Thursday Open Thread

It’s Thursday, y’all! And I’m a wreck.

We are house hunting, and trying to sell our home at the same time. Yup, still trying for that bigger home, and that elusive home office for DH. We found the perfect home and are in the thick of offers and counter-offers. In the meantime, people are parading in and out of our house, and keeping the place tidy and (somewhat) clutter-free is driving me batty. On Sunday our Realtor will host an Open House, and on Tuesday we are leaving to Mexico for a week! Whew. To say I am looking forward to this vacation (our first as a family of four!) is quite the understatement.

I buried St. Joseph on Sunday. Send me all the home selling vibes you’ve got!

In other news, actress Alicia Silverstone chews up her son’s food and feeds it to him from her mouth, like a mama bird and baby bird. My take: No. Just . . . no.

And finally: After oh, 18 years or so, I am finally off of the Pill! Yesterday I had my annual Pap smear and after talking it over with my CNM, she inserted a NuvaRing. It’s inserted for 26 days, then taken out. Four days later, you pop a fresh ring in. I was initially skeptical (it’s seriously going to stay in all that time? We won’t feel it during sex?) but I’m keeping an open mind. Plus, not having to worry about taking a Pill every day? Priceless.

I wonder if Rush Limbaugh would still consider me a slut though . . . gosh, I hope so  😆

What’s on your mind today? Chat away!


As If Birth Control Opponents Couldn’t Be Wackier…

Leave it to a U.S. legislator to introduce a bill allowing employers to fire female workers for using birth control to prevent pregnancy. The bill, introduced by Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko, passed the state senate judiciary committee 6-2.

From Jezebel:

A proposed new law in Arizona would give employers the power to request that women being prescribed birth control pills provide proof that they’re using it for non-sexual reasons. And because Arizona’s an at-will employment state, that means that bosses critical of their female employees’ sex lives could fire them as a result. If we could harness the power of the crappy ideas coming out of the state of Arizona, we could probably power a rocket ship to the moon, where there are no Mexicans or fertile wombs and everyone can be free to be as mean a cranky asshole as they want at all times! Arizona Heaven!

Yesterday, a Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed Republican Debbie Lesko’s HB2625 by a vote of 6-2, which would allow an employer to request proof that a woman using insurance to buy birth control was being prescribed the birth control for reasons other than not wanting to get pregnant. It’s all about freedom, she said, echoing everyone who thinks there’s nothing ironic about claiming that a country that’s “free” allows people’s bosses to dictate what medical care is available to them through insurance. First amendment. The constitution. Rights of religious people to practice the treasured tenets of their faiths, the tenets that dictate that religious people get to tell everyone who is not of faith how they’re supposed to live, and the freedom to have that faith enforced by law. Freedom®.

Further, Lesko states, with a straight face, that this bill is necessary because “we live in America; we don’t live in the Soviet Union.”

Saving graces? Jezebel’s story was pretty funny. Also, even moderate Republican women agree that this witch hunt of women who use — what Jezebel hilariously referred to as “whore pills” — is nuts. Who are these people? Yikes!


Saturday Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all!

And good ol’ Rush Limbaugh has really stepped in it this time.

Last I heard, six advertisers had pulled out of his show following his latest vile bloviating about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who attempted to testify before Congress about the need for birth control to be covered by insurance.

Meanwhile, our awesome President personally called Ms. Fluke to reassure her and tell her that her parents should be proud of her for speaking out. Gotta love him.

Have you signed the petition to let Rush’s advertisers know what you think of his show? Please do so!

What’s on your mind today? Chat away!


Unite Against the War on Women!

Hello, MotherTalkers… after reading Gloria’s Friday open thread, I thought I might post about a growing movement to organize a march for women’s equality on April 28th, 2012.  The main march will be in Washington, DC.  However, marches are currently being planned throughout the country at state capitols and other cities.  Follow me over the fold to find out more.  

Here is the official press release:

Karen Teegarden
UniteWomen.Org Official Press Release:

All across the country, through legislative proposals, government regulations, and political rhetoric, war is being waged upon women, their bodies, their private interests, and their right to self-determination. This is occurring without, and in spite of, the participation of the same women being affected by these actions, and whose futures, and those of their families, are being unilaterally determined.

In this modern era of limits, people in power are in a race to divide the spoils of power, and the means being used are becoming more and more shortsighted. Saturn has devoured his son, and now looks to his daughters.

Our organization is determined to see that this race to the bottom does not claim the rights and liberties of over one half of the populace. We will not suffer the burdens of those whose ambitions would be fulfilled by the destruction of the human worth off the mothers, sisters and daughters of this great nation.

Enough is enough.

While the logic of the disaffection of the majority of the electorate is impossible to understand, we cannot afford to wait and see how this all works out. This war on women must be resisted, and won, before the toxic effects of the current national conversation become irrevocable reality. We have been denied a seat at the table, but will not be denied our humanity.

Please join us in changing the dialogue and refocusing attention toward the very serious issues this nation faces, and away from the disingenuous and perversely pornographic focus upon the sexual organs of our mothers, sisters and daughters, and their relationship with their physicians and their own bodies.

The issues include:

Reproductive rights
Woman’s health issues
Crimes against women and children
Workplace equality

There is a very real and growing non-partisan concern that women are being sacrificed upon the altar of ambition, and we are determined to deny Saturn his second course.

Thank for your help and support. Your mother, and your mother’s mother, and all women everywhere would be proud.

I’m in the midst of writing my thesis, but this just seems to important for me to skip.  The right wing attacks on women have been beyond the pale, from remarks about holding an asprin between our knees for birth control to posting videos online as a tradeoff for birth control access, I am beyond angry. I can’t believe we even need to address this in 2012, but sadly our country seems to be moving backwards.  Enough really is enough and I plan to march alongside the women of Ohio in my state capitol on the 28th of April.  I’ll be marching for my mother, myself, my daughter and her generation, and all of the generations of women to come.  Won’t you join me?  Here’s how:

Like the Unite Against the War on Women Facebook page to connect, share, and discuss women’s equality with others.
Join the Organizing Against the War on Women National Facebook Group for national planning details.
Locate and join your state WOW facebook groups here.
Follow Fight the #WarOnWomen on twitter:  @NatlWOW

In solidarity, Hilary/1p1p


A Pet Peeve As a Writer

Okay all, my rant for the day. Are you ready?

In the last seven years that I have been blogging, there is a certain comment that always gets under my skin: “It hasn’t happened to me therefore it can’t happen.” You know, like (paraphrased), “My family has never had to file for bankruptcy over medical bills, therefore it never happens,” or “I have never experienced discrimination, therefore it doesn’t exist.”

The latest one I have encountered? “Birth control is cheap for me, therefore it is for everyone else.” See the comments in my Broad Side story to see what I mean.

Here are the facts (not that the evolved women and men here need it!): Subsidized birth control pills at Planned Parenthood cost between $15 and $50 a month, depending on income and the pill. Without private health insurance or any kind of subsidy — once again, thank you, Planned Parenthood! — you are looking at paying at the higher end of the scale or more.

Also, the healthcare reform provision for birth control as preventative care has been completely blown out of proportion. The private health insurance companies — not the government or religious institutions — are required to cover birth control for those women who seek it. The health insurance companies have been noticeably quiet, which I assume is because it is cheaper for them to cover birth control than a child.

Where are these generalizations coming from? Considering that 99 percent of sexually active women have used birth control at some point in their lives, how is it possible that people believe these lies or think that $50 a month isn’t a lot of money?

This bubble some people live in reminds me of this Daily Show episode, in which Jon Stewart takes on Star Jones for expressing relief that her honeymoon didn’t take place at the exact time a tsunami claimed 160,000 lives. “Seriously, how far up your own ass do you have to be?” he said to guffaws.

Good question, Jon. Lately, I have found myself asking that — a lot.


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Many thanks to Stephanie Fairyington, a talented writer who pointed out these two pieces that she penned: the first one is at The Progressive, and is about how she is reluctant to marry her girlfriend of three years even though gay marriage is legal in their home state of New York. I am curious if any of you have been with long-time partners who have chosen not to tie the knot? Please do discuss!

The second story is at The Atlantic and also deals with relationships, although this one questions whether romances are really mutual. Again, a good read.

Our fearless executive director at wrote a poignant piece for the Huffington Post about the controversy around contraceptives today and the history of birth control in this country in general. Also at MomsRising: I just put together my first blog carnival — this one for Black History Month. I am so proud of the stories we are featuring — everything from the personal to the political. I’d appreciate it if you hit that “like” button on the blog carnival itself or any of the posts and shared with your loved ones. Thanks!

Affirmative action is in the news (again), this time, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case having to do with the University of Texas. Just to show you how structural racism is, I am wondering where is the outrage and Supreme Court hearing regarding legacy systems, brownie points for knowing the guy who donated to the school library and other boosts in the admissions process?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Here is a fascinating article on how birth control has altered our families, culture and even religion and why it will remain a source of controversy for years to come.

In another fascinating article, our Katie wrote an excellent story — and challenged us — to interact with someone from “the other side” politically. Can you do it?

The New York Times published an article on how more than half of women under 30 are having children outside of marriage. Residents of a town in Ohio debated the reasons for the out-of-wedlock births.  

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Disturbing Oppression of Women in Republican Circles

UPDATE: By the way, MomsRising sent out a petition this morning asking Congress to include the real experts on birth control — women and mothers — to be representative on any future panel. -Elisa

Once again, I find myself shaking my head and feeling powerless at the arrogance displayed by certain Republican and male-centric religious circles towards women. I am so sick of reading posts by even Democratic men saying that President Obama should have sought advice from “real” Catholics — er men — like Joe Biden and Bob Casey regarding the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act rather than “women who happen to be Catholic” like Kathleen Sebelius or a nun who is an advisor.

Basically, the implication is that women should have no say regarding any policies around birth control and that we should leave it up to the men to decide for us. No where else was this more obvious than a House Republican-led hearing yesterday, in which female witnesses were barred from testifying. From Think Progress:

Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had asked (Republican Rep. Darrell) Issa to include a female witness at the hearing, but the Chairman refused, arguing that “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.”

And so Cummings, along with the Democratic women on the panel, took their request to the hearing room, demanding that Issa consider the testimony of a female college student. But the California congressman insisted that the hearing should focus on the rules’ alleged infringement on “religious liberty,” not contraception coverage, and denied the request. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the hearing in protest of his decision, citing frustration over the fact that the first panel of witnesses consisted only of male religious leaders against the rule. Holmes Norton said she will not return, calling Issa’s chairmanship an “autocratic regime.”

Wow. What about our rights, including that of religious women, to be heard? Should our opinions — our health and mental well-being — not play into this rule at all? Who are the women sleeping with these men? Yikes!

In related news, Oklahoma Senate passed a “personhood bill”, declaring life at conception and rendering abortion illegal. The interesting note about this story is that the chamber tabled an amendment that would have equally considered sperm sacred.

The Personhood Act, Senate Bill 1433, received international attention in the wake of a proposed amendment from Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Holdenville. The amendment said it was an act against unborn children for men to waste sperm.

“A lot of people thought that I was being facetious with my amendment in committee, and it was humorous and it has gotten international response,” Johnson said to her fellow senators.

“But I was serious as a heart attack. It wasn’t until I used the biological and scientific references to those functions that somebody heard it. Maybe nobody in this chamber gets it but somebody heard that all we’re asking for is for this conversation to include both individuals that are necessary to bring life about.”

Johnson, whose amendment was tabled, said she is sick of legislation that pries into the private lives of women with no mention of the men who are co-actors in the process of conception.

The double standard here is so blatant. War on women, anyone?


Why the Bishops Don’t Speak for this Practicing Catholic

UPDATE: This story was originally published at Daily Kos. I followed up with a letter to my Bishop, which I published at the Broad Side. -Elisa

Once again, I find myself shaking indignantly at my church’s leadership and at the same time contemplating what I should do for this year’s annual “Bishop’s Appeal” that supports our inner city Catholic schools, clergy and ministries in our parish. God, I hate Catholic guilt!

And make no mistake. I am Catholic to my core. I am a political progressive who has never voted for a Republican in her life and lives in the equally progressive enclave of Berkeley, California. Nothing has turned heads more here than the revelation that I attend mass every Sunday with my children and that I am active in various ministries at my Catholic church.

As a child, I attended Catholic school for nine years in my Caribbean working class neighborhood in Miami. My childhood memories are dotted by masses in Spanish, lovely images of Mother Mary processions and the hope that came with a Cuban rafter showing up to our shores with nothing but a statue of her. Many in my family and childhood best friends are Catholic. Catholicism shaped the person that I am today from the decision to marry my first serious boyfriend — we’ve been together for 15 years! — to my working in social justice. And I love my fellow Catholic parishioners, who thankfully, are nothing like…our church leadership.  

Once again, I find myself indignantly shaking my head at the church. Catholic Bishops — who are old, purporting to be celibate, largely white men completely out of touch with their constituents — were on a rampage last week against the Affordable Care Act for a rule that requires coverage for free birth control. Never mind that this bill has already helped millions of Americans gain access to health care. Contraception itself prevents unintended pregnancies, improves outcomes for children already on earth, reduces abortions and saves lives.

And the hypocrisy that emanates from the Bishops’ actions reek like a big pot of rotting meat. Just take a look at the number of them who covered up crimes of pedophilia in the Catholic church. These men do not have a moral leg to stand on that the president would have been wise to gently show them the door.

But so loud were these bishops that the Obama Administration has decided to give them an out from directly providing women, including non-Catholics, free birth control. The health insurance companies will have to pick up the tab, which is fine by me as long as women have access to this preventative care. But I am still peeved at the hypocrisy and unchristian actions by the Bishops.

Catholic Bishops’ outcry has NOTHING to do with “religious freedom”

It is disingenuous for the Bishops to say that the government would be overstepping its bounds and violating “religious freedom” by mandating that they provide birth control to their employees, including non-Catholic staff. Catholic hospitals, charities and universities have long received billions of dollars from the federal government whether for financial aid for non-Catholic students to attend a Catholic university or Medicaid dollars for low-income patients treated at Catholic hospitals. To say that the government “should stay out” is like saying that the average taxpayer giving to these institutions should have no say in how the money is spent. Talk about having your cake and eating it, too.

And just to show how out of touch the Bishops are from their Catholic parishioners, a majority of Catholics on the ground — more so than the general public – supported having Catholic institutions offer their employees free birth control. A whopping 98% of sexually active Catholic women have used birth control at some point in their lives. As I often joke, without the miraculous invention of birth control many of us would have 15 children!

The outcry by the Catholic Bishops has nothing to do with their parishioners, performing God’s will or the church’s finances, some of which, again, comes from taxpayers. This has everything to do with their hunger for (more) power.

As I often point out to non-Catholics, the Catholic Church is a 2,000-year-old institution that doesn’t reflect modern life at all. The leadership is a closed society of largely white men in luxurious dwellings, which I try not to subsidize by focusing my donations on specific ministries and my own parish. Thus, my confliction about the Bishop’s Appeal this year. These men are so out of touch with their parishioners, who are juggling jobs, children and relationships, and politically, support women becoming priests and other reforms to the church.

It is our pastors, nuns and parishioners on the ground that visit the sick, feed the homeless and help people in need. We know how crucial birth control is to keep families from falling into poverty. We also know that birth control prevents abortions and saves lives. When I think of birth control, I often think of my own visits to Planned Parenthood when I was a broke college student who was trying to do right by me, my husband — then boyfriend — and our future life together. I also think of Catholic moms like Rita:

Rita was suffering from a serious heart defect. She was six weeks pregnant and had a defective cardiac valve that had to be replaced with a synthetic one. Pregnancy put her at high risk for a blood clot forming on the new valve and travelling to her brain, where it could kill her.

Rita had not been using contraception because she had no insurance to make it affordable—not because she didn’t want to use it. While in the hospital, despite taking blood thinners to treat her clots, Rita had a stroke. The woman I had spent hours with talking about caring for her five living children, her marriage, how to handle her unplanned pregnancy—that woman could no no longer speak or walk. When I think of birth control access, I think of Rita and her family.—Jen Russo, MD, Pittsburgh, PA

Where is the Bishops’ compassion for mothers like Rita? As I mentioned earlier in my piece, Catholics do use birth control  — 98% of sexually active Catholic women! — because, again, our lives do not reflect those of the Bishops. We understand that life on the ground is so much more complicated than it is within the walls of the Bishops’ dwellings.

I am angry and I am sad. Thankfully, the president has found a way to assure that women have access to ALL life-saving and preventable care, regardless of where they work. I can’t say the same about my church’s leadership. As a Christian, the Bishops’ actions don’t sit well with me as it seems to go against Jesus’s teachings to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and treat others as we would want to be treated. I can’t help but think that if these privileged men lived one day of their average parishioner’s life, they would be singing a whole new tune.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide these men towards genuine understanding and compassion.


Thursday Open Thread: Let’s Talk Birth Control

It’s Thursday! And I’m thinking about birth control.

DH recently asked whether or not I felt it was time for him to get a vasectomy. My immediate answer: “No.” I know we are likely done having children; I’m almost 37 years old, have a history of infertility issues, we are out of bedrooms, and DH is not on board the more children train. Still, for whatever reason, I am not ready to close that door yet.

DH understood. I asked if he was in a rush to get fixed, and why. He said no rush. The he mused: “You could finally get off birth control pills.”

I must admit, the idea is appealing. Not counting time I was pregnant or trying to become pregnant, I have been on the pill for well over 15 years. It’s kind of a pain in the ass. I still manage to forget to take it once in a while. I am often settled in bed for the night when I remember I haven’t taken it and have to drag myself out of bed to do it. If I miss a dose I get breakthrough bleeding. Plus, I think my body could use a break from the hormones.

So here’s where we stand: I don’t want DH to get a vasectomy, but I think I want to stop taking the pill. IUDs make me squeamish, so that’s not an option for me. So that leaves me with the Rhythm Method, or some other Calendar-Based Contraceptive Method. With condom use on iffy days, I suppose.

Is that totally crazy sauce? Am I asking for an unplanned pregnancy? Because as much as I love the idea of more babies, an unplanned baby will likely freak me right the f*ck out. Me no likey surprises. Plus, I have never had an easy time getting pregnant.

What say you, ladies? Have you ever used the Rhythm Method? Why or why not? What is your birth control method of choice? And HOW did you know when you were definitely done having babies? I have heard from a few people that when you’re done, you will feel it in your gut. I have had no such feeling yet. Sigh.

What’s on YOUR mind today? Chat away!