Notes and Comment Blog

More major media

Dec 11th, 2013 11:32 am | By

Radio 4 also reported on the No Gender Segregation protest, this morning on the Today programme. (I spell it programme because it’s in the UK. They get to spell it their way when it’s there.)

That’s huge, because everybody listens to Today.

It’s available for a week. They talk to Chris and Abhishek. It starts at 1 hour 35 minutes.

H/t Maureen.

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

The church and its insurers continue to play hardball with victims

Dec 11th, 2013 10:36 am | By

David Marr’s reporting continues; on the testimony of Joan Isaacs.

The council has already conceded in its submission to the royal commission that Towards Healing is opaque in its workings; inconsistent in its outcomes; operates without central oversight; and might be seen as lacking independence as it investigates abuse.

“It is now clearer than ever that the time has come for the church to hand over the determination of victims’ compensation to an independent process,” Sullivan told his Ballarat audience. “We are recommending a national compensation scheme, independent of the church that would determine payments.”

Sullivan doesn’t mean the courts where the church and its insurers continue to play hardball with victims such as Joan Isaacs. She is the first of the four. We know her name and saw her face. Most of this week will be spent examining her case.

When she began to read her statement in a slightly faltering voice the feeling in the hearing room changed. The commissioners lowered their eyes; the lawyers were still; there was absolute silence.

Not a moment for bible quotations? Not a place for hypocritical invocations of pseudo-compassion for thelittlechildren?

“From 1967 to 1968, I was sexually abused by Father Francis Derriman who was a priest of the archdiocese of Brisbane and chaplain of Sacred Heart Sandgate for those two years. I was aged 14 to 15 at the time of the abuse …”

And when she finished half an hour later I heard something I have never heard before at a royal commission: applause. McClellan did nothing to reproach the gallery. The applause rolled on. Isaacs said very softly to the room: “Thank you.”

Handy-dandy, which is the beggar, which the thief.

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

Special tickets

Dec 11th, 2013 10:22 am | By

There’s a hearing on institutional responses to child sexual abuse in the Catholic church going on in Sydney now. It started off with a bang on Monday

Victims of child abuse and their supporters walked out of a public hearing at the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse after the Catholic church’s legal representative quoted the Bible in his opening address.

Peter Gray, representing the church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council began his opening statement by quoting a passage from the gospel of Mark, prompting cries of shock and disgust in the hearing room.

“Many will remember, from their own childhoods, the ageless words from the gospel of Mark,” said Gray.

“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such of these that the kingdom of God belongs.”

Members of Care Leavers Australia Network and survivors of abuse walked out of the room, some in tears.

Speaking to reporters outside the commission during a recess, Trish Charter said that at that point she could not listen any more and that hearing the words was “crashing us back down”.

Imbecile. Think about it. What do these many remember from their own childhoods? Hearing those “ageless words” in a context that made them a foul, cruel joke. Hearing them uttered by men who did nothing to help the real children in their power, or men who abused the real children in their power. Talk about whited sepulchre! King Lear says it best:

Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand.
Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back.
Thou hotly lust’st to use her in that kind
For which thou whipp’st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
Through tattered clothes great vices do appear;
Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks.
Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.

David Marr reports on the first day’s testimony.

At one end of an immensely expensive room in the Sydney legal district was a squad of lawyers briefed months ago for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

But in the gallery at the other end sat victims and the parents and friends of victims who have been on the case for nearly 20 years. For some it has become their life’s work. And they came from all points on Monday to see what they had managed at last: to put the Catholic Church in the dock.

They made their presence felt. They groaned. They protested. A handful walked out when Peter Gray SC, counsel for the church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, began by quoting the “ageless words” of St Mark: “Let the little children come to me.”

Gray laid on the apologies not with a trowel but a front-end loader. He called abuse by clergy and its concealment by the church unbearable, disgraceful, heartbreaking, shattering and devastating. He declared the royal commission, “a watershed in church history and indeed in Australian history”.

The gallery was unmoved. For 20 years the church has been saying sorry and promising to do better. Nothing to applaud here. Nor did the campaigners seem impressed by Gray’s fresh assurances the church would co-operate “fully, without reservation” with the commission.

Isn’t that called, obeying the law?

Well…yes, for ordinary humans, it is, but for people with special tickets from god, it’s a different story.

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

The jaws of the trap snap shut

Dec 11th, 2013 9:27 am | By

Hemant Mehta tells us that now that a Satanist group has said it wants to put up a monument in the grounds of the Oklahoma state Capitol building, to join the 10 Commandments monument that’s already there – a Hindu group wants to join the fun.

Fabulous. Now that the monument is there, and won’t be coming down, this is the only available way to respond.

Will the Muslim volunteer please hurry up?


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

Christianity stole the solstice

Dec 10th, 2013 5:50 pm | By

Meanwhile Dave Silverman went on Fox News to talk about their nonsense about omigod who will stand up for Christmas. They made him sit between Shmuley Boteach and Bill [argh] Donohue.

The Fox person was outraged because there was a Satanic monument of some kind placed next to omigodnononononothehorror the ten commandments – as if it were universally agreed that the ten commandments were the best thing ever. The ten commandments are horrible. Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie – that’s the closest they get to anything like morality, and that’s a pretty pathetic showing. Yes no kidding, we know that, how about a little more? How about something a little affirmative, that might take more effort than just not killing people? (Believe it or not I don’t actually want to kill people.)

And the Fox person was also completely humorless about Festivus.

And despite all that Dave won so ha.

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

Channel 4 reported on the protest

Dec 10th, 2013 4:21 pm | By

Channel 4 reported not just the protest but also the subject of the protest, and did it rather well, too.

They talked to Maryam there. Meet Maryam!

Chris Moos, a PhD student at the London School of Economics, who is attending the protest, told Channel 4 News: “What we want to achieve is for Universities UK to immediately rescind their guidelines condoning gender segregation, and issue guidelines that clearly lay out that any kind of segregation, whether under racist, cultural, religious, nationalistic or sexist pretences, is wrong and has no place in the public space.”

Erin Marie Saltman, research project officer at Quilliam and PhD researcher at UCL (University College London), told Channel 4 News: “This is a bigger issue of racism of lower expectations, of avoidance.

“There is a fear of offending the Muslim community but there are a lot of modern Muslims that would never allow gender segregation.”

I was a little disappointed that the protest was fairly small, but channel 4′s reporting it makes up for that and then some. Well done Chris Moos and Maryam and all!

In a statement, UUK said: “The guidance was approved by senior legal counsel as properly reflecting the law. It is not prescriptive. Universities are independent institutions and will make decisions on a case by case basis.

“The guidance does not promote gender segregation. It includes a hypothetical case study involving an external speaker talking about his orthodox religious faith who had requested segregated seating areas for men and women.

“The case study considered the facts, the relevant law and the questions that the university should ask, and concluded that if neither women nor men were disadvantaged and a non-segregated seating area also provided, a university could decide it is appropriate to agree to the request.”

They just refuse to understand. Or pretend to. You can’t segregate women from men and then talk about that in terms of “if neither women nor men were disadvantaged” – being segregated is being disadvantaged. By itself. It doesn’t have to be in worse seats, or in the back, or farther away, or standing up, or hung upside down, or under a leak in the ceiling, or on broken glass. The segregation itself is disadvantageous. Separate is not equal. Get a fucking clue.

Channel 4 talked to Saleem Chagtai of the iERA, and asked him quite assertively what gave him the right to demand segregation. Channel 4 was a lot tougher than the BBC would have been, I think.



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

You know this would not be permitted

Dec 10th, 2013 3:37 pm | By

James Bloodworth has a good post at Left Foot Forward on why we oppose gender segregation at public events.

As long as neither gender is put at a disadvantage by imposed segregated seating – i.e. men and women will be ‘separate but equal’ – Universities UK don’t see any problem with it.

To get an idea of just how absurd this is, imagine for a minute the justified furore there would be if racial segregation were permitted on campus on the basis that black and white people were ‘different but equal’. Imagine if gay people were separated out from their straight friends on the basis that they were ‘difference but equal’, with those refusing to move booted out of the lecture hall for no other reason than their sexuality.

You know this would not be permitted, and yet it is with women. Why?

Because it’s different. It gets a partial exemption, or sometimes a full exemption. Why? Because it’s so hard to give up the subordination of women. Why? Because sex, and family life, and habit, and all sorts of things related to that. Because it’s up close and personal.

Religions get an exemption for hiring all-male clergy, after all. Why’s that? Why do you not see them any longer barring Other Races, when you do see them quite cheerfully barring women? Because gender inequality goes deeper than the other kinds. Why does it? Because it’s there, I guess, like Everest. Humans like to sort and rank and evaluate, and gender is the first criterion most people encounter.

Or to put it another way, I don’t know, but it does.

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

A woman defends gender segregation

Dec 10th, 2013 11:52 am | By

Camillia Khan, head of communications for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, writes in the Huffington Post UK about gender segregation, or, as she prefers to call it, gender ‘segregation.’

The debate on ‘segregation’ has returned, and once again figures from across the spectrum have focused their lenses on Muslim students and Islamic societies. Universities UK recently published a guidance document, outlining the management of external speakers on campuses and have been heckled for coming to the rather simple conclusion, amongst many others, that side-by-side gender based seating is not against the law.

From across what spectrum? What lenses? She’s a clumsy writer. Universities UK hasn’t been “heckled” – it’s been disputed, often hotly, but not heckled. And then, what was disputed was not a conclusion that “side-by-side gender based seating is not against the law.” The law wasn’t the issue. The issue was university policy, not the law.

So we know already that Khan doesn’t bother to be precise about what she’s discussing.

The focus on this single case-study, buried amidst the document’s 42-pages, has been extremely disproportionate and led to sensationalist comments, vilifying Islamic societies and Muslim students. It is encouraging to see that Universities UK have chosen to remain firm on their objective and measured stance, acknowledging the nuances that exist with different theological perspectives.

Vilifying Muslim students? I don’t think so. I think Khan told a falsehood there. And why is it encouraging to see that UUK is “acknowledging the nuances that exist with different theological perspectives”? How is that their job or their role? They’re an organization of university vice-chancellors, not theologians.

Firstly, the term segregation itself is highly problematic and acts to conflate the reality further. As Saussure theorised on syntagmatic relations, ‘within speech, words are subject to a kind of relation that is independent of the first and based on their linkage,’ and segregation connotes various forms of separation and oppression – it is a word loaded with modern history, drawing  back to the belligerent injustices of the slave trade, apartheid, and the Holocaust. It blows the discussion out of proportion and acts to politicise it further. Segregation implies a hierarchy- a form of discrimination which asserts the dominance of one group over another- which is a very different reality to a voluntary seating arrangement which impacts both males and females equally. Thus, the current discourse is creating new imagined problems rather than solving existing ones.

Where to begin. Yes, segregation is a loaded word, but it’s the right loaded word. Calling it something more emollient than that is lying, and minimizing the ugly reality. A seating arrangement that spells out who may sit where is indeed a form of discrimination which asserts the dominance of one group over another. Segregation in seating can’t be fully voluntary, because it depends on everyone’s compliance.

The term ‘segregation’ denotes discrimination and isolation – and this couldn’t be further from the general reality. There needs to be a linguistic shift in the discourse – but more importantly, the shift must be an ideological one which accepts that there exist differences based on sound spirituality, and these need to be embraced, led by brave and nuanced organisations such as Universities UK. Male and female seating is a simple religious manifestation that has been established for multiple millennia and is one that is still actively implemented today by many churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious communities. Taking away the basic freedom to choose a room arrangement from mature and democratically elected student groups such as Islamic societies will only seek to alienate Muslim students from social engagement by denying their right to religious freedom.

She’s being deceptive again there. The issue isn’t meetings of groups such as Islamic societies, it’s meetings and debates open to everyone.

What a pathetic project, a woman defending her own segregation, and being deceptive to do it.

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

Apathy strikes again

Dec 10th, 2013 9:29 am | By

Bernard Hurley is at the protest against Gender Segregation and Universities UK’s guidelines on same. He says there aren’t many people there though, only about 150.


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

Je ne m’appelle pas Guy

Dec 10th, 2013 9:25 am | By

Note to spammers:

If you’re going to heap flattery on me by way of tricking me into thinking your comments are real, it doesn’t help to address me as “Guy.” If you call me Guy, I’ll think you’re not sincere.

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

Because this is a Christian school

Dec 9th, 2013 5:07 pm | By

That’s nice. A “Christian” school suspends a teacher because someone stole her phone and now there are naked pictures of her on a revenge porn site.

A female teacher at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in Ohio has been placed on administrative leave after school officials found a nude photograph of her on a “revenge porn” site.

A spokesman from the school said “we have an employee who appears in some photos that have been compromised and made digitally available,” but he did not indicate how the photographs were first discovered, or whether any of her students had seen them.

A parent of one of her students told WCPO that while “the woman is already a victim,” because this is “a Christian school, parents are upset that a teacher is even taking naked pictures and sending them to people — and her students are old enough to get online and Google their teacher’s name and the photos come up.”

“Parents are upset” that blah blah blah so they think it’s ok for the school to suspend a teacher for something that was done to her. How pleasant, how fair, how decent.

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

What will they do if a Muslim female Mandela sits with the men?

Dec 9th, 2013 3:40 pm | By

If you do go to that protest in Tavistock Square tomorrow, you might see Yasmin Alibhai-Brown there. She plans to go. She minces no words in her piece on the subject in the Independent.

Sexist dress codes and other behaviours are being spread and pushed in British universities by retrograde Islamic societies and individuals, most of them men – though there are always willing maidens who say “yes, yes, yes” to such diktats. UUK upholds this apartheid and offers up nauseating justifications. It’s done in the name of free speech. Yes, really. “Concerns … [for the] beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief systems.” Furthermore, staff should not worry unduly about the rights and wrongs of this small matter.

Because it’s only women who are being shoved to the side. Women don’t count. Women don’t matter.

What will they do if a Muslim female Mandela sits with the men? Will they carry her out and throw her down the steps? Some preachers on campus are today telling women to get back into the home, to get out of public life. Muslim women in jeans or with hair uncovered have been asked to leave lecture rooms by clothes vigilantes. Two Muslim LSE students harangued me for my unholy attire and views just a month back. Such guidelines, in effect, endorse the most offensive prejudices about women: that they are a social and moral peril and if they sit with men, pornographic fantasies or molestations will make it impossible for anyone to concentrate on lectures, say, on Plato or the Life of the Prophet.

I’ve spent my entire life in jeans with my hair uncovered. I’m lucky that way.

Throngs of students, academics, parents, politicians, and feminists should fill Tavistock Square and shout out loud. Not that they will, what with Christmas shopping and perhaps inchoate fears. Various student unions roll over, again and again, before Islamicists and their outrageous demands – backing full veils, speeches by Wahabis – and thus far, there has been no clear condemnation from the NUS of this disgraceful document penned by the deluded UUK. This latest capitulation is a disaster for feminism, for university life, for modernism, for progressive ideals and for Muslims  most of all.

Muslim educational achievements are so abysmally low because our educators do not liberate them from dark age interpretations of Islam but rather encourage them. (Perhaps it’s a cunning plot to keep them down and out of mainstream life!) I know of female medical students – three Muslim and one Orthodox Jew – who will not touch male patients, of all-male religious professional networks and even worse examples.

Backward backward backward into the darkness.




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

Tavistock Square tomorrow at 5

Dec 9th, 2013 3:12 pm | By

Don’t forget the protest tomorrow, 5 p.m. in Tavistock Square. Well it’s 11 p.m. there now, so few of you who are able to go will see this reminder now…BUT MAYBE YOU WILL TOMORROW, ESPECIALLY IF I SHOUT.

So you who are in or near London, or willing to travel from less-near London, the Protest Against Universities UK, No to Gender Segregation rally-protest-demo is tomorrow. 5 p.m. aka 17:00. Tavistock Square, which is a nice square, up there north of Bedford Square and Russell Square.

Outside Woburn House, 20 Tavistock Square.

One of Kiran Opal’s designs for a banner:

Chris Moos's photo.

She designed several, which you can print: they are here.

No to gender segregation!

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

The lies bishops tell

Dec 9th, 2013 12:19 pm | By

The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, archbishop Joseph Kurtz, issued a statement on the ACLU lawsuit on Friday. It’s the predictable pack of lies from the episcopal sack of shit. Yes that’s harsh language but the sack of shit is lying in defense of his vile organization’s insistence on forcing women to die of miscarriages in all hospitals that his vile theocratic organization controls. Think about that. This man of god, this priest at the pinnacle of the catholic organizational tree, is issuing official lies to defend the church’s policy of forcing hospitals to stand by while women die of miscarriages in the miserable way Savita Hallappanavar did.

It is important to note at the outset that the death of any unborn child is tragic, and we feel deeply for any mother who suffers such pain and loss.

No it isn’t. Nobody cares what you think is tragic, or how deeply or shallowly you feel. Nobody wants your distractions; the issue isn’t the death of the fetus, the issue is the life of the mother.

We cannot speak to the facts of the specific situation described in the complaint, which can be addressed only by those directly involved. The suit instead claims that our document titled “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” (ERDs) encourages or requires substandard treatment of pregnant women because it does not approve the direct killing of their unborn children.

Because it forbids abortion under any circumstances, even if the fetus will die anyway, even if the woman will die without the abortion.

This claim is baseless. The ERDs urge respectful and compassionate care for both mothers and their children, both during and after pregnancy. Regarding abortion, the ERDs restate the universal and consistent teaching of the Catholic Church on defending the life of the unborn child—a defense that, as Pope Francis recently reminded us, “is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 213). This same commitment to the life of each human individual has motivated Catholics to establish the nation’s largest network of nonprofit health care ministries. These ministries provide high-quality care to women and children, including those who lack health coverage and financial resources. The Church’s rejection of abortion also mirrors the Hippocratic Oath that gave rise to the very idea of medicine as a profession, a calling with its own life-affirming moral code.

Not when the pregnancy is killing the woman it doesn’t.

The Church holds that all human life, both before and after birth, has inherent dignity, and that health care providers have the corresponding duty to respect the dignity of all their patients. This lawsuit argues that it is legally “negligent” for the Catholic bishops to proclaim this core teaching of our faith. Thus, the suit urges the government to punish that proclamation with civil liability, a clear violation of the First Amendment.

The bishops do more than just proclaiming core “teachings” of their “faith” – they do their best to enforce their “teachings” on all catholic hospitals, and many hospitals obey.

A robust Catholic presence in health care helps build a society where medical providers show a fierce devotion to the life and health of each patient, including those most marginalized and in need. It witnesses against a utilitarian calculus about the relative value of different human lives. And it provides a haven for pregnant women and their unborn children regardless of their financial resources. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will continue to defend these principles in season and out, and we will defend ourselves against this misguided lawsuit.

No it doesn’t. Tamesha Means didn’t find any “haven” at that hospital that sent her home twice when she was miscarrying, and was about to send her home a third time when she was lucky enough to deliver her fetus while the paperwork was in progress.

The archbishop is a lying sack of shit.


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

Confusion in court

Dec 9th, 2013 11:46 am | By

One of those times when one just stares in helpless gobsmacked fury. Al Jazeera reports via AFP:

A Somali court has sentenced to jail a woman who said she was raped and two journalists who reported her story.

The court passed the verdict on Monday in the capital Mogadishu, saying the journalists were guilty of defamation and insulting state institutions.

The 19-year old woman, who is also a journalist, was handed a suspended six-month jail sentence for defamation and lying, during which time she will be confined to her home, said Judge Hashi Elmi Nur.

The journalists are to serve out their sentences, of one year and six months respectively, or pay a fine in order to win early release.

It is the second time this year Somalia has jailed a woman for speaking out about rape and journalists for interviewing her.

Somalia is a failed state, yet it manages to find time and effort to jail people for “insulting state institutions.”

In February, a Somali journalist and a rape victim he interviewed were both sentenced to a year in prison after being found guilty of “offending state institutions”.

In that case, the court found the woman had lied after a midwife conducted a “finger test” to see if she had been raped, which Human Rights Watch (HRW) said was an “unscientific and degrading practice that has long been discredited”.

A “finger test”!!? That’s not a test, it’s more rape.


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

The HIQA report does mention failure to terminate

Dec 9th, 2013 10:40 am | By

Now I’m reading the relevant section of the full report [pdf]. That does mention abortion, though not (so far) under that name. It has a detailed timeline of events. She was admitted Sunday afternoon, and

Spontaneous rupture of membranes occurred at 00:30hrs.

At 8:30 that morning, she was reviewed by the consultant obstetrician in charge of her care.

Savita Halappanavar’s plan of care, following this consultant ward round, was that a fetal ultrasound scan would be taken with instructions to – ‘Await events’

That ✝goes to a footnote:

Await events refers to the conservative (expectant) management of miscarriage as opposed to the surgical or medical management of miscarriage.

So there it is. It’s somewhat obscured and secretive, but it’s there. They opted for expectant management instead of surgical or medical management – a surgical abortion or medical induction of labor.

Updated to add:

Then on the Wednesday morning, two days later, when her condition had deteriorated badly, a junior consulting doctor ordered IV antibiotics, but

however, at this time the evidence shows that her treatment plan was not changed.

Which, given what has gone before, means it was not changed from expectant to surgical or medical management. They went on watching instead of terminating the pregnancy.

At 13:00 that day

Diagnosis of septic shock, most likely secondary to chorioamnionitis was made.

A couple of hours later she delivered, but it was far too late.

It’s interesting – and disturbing – that the summary of the report omits the part about surgical or medical management as the alternative to expectant management.

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

Doctors in such circumstances

Dec 9th, 2013 9:48 am | By

There’s the New York Times editorial on the Michigan case for instance. That takes it for granted.

The suit was brought on behalf of a Michigan woman, Tamesha Means, who says she was subjected to substandard care at a Catholic hospital — the only hospital in her county — after her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy. Doctors in such circumstances typically induce labor or surgically remove the fetus to reduce the woman’s chances of infection. But according to the complaint, doctors acting in accordance with the bishops’ directives did not inform Ms. Means that her fetus had virtually no chance of surviving or that terminating her pregnancy was the safest treatment option.

But the summary of the HIQA report doesn’t take it for granted at all; it doesn’t even mention it. It ignores the fact that doctors in such circumstances typically induce labor or surgically remove the fetus to reduce the woman’s chances of infection, and simply talks about managing the infection.

That is fucked up.

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

Don’t look behind the curtain

Dec 9th, 2013 9:06 am | By

I’ve been arguing with someone on Atheist Ireland’s Facebook page, on a thread I started with a post about the ACLU/Means lawsuit against the bishops. My arguee has been claiming Savita Halappanavar’s death had nothing to do with abortion, and I’ve been saying it did too so. Her latest reply pointed out that “that was not a finding of the HIQA report or the Coroner’s report.” I hadn’t heard of the HIQA report, that I recall, so I looked it up. It came out on October 7th.

I skimmed the executive summary [pdf], and read the parts that addressed the medical treatment of SH. My arguee is right, assuming the summary accurately reflects the full report: it doesn’t spell out that the failure to induce delivery is the probable reason SH developed sepsis. It says the sepsis was badly managed, but not how or why it got started in the first place. It seems to me to be strikingly evasive in that way.

So I’m wondering if it will strike other people the same way. Of course I’ve just primed you to see it that way, so this isn’t a survey of how this report strikes people. It’s a question about the report, and what you think of it. I haven’t so far been able to find any reaction in Ireland that sees it that way. I’m wondering how much the illegality of abortion and the taboo on it in Ireland shaped the way the report was carried out and how it was written, and the way it was received.

For instance on page 5 there is this:

3.1 Care provided to Savita Halappanavar

The Authority identified, through a review of Savita Halappanavar’s healthcare

record, a number of missed opportunities which, had they been identified

and acted upon, may have potentially changed the outcome of her care. For

example, following the rupture of her membranes, four-hourly observations

including temperature, heart rate, respiration and blood pressure did not appear

to have been carried out at the required intervals. At the various stages when

these observations were carried out, the consultant obstetrician, non-consultant

hospital doctors (NCHDs) and midwives/nurses caring for Savita Halappanavar

did not appear to act in a timely way in response to the indications of her clinical


That first sentence is shocking to me, given that in the US (I understand via Jen Gunter) the standard of care for rupture of membranes at 17 weeks is expeditious termination. The report, weirdly, skips right past that to focus on badly done “expectant management.” Expectant management is one option, but it’s risky to the woman and the odds of saving the fetus are very low. It’s not relevant to this case because the Halappanavars requested termination. Repeatedly. They begged for it.

So to me it seems weird and creepy and irresponsible that this report consistently ignores that option. Yes, the hospital handled the sepsis incredibly badly, but if they had done the termination when the Halappanavars asked for it, the sepsis would probably not have occurred. (The Irish anti-abortion types insist that the sepsis was not caused by the PRM at all.) The bad handling of the sepsis ought to take a distant second place to the allowing it to happen in the first place.

Tell me what you think.

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

Charlotte Church would like you to imagine

Dec 8th, 2013 4:31 pm | By

Charlotte Church on women in the music business, in this year’s BBC Radio 6 Music John Peel Lecture at the Radio Academy Radio Festival in Salford in October. (Salford! I’ve been to Salford. Kind of. I crossed a bridge into it, then crossed back.) She pulls no punches.

- I’d like you to imagine a world in which male musicians are routinely expected to act as submissive sex objects.

Picture Beyonce’s husband Jay Z stripped down to a T-back bikini thong, sex-kittening his way through a boulevard of suited and booted women for their pleasure.

Or Britney Spears’s Ex Justin Timberlake, in buttock-clenching denim hot pants, writhing on the bonnet of a pink chevy, explaining to his audience how he’d like to be their teenage dream.

Before we all get a little too hot beneath the gusset, of course, these scenarios are not likely to become reality, unless for comedy’s sake.

- The reason for this is that these are roles that the music industry has carved out specifically for women.

It is a male dominated industry, with a juvenile perspective on gender and sexuality.

Like so many other industries…TV and movies for example. Oh look, that’s all of pop culture accounted for.

When I was 19 or 20, I found myself in this position, being pressured into wearing more and more revealing outfits and the lines that I had spun at me again and again (generally by middle aged men) were

“you look great you’ve got a great body why not show it off?”


“Don’t worry it’ll look classy.  It’ll look artistic.”

I felt deeply uncomfortable about the whole thing, but was often reminded by record label executives just whose money was being spent.

Whilst I can’t defer all blame away from myself, I was barely out of my teenage years, and the consequence of this portrayal of me is that now I am frequently abused on social media, being called ‘slut’, ‘whore’ and a catalogue of other indignities that I’m sure you’re also sadly very familiar with.

I am, though for the opposite reasons; but both “reasons” are fundamentally the same despite the opposition.

H/t Jen Phillips

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

For the sake of dignity

Dec 8th, 2013 3:49 pm | By

David Robert Grimes wrote a piece in the Irish Times a few days ago saying why marriage equality is a good idea, starting with why homosexuality shouldn’t rumple anyone’s mind.

From the perspective of traditional Catholic doctrine, homosexuality is “ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil”, and is considered a deeply unnatural state of being –peccatum contra naturam.

Not only is this a classic example of the naturalistic fallacy, it also spectacularly fails to stand up if one takes even a cursory glance at the natural world; homosexual behaviour is ubiquitous in the animal kingdom and has been documented in more than 1,500 species, from giraffes to elephants to dolphins and our primate cousins.

Peccatum contra naturam is such a worthless category. I’ve said it before but what the hell…it never fails to entertain me, noting all the ways bishops and posts sin against nature. They wear clothes! And not only that, they wear clothes that are dyed different colors. You don’t see tigers wearing purple robes and jewel-encrusted tall hats; peccatum contra naturam. They eat cooked food! Peccatum contra naturam. When they get sick they take medicine. They travel in cars. They travel in airplanes. They use electric light. They are on the internet. They tweet. Peccatum contra naturam.

The comments are interesting.

This one:

For the sake of dignity, would the gay lobby desist from hijacking Nelson Mandela’s sad death in their campaign for same sex marriage?
He hasn’t even been interred yet for goodness sake.
It’s not that long ago since we had the unsavoury spectacle of the hijacking of a woman’s death for another ideological campaign here in Ireland.
Show some respect.
Have some class.
For once in your lives.

What an extraordinary thing to say, as if the death of Savita Halappanavar had nothing to do with the unavailability of abortion even in emergencies in Ireland. It’s not “hijacking” someone’s to death to point out that her death was preventable and would have been prevented under a slightly more humane law.

And as for Mandela: why not invoke him in a conversation about rights and equality and fairness?

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