4 PERFECT #SOLUTIONS to #GUN #VIOLENCE in the #USA: #brilliantideas

4 PERFECT #SOLUTIONS to #GUN #VIOLENCE in the USA: #brilliantideas


image from NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth [Jewish] https://nfty.org/take-action/gvp/

  1. Make it too expensive to have shootings:


    image from Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

    Unfortunately, this country runs on money. We all know insurance companies run this country. And, most people’s families have a lot of influence and responsibility for their members.
    When gun violence becomes too expensive, insurance companies will move to change it quickly. When shooter’s embarrass and COST their families money, family members(parents, grandparents, spouses/partners, children) will move more quickly to prevent/shut those shooters down/report them BEFORE they go on rampages.

    So: charge each criminal shooter’s FAMILY and any insurance companies he [99% of shooters are male] uses FOR ANY REASON (car, house, boat, life, disability: whatever) to pay for the health care, recovery, rehab, burial, therapy, income losses, personal injury debilitation, PTSD and other costs associated with being shot at/shot.

  2. #NRA Lobbyists and Members must pay:


    image from http://EverytownResearch.org

    We all know that the NRA—National Rifle Association of America—and other gun association lobbyists have prevented the passage of reasonable gun safety laws. We must hold them ALL accountable NOW. For every dollar a lobbyist “donates,” s/he must provide the same amount to compensate victims and communities for gun violence. I promise: donations will disappear!

    SO: charge the NRA members EACH 10% of ALL gun violence costs not covered, above, for example: for all site clean up, hospital, ER, ambulance, policing, EMT expenses and other community costs associated with dealing with gun violence OF ANY KIND (domestic, hijackings, criminals, shooters, gangs, robberies, terrorists: whatever).

  3. Tax all profits:


    image and statistics from Mother Jones magazine

    Those who profit from any dangerous, harmful or otherwise socially destructive and/or unnecessary products have been made to pay for its consequences already via taxes in the USA (think: cigarettes, gasoline, luxury items like yachts, etc.). Why should gun and ammo profiteers be exempt?

    So: charge each gun show operator, gun shop owner, or owners/operators or profiteers of ANYWHERE that sells guns and/or ammunition, onsite OR ONLINE (pawn shops, hardware stores, “sports” stores, “hunting” stores, etc.) a VIOLENCE #TAX on EACH item sold that could be used to harm people. I think a 20% tax of each sale would be a sufficient disincentive both to purchase and to sell. That money shall go to cover the costs accrued in #1, 2, and 4 of this list as well AND gun safety classes, gun violence prevention seminars and other educational programs REQUIRED for ALL GUN OWNERS and USERS to attend ANNUALLY (this includes military, police and others who “legally” use guns).

  4. Pay until you do better:


    image of and quote from Gabrielle Giffords

    Our Congressional Representatives (those elected to either the House or Senate, federal and state legislatures) respond to only two kinds of pressure: money (donations, bribes, extortions) and non-election threats. Let’s use BOTH, here. They will change their votes or go broke (and probably get voted out as well). YAY!
    Make them pay out of their PERSONAL accounts (cannot use campaign, PAC or other non-personal monies to pay these fines)

    So: charge each Congressional Rep a FINE if s/he votes AGAINST gun safety, gun control, gun laws OF ANY KIND another 10% of the total costs, above, AND use these fines to cover FUTURE gun violence costs, such as extra policing, compensation to families of victims, compensation for employers/workplaces of victims, funds for repairs to venues where shootings occurred, compensations to property owners/users of sites where shootings occurred, compensation to neighborhoods in which decreasing property values occur because of being the sites or being NEAR the sites of gun violence, etc.


image from http://momsdemandaction.org

See how fast the gun laws change!

What do you think? Comment here.
NOTE: reasonable, constructive, useful suggestions/questions, ONLY; the rest will NOT be approved and will be deleted. Use: http://www.sallyember.com/blog

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Advocacy, Entitlement and Knowing When to Complain: The Rights of Poor People

Advocacy, Entitlement and Knowing When to Complain: The Rights of Poor People

If you are new to this blog, you may not know that I was in an accident about two years ago that resulted in a broken nose and concussion as well as other injuries. The concussion was not one of the “good” kind, meaning, I have still not completely recovered.

This deterioration in my health caused me to run through my savings and unemployment benefits in California and have to rely on others. Finally, I am privileged to benefit from my mother’s having space and a generous heart, allowing me to move in with her in St. Louis about 18 months ago.

Missouri, however, is not a great place to live if you are indigent. This post is the third in a series about my experiences here. This third one is on poor people’s rights. The second was on food for indigent people in Missouri (published February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL). The first one was on health care (published February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By).

This post is important because it looks at the underlying issues that make a difficult situation (being poor) worse or better for each person. The intersections of perceived or claimed race/ethnicity, perceived or claimed gender, perceived or claimed social class, perceived or claimed age, home/best language, physical and mental health and (dis)abilities, perceived or claimed religion, perceived or claimed sexual orientation, and economic status in the city of St. Louis, Missouri, USA, in the mid-20teens, can adversely influence, improve or neutrally affect one’s experiences every moment.

“Intersectionality” is an important part of understanding how poverty impacts each person and family differently. Therefore, in this series, I need to bring in the politics of social identity. We all have to learn to address these overlapping oppressions and unfair treatments to help ourselves understand how everything is NOT actually “equal” regardless of the similarities in two people’s incomes.

intersectionality
Intersectionality includes all of these components of one’s social identity.

It’s not “all good.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

It ISN’T what it IS “naturally”: people and then institutions run by people make things this way and create/perpetuate systems that keep them this way.

Missouri is one of the worst places to be if you’re poor, but it’s not even the worst by any standards. Your experience all depends on the other components of your social identity. If you’re believed to be a white male, seemingly in good health and able-bodied, perceived to be heterosexual, assumed to be Christian, speaking mid-Western-accented English like a native, have at least some college education and otherwise seeming to be a USA “mainstream” guy between the ages of 25 – 65, you are going to be much better treated and fare better even when you’re poor than if you do not claim or cannot pull off having others believe you have all or any of those social identities.

If you’re also not a felon, have a place to live (a legal address) and (the use of) a car, you’re probably not going to be poor for very long.

Unless you’re obese. Unless you’re smelly. Unless you’re an addict. Unless you’re perceived to be “not one of us” in whatever way “us” is defined: then, you’re in some trouble. But, even with those cards stacked against you, as a poor assumed-to-be-white & -Christian with some education who speaks adequate English and can pass for straight and male and under age 65, you’re still going to be better off than anyone who isn’t.

no isms allowed

Change one aspect—gender—and things automatically get much worse. Change two—ethnicity/race and gender—and you’re doomed.

Check this out, from Everyday Feminism, June 20, 2015 by Carmen Rios “These 5 Statistics Prove That We’re Feminizing Poverty (And Keeping Women Down in the Process)” http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/feminizing-poverty/
— “Despite the overall poverty rate declining in America, 18 million women remain below the poverty line.”
—“Women are poorer than men in every state, regardless of education or geographic location. And for women of color, elderly women, and LGBTQIA+ women, it’s even worse.”
—“The poverty rate for Native American, Black, and Latina women is almost double the poverty rate for white women.”
—“For women, and especially women of color, the fight to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 or $15 is very personal—and could be the difference, for them, between barely surviving and finally thriving.”
—“…over a lifetime, women lose an average of $434,000 to the wage gap.”
—“One of the most important aspects of intersectional feminism is the understanding that when we fight for the most marginalized women, we liberate all women along with them.”

And, from other sources (see below) that add in education and other factors to race/ethnicity and gender with income levels:
—“White households take home between $10,000 to $20,000 more per year than their Black counterparts in every age bracket”
—“Enrollment in ‘high poverty’ schools for Black children is 41 percent, 38 percent for Hispanic children, 31 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native and a mere six percent for Whites.”
—“Even when Black and minority children attend mixed schools, they are more likely to be tracked into remedial or basic classes while their White counterparts take advanced, honors level courses.”
—“70 percent of students arrested or referred to law enforcement for school-related infractions were Black or Latino.”
—“While people of color only comprise about 30 percent of the US population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.”
—“There is no such thing as unbiased, unpolitical education.”
—“People with ‘Black’ or ‘ethnic-sounding’ names are less likely to get callbacks for interviews.”
—“Blacks are more likely to be born into poverty and are less likely to escape it.”
—“Whites are 2-3 times more likely to make it into the middle class in their lifetimes compared to their black counterparts.”

poverty-is-violence
from http://iamarevolutionary.wordpress.com
Poverty IS violence. It has to stop.

Find a well-vetted nonprofit that advocates and works to end poverty and understands intersectionality and contribute, volunteer, blog about their work! Here is one: http://www.results.org/

Good news! We made this mess; we can clean it up.

Mandela quote about poverty
Nelson Mandela, Audre Lorde, Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem and so many more have spoken out about the nature of the human-made elements of our social and political systems and the oppressions they systematize.

WE are the ones who must advocate, complain, recognize that we are entitled to better and that so is everyone else, and ACT!

—Do not sit by and watch passively when others are mistreated, disrespected, unfairly scheduled or managed, especially when you are in any position of better privilege: it is your DUTY to advocate whenever you are able.
—Write letters, blog, make phone calls, picket, march, show up and let those in power know you are not satisfied with the “status quo.” Be specific.
—VOTE! It is your DUTY and responsibility as a USA citizen who can vote (if you are one) to use that right in EVERY election. It is the LOCAL elections that most affect people who live near you, and regional and state office holders who make laws that affect us all. Federal elections matter, too, but not as obviously or as immediately.

WIN_20141104_095753 I VOTE! And, as of early March, I am working as a election-day supervisor at a local polling place!

—THEREFORE, do not ignore bond issues, council and mayoral elections, county positions, state office holders’ elections and only vote on presidential ballots. ALL VOTES MATTER!

Want to know more? Have a read:

From October, 2015, inGenere.it: “Intersectionality. Putting together
things that are often kept apart” by Jeff Hearn
http://www.ingenere.it/en/articles/intersectionality-putting-together-things-are-often-kept-apart

From February, 2015, NPR: “Study: Black Girls Are Being Pushed Out of School” by Karen Grigsby Bates
http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/02/13/384005652/study-black-girls-are-being-pushed-out-of-school

From February, 2015, the the Frisky: “18 Things White America Needs To Reconcile To Truly Become Colorblind” by Tiffanie Drayton
http://www.thefrisky.com/2015-02-26/18-things-white-america-needs-to-reconcile-to-truly-become-colorblind/

If you appreciated this series, please reblog/share it, comment, ask to be a guest blogger and contribute your own point of view or write on a related topic: http://www.sallyember.com

This third post was on advocacy and intersectionality (published on February 23, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1C2).
The second was on food for indigent people in Missouri (published February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL).
The first one was on health care (published February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By).

Why I write about #politics, #elections, #issues and support Emily’s List #feminist #candidates

I WILL write about #politics, #elections, #issues and support Emily’s List #feminist #candidates…and so should you!

feminist activist causes
image from: http://www.list.co.uk

Maybe you think “social media” should just be for posting pictures that are funny or cute. Maybe you don’t want to offend or alienate anyone. Maybe you’re a coward. Maybe you’re undecided. Maybe you’re ignorant and don’t know enough about anything political to write about it. Whatever your reasons or rationales, cut it out.

If you are a USA citizen or a citizen of any country that allows you to vote and you do not exercise that duty and right for EVERY election, informing yourself (which is easier to do than ever before with information EVERYWHERE) and taking a stand on candidates and issues as adults who care are motivated to do, than I want you reading this post to inspire and educate yourself.

If you’re already politically active and savvy, great: SHARE!

First of all, there is a sea of candidates out there for almost every elected post and many campaigns of mis- and dis-information attempting to muddy the waters further. What’s an interested, concerned citizen to do? Utilize the groups that vet candidates and issues FOR us, that’s what. Find a group/entity who screens, analyzes, evaluates and presents, according to YOUR values and interests, those you’d want to vote for, complete with reasons, and information about whom and what to vote against as well.

Propaganda v science
image from: http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com

Better yet, if you’re so inclined, RUN for office. Offer yourself to serve on a Board or Commission. Join/donate to/volunteer for a local or state chapter of the League of Women Voters, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), the National Organization for Women (NOW), or whatever else strikes your fancy. Start small and keep going, because city council members, school board members, mayors, sheriffs, judges and many others in local offices later become state or federal senators, congressional representatives for the state or federal government, state governors, Supreme Court judges, presidents!

As a life-long feminist committed to environmental, social, educational and other more radical values/components that mesh with my Buddhist, nonviolent foundations, I choose appropriate news sources (mostly nonprofits to boot) to help me learn and decide.

Here are a few I use and recommend:

  • Emily’s List http://www.emilyslist.org/, whose mission is: “We elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.”
  • Mother Jones magazine http://www.motherjones.com/, which has been analyzing and reporting from the center of core issues, reporting what many do NOT report and reporting truthfully, paid off by NO ONE, for decades
  • B*TCH Media, whose tagline is “Outsmart the Patriarchy,” which I love even though I do not like their name, and whose mission is to respond to “pop culture,” but does so much more than that http://bitchmagazine.org/
  • The Daily KOS, which has a weekly open thread on ELECTIONS, and with whom I often disagree but respect http://www.dailykos.com/
  • Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzales and the team at Democracy NOW!, independent, ad-free, on TV and public radio http://www.democracynow.org
  • Dissident Voice, which is “a radical [online] newspaper in the struggle for peace and justice,” that sees itself as providing “hard-hitting, thought-provoking and even entertaining news and commentaries on politics and culture that can serve as ammunition in struggles for peace and social justice.” http://dissidentvoice.org/
  • Upworthy.com, which is a curation site, gathering from many sources, including YOU, if you submit, to re-present “things that matter.” http://www.upworthy.com/
  • The Feminist Wire, with an inspiring and laudable mission: “to provide socio-political and cultural critique of anti-feminist, racist, and imperialist politics pervasive in all forms and spaces of private and public lives of individuals globally. Of particular critical interest to us are social and political phenomena that block, negate, or limit the satisfaction of goods or ends that humans, especially the most vulnerable, minimally require for living free of structural violence. The Feminist Wire seeks to valorize and sustain pro-feminist representations and create alternative frameworks to build a just and equitable society.” http://thefeministwire.com/

JFK quote
image made from John F. Kennedy quote

What else can we/should we do, if you believe, as I do, that change is necessary and that many important changes do occur via our elections and efforts in those directions? Here are some ideas. Comment and add your own, please! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

  • Some of you are lucky enough to have an alternative newspaper right in your area, still publishing in print and/or online (The Valley Advocate (New England, USA sites), The Bohemian (CA, USA, San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast sites), The Boston Phoenix, Women’s Voices Magazine (many locations around the world) are some of my favorites).
    Read them. Subscribe. Submit comments online. Submit “Letters to the Editor.” Tell others. Buy ad space. Distribute or allow your business to become a site for distribution.

  • Donate to and support National and local Public Radio, Pacifica Radio, other alternative online or actual broadcasting entities. They are fewer and further between than ever and are always operating on shoestring budgets with many volunteers. YOU could volunteer!
  • Maybe you want to get your news from a culturally, ethnically or group-specific source, like Al Jazeera, The Advocate (LGBTQIQ), Univision, The St. Louis Jewish Light, Black Press USA, or whichever you prefer.
    Support them. Donate. Buy ad space. Volunteer. Comment online. Support their advertisers.

social change
image from: http://mariamuir.com

Use my sources and ideas or get your own, but get informed and work for the candidates you support, for the issues that matter to you.

It is UNACCEPTABLE to be passive and silent, more worried more about being controversial than effecting necessary changes. Be bold! Just because you are an artistic sort doesn’t mean you get to hide!

artist as activist
image made from quote by Larry Neal

Get involved. March. Demonstrate. Speak. Donate. Host. Participate. Invite. Write. Solicit.

VOTE!!!!!

No Woman Wants to Have An Abortion, but We MUST Support EVERY Woman’s Right To Choose

No Woman Wants to Have An Abortion, but
We MUST Support EVERY Woman’s Right To Choose

Of course that is true. Books about women’s experiences in choosing to have an abortion, having it, living with the decision, have these titles:

In Necessity and Sorrow, Peace after an Abortion, Healing after an Abortion, Dealing with the Emotional Aftermath of an Abortion, and similar.

Why in 2014, DECADES AFTER after the clarity of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v Wade, is women’s right-to-choose to terminate a pregnancy in the USA even in question?

Here is one main reason: MEN. More than a few very loud, conservative/reactionary, unfeeling, uncaring, ignorant and idiotic men. I call these men names with great care: they deserve every one of these appellations.

Men do not get pregnant

image from http://msmagazine.com

Last winter, Republican Allan Rothlisberg (Junction City, CA) who serves on a major House Committee (Commerce, Labor and Economic Development), stated: “If I was a woman over 50, I wouldn’t need gynecological services” (1/14/14). Bad grammar aside, the guy is a moron when it comes to women’s health care requirements.

Unfortunately, he is TYPICAL of the men in leadership positions spouting garbage. Offensive ridiculousness comes regularly out of those such as Todd Akin (R-Missouri), who invented the delightful term “legitimate rape” and claimed that there is no need for abortion to be legal in the case of rape because “women can just shut that down,” meaning, decide not to become fertilized, when we are raped.

I am not making this up.

Here is the other reason: RELIGION. Or, rather, the co-optation of Christian religious tenets and beliefs, tailoring and lying about the original teachings to “support” their platform. Nevermind that the same people who call themselves “pro-life” vote down tax increases or any funding for FEEDING, HOUSING, EDUCATING, and MAINTAINING HEALTH for actual, living children and adults, and that these same politicians and their supporters also want to exclude immigrants all together from ALL services. So much for being “pro-life” or even following their own Christian precepts.

Jesus policy preferences

image from http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com

As we approach another election, one in which the entire House of Representatives is up for grabs (and this part of Congress is the most culpable when it comes to misappropriation of politics and abusing their power in the name of religion), some facts seem important to know regarding abortion, a key issue (again). Please share. Please talk about this. I know I’m probably “preaching to the choir,” but we all have friends and relatives who could be better informed, and we ALL need to VOTE!

Who gets abortions in the USA?

What are the ages of women having abortions?

Anti-choice marketers would have us believe that most abortion-seekers are “irresponsible teenagers” who need “counseling” and “guidance,” implying that ignorance, carelessness, selfishness and a wanton disregard for life are influencing circumstances and driving abortion decisions.

However (big shock), they are incorrect. Only a small percentage (0.4%) of females who obtained abortions in this time period were under 15 years old. Interestingly, almost equal percentages (7 – 8%) were for women ages 15 – 17 and also for women 35-39. What types of circumstances and emotional characteristics could these demographic groups have in common, besides having an unwanted pregnancy?

ages of women abortion

82% of the women who had abortions in the 11-year period, 1999-2010, were between the ages of 18 – 34, with 34% as the largest single group, and it was for women ages 20 – 24.

Unsurprisingly, “older” women (NOT “ignorant” or in need of “guidance”) also get pregnant and decided to terminate the pregnancy: about 3% were over 40 years old.

What the reasons women choose abortion?

The conservative, anti-choice movement wants us to believe that the “primary” reasons for women’s choosing abortion are “selfish” and therefore not to be supported by law or community attitude. Their pie chart tries to illustrate that “most” women who have abortions do so because a pregnancy comes at the “wrong time” and /or they are “not ready” to have a child at that time. Even so, by their own research (which is questionable), only about one-quarter (27%) of the women gave that as their “primary” reason.

However, look at what the other survey options were and you can understand how so many chose the “not ready” category:

  • “Lack of maturity” Who is going to self-select that reason? Very few: 8%
  • “Relationship Issues” This is so broad as to be almost useless as a survey option. Only 9% selected this.
  • “Fetal Health Concerns” and “Maternal Health Concerns” each received about the same, 3% – 4%, matching “School or Career Concerns” with 4% as well. These combined total about 12%, or one-eighth of the respondents.
  • “Can’t afford the baby” (whose wording is already emotionally loaded, labeling the fetus a “baby” and then impugning the woman’s financial status at the same time) still garnered an almost equal percentage to those who said they weren’t “ready,” at 25%.
  • “Finished childbearing” is fraught with judgment as well, but nonetheless, 20% selected this as their primary reason for terminating the pregnancy.
  • “Rape” unsurprisingly received less than any, at 0.1%, while “Incest” isn’t on this chart (one could argue that all incest is rape, but to exclude it as a reason is significant, since conservatives keep voting down the right to choose, even in the case of rape or incest….).

AbortionReasons

image from http://www.conservapedia.com

The actual facts about USA women and abortion

About half of all women experience at least one unintended pregnancy in our lifetimes. This occurs mostly due to the fact that ALL birth control, even when used correctly and consistently, has a failure rate of at least 1% and most are worse.

Birth control failure rates

image from http://www.abovetopsecret.com

The “Pill,” which is usually thought of as “effective,” fails almost 9% of the time. That means almost 1 out of every 10 women who rely on the Pill for birth control will become pregnant while taking it. In addition to causing all kinds of problems for the women that they were not expecting (no pun intended), pregnant women do not know they are pregnant until many months into the pregnancy (usually when the baby moves), which means the mothers are taking these hormones throughout the crucial first trimester. Birth control pills can have adverse effects on developing fetuses which usually causes birth defects and/or problems for these people later in life because of hormonal imbalances while they were developing in utero. The risk of ectopic pregnancies is also higher in women taking oral contraceptives after conception (which shouldn’t have occurred, but does).

Even worse, women who conceive while using spermicidal forms of birth control are counseled to have abortions because babies born to women using spermicides have astronomical rates of birth defects, up to and including stillbirth. The lesser problems include dwarfism, muscles missing or non-functional (eyelids’ muscles do not work, for example, so the eyes can’t fully open, which, without surgery, leads to blindness in newborns), hip displasia, clubfoot, cleft palate, and worse (New England Journal of Medicine), most of which, if reparable, require one or more surgeries and expensive rehabilitation.

Spermicide problems

image from http://www.nejm.org

Despite these facts, only about one-third of women who unintentionally become pregnant choose to have an abortion. This could be due to the fact that, of those with unintended pregnancies, about 60% already have one child. As I mentioned at the start: NO woman WANTS to have an abortion, and those who have already carried a pregnancy to term, parented a child, are even less likely to terminate. Statistics bear this out: most mothers choose NOT to terminate.

Furthermore, to refute another of the conservatives’ most specious arguments: the majority (73%) of women who choose to terminate a pregnancy ARE “religiously affiliated,” which means we are not ALL “godless heathens” (although, as a Buddhist, I am proud to be “godless” and couldn’t care less about being called a “heathen”).

Abortion stats actual

image from http://naralprochoicewashington.tumblr.com

I could, but I won’t, tell my entire personal story, here. Bare facts: I was “typical” in that I was in my middle-twenties, educated, and pro-child (I was teaching Kindergarten-First Grade at the time). I chose to terminate due to my having been financially and emotionally unready and unable to care for a child at the time I got pregnant, which occurred due to a birth control failure (diaphragm, which has a 4% failure rate).

Please, whatever your story or gender, VOTE in or keep in a pro-choice candidate this November. The right to choose to terminate a pregnancy is a HUMAN right and, unfortunately, sometimes a necessity. Even if the choices are often made in sorrow, they must be safe and legal to make.

Vote smart

image from http://www.kylelife.com

No Woman Wants to Have An Abortion, but We MUST Support EVERY Woman’s Right To Choose

No Woman Wants to Have An Abortion, but
We MUST Support EVERY Woman’s Right To Choose

Of course that is true. Books about women’s experiences in choosing to have an abortion, having it, living with the decision, have these titles:

In Necessity and Sorrow, Peace after an Abortion, Healing after an Abortion, Dealing with the Emotional Aftermath of an Abortion, and similar.

Why in 2014, DECADES AFTER after the clarity of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v Wade, is women’s right-to-choose to terminate a pregnancy in the USA even in question?

Here is one main reason: MEN. More than a few very loud, conservative/reactionary, unfeeling, uncaring, ignorant and idiotic men. I call these men names with great care: they deserve every one of these appellations.

Men do not get pregnant

image from http://msmagazine.com

Last winter, Republican Allan Rothlisberg (Junction City, CA) who serves on a major House Committee (Commerce, Labor and Economic Development), stated: “If I was a woman over 50, I wouldn’t need gynecological services” (1/14/14). Bad grammar aside, the guy is a moron when it comes to women’s health care requirements.

Unfortunately, he is TYPICAL of the men in leadership positions spouting garbage. Offensive ridiculousness comes regularly out of those such as Todd Akin (R-Missouri), who invented the delightful term “legitimate rape” and claimed that there is no need for abortion to be legal in the case of rape because “women can just shut that down,” meaning, decide not to become fertilized, when we are raped.

I am not making this up.

Here is the other reason: RELIGION. Or, rather, the co-optation of Christian religious tenets and beliefs, tailoring and lying about the original teachings to “support” their platform. Nevermind that the same people who call themselves “pro-life” vote down tax increases or any funding for FEEDING, HOUSING, EDUCATING, and MAINTAINING HEALTH for actual, living children and adults, and that these same politicians and their supporters also want to exclude immigrants all together from ALL services. So much for being “pro-life” or even following their own Christian precepts.

Jesus policy preferences

image from http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com

As we approach another election, one in which the entire House of Representatives is up for grabs (and this part of Congress is the most culpable when it comes to misappropriation of politics and abusing their power in the name of religion), some facts seem important to know regarding abortion, a key issue (again). Please share. Please talk about this. I know I’m probably “preaching to the choir,” but we all have friends and relatives who could be better informed, and we ALL need to VOTE!

Who gets abortions in the USA?

What are the ages of women having abortions?

Anti-choice marketers would have us believe that most abortion-seekers are “irresponsible teenagers” who need “counseling” and “guidance,” implying that ignorance, carelessness, selfishness and a wanton disregard for life are influencing circumstances and driving abortion decisions.

However (big shock), they are incorrect. Only a small percentage (0.4%) of females who obtained abortions in this time period were under 15 years old. Interestingly, almost equal percentages (7 – 8%) were for women ages 15 – 17 and also for women 35-39. What types of circumstances and emotional characteristics could these demographic groups have in common, besides having an unwanted pregnancy?

ages of women abortion

82% of the women who had abortions in the 11-year period, 1999-2010, were between the ages of 18 – 34, with 34% as the largest single group, and it was for women ages 20 – 24.

Unsurprisingly, “older” women (NOT “ignorant” or in need of “guidance”) also get pregnant and decided to terminate the pregnancy: about 3% were over 40 years old.

What the reasons women choose abortion?

The conservative, anti-choice movement wants us to believe that the “primary” reasons for women’s choosing abortion are “selfish” and therefore not to be supported by law or community attitude. Their pie chart tries to illustrate that “most” women who have abortions do so because a pregnancy comes at the “wrong time” and /or they are “not ready” to have a child at that time. Even so, by their own research (which is questionable), only about one-quarter (27%) of the women gave that as their “primary” reason.

However, look at what the other survey options were and you can understand how so many chose the “not ready” category:

  • “Lack of maturity” Who is going to self-select that reason? Very few: 8%
  • “Relationship Issues” This is so broad as to be almost useless as a survey option. Only 9% selected this.
  • “Fetal Health Concerns” and “Maternal Health Concerns” each received about the same, 3% – 4%, matching “School or Career Concerns” with 4% as well. These combined total about 12%, or one-eighth of the respondents.
  • “Can’t afford the baby” (whose wording is already emotionally loaded, labeling the fetus a “baby” and then impugning the woman’s financial status at the same time) still garnered an almost equal percentage to those who said they weren’t “ready,” at 25%.
  • “Finished childbearing” is fraught with judgment as well, but nonetheless, 20% selected this as their primary reason for terminating the pregnancy.
  • “Rape” unsurprisingly received less than any, at 0.1%, while “Incest” isn’t on this chart (one could argue that all incest is rape, but to exclude it as a reason is significant, since conservatives keep voting down the right to choose, even in the case of rape or incest….).

AbortionReasons

image from http://www.conservapedia.com

The actual facts about USA women and abortion

About half of all women experience at least one unintended pregnancy in our lifetimes. This occurs mostly due to the fact that ALL birth control, even when used correctly and consistently, has a failure rate of at least 1% and most are worse.

Birth control failure rates

image from http://www.abovetopsecret.com

The “Pill,” which is usually thought of as “effective,” fails almost 9% of the time. That means almost 1 out of every 10 women who rely on the Pill for birth control will become pregnant while taking it. In addition to causing all kinds of problems for the women that they were not expecting (no pun intended), pregnant women do not know they are pregnant until many months into the pregnancy (usually when the baby moves), which means the mothers are taking these hormones throughout the crucial first trimester. Birth control pills can have adverse effects on developing fetuses which usually causes birth defects and/or problems for these people later in life because of hormonal imbalances while they were developing in utero. The risk of ectopic pregnancies is also higher in women taking oral contraceptives after conception (which shouldn’t have occurred, but does).

Even worse, women who conceive while using spermicidal forms of birth control are counseled to have abortions because babies born to women using spermicides have astronomical rates of birth defects, up to and including stillbirth. The lesser problems include dwarfism, muscles missing or non-functional (eyelids’ muscles do not work, for example, so the eyes can’t fully open, which, without surgery, leads to blindness in newborns), hip displasia, clubfoot, cleft palate, and worse (New England Journal of Medicine), most of which, if reparable, require one or more surgeries and expensive rehabilitation.

Spermicide problems

image from http://www.nejm.org

Despite these facts, only about one-third of women who unintentionally become pregnant choose to have an abortion. This could be due to the fact that, of those with unintended pregnancies, about 60% already have one child. As I mentioned at the start: NO woman WANTS to have an abortion, and those who have already carried a pregnancy to term, parented a child, are even less likely to terminate. Statistics bear this out: most mothers choose NOT to terminate.

Furthermore, to refute another of the conservatives’ most specious arguments: the majority (73%) of women who choose to terminate a pregnancy ARE “religiously affiliated,” which means we are not ALL “godless heathens” (although, as a Buddhist, I am proud to be “godless” and couldn’t care less about being called a “heathen”).

Abortion stats actual

image from http://naralprochoicewashington.tumblr.com

I could, but I won’t, tell my entire personal story, here. Bare facts: I was “typical” in that I was in my middle-twenties, educated, and pro-child (I was teaching Kindergarten-First Grade at the time). I chose to terminate due to my having been financially and emotionally unready and unable to care for a child at the time I got pregnant, which occurred due to a birth control failure (diaphragm, which has a 4% failure rate).

Please, whatever your story or gender, VOTE in or keep in a pro-choice candidate this November. The right to choose to terminate a pregnancy is a HUMAN right and, unfortunately, sometimes a necessity. Even if the choices are often made in sorrow, they must be safe and legal to make.

Vote smart

image from http://www.kylelife.com

16 Ways I Use #Goodreads

I’m wondering how you, as a reader, use Goodreads? What about if you are an author: do you visit often and use it? How do you use #Goodreads?

Goodreads logo

At first, I just visited, as a #reader. I noticed what books are being featured or recommended (paid ads or in groups’ discussions), what types of groups there are, what groups are active, and what lists exist on Listopia. I marked books I had read and ranked a few, but didn’t write any reviews or read any.

As a reader, I now have: 905 ratings | 102 reviews | avg rating:4.10

When I began to come closer to launching my first book as an #author, I re-established myself on Goodreads with an author page. I added the nonfiction book I had co-authored many years ago, then I added my first science-fiction/romance ebook to my page.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember

As a reader/author, my use of Goodreads changed a lot after that. I began not only to list books I had already read, but I started to use Goodreads as a kind of readers’ journal, and I:

1) put books on my “want to read” shelf. This means Goodreads posts and could email me (but I shut that down) “Recommendations” based on what I read and ranked highly.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/15085128?shelf=read

https://www.goodreads.com/recommendations

2) put books on my “currently reading” shelf and kept up the status of where I was in reading each one (I usually read several books simultaneously, one or two nonfiction, one or two fiction.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/15085128-sally-ember?shelf=currently-reading

3) began to acquire friends/fans and to respond to “friends” requests moer promptly.

I now have 1005 “Friends” and dozens of “followers”: I have 83 “fans”; follow almost 288 GR members (mostly authors or reviewers) myself
https://www.goodreads.com/friend

https://www.goodreads.com/user/15085128-sally-ember/followers

https://www.goodreads.com/author/fans/7237845.Sally_Ember

https://www.goodreads.com/user/15085128-sally-ember/following
(GR has an algorithm, like Facebook, that limits how many new “friends” a person can add per day, so sometimes I added an author or reviewer as a “fan” or “follower” instead. It seems arbitrary and silly, to me, but that is the deal. This policy means I seem to have 295 “favorite authors,” but that just means I had to become a “fan” rather than a friend, so this list includes authors I support but haven’t read anything from, yet.)

4) joined several groups as a reader, several more as an author, and started one of my own, as an author.

https://www.goodreads.com/group

5) made an effort to keep up with “notifications” from these groups, responding when I felt inspired, commenting or asking questions occasionally. I also get some notification sent directly to my email, but I don’t read them in both places.

6) posted about my own ebook(s), including their launches, pre-orders, sales, becoming permafree, reviews (needing and getting). I also posted each of the related videos (author readings, Q & A, Book trailers) on my Author’s Page and my own Videos page. I also created and will create launch “events” on GR for each ebook’s sales launch date. If I had print books, I would/could do “giveaways,” but GR doesn’t provide avenues for ebooks giveaways (yet).

https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/7237845.Sally_Ember

https://www.goodreads.com/videos/list_author/7237845.Sally_Ember

7) linked my Goodreads page to my blog so that the feed appears on it and put a Goodreads widget on my blog that shows what I’m reading.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember/blog

8) linked my Goodreads reviews to my blog and Facebook pages so that my reviews and activities appear on those.

9) voted on and added my ebooks to lists and voted on others’ books on Listopia; also became more aware of and using Shelves more and putting books I’m reading/want to read on Shelves.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18772075-this-changes-everything

This Changes Everything cover

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21841757-this-changes-my-family-and-my-life-forever

final cover - digital and web

I have also listed my Series as a Series on GR, which means it can appear on those pages/groups that seeks series books.

Scroll all the way down on any book’s page to see its first lists and then click on “more” to see pages and pages of lists my ebooks are on. VOTE on them, please!

10) added more books to my ‘want to read” lists to support other authors, especially those who became my friends/fans.

11) noticed what books others in my groups, friends/fans communities had read/were reading and put some of those on my “want to read” lists.

12) began to write an ongoing status/review and final review of every book I was reading, which then posted on my blog and on Facebook. These comments and activity appear on my author’s page as recent “updates.”

13) recently began pasting those reviews from Goodreads onto Amazon for those books, with the rating and slight editing (when necessary). I have a way to go to “catch up,” but it’s a good way to remember what I’ve read these last 12 months or so.

14) developed a new interest in and respect for book reviewers, prolific authors, new authors, and readers who populate Goodreads, reading more of the posts to groups and noticing their authors’ pages and blogs. I

15) followed a few of the blogs I saw excerpted on Goodreads due to what I read on these authors’ pages.

16. added “metadata” to my books and plan to add more. This is a tricky maneuver I needed help from a GR “Librarian” to accomplish and don’t know much about accessing on my own, but apparently this data helps my ebooks appear in more searches.

Please comment on how YOU use Goodreads and what you think of its usefulness to the readers/authors communities! Thanks.

Happy reading, reviewing, writing, commenting, ranking, voting, and shelving!