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juliep's blog


HHS new rules document proposes religious tenets as basis of health care for women

Wed, 16 Jul 2008 14:58:57 +0000

(Image: Source Zimbio. Photo by None/Getty Images North America. Taken at a a live taping of Meet the Press at NBC Studios July 13, 2008 in Washington, DC. Even Carly Fiorina, a top McCain surrogate, called birth control a choice.) In other women's rights trampling, the Bush Administration is doing the quick step to achieve as many of its oppressive agenda points as possible before the President's term ends. This week's big move? Removing the blockade and letting anti-choice activists storm the health care castle in order to not only block women from getting abortions that are, for the record, still legal, but also could classify contraception products as abortions and enable "objectors" to prevent women from accessing those too. They call it "preventing discrimination" in hiring on the basis of "religious belief" but it's clear---after reading all 39 pages of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed rule document---what it really is: trying to cut the legs out from under Roe v. Wade. What does the document say? (Click here to read the complete PDF, provided courtesy of RH Reality Check.) The document states that the government has always provided measures to protect conscientious objectors, whether the objection is religiously or philosophically based: protecting individuals’ consciences in health service programs and research activities funded by the federal government; and protecting the rights of all health care entities, individual or institutional, from being forced to participate in certain activities. Workers in all sectors of the economy enjoy legal protection of their consciences and religious liberties. In the health care industry, there are several statutory provisions that specifically address individuals’ religious and conscience rights. These federal statutes prohibit recipients of certain federal funds from coercing individuals into participating in actions they find religiously or morally objectionable. These same provisions also prohibit discrimination on the basis of one’s objection to or participation in specific procedures, including abortion or sterilization, or one’s participation in or refusal to participate in abortion or sterilization procedures. More recently, statutory provisions and appropriations riders have been enacted that prohibit federal programs and State and local governments from discriminating against individuals and institutions that refuse to, among other things, provide, refer for, pay for, or cover, abortion. (p.2) In addition to this, the document proposes to re-define both pregnancy and abortion, and this is where it gets very sticky. The document asserts that there are various beliefs about when pregnancy occurs, and therefore allows each individual health care professional to decide---based on his or her conscience and personal beliefs about when life begins---whether to provide the health service a woman wants. To quote: Therefore, for the purpose of these proposed regulations, and implementing and enforcing the Church Amendment, Public Health Service Act §245, and the Weldon Amendment, the Department proposes to define abortion as “any of the various procedures—including the prescription and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action—that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.” Unfortunately, this is no joke. This is creating health care chaos, and putting a health care practitioners personal preference above two of the basic keystones of medical care: Never to do deliberate harm to anyone for anyone else's interest. To keep the good of the patient as the highest priority. That's from the Hippocratic oath. Because of the broad and unscientific---not to mention inconsistent and inconsistently applied---proposed new definition in this document of when a woman could be considered pregnant, nearly any contraception could be considered abortion and a conscientious objec[...]

Goddess versus sex goddess: Is it really just all in the perspective?

Tue, 06 May 2008 15:42:38 +0000

With a constant barrage of sexually charged photos, and a commonplace idea that we must use sex to sell and to prove "grown up," have we lost the ability to distinguish healthy sexual awakening and art from sexually exploitative images? Read this post to see images that reflect that transition from girl to woman beautifully and artistically, and also one mom's opinion about how sexually exploitative photos affect not just our eyes but also our vision of our feminity. Do you ever wonder whether you've been a little trained, like Pavlov's dogs? I do. I get so used to the pat and stock things that usually I accept them, unquestioningly. But when a moment comes that I do pause and ponder, I wonder why this idea or this image is supposed to be so representative, either of a concept or of something I'm supposed to like or want. It happens all the time in marketing and advertising. Every day I'm bombarded with images and messages directed to me (the marketing bucket of me, anyway: middle-class, practically middle-aged mom with two kids and buying power): laundry detergents that power through stains, clothing that makes me look hot, cosmetics and creams that make me look young again, ads about weight loss, and so forth. I wonder, which came first: the chicken or the egg? Did I look at my teeth one day and wonder about their color or did an ad tell me I needed to whiten my teeth? TV, radio, billboards, Web sites and yes, even magazines. All of these bundle their pleas to my buying power with attractive and appealing packages that are designed to capture my attention and interest. Sometimes the appeal is through information, and sometimes it's through images---images that just might be designed to titillate my prurient interest. I have it, and so do you, this prurient interest. But what I am is fatigued by a constant barrage of appeal to it. It's not my only or my chief interest, it is merely my base interest. I'd so much rather my other interests appealed to, on the whole. But we seem stuck in this mode of appealing to prurient interest, and from there I think we forget to think. We're back to that trained dog feeling I get every now and again: where I'm just meant to react and not think. It's probable that the first time some phrase was used or image was shot that it was unique, interesting, original and mind-expanding. That success, though, launched a formula, that after a while might end up as meaningless as a cliche. So people keep trying to think of ways to freshen the formula, push the boundaries of the formula---never quite grasping that they've trapped themselves inside a box of an idea and that what is really called for is fresh ideas, not fresh angles of the tried and true but stale formula. That pushing though, means that eventually the formula might be deployed harmfully. I think that's happening a lot right now for young people (ignoring the issue for children right now), as clothing, ads, images, and so forth has pushed that "bring sexy back" formula onto them. We forget that or wish to forget that these young people are so much more than sexual awakening. We limit the face and dimensions of them, and thus, forget to think of it. We forget that growing up and maturing is much, much more than emerging sexuality. I wonder if this is what happened to Annie Liebovitz. Has she gotten as caught up in the idea of "quintessential Annie Liebovitz" as her fans and employers? Has she gotten so caught up in it that she didn't even see the individual in front of her---the unique person named Miley---and instead saw only a commodity, with a whisper in her ear from the magazine that skin sells? That sin sells? Did Miley---bombarded her entire life with the message that sex sells---have any idea that there can be bad publicity, and that a suggestive post-coital-implied photograph might imply something well beyond her age or stage of maturity? Did she have any other example before her, something to hold if she wanted to say no, "No, I don't prefer a se[...]

The uninsured children health care crisis in the US--The surprising cost to us all

Fri, 02 May 2008 17:42:50 +0000

In this post, read about the uninsured children crisis in the US (including some facts, statistics, numbers and costs that might surprise you), how I'm promoting the Healthy Kids Campaign, what Moms Speak Up is doing for Cover the Uninsured week, and how to survive on potatoes, black beans and ponytails. Oh of course...and three things you can do. My house is a mess, my kids have gotten away with murder (of two rolie polies, as a start), my hair hasn't been out of a pony tail in five days (other than to be washed, which YES, I did wash), I made three innocent children tardy because I forgot my daughter's bike at school, and we've subsisted on starchy dinners all week (mac-n-chz for the kids and loaded potatoes for me and the hubs---have you ever done a Tex-Mex potato, with sour cream and salsa and black beans and cheese? YUM!). But I'm feel good about what I have managed to do this week: put time and effort into causes near and dear to my heart, not the least of which is health care coverage for kids. At Moms Speak Up today, I'm doing what I can to promote the Cover the Uninsured week. I discuss the Campaign for Healthy Kids, include an interview with Laura Guerra-Cardus of the Children's Defense Fund, and share personal stories about kids and families struggling with health care coverage. That's only the beginning. I know everyone has an opinion about how to solve---or not solve---the problem of health care coverage for uninsured children. The real problem is the misunderstandings. There are so many misunderstandings about who currently shoulders the burden, who should shoulder the burden, how government programs are funded, and what is happening to kids who lack insurance. Can I ask you a few favors? 1. Will you keep an open mind and come over to Moms Speak Up? At the very least, read my interview with Laura Guerra-Cardus, or skim down to the bottom and read the quick and short attached fact sheets. 2. Will you take the time to engage in a productive discussion about this issue? Whether this means simply leaving a comment, stating your opinion, sharing your own stories, or asking a question, I welcome it. Here or at Moms Speak Up. 3. Will you help promote this issue and spread information---encourage dialog about it---by posting a link to any or all of the articles on Moms Speak Up on your own sites? Whether you realize it or not, you are paying for uninsured children right now. You are paying with higher local taxes, higher service rates at health care providers, higher copays and deductibles, and so forth. But that pales in comparison to what uninsured children and their families pay. Come join in discussion about this issue. I thought I knew, but even I've been surprised by things I've learned. And it's only committed me more deeply to helping the 9.4 million children---4 million new this year courtesy of President Bush's veto of both bills to help CHIP---who lack health care coverage. Thanks. Let me share a few teaser points. Did you know? Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) currently provide coverage to over 30 million children. 9.4 million children do not have health care coverage. 90 percent of those 9.4 million live in working households and a majority live in two-parent families. See a breakdown in charts and graphics of who the uninsured are by clicking here. 31% of uninsured children live in families who earn between ~$20,000 to $40,000 annually. Many of these families lack insurance because the base cost is 30% or more of their income, plans don't cover their children's health care or special care needs, or private and group plans deny them. The current Medicaid and SCHIP programs are confusing and burdensome to navigate. Enrolling is complicated, time-consuming, and slow. The programs are understaffed, suffer chronic budget shortfalls, and are restricted by wild variations in eligibility. The All Healthy Children Act---which passed both the House and Senate but was vetoed---had solutions. Tax credits c[...]

Euphemisms and Breasts, Discreet vs. Discrete

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 18:05:38 +0000

I want to get a few things clear...because there seems to be some confusion about discrete versus discreet, euphemisms, and breasts. It all stems from this breastfeeding debate sparked by Mill Baher (yes, that's intentional).

Opponents to breastfeeding in public enjoy employing words such as "obscene" and "offensive" and "private" as well as phrases such as "whip it out" and "boob hanging out" and "private moment between mother and child" and "nursing should be discreet."

Let's focus on that last one, shall we?

They don't mean discreet. They mean don't do it. They don't want to see it or know about it. They want it away from their mind, not their eyes, their mind. That's because of skeeves.

Modesty is a red herring, as are the rest of the synonyms for discreet. It really is about the act of breastfeeding. It really is about the skeeves some people get when they think about a baby nursing at a woman's breast.

But they don't want to make it about them; they want to make it about her.

You know, there is historical precedent for this, but that doesn't make it cool.

Click here to read the rest of this article.

2 Sentences You Need to Know to Feel Valuable

Wed, 19 Sep 2007 17:09:46 +0000

Do you ever have one of these days? The other day I woke up full of determination: today I wouldn't feel so tired, be so disorganized, slack off, skip things, and I promised to get things done and be a better mom. I would do the best I could in my life, and in the world beyond my life, too. Today I would be Me and the Person I Ought To Be. The children met me in the hall and I chirped a cheery greeting at them. I was met with a stone face from Patience, and Persistence's usual whining of, "I hun-gee, Mommy, hun-gee, I want bakefest!" I remained cheerful all the way downstairs, to the kitchen, and during breakfast despite Persistence's persistent whining. I kept up the cheerful cadence and rah rah'd the children through their morning routine. But I was flagging. Instead of a real cheer, I was now faking it. Already. As usual I reminded Patience it was PE day and she ought to wear skorts or shorts, something to facilitate athletics. As usual, she came out in a dress, completely inappropriate. As usual, Persistence wouldn't let me brush my teeth; she plagued me with incessant whining to help her tie her belt on her shorts, and then when I stopped to do as she asked, she ran off, "No, no do it Mommy!!!" As usual I had to say at least three times to get downstairs and get shoes on. As usual I glanced at the clock every ten seconds saying, "If we walk out the door NOW, we'll be on time...if we run out the door NOW, we'll be on time." As usual I squealed up to the door with the other Last Minute Lucys. I kissed Patience goodbye. As usual Persistence began her endless patter about, "I go my school today? I ready-a go to my school now, Mommy." As usual I reminded her that we had time to go home for a snack and a show and then we'd go to her school. As usual, she set up a hissy fit. An hour and a half later, as I drove home from tiresome rounds of schlepping kids to school, I was exhausted. I got home and I opened up my email and looked at the many messages I owed replies to. And I felt empty. I stared at my to-do list. And felt like a failure. I dug deep within me, and felt...nothing. No strength, no motivation, no ability. I try and try, all to no avail, I moaned in my mind, why won't be enough or good enough anyway. It was only 9:45 and my day's grand plans had already fallen apart. I thought back to the morning when I had first woken up, so positive, so sure that today would be different, that I could, by sheer force of willful cheer make today better and do more. It was with no small sense of irony that I realized I had possibly made it worse. At this point in my life, I am so focused on rushing and doing in the now that I can't help but wonder---no, worry---whether I am creating any good in the world, doing anything worthwhile. I can't help but wonder if I hold any value. Yesterday I talked about the disparity between expectations of moms and dads. I focused on how dads face challenges, too, some the same, some different. But at the end of the day, it seems like some people have more opportunities to feel valuable, for example, working people---men---versus stay-at-home moms, who seem to have more opportunities to feel valueless. Society measures us---our value---by our quantifiable success. On a day-to-day basis, one can measure achievement within a job, at least by title, salary, or accomplishments. "He's successful," we say, referring to a man who just got a promotion and raise, moved his family to a larger house, and bought new cars. We say this as if material goods are the only valuable thing, even if in our hearts we don't believe it. "What do you do?" people ask a woman, looking for a job, a measurable accomplishment. "I'm a mom," she replies. "Ohhh," the other person says, "That's nice. Hmm, look someone is motioning to me over there. Bye!" After all, raising young...why even dogs can do that (yes, a Bill Maher slam). Plus, in this culture, we are what we do. I'm not just a person who is a mom; [...]

Invisible dad...hero dad...making space for dads in parenting

Tue, 18 Sep 2007 20:46:59 +0000

An interesting thing I noticed shortly after becoming a mother is that the way our culture here in the US works for parents is thus: Mom does parent work = doing her job. Mark = meets expectations Dad does parent work = above and beyond call of duty. Mark = exceeds expectations My first encounter with this was at the the wonderful miss-it-like-crazy-cakes Montessori school Patience attended in Massachusetts. When I dropped off Patience the marvelous teachers were so friendly, so nice, "Hi Mrs. Pippert! Hi Patience! So glad to see you!" Then they waved goodbye to me, "Have a nice day!" When my husband did the same---and trust me, he did it just as I did it, no extra fanfare, no bribery cupcakes for teachers, etc.---he got gushed over. "Oh Mr. Pippert, it's so good to see you! You're such a great dad! Patience is so lucky to have a father as involved as you!" It was the same thing when we went to the school together. So I saw it first hand. The teachers gushed to my husband, gushed to me about my husband, and so forth. At first, it was nice. I agreed. Totally. But got a little irritating. Did anyone think my husband was lucky to have me? That Patience was lucky to have me? Or was being a good mom simply expected of me? It made me a family with two dads, is it the same thing? One "meets expectations" dad, and one "exceeds expectations" dad? Or is it only a thing with women? My husband and I split the kid duty pretty much right down the middle, so his appearance wasn't rare or new. The enthusiasm for it was an interesting phemomenon. The trend continued in other ways: Gymboree class, Kindermusik class, and best of Both of us kept working, albeit on slightly staggered and flexible schedules. We were both committed to the parenting gig 100%, both of us. Not a dominant parent and a back-up parent: two parents. And we were willing to make a lot of compromises and sacrifices for this. It was the method of parenting we both preferred for us. (So that's us, not you, case you felt some sort of passive-aggressive judgment.) My husband got the big positive at the preschool, and the big negative at his work. That's the second lesson we learned. I learned that maternity has a rarely mentioned side-effect post-partum: depressed career. Unfortunately, so does paternity, unless it is a man who is not a Dad so much as a Man who happens to have a wife and child at home. When it comes to work, the formula is thus: Mom does parent work = doing her job. Understood as necessary and tolerated at work, but taken into consideration by disgruntled colleagues who perceive themselves as "carrying more work unfairly" and "how come she gets to leave it's not fair" and at promotion and review time. Mark on review = job loyalty score falls Dad does parent work = not doing his work job I was lucky to have a nice boss who was both understanding and flexible. My work is easy to measure: I either produce a book on time, or I don't. That simple. The quality is easy to measure too: either the book is great and sells well, or it doesn't. As long as I was available to my authors (and since most have day jobs, they were ecstatic that I was suddenly willing, post-partum, to work in the evenings with them rather than restricting the time to 8-5), got my work done, and had books that sold well...we were fine. Colleagues aren't always as understanding. Bosses and colleagues of men appear are often even less understanding. For example, one time I had a big important meeting, and we'd gone to the trouble of flying the author to our location, instead of doing the usual phone conference. I could not miss it. Patience needed to see the doctor. No coin flip necessary. It was Dad's turn. When he spoke to his boss to arrange for the time off (which he would use as sick or vacation time or make up with make up more likely in his job), his boss---knowing I had my own full-time job---said, "Don't you h[...]