PETITION to UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Kaiser: cover birth control co-pays.

via UltraViolet:

Trump just announced he will take away free birth control from up to 55 million women, claiming it promotes “risky sexual behavior.”

How ’bout you worry about controlling your own sexual behavior, and I worry about mine.


Women use birth control for everything from calming menstrual cramps to family planning to managing crippling pain from endometriosis. In fact, sex becomes a lot riskier without access to birth control.

Gosh, ya think?

This is just the latest attempt by the Trump administration to pander to right wing extremists who want to sabotage women‘s health care.

FIFY. You’re welcome.

The good news is that we can still save free birth control for millions of women who need it. Insurance companies benefit from covering the co-pay–in part because birth control is vastly cheaper than childbirth or endometriosis treatment. Let’s make sure that every single health insurance company, starting with three of the biggest–UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Kaiser–hears from us right away.

Can you sign the petition and help pile the pressure onto insurers to continue to cover birth control?


Under a capitalist healthcare system, rights and access are dependent on a profit motive. Not on what is moral and good and the right thing to do. Not on laws or constitutions. Certainly not on the best health care practices. So we must desperately appeal to the bottom line of a parasitic, profit-driven industry, one whose notorious and egregious abuses are legion, and which in any sane and just society would not even fucking exist.

But here we are. Please sign and signal boost the petition if you are willing and able.



Medical misogyny.

[CONTENT NOTE: misogyny, torture, extreme hostility to pregnant people.]

Rewire has a new piece by Amy Littlefield that details the unconscionable withholding of medical care from patients in Catholic hospitals.

Continue reading

I guess these are the conservatives with whom we’re supposed to “compromise”? Haha no.

[CONTENT NOTE: graphic descriptions of fetal remains and menstrual blood; no images.]

Via Rewire:

Texas Officials to Force Burial, Cremation of ‘Fetal Remains’

Texas health officials on Monday filed the final version of proposed rules requiring the remains of aborted or miscarried fetuses to be buried or cremated, despite criticism from funeral homes, abortion providers, and reproductive rights advocates.

The regulations will apply to all fetal remains, regardless of the period of gestation when the miscarriage or abortion occurred.


Continue reading

Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 3: Yes and hahaha no.

UPDATE: WordPress apparently black holed a few of sentences re: Purvi Patel (and some formatting tags). I fixed it—I think.

(Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.)

[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does mention: rape, sexual assault and violent abuse, including against children; mental illness including suicidal ideation; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]

To briefly recap: While atheist Big Willie Jerry Coyne is notoriously prone to poo flinging, he also said some very interesting things in his Darwin Day lecture at the British Humanist Association (and elsewhere). I transcribed a few sections of his talk because I’d like to have a handy link to it to help shut down the font of incoherent nonsense that is conservative movement atheism. I also thought some readers here just might (a) find some of this talk as worthwhile as I do (see Part 1), and/or (b) enjoy my documenting Coyne’s insulting, dismissive, nearly comical obliviousness to his privilege (Part 2).

Part 3 focuses on a section of the Q&A wherein Coyne manages both to say some more really cool stuff, and then go into full mansplain-to-the-feminists mode and pull a classic Dear Muslima.


Continue reading

Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 2: NOPE.

(Part 1 is here.)

[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does contain discussion of: child sexual assault, abuse and death; suicide; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; homophobia; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]

Just a reminder: in the intro to Part 1, I noted that while atheist Big Willie Dr. Coyne may communicate some very useful and interesting things in this lecture (and elsewhere) that readers here may find worthwhile, he is exasperatingly prone to poo flinging, and I fully respect the decision of anyone who decides to pay him no attention whatsoever on this basis alone. As I said, FWIW I do not allow Coyne’s poo flinging in the remaining portions of the transcript to go unrebutted.

Continue reading

Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 1: YES!

In February Jerry Coyne delivered the British Humanist Association’s annual Darwin Day Lecture in London. For those unfamiliar, Coyne is an evolutionary biologist, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, and the author of Why Evolution is True (which I have read) and Faith vs Fact (which I have not). He is a fierce critic of creationism and a fiery proponent of atheism; he blogs prolifically about these and other topics at Why Evolution Is True.

I genuinely like Jerry Coyne. He comes across as knowledgeable and affable, the kind of person I’d really enjoy sitting next to at a dinner party. Of course that doesn’t mean I agree with him all of the time, and in fact his annoying propensity to shit all over straw feminists is fucking exasperating (more on that in Part 2), as is his comical obliviousness to his own privilege (more on that later too).

But hey, nobody’s perfect. We can all decide for ourselves who we will expose ourselves to, on which topic(s) and under what circumstances. For example, Richard Dawkins is dead to me, barring his (highly unlikely) resurrection into a state of semi-self-awareness minimally capable of basic human decency and rationality. On the other hand, when a good friend recommends Jerry Coyne’s Darwin Day Lecture to me, I might be inclined to put on my (metaphorical) biohazard suit so as not to get splattered with (metaphorical) shit, and check it out. Those with less privilege are always making such calls: suit up and wade into the muck, or maybe sit this one out. Otherwise we would consistently miss out on some interesting and useful knowledge, and worse, we would hardly ever go to any dinner parties at all.

I get the Spidey-Sense that anyone reading this who is in some marginalized group(s)—i.e., not white, male, straight, cis-, able, etc.—is nodding along with me, because microaggressions are A Thing to which those privileged along these axes tend to remain haplessly oblivious. So I completely respect your making a different call about paying any attention whatsoever to Coyne (or Dawkins or anyone else).

But I found (some of) Coyne’s lecture, entitled Evolution and atheism: best friends forever?, fascinating. Moreover, he provides support for my point in this post, namely that:

there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that a robust welfare state (especially quality universal single-payer health care) decreases religiosity, while economic insecurity (with respect to wages, housing, food, etc.) increases it. See, e.g., Phil Zuckerman’s book “Society Without God.” Fiscal conservatism in the form of [American Atheists president] Dave Silverman’s “small government, low taxes, a free market” is entirely antithetical to taking the path most likely to get us to the very outcome he seeks: the death of religion.

I transcribed portions of Coyne’s lecture because I think readers may be genuinely infotained by it, but mainly because I’d like to have an easy link to it in order to help shut down the font of incoherent nonsense that is conservative movement atheism. In case it helps you decide whether to continue reading: I do not allow Coyne’s aforementioned (metaphorical) poo flinging in these portions of the transcript to stand unrebutted, and in any case no poo is flung in Part 1.


(especially Part 2.)

Continue reading

I approve this mockery.


IMAGE: Sunset at Waterrock Knob
© Robert Ludlow, North Carolina photographer
(Used with permission. All rights reserved.)

As readers here know, the stunningly beautiful state of North Carolina recently enacted an egregious law that voids and prohibits any and all anti-discrimination statutes enacted by local municipalities to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, among others. The law also prohibits local anti-discrimination statutes and/or state law remedies for discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, ethnicity and religion. And since this was not nearly enough doucheweaselry to pack into a single bill introduced in an “emergency session” and passed into law 11 hours and 10 minutes later, it went even further: with respect to public-sector contractors, HB2 also prohibits local municipalities from enacting laws concerning minimum wages, health insurance standards, family leave policies, child welfare protections and the number of consecutive hours an employee is required to work without a break. I mean that is impressive people, amirite?

The most notorious provision of HB2 is the one requiring people to use restrooms corresponding to their assigned gender at birth. Putting aside (for the purposes of this particular rant) its significant implications for those of nonbinary genders, HB2 means, among other things, that these people must now use restrooms designated “WOMEN”:


And these people must now use restrooms designated “MEN.”


What could possibly go wrong?

It was heartening to see immediate backlash to HB2, including powerful companies like PayPal, Apple, IBM, Wal-Mart, the NFL, the NBA and American Airlines pressing for repeal, the governor of New York banning state-funded travel to North Carolina, and Bruce Springsteen canceling his concert in Greensboro. One of my favorite protests is web porn giant refusing service to IP addresses in the state. XHamster spokesperson Mike Kulich noted:

“We have spent the last 50 years fighting for equality for everyone and these laws are discriminatory which does not tolerate,” he said in an official statement sent to The Huffington Post. “Judging by the stats of what you North Carolinians watch, we feel this punishment is a severe one…Back in March, we had 400,000 hits for the term ‘Transsexual’ from North Carolina alone,” he said. “People from that state searched ‘Gay’ 319,907 times,” he added.

Hahaha. Awesome.

Predictably, the law’s proponents tied themselves in knots blaming everyone but themselves for the pushback.

[Republican Lt. Gov. Dan] Forest charged that PayPal didn’t “see the worth of our children,” while [Gov.] McCrory blamed his Democratic rival for governor, Attorney General Roy Cooper.

This kind of comic absurdity is to be expected, because conservatives are pathologically averse to ever admitting being wrong about anything, except in those instances when they have regrets about not being terrible enough. This unfortunate propensity underlies the mother of all conservative logical fallacies: “Conservatism can never fail. It can only be failed by weak-minded souls who refuse to properly follow its tenets.”

And, as usual with conservative policies, the bathroom provisions of HB2 have no basis in reality whatsoever. As in, zero.

Media Matters‘ Luke Brinker and Carlos Maza wrote an in-depth report of the widely circulated narrative that trans people are predators, and how this myth is used to justify hate crimes against trans people. In fact, in most criminal courts, a defendant can legally use their fear of transgender people as their defense for assaulting or killing them. The results of Brinker and Maza’s survey of 15 “law enforcement officials, government employees and advocates for victims of sexual assault” from 12 states yielded no incidents of trans people harassing or assaulting cisgender people in public restrooms. They declared “the claim that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws to sneak into women’s restrooms is a lie, plain and simple.”

Also from Media Matters:


Unsurprisingly, it is not hard to find conservative North Carolinians defending the law nonetheless, and displaying the characteristic conservative aversion to reality. A specimen observed in the wild by Charlotte’s News & Observer is illustrative:

Deborah Thompson, who owns the Simply NC gift shop in downtown Clinton (North Carolina), says she finds the bathroom debate to be a “very confusing issue.”

“A lot of people don’t understand what the whole transgender thing is,” she said.

Gosh, then perhaps one ought to educate oneself before supporting draconian policies that put people in danger? Just a suggestion, Deborah!

Thompson says the safety concern has been at the front of her mind as she’s considered the issue. “On the side of safety, I approve of what the governor did,” she said…

…thereby proving that neither she nor the governor have the first fucking clue what they are talking about. Unless by “safety concern” what they mean is “adversely affecting the safety of trans people.” NAH COULD NEVER BE THAT. But back to Deborah:

Thompson is among a small number of business owners who are willing to publicly support House Bill 2. The Keep N.C. Safe Coalition says that nearly 400 business owners have signed its petition in favor of the law, but only 65 of them agreed to have their names listed.

“Due to vocal threats and bullying from the LGBT community, some business owners feared for the well-being of their business and families,” the group said in a news release.

BZZZT. Uh no, Deborah. See, pointing out bigotry, being justifiably angry about bigotry being codified into state law, and boycotting businesses owned by proud and unrepentant shitspigots is not “bullying.” Bullying (and worse) is what transgender people experience at the hands of people like you, Deborah. PLEASE DO TRY TO KEEP UP.

Thompson said the reluctance to speak out is common. “Too many times, Christians and conservatives, we stay too quiet,” she said.


Of course I would be remiss if I did not point out that a bathroom bill banning Republican lawmakers from public restrooms makes a whole lot more sense than HB2, given that at least three Republican lawmakers have actually been arrested for sexual misconduct in public restrooms. Compared to, you know, ZERO TRANSGENDER PEOPLE in places with anti-discrimination statutes on the books. (And I cannot help but think that quite a few more Republican lawmakers may have been caught, but were never arrested for some mysterious reason.)

There are two serious obstacles to fixing any of this: (1) conservative lawmakers generally cannot be enlightened or persuaded by facts (see above re: never wrong about anything), and (2) they harbor very little empathy for fellow citizens who are not exactly like them. Indeed, the only thing likely to flip their position is a serious, direct threat to their own self-interest—such as, say, a credible election opponent arising in the wake of big businesses pulling out of the state en masse. They will never take responsibility for the initial damage they caused, but sometimes, when their fragile egos are at stake, they can occasionally be forced to do the right thing.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that none of us here are CEOs of businesses with large operations in North Carolina. So what can we do? We can point fingers at the culprits, pile on the mockery and laugh, that’s what.

Please allow me to recommend this superb exercise in exactly that, from a news outlet in the small town (pop. 900) of Oriental, North Carolina.

Bathroom Re-opens With On Duty Compliance Officer
Gender Identity Assured Thanks To New State Funding
April 15, 2016

After being closed since late March, Oriental’s public restroom is again open. The town has been able to hire a certified Gender Compliance Officer.

Located by the harbor near the new Town Dock, Oriental’s public bathroom opened to great acclaim in December. However, the Town was forced to quickly shutter the facility when the NC legislature passed HB2 on March 26. NC Law HB2 mandates that “users of public restrooms use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.” Without a way to check birth certificates, bathroom use had to be shut down, or the town was vulnerable to a stiff $10,000 daily Gender Non-Compliance fine.

That’s all been solved. At a Tuesday news conference Governor McCrory has announced the GCF (Gender Compliance Fund), a 6 million dollar program providing revenue for communities to hire Gender Compliance Officers.

Oriental Town Hall officials wasted no time. Oriental’s GCF funding allowed for the hiring of one Gender Compliance Officer. The town tapped Kim Daniels, whose pharmaceutical background provided the required knowledge base. Thursday at 8am the public restroom re-opened with GCO Daniels on duty.


Compliance Officer Kim Daniels awaits at the base of the restroom stairs.

You should probably just go read the whole thing—but here are a few more highlights.


Mr. D. Mauney submits to manual Gender authentication.

While manual authentication may seem harsh just to use a public restroom, Governor McCrory wants all NC citizens to know “that we’re all in this together.” McCrory states “every member of my staff, including myself, has been manually authenticated to insure the veracity of the process.”


North Carolina Governor McCrory being authenticated.


Major kudos to the anonymous mocker(s). I don’t know how any of them kept straight faces long enough to pose for all those pics outside of the town’s restrooms—I’d have laughed until I peed myself and, ironically enough, would no longer need any restroom at all.

You know what? A lot of bathrooms in NYC are accessible to any and all humans with a biological need to relieve themselves. Some have multiple private stalls with sinks in them, others have private stalls with communal sink areas. I have never felt unsafe in any of these spaces. Quite the contrary, actually: in my experience it seems that men—and let’s face it, that is precisely what these bathroom bills are about: men—are generally better behaved when other members of the public are visible and within earshot.

Why unisex bathrooms are not universally adopted is beyond me. But if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it’s because THEY HATE US FOR OUR FREEDOM.


By the way, North Carolina’s HB2 passed with an able assist from 11 conservative Democrats Squirrel People.

[h/t SJ]

What Would Jeezus Do vs. What Would Justice Look Like?

[CONTENT NOTE: child death, neglect and abuse at the link; violent vigilante justice fantasies by Your Humble Monarch™ in this very post.]

I read with mounting horror and visceral disgust this investigative report about religious day care centers, which in many states are unregulated or poorly regulated compared with their secular counterparts because Jeezus ‘n FREEDOM® ‘stuff. In practice, what this means is that regulations regarding child-to-staff ratios, child care training, safety certifications (such as CPR) and other common sense rules otherwise required for licensing do not apply, with entirely predictable, avoidable and tragic results. Worse, when parents seek justice, they are frequently denied it. And of course these bastions of state/church separation (when it comes to regulation) are only too happy to rely on our tax dollars in the form of childcare subsidies.

It seems to me that when entirely foreseeable harms occur, those who exploit these special religious exemptions, as well as those who enact the laws that exempt them, ought to be subject to a special form of justice, too.

Biblical justice.

You know: an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, if your hand causes you to sin then you have to rip out your own eye (or something like that – it’s been a while). What would that kind of justice look like?

Well for starters, these fine folks could be left to rot in their own filth until their infected skin bleeds and blisters. Left to lie in their own vomit, and endure high fevers and broken bones without medical intervention. Left to wander a minefield of unknown deadly dangers, like their peers chasing them with butcher knives, and deep pools to drown in. Left restrained in positions that cause them to suffocate, with no one around who can revive them.

That sort of thing.

Come to think of it, this kind of special snowflake justice should also be meted out to all the small government/low taxes shriekers, “religious freedom” defenders and fevered deregulation proponents too, whenever innocent people are killed and egregiously harmed as a direct result of their policies in action.

Have a nice day.


I ♥︎ NY.

Following in the footsteps of some very powerful companies—including Apple, IBM, Wal-Mart, the NFL, the NBA and American Airlines—that are pressuring the state of North Carolina to repeal its evil law that forbids anti-discrimination statutes that protect LGBT people in any way, and bans trans people from using restrooms appropriate for their gender identities, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is piling on:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed an executive order banning all non-essential state travel to North Carolina. The order requires all New York State agencies, departments, boards and commissions to immediately review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the state of North Carolina, and bar any such publicly funded travel that is not essential to the enforcement of state law or public health and safety.

The ban, which takes effect immediately, follows North Carolina’s enactment of a law which bars transgender individuals from using restrooms appropriate for their gender identities, excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from state anti-discrimination protections, and prohibits municipalities from extending those protections to LGBT citizens.

“In New York, we believe that all people – regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation – deserve the same rights and protections under the law,” said Governor Cuomo. “From Stonewall to marriage equality, our state has been a beacon of hope and equality for the LGBT community, and we will not stand idly by as misguided legislation replicates the discrimination of the past. As long as there is a law in North Carolina that creates the grounds for discrimination against LGBT people, I am barring non-essential state travel to that state.”

In 2015, Governor Cuomo banned non-essential state travel to the state of Indiana after that state’s legislature passed a controversial religious freedom measure that did not prohibit discrimination against LGBT citizens. The Indiana measure was later amended to prevent it from being used to discriminate against LGBT residents and travelers in Indiana, and that travel ban was lifted.

The text of the executive order can be read here.

More than 80 tech company CEOs—including those from Facebook, Lyft, Google, Dropbox, and Tumblr—sent an open letter (pdf) yesterday to North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory, urging repeal. And the state’s Attorney General—a Democrat who is running for governor—says he will refuse to defend the law against court challenges, calling it “a national embarrassment.”

Apparently North Carolina legislators have nothing as urgent and pressing to deal with in the state than panty-sniffing, bathroom policing and sticking it to The Gays, since they hastily convened a special session last Wednesday just to introduce and pass the law. The House passed HB 2 on a vote of 83-25; the Senate passed it 32-0, “after Senate Democrats walked out in protest of the bill.” Gov. Pat McCrory signed it the same night, leaving opponents no time to organize and oppose it. Gosh, I wonder if that was intentional?

My Amazing Lover™ just canceled his long-planned trip to North Carolina this weekend, citing the law as responsible “in no small part” for his decision. I ♥︎ him too.

And I ♥︎ this d00d:


Picture of masculine-appearing trans man James P Sheffield tweeting: “@PatMcCroryNC It’s now the law for me to share a restroom with your wife.

Jeezus, I am FEELING THE LOVE today, people! I may not even start drinking until after noon!

♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎

My hope is that LGBT people in North Carolina (and everywhere else) are feeling some of that love, too.

This law will not stand.

[cross-posted at Death to Squirrels.]