Smart people saying smart things (5.7.22)

Smart people saying smart things (5.7.22) May 6, 2022

Eliel Cruz, “Conservatives are sexualizing kids and robbing LGBTQ youth of role models”

It is a scary, isolating experience not to have a vision of what your life can be when you grow up. I want LGBTQ youth to have space to see themselves as they are without fear of rejection or retaliation. I want them to grow up and live happy, full lives and I want them to see LGBTQ adults who are alive, loved and thriving despite a world that isn’t always accepting.

I don’t want to see another Leelah Alcorn, or 12-year old Eli Fritchley, who died by suicide after being bullied and told he’d go to hell. Or 15-year-old Nigel Shelby, who died by suicide after he was shunned by classmates and in a school district that did not adequately protect him.

Anna Sieges, “We don’t talk about periods, no no”

Evangelicals and our larger American culture both have a fear of and an infatuation with women’s bodies. Many of the negative reviews of the film coming from Christian circles revolved around how the subject matter was not fit for younger audiences. Among several reviewers, there was a tendency to make an immediate jump from periods to sex, sometimes in outlandish ways.

This squeamishness over women’s bodies doing what they do is not new and not relegated strictly to evangelicals. Consider, for example, Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel to space in 1983. In the time leading up to her trip, the engineers asked her if 100 tampons would be the right amount for a six-day trip. And women everywhere cackle. Should NASA engineers know enough about menstruation to discern that 100 tampons is overkill? It would be nice.

Sarah Jones, “The Pseudoscience That Could Kill Women”

Here is a scientific fact: Ectopic pregnancies are not viable. They occur when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, which dooms the pregnancy and, without treatment, can doom a woman, too. Ectopic pregnancies can lead to hemorrhage and are the leading cause of death for women in the first trimester of pregnancy. Here’s another fact: There is one way to save a woman from an ectopic pregnancy, and that is through termination — an abortion.

Cecilia Nowell, “The Long, Scary History of Doctors Reporting Pregnant People to the Cops”

Cases in which women are reported by medical staff for allegedly using legal or illegal substances while pregnant are common—whether they cause a miscarriage or not. Just this fall, a woman in Oklahoma (which has since passed a near-total ban on abortion) was sentenced to four years in prison for having a miscarriage. Prosecutors argued that the 20-year-old’s methamphetamine use was the cause, though a medical examiner testified there were fetal abnormalities that were likely to blame. In 2017, a 29-year-old California woman with a history of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia was 37 weeks pregnant when she started cramping. She went to her local hospital, where she had a stillbirth. Doctors reported her to local police and child services for using drugs—she was jailed two days later and is still fighting her case. In 2019, an Arizona hospital social worker reported Lindsay Ridgell to the Department of Child Services—who was also Ridgell’s employer—for using medical marijuana to treat her hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy. Her name was added to Arizona’s central child abuse registry and only removed last month when an appeals court ruled in her favor. And in 2020, Kim Blalock was charged with a felony after she told doctors at the hospital where she delivered that she’d taken her hydrocodone prescription in the final months of her pregnancy (prosecutors dismissed the charges against her earlier this year).

Dahlia Lithwick, “The Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Is Already Lost”

If this draft opinion becomes precedent of the court, the results will be catastrophic for women, particularly for women in the states that will immediately make abortion unlawful, and in those places, particularly for young women, poor women, and Black and brown women who will not have the time, resources, or ability to travel out of state. The court’s staggering lack of regard for its own legitimacy is exceeded only by its vicious disregard for the real consequences for real pregnant people who are 14 times more likely to die in childbirth than from terminating a pregnancy. The Mississippi law—the law this opinion is upholding—has no exception for rape or incest. We will immediately see a raft of bans that give rights to fathers, including sexual assailants, and punish with evermore cruelty and violence women who miscarry or do harm to their fetuses. The days of pretending that women’s health and safety were of paramount concern are over.

Doug Muder, “How did Christianity become so toxic?”

If you devote much of your time to trying to make the world a better place, you’ve probably noticed a paradox.

On the one hand, some of your most dedicated co-workers are church people. You may not have realized it right away, because they’re not the kind of Christians who say “Praise the Lord” whenever something good happens. Rather than preach at you or try to lead the group in prayer, they just show up and share the work: ladle the soup, stuff the envelopes, hammer the nails, make the phone calls. Only after you spend some down time talking do you start to understand what motivates them: They think some guy named Jesus had some pretty good ideas about healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and welcoming the stranger.

But at the same time, when you look at the bigger picture, it’s hard to escape the idea that Christianity is your enemy. The loudest, best-funded, and best-organized groups working to make the world harsher, crueler, and less forgiving are the ones waving the cross. There’s nothing subtle about it. All their rhetoric is about what God wants, what God hates, and the “Christian values” that the law should impose on Christians and non-Christians alike.

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