field. It’s legal. If you don’t want to do it, get out of the health care field. You shouldn’t be in it in the first place. We don’t need Catholic health care any more than we need Catholic accounting or agriculture or engineering or transportation. Your field is godbothering. Stick to that.

Listen up, any of you planning to have bad miscarriages that fail to complete.

47. Operations, treatments, and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.

48. In case of extrauterine pregnancy, no intervention is morally licit which constitutes a direct abortion.

49. For a proportionate reason, labor may be induced after the fetus is viable.

Look at that. Look at 48 – they’re saying just leave ectopic pregnancies alone, so that the tube will burst and the woman will probably die of an infection. And 49 is Savita’s death sentence.

Fuck you all. Fuck you hideous evil monsters.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Start at the beginning

Nov 16th, 2012 12:19 pm | By

Now. Let’s be thorough about this. I need to understand the Ethical and Religious Directives – commonly and folksily called ERD – and just exactly how they function, and why. I need to know if and how and why anyone relevant (like, hospital administrations, and medical practitioners) considers them binding. I also need to know what they say.

So let’s take a look.

Page 4.

The Directives have been refined through an extensive process of consultation with bishops, theologians, sponsors, administrators, physicians, and other health care providers.

That’s ridiculous, and dangerous. Bishops and theologians have nothing relevant to say.

But of course the whole thing comes from bishops. The wretched thing is on the USCCB website. It’s theirs. It’s Orders From the Bishops. Bishops are telling medical professionals what to do, as medical professionals. This is a fucking outrage.

Still page 4.

…the Directives will be reviewed periodically by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (formerly the National Conference of Catholic Bishops), in the light of authoritative church teaching, in order to address new insights from theological and medical research or new requirements of public policy.

Authoritative church teaching, theological and medical research - bad, bad, bad.

Page 13.

9. Employees of a Catholic health care institution must respect and uphold the religious mission of the institution and adhere to these Directives. They should maintain professional standards and promote the institution’s commitment to human dignity and the common good.

What is the status of that? Is it a condition of employment? Can the bishops fire medical practitioners who fail to adhere to these Directives? Can they force hospitals to fire medical practitioners who fail to adhere to these Directives? That was at issue with the nun who agreed to the abortion at St Joseph’s hospital in Phoenix, certainly.

Page 19 – it starts to get sinister.

When the health care professional and the patient use institutional Catholic health care, they also accept its public commitment to the Church’s understanding of and witness to the dignity of the human person. The Church’s moral teaching on health care nurtures a truly interpersonal professional-patient relationship. This professional-patient relationship is never separated, then, from the Catholic identity of the health care institution. The faith that inspires Catholic health care guides medical decisions in ways that fully respect the dignity of the person and the relationship with the health care professional.

That first sentence is very sinister. Some people – lots of people – are forced to “use institutional Catholic health care” because it’s all that’s available to them. Nobody should be forced to accept anyone’s commitment to any church’s understanding of anything as a condition of getting medical treatment. Nobody. Ever. Medical care should be secular.

Page 19 still.

24. In compliance with federal law, a Catholic health care institution will make available to patients information about their rights, under the laws of their state, to make an advance directive for their medical treatment. The institution, however, will not honor an advance directive that is contrary to Catholic teaching. If the advance directive conflicts with Catholic teaching, an explanation should be provided as to why the directive cannot be honored.

Well fuck you.

Page 20.

26. The free and informed consent of the person or the person’s surrogate is required for medical treatments and procedures, except in an emergency situation when consent cannot be obtained and there is no indication that the patient would refuse consent to the treatment.

Now they’re lying, because Catholic hospitals routinely don’t tell patients that they are not getting standard of care treatment for reasons of theology. They don’t require informed consent at all.

That will be part one. To be continued.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Fared much better

Nov 16th, 2012 11:43 am | By

EJ Graff is also angry.

Savita Halappanavar died because an entire country decided to sentimentalize every clump of dividing cells that might or might not be able to develop into a full human being. In fact, in this case, the clump of cells’ only actual effect was to destroy the life of its host, a real human being. As her husband told another newspaper:

How can you let a young woman go to save a baby who will die anyway? Savita could have had more babies. … It has been a terrible few weeks, very hard to understand how this could happen in the 21st century, very hard to explain to her family. If it had happened in the UK or India, the whole thing would have been over in a few hours.

And he told Reuters, “I am still in shock. It is hard to believe that religion can mean somebody’s life.”

Actually it’s not hard, if you’ve been paying attention…in the US and Ireland and Nicaragua and other priest-ridden countries.

An academic at USCF just released longitudinal research called the Turnaway Study, which looks at what happened to women who couldn’t get abortions because they were too far along—and compared their mental, physical, and economic health to similar women who did have abortions. You’ll be absolutely shocked to learn that the women who had abortions fared much better than the women who were forced to carry the pregnancy to term. Their mental health was better. Their physical health was better. Their economic circumstances were more stable. They had fewer regrets.

Yes indeed, surprise surprise surprise. How astonishing, when the whole point of the right to abortion is the ability to decide not to do something that would make a huge major far-reaching change in your life that you don’t want to make. How astonishing to find that most people have some clue about what they want to do and what they don’t want to do.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)