Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Religion”

The Most Dangerous Place To Give Birth

By Gaetana Drake

Here in the United States we have the highest infant/maternal mortality rate of any industrialized country.  But listen to the stories of two women who live in Gabu, Guinea-Bissau, located in Africa.

Gabu is considered the most dangerous place in the world for a woman to give birth.  A woman here has a 1 in 19 chance of dying as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a 1 in 2,100 chance in the U.S.

Most births still take place in villages, and if something goes wrong the woman can be hours away from medical help.  Cell phones (if someone in the village has one) work sporadically, travel by boat depends on the tides and automobiles are rare and expensive.  A journey of just a few miles can take hours.

When a woman arrives at a hospital or clinic, she is not treated until her family pays up front for any necessary medication.  The clinics do not have pharmacies and a family member will be told what medication the woman needs and be sent to purchase it before treatment can begin.

Generators are used only for storage.  Mid-wives work by flashlight or candlelight.  There is no power for refrigeration to store blood donations or to run incubators for premature babies.

Cultural practices make it even more difficult for women.  It is common for girls to marry as young as 13.  Unicef estimates that 7% of girls under the age of 15 are already married and mothers.  Most of the women of the region have undergone female mutilation.

Aissato Sanha is spending the last few weeks of her high risk pregnancy in a bed near the surgery room.  Her room is filled with women in labor.  She tells the nurse she is 18, but the nurse believes she is probably 15.  Her water breaks early in the morning and she goes into labor.  By the next day her baby is no closer to being born and the hospital director determines that she needs a Cesarean section for her and the baby to survive.  But first her mother must go to the pharmacy to buy the necessary medications.  When Aissato’s son is finally born he is missing part of a leg and his fingers are webbed.  One eye socket is completely obscured by a cleft palate and his head is abnormally large.  The massive deformaties were not discovered during the pregnancy because ultrasounds are not part of pre-natal care in this region.  The baby will go home with the family, but in many cases, severely deformed babies are neglected and die.

Fatumata Djau stayed home to give birth to her fourth child.  The placenta does not deliver normally and hours later she is at a maternity ward, losing a lot of blood.  Her brother is sent to buy medicine to stop the bleeding, but comes back with the wrong one.  He goes off to the pharmacy again, while his sister continues to hemorrhage.  Fatumata goes into convulsions and cardiac arrest.  CPR fails.  She leaves behind 4 daughters and a 75 year old husband.

Outreach teams operated by Catholic Relief Services have helped cut the mortality rate in the past two decades by going into remote villages and determining which women have high risk pregnancies and providing training for mid-wives.  However, the one thing they won’t do is provide birth control education.  Women in remote villages don’t know there is such a thing as birth control.  They grow up knowing they will probably have many more children than they can care for and will more than likely die in childbirth.  Remember, young girls are given to older men in arranged marriages.  They do not have legal, political or financial power.  They are subjugated to men.

For some reason many people equate “population control” or even birth control with “extermination”.  The world is over-populated.  Thousands of people die every day from starvation and lack of clean drinking water.  Is it humane to allow this to continue?  Isn’t it more humane to help women control their reproductive lives so they don’t die?  So they don’t have to watch their children die?

We should all support the effort to bring birth control to third world countries.  Lives depend on it. 




What Has Happened to Christianity In America?

By EOM Staff

We all know that this country was founded on freedom of religion.  That means we are all free to practice any religion we choose, or no religion at all.  There is no religious test for running for the office of President of the United States.  But for some time, religion has been working it’s way into our political process.  I believe that’s bad for all of us.

A pastor in North Carolina, Charles Worley, told his congregation that he has a solution for the problem of gays and lesbians.  His solution?   “Build two large pens, electrify the fences, separate the gays from the lesbians and drop food to them.  Because they can’t escape and can’t reproduce, they will eventually die off.”   Really?  Put them in pens?  Remind you of anything?  Auschwitz, perhaps?

Another pastor, Tim Rabon has said that the next step for the states that allow gay marriage might be re-defining marriage “to be between a man and a beast”.  He actually believes we’re not far from that.

Sean Harris is a pastor in Fayetteville.  He has encouraged his congregation to become physically abusive to their children if they exhibit signs of being gay.  We all remember Michele and Marcus Bachmann’s “pray away the gay” theory, I guess Pastor Harris believes you can beat away the gay.

Ron Baity says that homosexuality is a perverted lifestyle.  He told his congregation that “lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgender people should be prosecuted.”  Should we send Americans to prison for being gay? Sounds like Nazi Germany again, doesn’t it?

I have known gay people in my life.  They have all been kind, considerate and caring people.    I think if we each look into our extended families, among our aunts and uncles, cousins and so on, we will find a family member who is gay.  Would you want your cousin put in an electrified pen?  Do you think your aunt will someday want to marry a farm animal?  Do you think your uncle and his significant other should go to prison?

From a historical perspective, blacks and women have had to fight hard for the rights that were freely given to white men.  All gay people want is to be treated like the rest of us.  They are fighting for their rights now.  I believe we should fight alongside them.  They are our brothers and sisters.

As far as the pastors mentioned above…they aren’t true Christians.  No true Christian would be so full of hate.


By EOM Staff

Chris Wallace, of Fox News, questioned Rick Santorum on Sunday about his position on birth control, his charitable giving and his comment that President Obama is a “snob” for encouraging young people to go to college.  Apparently, Mr. Santorum has forgotten that he went to college and I’m sure his children have or will.

When questioned about his beliefs on birth control, he tried to steer the discussion away from contraception and toward the issue of religious liberty.  Remember, President Obama has already allowed religious institutions to have an exemption to providing birth control coverage in their insurance plans. This is no longer a religious freedom issue, this is a women’s rights and women’s health issue.  Mr. Santorum believes birth control is harmful to woman.  He ignores the fact that 99% of sexually active women use birth control at some point in their lives.  He is certainly free to have his beliefs which are based upon his religion, but he is certainly NOT free to force the effect of those beliefs onto all American women.

President Obama and Mitt Romney both gave 14% of their 2010 earnings to charity.  Mr. Santorum gave 1.76% of his earnings to charity.  When questioned about his low charitable contributions, he contributed it to the expense of caring for a disabled child.  He explained that providing care for her is very expensive and his insurance doesn’t cover it.  His daughter Bella is very fortunate that her parents can provide the best possible care for her, however, Mr. Santorum fails to understand that there are very few families who could provide for a disabled child as well as he can.  For most families, the cost of caring for such a child would result in limited educational opportunities for other children in the family and reduced funds available for basic needs such as food and clothing.  For most of us, this financial burden would drive our families into abject poverty.  How do you care for a disabled child when your water, electricity and gas have been turned off because you couldn’t pay the bill?  Very few women have an abortion without given serious thought to the consequences for themselves and their families.  For many families, terminating a pregnancy involving a disabled fetus may be the only realistic option.  But remember, Mr. Santorum is against pre-natal testing because he feels it leads to abortions involving abnormal fetuses.  Again, he forgets that we can’t all care for a disabled child like he can.  And, Mr. Santorum has said that birth control shouldn’t be allowed.  So he would condemn many, many families to poverty to pay for disabled children, when the pregnancy could have been not just terminated, but prevented.  Very few women terminate a pregnancy without giving serious thought to the consequences for themselves and their families.  This is a decision best left to the mother, the father and her doctor.  Not to Rick Santorum or our government.

Chris Wallace also asked Mr. Santorum about his recent comment calling President Obama a snob for saying that “everybody in American should go to college.”  Mr. Santorum had to acknowledge that he “might have made a mistake” when Chris Wallace pointed out that what President Obama actually said was to encourage “all Americans to have at least one year of higher education or some kind of vocational training or apprenticeship”.

Part of Mr. Santorum’s problem with higher education seems to be his belief that people who start college with a strong faith seem to come out of it with a lesser faith.  But then, he seems to equate true faith with regular church attendance.  I believe you can have a strong faith and never step inside a church.  The church is just a building.  Your faith is shown in how you live your daily life.  And frankly, some of the comments I’ve seen on blog sites by people who claim to be Christians and have a strong faith, are the most hateful things you can imagine.

But, Mr. Santorum, the bottom line is that we are all free to follow any faith we choose, or no faith at all.  But you are trying to force your faith and your religious beliefs into our government.  Remember when John Kennedy was running for President, people were afraid that if he won, the Vatican would control our government.  And that’s exactly what would happen if Mr. Santorum were president.  It would not matter what faith individual Americans have or if they have no faith.  We would all have to live by the rules of the Catholic Church.  How un-American is that?

Who Should Testify About Birth Control? Apparently Not Women!

By EOM Staff

Funny how birth control has become such a hot political issue lately.  We’ve had the pill for almost 60 years now.  Abortions have always existed, legal or not.  I just can’t help but think that if birth control were the responsibility of men we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

Now there is a five-member panel to hear testimony about birth control.  The five members are all male.  Not one woman to hear testimony about the need for birth control!  On top of that, these five men are deciding who is an “appropriate witness to give testimony” to them.  They are excluding women from telling their personal stories about the need for birth control.  On The Ed Show last night, there was a young college student who had been scheduled to give testimony to the contraception panel.  At the last minute, these men decided she was not an appropriate witness to give testimony.  So she went on the Ed Show and told the story of her friend, also a college student, who took birth control pills to prevent cysts from growing on her ovaries.  The pills cost her $100 a month.  Month after month after month.  The expense finally became too great to bear, as she was working her way through college and had tuition, room and board and books to pay for.  She stopped getting her pills.  A cyst grew in her ovary, ruptured and landed her in the hospital.  Now the ovary has been removed, but her medical condition has caused her to go into early menopause.  For some unfathomable reason, the male panel did not feel this was appropriate testimony!

Additionally, there is now one more reason to call Mitt Romney “Flipper”.  Prior to becoming governor of Massachusetts, his predecessor signed into law a mandate that insurance companies in Massachusetts provide birth control coverage.  Once Mr. Romney took office, he never attempted to repeal this law.  His only clash with lawmakers in Massachusetts was whether Catholic hospitals should be required to dispense emergency contraception to rape victims.

Now that he is running for President, he would actually like to ban hormonal birth control methods.  That would include IUDs and birth control pills.  He is up in arms over President Obama’s proposal that insurances companies provide birth control coverage, even though Obama’s proposal exempts churches.

Yes, many of the GOP contenders state that women can get their birth control from clinics instead of through their insurance.  But these same men would like to eliminate funding for places such as Planned Parenthood.  If that happens, where would women get their birth control?  The pill runs between $60 – $100 a month, IUD’s cost about $1800.  How could college students or low income women afford this?

The most appalling thing of all was the interview given by one of Rick Santorum’s biggest financial contributors last night.  He said, and I quote, “back in my day birth control was inexpensive and easy to use – the gals just held an aspirin between their knees!”  Obviously this man has no consideration for the plight of women of child-bearing age, gives no consideration to the pressure men put on women to have sex, and sees contraception as just a woman’s issue (the gals), even though we are about to lose the right to said contraception!  This man belongs back in the 1800s, not in 2012!

If women don’t get out in force in November, we will lose the right to birth control and the right to safe and legal abortions.  What will be next?  The right to own property, vote, hold down a job, have credit in our own name, serve on a jury, run for public office?  These are rights that women have won over the last 150 years.  All of these things were once illegal for women.  We can’t let that happen again.

Come on women – register to vote and get out in November!  Don’t let men control our lives once again!

Should Your Boss Control Your Access To Medical Care?

In a radical response to President Obama’s desire to make birth control readily available to any woman who wants it, Republican Senator Roy Blunt has proposed letting any employer deny coverage for any health care treatment to which they claim a religious or moral objection.  Not just a well-documented religious objection, such as birth control for Catholic women, but a MORAL objection.  This means your boss could impose his morals on your access to health care.

Your employer could choose to deny coverage for contraception, HIV treatment, vaccination, substance-abuse/alcohol counseling, blood transfusions, prenatal care for unmarried woman, or even mental illness.  Is this the answer to our problems?  Let our bosses decide what medical treatment we should have access to?

The Personhood Proposition

By Eye on Modesto Staff

The voters of Mississippi have just voted down Proposition 26.  Proposition 26 declared “personhood” at the moment of fertilization.  The implications of this were far-reaching.

 Fertilization is when the sperm joins the egg. Conception is considered to be the moment the fertilized egg implants itself into the lining of the uterus.  This might not happen for up to a week after the egg is fertilized.  The concept of declaring personhood from the moment of fertilization would render IUD’s and most birth control pills illegal, as neither method prevents fertilization, but rather prevents the fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus. 

Conceivably, a doctor who prescribes birth control pills or a woman who takes them could be charged with a crime.  Another aspect of Proposition 26 is the treatment of ectopic pregnancies, which happen when the fertilized egg starts to develop in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.  Such pregnancies must be aborted or the fallopian tube will rupture and may cause the death of the mother.  Prop 26 would prevent doctors from performing abortions on these women, condemning a number of them to death.  Prop 26 also banned abortions in the case of incest, rape or even to save the life of the mother. Some women develop medical conditions during pregnancy (extremely high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes) that may result in their death if the fetus is not aborted, but this law would tell those women that they must die.

 Doctors would not want to provide in vitro services as they could be charged with murder if they disposed of unused fertilized eggs, even though medicine defines pregnancy as the implantation of a fertilized egg, not the fertilization of the egg.  If Prop 26 passed, those fertilized eggs in a petri dish would be considered “people”.  A woman who suffered a miscarriage may have had to prove to law enforcement officials that she had done nothing to bring on the miscarriage.  This could certainly discourage women from receiving medical treatment at the first sign of a miscarriage.  Some people have concerns that a woman could be charged with a crime if she engages in activities where she might be injured and that injury could result in a miscarriage.  This could conceivably happen even if it was early in the pregnancy and the woman wasn’t aware that she was pregnant.

Some of the supporters of Prop 26 are Personhood Mississippi, Catholic Social and Community Services, Personhood USA, The American Life League and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.  They are basing their support on their religious beliefs.  While they are certainly free to adhere to their religious beliefs, what they have attempted to do is to force every woman of child-bearing age inMississippito adhere to religious beliefs that they may not agree with.   Even some groups that are very pro-life have taken a step back from this proposition due to the extreme and possibly unforeseen consequences that would come about if it were to pass. 

Mississippi has only one abortion provider in the entire state, and already forces a woman to wait 24 hours after a doctor’s appointment and mandatory “counseling” before they can have an abortion, which causes increased financial hardship on low-income women.  They not only have to travel a good distance, they need a night in a hotel to meet the 24 hour waiting requirement. Mississippiis a very poor state, and has a poor record of helping its low-income families.  Proposition 26 would just make those low-income families even poorer, by removing most forms of birth control and subjecting those women to multiple pregnancies.

PersonhoodUSA is attempting to put similar initiatives on 2012 ballots inFlorida, Montana, Ohioand Oregon.  Voters in Colorado rejected similar proposals in 2008 and 2010.

Be reminded, this is not just an abortion issues although the first goal of these groups is to ban all abortions.  Their long-term goal is to ban all forms of birth control.  If these propositions pass in other states, it will be a step backward of 100 years for women’s rights.

Abortion should always be Safe, Legal and Rare.

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