Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

nonplussedbyreligion:

Unfortunately there are those who don’t believe women have the right to have an abortion.  There are also those who believe that homosexuals are bound for an afterlife of misery and suffering.  But what of their time on earth?  Why must so many fight to make the one life they will ever have, one of shame, secrecy, judgment, exclusion, and a fight to love the person of their choosing?  Not all theists are homphobes, but the loudest homophobes are all theists.  Yes I said all and you know how I feel about generalizations.  Every vocal and public organization fighting to prohibit equality that I’ve researched, has a religious base. 

nonplussedbyreligion:

Unfortunately there are those who don’t believe women have the right to have an abortion.  There are also those who believe that homosexuals are bound for an afterlife of misery and suffering.  But what of their time on earth?  Why must so many fight to make the one life they will ever have, one of shame, secrecy, judgment, exclusion, and a fight to love the person of their choosing?  Not all theists are homphobes, but the loudest homophobes are all theists.  Yes I said all and you know how I feel about generalizations.  Every vocal and public organization fighting to prohibit equality that I’ve researched, has a religious base. 

ohscience:

Six day old human embryo. Life is a very beautiful thing.
Photo by: Medico Space
Please visit heythereuniverse for more great pictures!
(submission from luutopia)

Life is indeed beautiful (from our subjective POV), but thank goodness Mississppians had enough sense to agree that this is not a person.

ohscience:

Six day old human embryo. Life is a very beautiful thing.

Photo by: Medico Space

Please visit heythereuniverse for more great pictures!

(submission from luutopia)

Life is indeed beautiful (from our subjective POV), but thank goodness Mississppians had enough sense to agree that this is not a person.

This is why I'm pro-choice

qu4ntumrush:

A biologist weighs in on the Mississippi “personhood bill”

Let me first state my opinion as a biologist. Human life does not “begin”, it is transmitted. Human personhood is not a biological concept: it is the state of being a human being for legal and moral purposes. Laws and morality need a clear line between “person” and “not a person”, biology does not care. We may need to pick a line, but that’s something *we* are doing, it is not dictated by “biological facts”.

Normally a large proportion, probably a majority, of human zygotes fail to implant or are miscarried. The proportion that die due to abortion is only a fraction of the total death rate you are contemplating.

Meanwhile, I know a Mississippian who may become a refugee if the Amendment passes. She takes birth control pills to keep from bleeding into anemia every month, and if BCPs become illegal or unavailable in Mississippi she’ll probably have to leave. How thoughtful and life-respecting of her fellow citizens.

Go science.

Anti-choicers insist that the key question in the abortion debate is whether a fetus is a person or not. If so, abortion is murder, they say, and therefore obviously immoral and illegal. That is not the key question at all, of course - anti-choicers are committing the “fetus focus fallacy.” The practice of abortion is unrelated to the status of the fetus - it hinges totally on the aspirations and needs of women. Women have abortions regardless of the law, regardless of the risk to their lives or health, regardless of the morality of abortion, and regardless of what the fetus may or may not be. On average, abortion rates do not differ substantially between countries where it’s legal and countries where it’s illegal. Which reveals a more pertinent question: Do we provide women with safe legal abortions, or do we let them suffer and die from dangerous illegal abortions?

Fetalphiliac:

(n)

1. A person who is obsessed with fetuses.

2. A person who values a clump of cells over the life of a fully developed and functioning human being.

3. Someone who has no problem with war, torture, capital punishment or denying healthcare to people, but is outraged by the idea of ending a pregnancy.

They are not “pro-life” since they don’t give a damn about living, breathing people in need and they generally don’t have any problems with war or the death penalty; they are fetalphiliacs. I propose the adoption and proliferation of this term. Reblog if you’re with me.

Outcry in America as pregnant women who lose babies face murder charges

goodreasonnews:

muchtoocynical:

stfuhypocrisy:

Ed Pilkington in New York guardian.co.uk, Friday 24 June 2011 18.30 BST

Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death – they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the US more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals.

“Women are being stripped of their constitutional personhood and subjected to truly cruel laws,” said Lynn Paltrow of the campaign National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). “It’s turning pregnant women into a different class of person and removing them of their rights.”

Bei Bei Shuai, 34, has spent the past three months in a prison cell in Indianapolis charged with murdering her baby. On 23 December she tried to commit suicide by taking rat poison after her boyfriend abandoned her.

Shuai was rushed to hospital and survived, but she was 33 weeks pregnant and her baby, to whom she gave birth a week after the suicide attempt and whom she called Angel, died after four days. In March Shuai was charged with murder and attempted foeticide and she has been in custody since without the offer of bail.

In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the state’s “chemical endangerment” law. Introduced in 2006, the statute was designed to protect children whose parents were cooking methamphetamine in the home and thus putting their children at risk from inhaling the fumes.

Amanda Kimbrough is one of the women who have been ensnared as a result of the law being applied in a wholly different way. During her pregnancy her foetus was diagnosed with possible Down’s syndrome and doctors suggested she consider a termination, which Kimbrough declined as she is not in favour of abortion.

The baby was delivered by caesarean section prematurely in April 2008 and died 19 minutes after birth.

Six months later Kimbrough was arrested at home and charged with “chemical endangerment” of her unborn child on the grounds that she had taken drugs during the pregnancy – a claim she has denied.

“That shocked me, it really did,” Kimbrough said. “I had lost a child, that was enough.”

She now awaits an appeal ruling from the higher courts in Alabama, which if she loses will see her begin a 10-year sentence behind bars. “I’m just living one day at a time, looking after my three other kids,” she said. “They say I’m a criminal, how do I answer that? I’m a good mother.”

Women’s rights campaigners see the creeping criminalisation of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion, in which conservative prosecutors are chipping away at hard-won freedoms by stretching protection laws to include foetuses, in some cases from the day of conception. In Gibbs’ case defence lawyers have argued before Mississippi’s highest court that her prosecution makes no sense. Under Mississippi law it is a crime for any person except the mother to try to cause an abortion.

“If it’s not a crime for a mother to intentionally end her pregnancy, how can it be a crime for her to do it unintentionally, whether by taking drugs or smoking or whatever it is,” Robert McDuff, a civil rights lawyer asked the state supreme court.

McDuff told the Guardian that he hoped the Gibbs prosecution was an isolated example. “I hope it’s not a trend that’s going to catch on. To charge a woman with murder because of something she did during pregnancy is really unprecedented and quite extreme.”

He pointed out that anti-abortion groups were trying to amend the Mississippi constitution by setting up a state referendum, or ballot initiative, that would widen the definition of a person under the state’s bill of rights to include a foetus from the day of conception.

Some 70 organisations across America have come together to file testimonies, known as amicus briefs, in support of Gibbs that protest against her treatment on several levels. One says that to treat “as a murderer a girl who has experienced a stillbirth serves only to increase her suffering”.

Another, from a group of psychologists, laments the misunderstanding of addiction that lies behind the indictment. Gibbs did not take cocaine because she had a “depraved heart” or to “harm the foetus but to satisfy an acute psychological and physical need for that particular substance”, says the brief.

Perhaps the most persuasive argument put forward in the amicus briefs is that if such prosecutions were designed to protect the unborn child, then they would be utterly counter-productive: “Prosecuting women and girls for continuing [a pregnancy] to term despite a drug addiction encourages them to terminate wanted pregnancies to avoid criminal penalties. The state could not have intended this result when it adopted the homicide statute.”

Paltrow sees what is happening to Gibbs as a small taste of what would be unleashed were the constitutional right to an abortion ever overturned. “In Mississippi the use of the murder statute is creating a whole new legal standard that makes women accountable for the outcome of their pregnancies and threatens them with life imprisonment for murder.”

From protection to punishment

At least 38 of the 50 states across America have introduced foetal homicide laws that were intended to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from violent attacks by third parties – usually abusive male partners – but are increasingly being turned by renegade prosecutors against the women themselves.

South Carolina was one of the first states to introduce such a foetal homicide law. National Advocates for Pregnant Women has found only one case of a South Carolina man who assaulted a pregnant woman having been charged under its terms, and his conviction was eventually overturned. Yet the group estimates there have been up to 300 women arrested for their actions during pregnancy.

In other states laws designed to protect children against the damaging effects of drugs have similarly been twisted to punish childbearers.

Get angry America. Get fucking angry.

What the actual fuck

No words.

You are now entering the Twilight Zone. These Fetalphiliacs are crossing the line. If this isn’t pure fascism, I’m not sure what is.

(Source: stfueverything)

On “fetal pain,” medicine, and law

vinegarwilliams:

cognitivedissonance:

Rebloggable by request:

Why shouldn’t a doctor tell their patient when a fetus can feel pain?

Anonymous

cognitivedissonance:

Okay, here’s the thing. There’s a lot of misinformation about abortion out there, and the Institute of Clinical Education, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, UK undertook a study about this. Here’s some facts:

Misinformation about Abortion

Abstract

Objective: To find the latest and most accurate information on aspects of induced abortion.

Methods: A literature survey was carried out in which five aspects of abortion were scrutinised: risk to life, risk of breast cancer, risk to mental health, risk to future fertility, and fetal pain.

Findings: Abortion is clearly safer than childbirth. There is no evidence of an association between abortion and breast cancer. Women who have abortions are not at increased risk of mental health problems over and above women who deliver an unwanted pregnancy. There is no negative effect of abortion on a woman’s subsequent fertility. It is not possible for a fetus to perceive pain before 24 weeks’ gestation. Misinformation on abortion is widespread. Literature and websites are cited to demonstrate how data have been manipulated and misquoted or just ignored. Citation of non-peer reviewed articles is also common. Mandates insisting on provision of inaccurate information in some US State laws are presented. Attention is drawn to how women can be misled by Crisis Pregnancy Centres.

Conclusion: There is extensive promulgation of misinformation on abortion by those who oppose abortion. Much of this misinformation is based on distorted interpretation of the scientific literature.

Citation: Rowlands, Sam (2011). “Misinformation on abortion”. The European journal of contraception & reproductive health care (1362-5187), p. 1. DOI: 10.3109/13625187.2011.570883

Here’s more:

The lack of cortical connections before 24 weeks implies that pain is not possible until after 24 weeks. Even after 24 weeks, there is continuing development and elaboration of intracortical networks. Furthermore, there is good evidence that the fetus is sedated by the physical environment of the womb and usually does not awaken before birth.

Essentially, a fetus does not even have the brain structure to feel pain before 24 weeks - so roughly 6 months gestation, moving into 7 months. 

Here’s when most abortions happen:

So, let’s get something straight - if doctors are forced to tell patients that a fetus feels pain before 20 weeks, they are being forced statutorily to lie to patients. Is that something you’re comfortable with? I’m not.

Know this.  Be able to repeat and cite it.  Be prepared to use this information in subsequent debates.

silentlydrawn:

Aww shit!


I guess they don’t count since American pro-lifers have little to no problem with their tax dollars being used to kill and maim thousands of them. But if a raped female American soldier aborts her rapists’ seed, they lose their shit!

silentlydrawn:

Aww shit!

I guess they don’t count since American pro-lifers have little to no problem with their tax dollars being used to kill and maim thousands of them. But if a raped female American soldier aborts her rapists’ seed, they lose their shit!

Is a Fertilized Egg a Person?

What is the implication of a Personhood law?

  • All abortion would be illegal, including abortion in the case of rape and incest
  • Abortion to save the life of the mother would be outlawed since it is illegal to murder one person to save another
  • Using any form of birth control that is an abortifacient would be illegal
  • Our entire legal code would need to be rewritten to reflect that a fertilized egg is a person
  • A person causing a woman to miscarry would be charged with murder.
  • Parents would be able to claim the fertilized egg as a dependent on their income tax return
  • Fertilized eggs would be eligible for adoption
  • Stem cell research would be curtailed and possibly even banned

(Source: azspot)

propaganda-for-life:

[Image: a poster with the title, “Three times in modern history has the word “person” been redefined.” It then makes long references to 1857 with African American slavery, 1936 with the Nazi Holocaust, and 1973 with Roe vs. Wade. On the very bottom are pictures of an old “Negroes to be Sold” poster, a Swastika, and a sign reading “Keep Abortion Legal”. Made by Illinois Right to Life.]
Lololololol. Not quite, friend. Stop comparing abortion to these actual atrocities. It’s offensive to anyone with a conscience.
Edit: NOW it’s on the right blog. Sent it to the personal at first. I really need to stop doing that…


Pretty sure that fetuses were not RE-defined, simply defined. I’d love to know of a time before ‘73 when there were any laws defining fetuses as persons. 

#3 should say: 2010 In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court overrules Austin and a century of federal legislative precedent to proclaim broad electioneering rights for corporations. (Effectively granting them personhood) Click Here for more.

propaganda-for-life:

[Image: a poster with the title, “Three times in modern history has the word “person” been redefined.” It then makes long references to 1857 with African American slavery, 1936 with the Nazi Holocaust, and 1973 with Roe vs. Wade. On the very bottom are pictures of an old “Negroes to be Sold” poster, a Swastika, and a sign reading “Keep Abortion Legal”. Made by Illinois Right to Life.]

Lololololol. Not quite, friend. Stop comparing abortion to these actual atrocities. It’s offensive to anyone with a conscience.

Edit: NOW it’s on the right blog. Sent it to the personal at first. I really need to stop doing that…

Pretty sure that fetuses were not RE-defined, simply defined. I’d love to know of a time before ‘73 when there were any laws defining fetuses as persons.

#3 should say: 2010 In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court overrules Austin and a century of federal legislative precedent to proclaim broad electioneering rights for corporations. (Effectively granting them personhood) Click Here for more.

an-ominous-atheist:

Here’s fetal development. Abortions do not legally occur, except when the mother’s life is in danger or a defect has been spotted in the fetus that would cause it to die soon after birth anyway, after 12 weeks.

an-ominous-atheist:

Here’s fetal development. Abortions do not legally occur, except when the mother’s life is in danger or a defect has been spotted in the fetus that would cause it to die soon after birth anyway, after 12 weeks.