Celebrate Women’s Day

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So world wide women, as a group, we get a day. As social media types are fond of tweeting, let that sink in. There is so much to say about this global subject that I won’t get started if I try to speak too broadly. But as it’s said in the women’s movement, the personal is political so here goes-

Let me share a sliver of my life. I am a 70-year-old woman. I am officially old, but not elderly since we know that 70 is the new 50! When I look at pictures of my mom at 70, while she was still incredibly vibrant, she definitely appeared older than I do now. A lot of that is due to improved healthcare, more and fresher food choices unless we live in food desserts [I remember my mom’s salads, ice berg lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise] and regular exercise, plus we just dress younger.

When my mom came home from work, she had to take off her girdle and stockings before she could do anything else, which should explain why women did not exercise as much as we do now, it was uncomfortable even to walk to the car.

By the time you have lived to 70, you have experienced a few lifetimes, lifetimes that often seem to be separate worlds, different movies, if such they were. For many of us Baby Boomers, our stories wouldn’t work as a series but as wholly separate genres of film.The main character sometimes even changes her name.

There’s the early boring story of the dutiful daughter, the nerdy student who slowly morphs into the teacher-correcting-smart-ass-to-be, your friend, then the prankster, whose goals in life were wildly disparate and equally unattainable. This skinny, dark-eyed, buck-toothed (yes, I got all the Bugs Bunny jokes) girl who wanted to be either a ballerina or a Quaker preacher, Crusader Rabbit, was what my father called me.

And in every woman’s life, there’s the dark side, not only of expectations to be perfect, kind and obedient but also the butt of jokes, put downs, even abuse about our bodies and its shape. Most of us don’t talk or write much about that but no girl goes unscathed into adolescence. We learn, regardless of culture, that whatever happens to us, whatever nasty words or physical assaults we experience it is our shame and ours alone to bear.

Last fall the revelations about our current despicable president brought it all back to most of us, if truth be told. But it won’t be told –and now he is considered leader of the free world, but whose world, whose freedom? At such times the poet Muriel Rukeyser’s words come back to me unbidden,

” What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.”

So let me drop a few choice anecdotes … my father along with the boys in my 7/8th grade classes made fun of me for being skinny and flat chested. My father made it clear that I wasn’t an acceptable copy (maybe that was lucky) of my voluptuous mom.

I spent my entire adolescence so convinced of my unattractiveness that as a result I broke numerous hearts in my years of galavanting about San Francisco State in micro mini skirts, wondering why men were following me down the street and why male “friends” reacted badly when I blithely ignored their pleadings.

Then later after my revolutionary period and as an activist member of first, the anti-war movement and then the women’s consciousness-raising movement, and finally as a single mom, I found myself myself at the ripe age of 37, hiding in the women’s bathroom because I didn’t know how to discourage an obnoxious suitor on the dance floor.

I told a friend about my epiphany – it occurred to me I was too old to still be hiding in the bathroom from unwanted attention. She made the astounding suggestion that I simply say, “no thank you,” when someone approached me who I didn’t wish to spend time with. Now, I know that doesn’t work in a dark alley much less on the job-how well I know that one [a story for another time!] But it was a revelation to me, me-a single mother of two-that I didn’t have to make myself available because someone demanded it of me, that I could say NO.

I wish I could say that things have changed so much from those days, but when my daughter was just at the beginning of her music exec career, she would call me from the grocery store or the street and ask me why men seemed to feel they could comment on her smile or lack of one as she passed them by.

I remember noticing that by early adolescence my daughter had developed a way of carrying herself, that was a bit haughty, almost princess-like. I commented to a friend once that she seemed to be aloof to the point of arrogance.

My friend, who had known her as a small child in our parent coop nursery school pointed out that as a tiny girl, more petite than most, quite pretty and also, one of the few Black girls in the school, other kids often attempted to take advantage of her but she had learned how to hold her ground. My friend thought, sensibly, that she had learned to carry herself in a way that said, “don’t even think about it.”

But another  International Women’s Day and the stats are still appalling. More women are in poverty than we can even imagine and that means their children experience two things 1) continued generational poverty, 2) that the women who raise them and are their role models are are not valued as human beings no matter how hard they work.

Here in the “free world” our so-called leader, rather than electing the woman who asserted that women’s rights are human rights, we got the guy who said, “you can do anything, grab them by the pussy….and they let you get away with it.”

Now I know there were lots of other reasons that Hillary didn’t win,. but there really is no excuse for any of it. We all hold some of the blame.

One of my friends who marched in Washington in her pussy hat, asked me the other day if I was a little embarrassed by the whole pussy hat phenomenon. We were raised in a time when that word was not used by women. Since then it’s usage has exploded but it is used as a term of disparagement-of weakness, the lack of manly strength to stand up for what you believe in, an inability to fight back. So maybe it’s a good thing that we have taken it back as a symbol of strength, persistence and even resistance.

What real, principled strength is, a toughness that doesn’t lash out at the vulnerable, these are qualities that are difficult to put into logos. They are complex and thoughtful but I have seen them codified more often lately as in the principles of Bay Resistance:

Lead with Love, Power Across Difference, Transformative Justice and Collective Action….

As part of of our spirit of resistance in this transformative time, let me hold up some of the young women leaders among us. These women are able to bridge some of the many divides we women have found ourselves in– Alicia Garza, Zahra Billoo, Jennifer Tran and so many more.

By our one day of recognition next year, there will be more, some of them will be running for office, some organizing campaigns and still others leading a movement that will exist outside of electoral politics. I can’t wait, really, we can’t.

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California Must Resist #notaxationwithoutrepresentation

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[Drawing above–Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/how-charles-dickens-saw-london-13198155/#qjkp6Y867GhOyeU1.99%5D

As of this morning and my first check into Twitter, Trump had done so much damage on so many fronts, it took my breath away, so here pre-coffee, I sit down to write.

I have been thinking of a modest proposal to shut this whole thing down. I love that you’re calling your senators and representatives in Congress. My Rep Barbara Lee is hard at work and my new Senator is tweeting about fighting back. But their modest or, robust a la Barbara Lee, efforts are meager compared to how fast and furious the damage is coming.

Let’s recap briefly: the new FCC chair will probably roll back Net Neutrality which could mean, for instance, that I’d have to pay to post this blog on the internet so that it could continue to blast as far as you all can forward it.

GAG Rule on Family Planning-He already prevented any organization that even mentions (not provides) abortions from receiving federal funding, that includes those who test for HIV or combating the Zika virus and, of course, birth control. He did this worldwide so not only will women die all over the planet but many will be denied care here also. This a broader directive than any former reactionary administration of either party has ever attempted.

The first directive that Trump signed may end the mandate that keeps Obamacare afloat and cause a cascading collapse of it and all the other healthcare initiatives it supports which are too many to go into here. But you can find them on Facebook.

220px-the_writings_of_charles_dickens_v4_p12_engraving_cleanedThe new regime working with the Paul Ryan Congress may seriously try to transform Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (if you don’t care about poor people, then do you want your grandma’s nursing home option removed?) into programs similar to those Dickens referred to in your favorite Christmas story, “Are there no poorhouses, are there no prisons.” BTW, private prisons are still big money makers and will be expanded. 0b770554576ec15fcef4402967ba948e

Also on his first day, he declared war on protestors, particularly Black protestors, and anyone associated with Black Lives Matter or #BLM–and for krissakes learn how to tweet, blog and get on instagram, snapchat, whatever is out there, facebook is just us talking to ourselves. No laws need to be changed to declare open season on Black and Brown men and women in a police state where the police have always been granted and now, encouraged to assume judge and jury status.

They are already working on increasing voter suppression so unless we do something now, that wistful worry about four year term could easily become a very long and destructive eight. 

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/trump-justice-department-moves-to-delay-texas-voting-rights-case-859610691557

Trump is proposing further destabilizing the Middle East by uprooting any peace talks in Israel/Palestine with a simple yet effective provocation-move the US embassy to Jerusalem http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-jerusalem-idUSKBN1532HW

He’s provoking war with China, and pledging to reduce all regulations–all regulations– by 75% whether that is regulating the banks which crashed the economy in 2008 or quietly ending the investigation into the Flint poisoned water crisis, still ongoing.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/house-gop-quietly-closes-flint-mich-water-investigation/

Oh yeah, he is writing directives to reinstate the Keystone Pipeline AND the Dakota Access Pipeline in which he has investments plus upping the production of coal, oh enough, you say, but it’s never enough for these plunderers….

Ok, but we live in California. We are currently considered the 6th largest economy in the world with Texas following us as the 10th largest economy-hmm, not a useful stat since it is run by folks who would reinstitute slavery the moment Jeff Sessions gave them the go-ahead. http://www.newsweek.com/economic-output-if-states-were-countries-california-would-be-france-467614,    

But if you take the great Northeast, from Boston through Washington, you’d reside in an area that is the world’s 4th largest economy. See http://www.citylab.com/work/2014/03/dozen-regional-powerhouses-driving-us-economy/8575/

If any of the those corridor states joined us, say New York, our state leaders might get the chutzpah given the devastation to our economy and climate that we are facing, to deny or at least delay forwarding its residents’ tax payments to this corrupt puppet government. Can it be done, lets’ try it, the worst that could happen would be a federal suit that could delay implementation of the regime’s plans.

Yeah, I love that legal scholars are going after Trump’s many violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause and others are investigating his ties to Russia, possibly involving treason but without Trump, there would still be the Ryan Congress. Yes, please challenge some of those members in the coming midterms so we could get a couple more votes, but NOW is the time for us to protect our folks and use the economic power of our state, a state which did not vote for Trump.

Anything that California does that restricts the flow of dollars and acquiescence to its new rules-they will probably go after our waivers which, put simply, allow us to pass stronger environmental regulations in our state like on auto emissions-has the potential to throw a monkey wrench into the regime’s ability to govern the other states with an orange fist.

So call your Assembly person, your State Senator (yeah, we have them, do you know who yours is? http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/ ). Then Call Betty Yee’s office, our state Controller http://www.sco.ca.gov/eo_about_bio.html , she’s great by the way, very progressive. Then also call State Treasurer John Chiang’s office, http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/ and ask them how we can resist #taxationwithoutrepresentation. Given the rules of the Electoral College, our votes were virtually ignored.

And since you will no longer bump into Jerry Brown running the Lake or working out at the gym in City Center-he moved last year-you can contact his office, https://www.gov.ca.gov/home.php

20170121_122129-1He has been talking about leading the fight against Trump’s depredations, so let’s challenge him to do it. Part of the overall strategy is to declare our entire state a sanctuary  (https://draketalkoakland.com/2016/11/23/join-the-call-on-november-29th-make-california-a-sanctuary-state/ ) but the implementation has to have some teeth, some financial back-up against the punishments to meted out by the Trumpster’s cabinet.

Yes, that’s it, the New Tea Party of the Left, and unapologetically so. No time to waste, every single day we wait we lose another day of health, another right, another economic protection, and another species on the planet. Is this a radical proposal? I sure as hell hope so! You got another one? Put it out there. If you don’t want to start your own blog, be a guest on mine, love to have you.

Thanks for all you do already, now let’s do some more,  2016-11-14-11-37-46

Your friend in Oakland,

Pamela Drake

 

 

 

Mourning in America-Resist & Revolt

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Here in Northern California, we woke up at 4 am to thunder and lightning and remembered that it was January 20th and the Obama family was packed and ready to leave. We felt like children waking from a nightmare whose parents came into the room to comfort you, then said, “we have to leave but the monster under the bed will take care of you now.”

We took to facebook in shared horror and received some small measure of consolation. But we went back to sleep so that we would wake up ready to use the coming chaos as a time to reshape the nightmare into an experience of solidarity against the oncoming backlash.

Of course, Barack and Michelle were never our parents and could not protect us against the ugliest of America’s pathologies-the pathologies of racism, xenophobia, and misogyny-on the rise in many countries as I write this-in ways comparable to the 1930s. This movement towards hatred, repression and ethnic cleansing is part of our history-we are not exceptional in this.

Some of us remember the Reagan years, not as a time of renewal, but a time in which it was very difficult to raise a family without wealth and privilege. As a single mom of biracial kids with chronic illnesses, there were very few places to go for help or even succor. We can’t let that happen to our families during this time of looming disaster.

For instance, in California we have begun a movement toward declaring a sanctuary state. Our cities cannot stand alone against this kind of lawless regime which has already declared them as enemies. The sanctuary we seek must include all who are threatened by these thugs and their billionaire accomplices.

We have already declared:

“In the face of deportations, harassment, and growing threats of violence, the immigrant, Muslim, Latino and other targeted communities, including all People of Color, LGBTQ, women and people with disabilities are experiencing levels of stress and fear not seen since the days of Jim Crow. We the undersigned believe the first, best response would be to create a statewide sanctuary.” We are heartened that individuals and organizations have rushed to sign onto this statement.

So many of us are now living in fear that it’s important to honor all their concerns as we work in concert or on parallel tracks to protect and uplift what is known as the beloved community.

Who will be under threat first, undocumented immigrants, members of the Black Lives Matter movement and People of Color in general, DACA kids, women who seek to control their own bodies, anyone in the LGBTQ community, people with pre-existing conditions, seniors, journalists and dissenters? Folks, they’re coming for all of us at once. They have the money and power to try and overwhelm our people’s movement.

This is no time for division. The time to fight the last battle is over, Bernie vs Hillary, whose slate is more righteous! We need to look as Obama has tried to show us, at the good intentions in each other, and work with that. 000ywc_wordle

That doesn’t mean we will ignore Democratic Party pandering to campaign donors or insist on lockstep responses. We demand a high standard because we need a demonstration of strength in principles now more than ever.

Back to California-do you know that we give more to the Federal government than we receive in benefits? This is also true for 13 other states-see http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/which-states-are-givers-and-which-are-takers/361668/.

There must be a way to stop or at least slow the flow of our tax dollars to a government which will use them to punish us-taking our healthcare, our environmental protections, our rights to family planning, and imprisoning or deporting our newest, most enthusiastic Americans. So let’s think in creative, even grandiose ways and attack the regime where it depends on our compliance the most.

This is truly taxation without representation as our huge population did not vote for any of this-indeed almost no one voted for the devastation of services that we all pay for. If we resist successfully and even one other economic powerhouse state also resists, we can throw a monkey wrench into the federal machine which is even now lining up against us.

Probably no one said it better than our own Mario Savio. Heed his words-resistance, rebellion and the fight for a more perfect union start today. Throw off your despair, harness your anger, and remember:

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.”

Contact your legislators, make friends with the electeds with whom you so recently fought, forget sectarianism, find common ground. Your life may depend upon it. I know mine does.

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Media Advisory: Oakland Community Issues Call for a Sanctuary State

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Press Advisory

Oakland Community Makes Push for Sanctuary State

Oakland, CA: The Oakland City Council will consider a resolution expressing its recommitment as a sanctuary city at its meeting on Tuesday, November 29th. In the face of deportations, harassment, and growing threats of violence, the immigrant, Muslim, Latino and other targeted communities, including all People of Color, LGBTQ, women and people with disabilities are experiencing levels of stress and fear not seen since the 1930’s. We the undersigned believe the first, best response would be to create a statewide sanctuary.

We must believe President-Elect Trump when he says he will immediately take action against the Dreamers-members of the DACA Executive Order- their parents and any undocumented persons plus consider ethnically based registries, etc., at the same time, cities like Oakland can ill afford the loss of any federal funds or other sanctions.

Because of California’s large population and strong economy, a statewide declaration of sanctuary would have a much better likelihood of preventing the threatened cuts and protecting Oaklanders and all California residents. We are asking that the Oakland City Council commit to requesting that its representatives work toward such a declaration.

Oscar Chacon, Executive Director, Alainza de las Americas noted, “Thousands, even millions of people in California are threatened with deportation, registry, harassment and violent acts because of the words and deeds of the president-elect. California must take steps to protect them immediately.”

A partial list of organizations and individual sponsors can be found here https://draketalkoakland.com/2016/11/23/join-the-call-on-november-29th-make-california-a-sanctuary-state/ who have called a rally and candlelight vigil at 5 pm tomorrow evening prior to the City Council meeting to demand action from Oakland and Sacramento. Speakers will represent a broad swath of our communities.

Contact: Pamela Drake-510-593-3721 or pamelaadrake@gmail.com or info@BBBON.net or check in with Jose Dorado, 510-326-4810 at the rally.

 

A Letter from the Democratic Party.. I want to receive

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We need to hear swiftly, definitively and defiantly from our leaders in the disloyal opposition before we let the winner of the Electoral College debacle into the White House. This is what I’m asking them to say, but first they must account for their many failures.

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We recognize that many are suffering in this country and around the world, especially since the economic crash brought on by Republican politics and the wars in the Middle East, terrorism and fears of it also brought on by NeoCon policies during the Bush years.

We accept full responsibility for acquiescing to those policies sometimes with our votes and often with our silence while knowing full well that the devastation wreaked in faraway places would drain our people of needed resources while enraging the residents of those far places.

We admit that no American banker or oligarch was jailed while families lost their homes, their pensions and their hopes for the future. Even as that continues to happen, the bodies of small children wash ashore in the Mediterranean as a result of those disastrous votes and the funds to back them. We never told the American people the truth about how that happened nor of our responsibility in it. We must start now!

The same can be said of  Central American families seeking refuge from murderous regimes while we jail and deport families back to lands they may not know or to violent cities and countrysides from which they fled.

We have been complicit in putting our population under surveillance and lying about it while hunting down those who would expose the rumors as truth-giving rise to far fetched conspiracy theories and the complete loss of trust in our democracy.

There is more in which we have been complicit, privatizing our schools, denigrating our union movement, and ignoring the unfathomable fear that has replaced the American dream. We even told our citizens that education was a necessity while making a profit off of those who have worked so hard to achieve it, along the way, indebting an entire generation out of their birthright.

We spent decades building prisons lest Black Americans attempted to seek their long-ago-earned part of the American Dream-whose only compensation for their hard work has been more restrictions including death for shopping, driving, working, walking, breathing. Many of us never stood up for our first Black president when he sought solutions for all working Americans while taking on all of the old festering problems of a dying republic.

Now that the pathway to facism, destruction of the planet, and targeting of whole swathes of our population has been made manifest, we declare:  2016-11-14-11-51-29

To prevent the acceptance of any court nominee (Supreme or lower) who does not uphold individual rights, voting rights, rights of women and people of any gender to control their bodies, the rights of workers and consumers, and the most basic right-that of the planet to continue to make human habitation possible. We further assert that the 4th Amendment to the Constitution be reinstated-the right to be safe in our persons being the most basic and necessary to survival.

To prevent cuts in funding to any marginalized group (as defined by Dave Chappell) including our elders, our children, our students, and those who have long lived without the protections and benefits others have taken for granted.

To prevent violations of our communal property-parks, schools, housing, and health, including ending fracking, mining public lands and other acts of destruction in order to provide cheap energy and subsidizing communal needs.

To reassess the need for and usefulness of the FBI, NSA, and especially the CIA while eliminating funding for military hardware, including in our cities and for our local law-enforcement agencies. 20161113_153003

To maintain and spread the prohibition against private prisons, indeterminate sentencing, jailing people who cannot pay fines (debtors’ prisons,) cruel and unusual punishment-oh hell-just really read the Bill of Rights and stop trying to limit them-with one addendum that they not be limited to men, or white folks or straight folks or restricted for those with disabilities/differences or those born in other places than these 52 states (which must include Puerto Rico and DC.)

To stop the border wall and close border detention/concentration camps, registration of immigrants or religious groups.

To demand a basic income for all Americans including healthcare, childcare and higher education. We vow to educate Americans to the true cost of privatizing all these needs and the ways in which we can all contribute to the betterment of our country through fair taxation.

To rebuilding our decaying infrastructure and restarting our leadership in innovation including making internet and information access available at low or no cost to our country’s families, families not defined by one type-by training and hiring those at the bottom of the pay scale first.

We refuse just to fight against reaction and nihilism but to demand a better life for all of us, including those in other corners of the globe. We will fight to be the beacon-we-always-pretended-we-were and not-in-some-1950’s-fantasy but as our best angels might envision us.

This is a long expensive list, it’s true but if we really want to be great as never before, we have to tackle a future where everyone can live, thrive, and have the opportunity to pursue even a modicum of happiness.

Signed,

The Democratic Party of the United States of America

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Women and Respectability Politics

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Many of us have seen the videos of Planned Parenthood managers talking about selling fetuses for stem cell research (they don’t actually sell them.) The folks who engineered these videos have apparently spliced and diced and concocted an art form out of taking recorded words out of context.

Still, there is unease when we actually realize what is happening, that fetuses are being used to study how humans are made and how they can be repaired, that is, how they can be healed. And I get that but we have to be willing to think this through.

Since we decided a number of years ago that stem cell research was useful and therefore acceptable-even Republican Ben Carson admits to being involved in that kind of research-then why is it shocking to learn how those cells are procured?

Well, that’s one question, one that the Right Wing knows that most of us are ignorant about, and that might lead us to reconsider the original question-women’s right to choose or not choose childbirth at certain times and circumstances of their lives.

I recently saw Wendy Davis, she of women’s-right-to-choose fame, defend Planned Parenthood on the basis that 97% of its work is in women’s reproductive health and, indeed, women’s health in general, like screenings for various diseases. So it’s true that no federal money goes to abortion and that in some states without the ACA, women must use these clinics as their primary providers. Most people would agree they need to have some kind of health care.

As an older woman who had an abortion shortly after they became legal in California and most of whose friends have had legal and/or illegal abortions, as a woman who is the mother of two, one of whom is female, I wanna say, stop with the nuances and justifications.

Just stop. Every time you appease these misogynists (and some are women,) you move us a step backward in our demands for rights as persons. But then, we no longer make demands, we’re back to pleading for consideration of a woman’s right to life. All of the Republican candidates now feel obliged to say that they would rather see a woman die than risk the loss of a fetus! When they’re not making rape a victimless crime, they’re criminalizing us when we become mothers and can’t afford childcare or demeaning us when we don’t want to home school our kids.

Of course, it does make sense to state that when all types of birth control are made completely available to women of any age and income level, the demand for abortions goes down-that is proven. Unfortunately, many states have made it more difficult to even obtain any kind of birth control much less the medical, non-surgical forms of abortion. To these zealots an egg, is more human and needs more rights and protections than the woman who may have to nurture it. Of course, if it turns out to be female, the value of that life decreases after it arrives on earth much like a new car after it is driven off the lot.

So all I’m saying is, I don’t really want to hear all the logical arguments, because they are based on us trying to prove to the men who rule us that we’re good people that we have the “right” intentions, that we’re good moms and sisters, aunts and grandmothers. Everyone knows women who have had abortions, everyone. Most of us would prefer not to though, in fact 60% of women seeking abortions are already parents, but geez, now I’m doing it too.

As Ben Carson put it, “There is no war on women — there may be a war on what’s inside of women.” Apparently I need to remind the good doctor and everybody else that what’s inside me is mine and I don’t need your approval  to decide what is best for me, my outsides and my insides.

And here’s another one, I hate that mantra, “it’s between her and her doctor,” no , sorry, my doctor doesn’t get to decide, even with the laughable notion of the old family doctor who knows us so well-the implication being that it is a wise old man-no again, not his decision-it’s mine and maybe my partner’s if I so choose.

You guys or ladies, women, at Planned Parenthood may have consulted some PR people, the wrong ones, I suspect, who told you that it is unseemly to talk about aborted fetuses and how they serve born people. If some of you find my choices disreputable or not respectable enough, I’m okay with that, because I’m in charge of my decisions.

I submit that if we occasionally don’t give birth because we have made that decision, it should be okay to use those cells to benefit humankind without apologies. Similarly, I don’t ask you to beg that I retain some small say over how I protect my body’s integrity, my integrity as a human being. I earned that right when I was born.