Here is the letter to the editor that spurred this editorial, and the short version for when I finally delete the image is that a local pastor (and known homophobe) is concerned that a forty-seven year old budget addendum is suddenly not going to be included anymore, despite surviving this long.
Below is the properly cited edition of my response, complete with formatting, (possibly) more pictures, links…and the last paragraph, since I kind of feel like they’re going to take it out, feeling it’s an attack on men.
What is the Hyde Amendment?
A follow-up to Roe v Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973) that, “…blocks federal funds from being used to pay for abortion outside of the exceptions for rape, incest, or if the pregnancy is determined to endanger the woman’s life…” (Salganicoff et al., 2021—hereon referred to the Kaiser Family Foundation, or KFF, outside citations). The amendment has never become law, according to KFF; rather, it is a rider appended to the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services each year.
Is it true that President Biden wants Congress to stop adding the rider?
While the president made such a statement during the 2020 campaign season (Salganicoff et al., 2021), the decision is not ultimately up to him. KFF says, “While campaigning during the 2020 presidential election, President Joseph R. Biden called for the removal of the Hyde Amendment from congressional appropriations bills. While the president may have a position opposing the Hyde Amendment, any change to the policy would require approval by Congress.” (Salganicoff et al., 2021) Meaning that—theoretically—as long as there are lawmakers who are against the government paying for abortion, the Hyde Amendment will continue to be enacted if said lawmakers can find sufficient support.
The next question is not in my original draft because I didn’t think about it until after submission. (Plus, they cap you out at three hundred words.)
Doesn’t Biden have the power to veto the Hyde Amendment if (say) Joni Ernst were to add it to the budget and garner enough support to get it passed?
The president has ten days to make a decision on any bill as presented to him by Congress (excluding Sundays), at which point, he can sign off on a general veto or simply pocket it. (Line item vetos were discontinued in 1998; more on that in a minute. [Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives, 2021])
A general veto requires the president to return the bill in the ten day period, often writing a note expressing his disapproval. (And it has to be within ten days, or it will automatically become law. [Historian, 2021]) Pocket vetos, conversely, are sat on by the president until Congress adjourns. In that case, the adjournment has to be session and not vacation, as the court system has repeatedly supported Congress on that issue (Historian, 2021).
Continuing to use Senator Ernst as our pro-life example, if Biden were to veto a budget bill with the Hyde Amendment attached, the Historian writes that the senator would have to muster a ⅔ majority in both chambers in order to “veto the president’s veto” (2021).
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the president can no longer kill the Hyde Amendment by itself and leave the budget bill intact, as decided in Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998) (Cornell Law School, n.d.). In Clinton, the Supreme Court declared that President Clinton’s vetoes of portions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 were unconstitutional after six members of Congress failed to persuade the District Court for the District of Columbia of the rightness of their case. (Cornell Law School, 1998)
Is Planned Parenthood the leading abortion provider in the United States?
PolitiFact agrees in a 2017 article that that is the case; however, it’s important to note that, “There’s no complete, centralized database that tallies abortions, much less breaks that number down by providers” (The Poynter Institute, 2017). Furthermore, Planned Parenthood’s 2019-2020 report (the most recent available) points out that only 3% of their services are abortion, while 52% centered around testing and treatment for STDs (Planned Parenthood, 2021). So unless Pastor Royston and his ilk are suddenly concerned with the “abortion” of chlamydia, HPV and others, there is no provable way to determine who racks up the most each year.
As for whether Planned Parenthood is “wealthy”, bear in mind that thirty-three states and the District of Columbia abide by the strictures set out by the Hyde Amendment, leaving women no choice but to use low-cost providers. In sixteen other states, the Department of Health and Human Services (or whatever each state may call it) has its own budget allotment for abortions, which means that low-cost clinics may not make as much money (Salganicoff et al., 2021).
What probably won’t survive is the question of how many men are in Congress.
Why is this important? A complaint I’ve heard time and again is that male lawmakers are pushing laws that make decisions about female bodies without any consideration toward women’s autonomy. Sure, it’s not their fault that 75% of the Senate and 75% of the House is made up of men (for a total of 405 [Congressional Research Service, 2020]), it’s their constituents’; but when you consider that any man has any power at all to make decisions about women’s bodies, the idea is galling.
For more information about the Hyde Amendment, select the KFF link in the references section.
Congressional Research Service. (2020, December 4). Women in Congress: statistics and brief overview. Federation of American Scientists. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43244.pdf
Cornell Law School. (1998, June 28). Clinton v. City of New York (97-1374). LII / Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/97-1374.ZO.html
Cornell Law School. (n.d.). Line-item veto. LII / Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/line-item_veto
Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives. (2021, January 1). Presidential vetoes. US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives. Retrieved June 19, 2021, from https://history.house.gov/Institution/Presidential-Vetoes/Presidential-Vetoes/
Planned Parenthood. (2021). Planned Parenthood 2019-2020 annual report. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/uploads/filer_public/67/30/67305ea1-8da2-4cee-9191-19228c1d6f70/210219-annual-report-2019-2020-web-final.pdf
The Poynter Institute. (2017, May 15). Glenn Grothman says planned parenthood is leading abortion provider. PolitiFact. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2017/may/15/glenn-grothman/glenn-grothman-says-planned-parenthood-leading-abo/
Salganicoff, A., Sobel, L., & Ramaswamy, A. (2021, March 5). The Hyde Amendment and coverage for abortion services. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/issue-brief/the-hyde-amendment-and-coverage-for-abortion-services/
One of my dad's coworkers had the audacity to claim that he wasn't a "Good Catholic" because he didn't support Trump.
I don't think a person's politics should define whether they're "good". Which is why I wrote this.
Some (maybe not many) Wiccans, Witches and other Pagans believe that angels are independent agents, rather than being assigned to the Abrahamic god.
Me too. Makes life more interesting, I think.
A good person, whether they be Christian or of another faith, does not deal in absolutes. A good person does not say, “I would think you would follow this politician or that because you’re of a certain religion.”
A good person realizes that the fight for life does not end at the delivery of that life into the world, but that the fight must continue for that life until the Powers that Be declare that life is over.
A good person does not follow someone who declares themselves to be a good person, but who has allowed over 200,000 people to die because of ignorance and inaction.
A good person does not separate families who have struggled to come to this country in a search of a better life simply because they weren’t able to follow the rules due to the government’s neglect of what is often a dire situation.
A good person does not live in fear of words like “socialism” because they were once used in a negative fashion in non-democratic countries.
A good person knows that healthcare is not a privilege but a right, because a good person is a font of compassion.
Miller Fountain at Western Michigan University
(They've redone it since I was last there!)
A good person supports ideas like universal healthcare because it hurts their heart to see someone bankrupted because of medical bills.
A good person doesn’t fight back against things like higher minimum wages and a universal basic income, because a good person does not wish to see others hungry or homeless.
A good person hopes that tuition will one day be lowered or eliminated because no one should be stopped from pursuing their dreams due to their financial situation, nor should they be saddled with unconquerable debt simply because they attempted to be a positive contribution to society.
A good person does not allow the desire for money to override the need to preserve the environment.
This is the tree I named my kitty after!
(It's a Linden.)
A good person does not hate anyone for being transgendered, homosexual or anything else, because a good person loves their neighbor as they love themselves.
A good person does not discriminate against those who are different than them, because a good person understands that we are all equal.
A good person follows good people and trusts fellow good people to do the same, without resorting to attacks or coercion.
Most importantly: a good person does not have to be taught how to be a good person, because they are already doing these things themselves.
You know that moment when you think back and say, "ugh, I should've left right then"? I had one of those today. I can't say I'm upset by the final outcome, but I'm not too thrilled, either.
The short version of what's been happening with my cat situation:
- Lauren started scooting in April and they never could figure out what the problem was, so—as much as it tore me up to do so—I surrendered her. More details on her in a minute.
- I picked out a black kitten that same day who was sweeter than anything, but I had to return her for a behavioral problem. (I'll get to her in the next part as well.)
- Someone on reddit wanted to get rid of their adult cat, so I took her in without having met her. Huge mistake. She was so shy that she hid in the basement all day, never wanted to be touched (although she purred like crazy if you managed to corner her for some attention) and was intimidating my dad's cat (a different one—he's had problems, too) so badly that Jessie didn't want to go to the basement to use the bathroom. (I actually had to spring a sort of trap on her when we finally found someone to rehome her!)
- I've been looking for a different cat for the last three weeks, which led to today's drama.
I finally, mercifully, settled on a kitten.
I was a little concerned because she tried to hide as soon as I met her, but when I put her on my lap and offered to let her tuck her head under my arm, she seemed to like that. (Plus, it may have just been that she was scared of the dogs barking, as I seem to remember Ani tucking her head under my arm once at the vet after she'd had something uncomfortable done.) So I decided to give her a shot, knowing that I could always return her if it didn't work out. I said goodbye to her for the moment and sat down with one of the adoption staff—that's when the catnip hit the fan.
I didn't want to go a long patch without a photo, so here's a zonked out cat.
(By the way, I have no idea what this girl's name was—they don't wear tags for whatever reason—so I'll call her Nicole. And remember, this isn't verbatim.)
"You don't have a credit," Nicole announced. "We decided that what happened was normal kitten behavior and your dad wasn't offered an exchange or credit."
Sidebar: I realized as I wrote those words that they've effectively stolen $75 from me! (I had to stop working on this for a few minutes while I emailed my credit union about it.) They might be a charitable organization, but when the adoption fee is required, it's not a donation. (Even when I give donations, I don't go that high unless I'm getting something out of it, like at a silent auction.) I paid that fee with the assumption that I'd get something in return. No animal and no refund means theft on their part!
"If it's normal behavior, why was she adopted twice more before it finally stuck?"
Nicole proceeded to get around that question by looking up my dad and I in the system and accuse us of being bad pet parents. (Her words were something like, "We're getting concerned you can't take care of animals like you should." Maybe…I kind of interrupted when I started sobbing.)
Okay, stop the beat train right fucking there!
My dad has had cats for forty-two years. Until this seventeen-month streak of bad luck (which seems to be over, thankfully), the only way he got rid of cats was by burying them in the backyard. (I don't think I need to get more explicit than that.) A year and a half of sick cats makes him a bad pet parent?
I've had (or been around) cats my entire life. Lauren was my everything for a decade, until I could no afford to pay for an illness no one could figure out. Stopping at $400 over four months (and returning a couple due to bad behavior) makes me a bad pet parent? News to me!
I should've walked out when Nicole said there was no adoption credit. I had my chair pushed back, purse in hand—everything. But she was typing away on her computer, so my naivete said, "Maybe she's trying to figure something out for me." And I stayed.
Ultimately, I started sobbing and saying it wasn't our fault our cats got sick. I'm sure my voice was getting louder (I was upset…what do you expect?) when I said, "Do you really think I wanted to surrender my best friend of a decade? Do you think we actually wanted to surrender any of them?"
I don't remember where it all went, but when I finally left, I said, "I can't believe you! What a bitch! I'm never adopting here again!"
That was when I heard a voice behind me say, "We'd appreciate it if you never came back."
Wait. Hold on another fucking second. Did you just ban me for calling one of your staffers a bitch?
No, sorry. That calls for a "please watch your language", not banning me.
I suppose their reasoning behind banning me was that I was "causing a scene".
Guess what? I have depression and anxiety/panic disorder. Crying is what I do! Yes, I was wrong in using profanity; but wouldn't you get upset if you were just told that a few sick cats over seventy-four years of combined animal love makes you a bad pet parent? (They're actually lucky I wasn't yelling at them, but I've been told I have such a loud voice that people think I'm yelling when I'm not. Believe me, you'd know if I'm yelling—my voice not only gets a little higher, but I often use the big "what the hell do you expect me to do?!" hand gestures.)
(continued on page two)
It’s funny how, when someone says that they want to banish a certain word or phrase, that’s exactly when it becomes relevant to you.
Take, for example, “the new normal”. It was on Lake Superior State University’s banishment list this year, because–as one submitter put it:
The phrase is often used to justify bad trends in society and to convince people that they are powerless to slow or to reverse those trends. This serves to reduce participation in the political process and to foster cynicism about the ability of government to improve people’s lives. Sometimes the phrase is applied to the erosion of civil liberties. More often, it is used to describe the sorry state of the U.S. economy. Often hosts on TV news channels use the phrase shortly before introducing some self-help guru who gives glib advice to the unemployed and other people having financial difficulties.
Funny…just when y’all want to banish it, “the new normal” suddenly becomes relevant to me. For me, the new normal is learning to deal with the fact that Depression invited its cousin Panic Disorder to come live with us. Permanently.
Maybe the signs were always there. MedicineNet tells me that nausea is one of the symptoms of a panic attack. If that’s the case, I’ve been having panic attacks on and off since sixth grade–ever since the stress of having a crush on a boy at band camp made me nauseated, throw up and altogether miserable every morning for a week.
If that’s not a true panic attack, then I can tell you what is–pins and needles in my hands and feeling like I’m having trouble breathing. I’ve had that several times in the past, especially when I’m scared about something. In fact, when one of those types of attacks happened when I thought I was having an allergic reaction last fall, it turned into full blown hyperventilation. (I thought I was taking deep, calming breaths–despite the fact that the tingling sensation was continuing to spread–but when I got to the emergency room, the triage nurse told me I was hyperventilating. Scary!)
Either way, I know what a panic attack looks like and feels like now…that’s why I’m on medication, after all.
At first, it was hard for me to deal with the new normal. I went from being paranoid that I hadn’t done the right thing in committing myself to a mental hospital to despairing over the fact that I would have panic attacks–and medications for them–for the rest of my life. The most surprising internal battle to come out of all this? My napping habits.
Somewhere along the way in life, I got the idea that it wasn’t okay for a twenty-six year old to take daily naps. Maybe it’s because I’m young and am supposed to be full of energy. Maybe it’s because we’re trained to think that only “old people” take frequent naps. Or maybe it was because I only took a couple of naps a week before this. Either way, I got the concept drilled into my head…and now I’m having a bitch of a time getting it out.
Plain and simple: my medications may cause drowsiness. It says so on the side of both bottles.
More complicated: my medications depress my central nervous system. By what I understand of it, slowing down your CNS slows you down.
Think of it this way: your central nervous system is like the internet. (Or maybe more like the “information superhighway”, as they used to call the net.) The CNS sends messages all over your body at the speed of light–if not faster. (I actually have no idea how fast the CNS goes.) It tells your body what to do, where to do it, when to do it, how fast to do it, how often to do it…and whatever else your body needs to know. The average person’s CNS can be likened to the highest speed of broadband there is available–blink and the page is loaded. But for someone like me, who is on CNS-depressing medication…well, it’s like my body is running on dial-up. It doesn’t exactly take me forever to do things–I run at normal speed when I have enough energy. But the problem is keeping my energy. Sometimes, your dial-up connection just up and quits. And so do I.
My recent schedule consists of getting up at ten, reading the paper, checking my email on my BlackBerry, reading part of my book (if I have time) and then watching the first two games on The Price is Right before making my bed and getting into the shower. After I dress, it’s time for lunch (and the news), fifteen minutes of The People’s Court (the most important part of the noon news is fifteen minutes long…and my dad likes PC) and then Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. When that’s all over, it’s on to “washing up” (brushing teeth, etc.) and fitting in whatever I can before Peep at 1:30. At that point, if I still have enough “go juice” left, I go out into the living room, sit on the couch and write until I’m tired. I nap until five, and then I have enough energy for the rest of the night (which lasts ’til about two for me).
Would I have my energy back if I wasn’t on medications? Probably. But as much as that annoying part of my mind might argue that it’s “not cool” for me to nap every day, I have to say–daily naps are a whole hell of a lot better than daily panic attacks.
I applied for Medicaid in mid-December. At the time I turned in the application, I was very straightforward with the receptionist: “I’m mentally ill–I’ve been in a mental hospital. Would you like a copy of my hospital records?”
“Oh, no. You’ll get time to prove your case.”
At the beginning of this month (near my birthday, even), I received a letter from DHS saying that I’d been denied. Not only were they not enrolling, but I wasn’t blind, pregnant, taking care of someone who needed health care or disabled.
I was cheesed and I told my food assistance caseworker as much. (Only I went down the “this is what you’re going to do to my life” path, instead of the “you piss me off” path.) She said the best thing to do was to come in, reapply and this time check the “disabled” box. I don’t remember if she said to bring my proofs with me this time, but you’d better believe I did.
- Personal Statement: A letter from me, saying (in essence), “In case you don’t care to meet with me like my caseworker says you will, this is who I am. This is the life I’ve made for myself. This is what you’re taking away from me if you don’t help me.”
- Summary of Treatment: A who-knows-how-long of a letter from my therapist, telling them exactly what I’ve gone through since she met me around age twelve, what approaches she’s taken to treat me, etc. (I have no idea what this says, because Melody asked me not to read it.)
- Paperwork from Pine Rest: Another treatment summary (I think), detailing what all they did for me while I was in the mental hospital. I’ve had sealed copies of this in my hands twice, but I complied with Melody’s wishes both times and have never read it. (This and the summary of treatment might make me cry, anyway.)
- Records from HGB: from when I went to the ER with a panic attack before Pine Rest. That I felt safe in reading. I understood maybe a quarter of it, but there was a lot there that I haven’t received enough medical training to interpret.
- Record from my doctor: from my visit in June, indicating that she had treated me for depression and anxiety (not otherwise specified).
The paperwork I got from Melody was all in a sealed manila envelope, so I put my statement and the physical health records in another envelope, sealed it, labeled them both as to who they were from and what the contents were and took them both with me to DHS. I filled it out, took it all to the counter and the receptionist says,
“Did they ask for this? Do you already have an open case?”
“No. When I applied last time, I was told that I would have time to prove my case. And they denied me without giving me the chance to prove my case. So I talked to my food assistance caseworker and she said to come armed this time.” (Okay, I’m not sure if Marilou actually said that, but my therapist thought it was a good idea, and so did my parents.) So I hope they choke on all that fucking paperwork after reducing me to tears making me paranoid about what my life will be like when I can no longer get my medications.
Deny me once, shame on me for failing to provide adequate documentation. Deny me twice, shame on you–you’re an asshole.