Abortion ban passes | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Abortion ban passes

Last week, Senate Bill 2922, which was intended to make a mother listen to a fetal heart beat and view a sonogram of the baby she could possibly choose to abort, was amended in the House Public Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, to ban all abortions in the state except when the life of the mother is in medical danger. I successfully amended the bill to include rape and incest as mitigating factors in allowing an abortion. The bill passed, as amended, 94-25. I voted for the amended bill. The Senate will probably concur with the bill this week and Governor Barbour has said he will sign it. Our bill, because of my amendment, is different than South Dakota's, therefore the SCOTUS will have two different laws to review when the issue comes before the court within the next two years. The ACLU of Mississippi and the National Women's Health Organization are meeting to plan legal strategies once the governor signs the bill.

Previous Comments

ID
170108
Comment

Rep. Fleming, I'd be lying if I said that I weren't bitterly disappointed at this strictly politically-motivated waste of taxpayer dollars on a bill that even Mississippi pro-life groups know would be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court today by at least a 5-4 margin. They're not enthusiastic about the bill because they recognize, as I do, that it's something between a loyalty oath and a cynical ploy to get votes. I'm grateful that you were able to get the rape and incest exemptions added, on general principle, but as far as I'm concerned this stands as nothing more than a symbol that the Mississippi state legislature does not stand for the rights of women, a reassurance that you're all a bunch of "good old boys" who will happily stand together to make symbolic affirmations on behalf of the religious right--the strictly symbolic gay marriage ban in 2004, the strictly symbolic abortion ban today--that have no bearing on anybody's life, that function as little more than legislative fatwas, censures, statements of solidarity. Meanwhile, instead of this strictly symbolic ban, real pro-life legislators could be working to make it easier for women to avoid getting pregnant by way of contraception (including emergency contraception), easier for women to care for children once they're born, easier to get through adoption paperwork, and so forth. This is what a real pro-life platform looks like, Rep. Fleming--one that is geared towards actually reducing the number of abortions rather than just towards getting its supporters reelected. I wish you well in your campaign against Sen. Lott, and you will get my vote if only because you are not as consistently manipulated by the cynical charlatans on the right wing who pretend to be concerned about the unborn. But frankly, I feel now--as I felt during the Musgrove-Barbour campaign--that I'm just not able to muster up much energy over who wins. I will be working with the aforementioned Mississippi ACLU. I will not be working with the Fleming campaign. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-05T19:26:53-06:00
ID
170109
Comment

Tom, Thank you. This is nothing but cronies gearing up for a Supreme Court fight. It has NOTHING to do with MS or the Right to Life. The rest of the nation is sitting back and watching MS become a bed of political action that functions NOT for the best interest of its people...but for the best interest of the large opressive, corporate-sponsored administration currently in charge of this country. Its ridiculous and makes us look like fools. I couldn't be more upset about this. Fleming, as a woman I sit here wondering if you understand why I am so upset. While sitting in my own living room, in my own house, you and others who have made this decision for me have made me feel sad, powerless, beaten, and thoroughly disgusted with the process called "politics" that is supposed to support me. To help me. To be geared towards my best interest. In your complicity working as a male in politics...you have just oppressed me. Congratulations for not doing anything different than men in politics have done for hundreds of years.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-06T09:47:22-06:00
ID
170110
Comment

TH: Thanks for the DFLA post. These are positions I support and have been actively involved in for years. Remember, I am an abstinence educator, and I have proposed that a comprehensive program combining abstinence first, then contraception awareness is the ideal sexual education course, based on true scientific data, not theological beliefs. I am on the board for Mississippi Families for Kids, which works to promote adoptions, so I am not adverse to DFLA's position. If Roe is not overturned, then this should be the public policy that guides us to a reduction of abortions. I am sorry you are disappointed, but I have made my position clear in your pro-choice blog. I am glad that you will work with my friends in the ACLU on this issue. Ali: I am sorry that you feel that my vote was oppressive. I would tend to argue that it will empower you over the next year or two, as the debate moves from wolf tickets in the arena to actually a put-up or shut-up brawl in the SCOTUS. Many in the debate feel the Federal Court could go either way on this issue, with Justice Kennedy being the swing vote. It is a matter that I have tried to weigh in very cautiously and judiciously, as I also try to balance my personal beliefs with the general welfare provision of the US Constitution. I would agree that it limits freedom for women in their reproductive rights, but to say that I, as a male, have no right to make a public policy decision is not fair either. I am an African-American. How do you think it feels to have a majority white US Congress determine whether I can have my voting rights extended? It is not a jury necessarily in my favor, but I, as well as others, have to plead our case to the group that is duly elected to do so. The vote we took on the abortion issue did not go the way you would have liked but it is just the beginning. I urge you to join TH and others in supporting groups that will defend your position in the courts and see what happens. I made my vote, and have made my profession, trying to reduce, if not eliminate, the number of abortions in my state, especially when over 70 percent of them are young women from the African-American community. My decision was not based on good ol' boy politics, or some latent male chauvenistic tendencies. I have taken a position with my stance that all Mississippians should have life, and life more abundantly, that they should be empowered to contribute to society and do great things within it. I fought for Rep. Omeria Scott's amendment, which compelled the state to take care of all children born in this state. I have fought against the death penalty and for second chances for those who have committed crimes, including job retention and restored suffrage. I took an unpopular stand against the gay marriage ban with no regrets. I say all that to state that my vote on an issue you disagree with me about is not the totality of my body of work as an elected official. As TH said, I am not some easily manipulated individual. I am a true Jeffersoinian, in that my decisions are based on weighing substance over emotion. Regardless of whether I am still a state representative, or I am given the opportunity to be the next US Senator from Mississippi, I will hold true to that approach to public policy. All: Having said all that, thank you for holding me accountable for my votes. This is what Donna intended when she asked me to start this blog. I enjoy the dialogue and civility in which the debates here are held. Regardless of which side I am on in the debate, I believe your opinions are invaluable and I encourage all to participate.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-06T11:44:02-06:00
ID
170111
Comment

Rep. Fleming, I do recognize that you do some good work in this state on other issues. Representatives who will stand up for the rights of undocumented immigrants, for example, are hard to come by. Representatives who oppose the insidious death penalty are hard to come by. And I had simply forgotten, in my frustration, that you had voted against the cynical gay marriage ban. So I don't mean this as a general condemnation of your entire platform. Your support for Rep. Scott's amendment is also admirable, though I thought her deal was that if one voted for the final bill without the amendment in it, one should seriously reconsider how much the "pro-life" label applies to his position. That said... This is not even a bill to ban abortion. This is a bill to earn political brownie points for state legislators and the governor in advance of the upcoming elections. I don't see how you can not know this, as someone who will unquestionably cite his support for the abortion ban during his campaign for the Senate as evidence that he's not some kind of "liberal." Rep. Fleming writes: Many in the debate feel the Federal Court could go either way on this issue, with Justice Kennedy being the swing vote. Then many should look at his ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and subsequent rulings, where he has consistently upheld a right to privacy and the subsequent right of a woman to choose to have an abortion. Come on. Even if both Alito and Roberts can be trusted to oppose Roe, and both said during their hearings that they cannot (so it seems to me that one is calling them liars if one says otherwise), and even if someone in the Court's 5-4 majority inexplicably goes against 14 years of their own rulings and flips, then all you have is a case where the national majority that is pro-choice will feel, in Ali's words, oppressed--and the long-term result will be a situation where justices will be scrutinized so closely on the issue of abortion that even bans on partial-birth abortion, parental notification laws, and so forth will not be able to stand. Meanwhile, the more sinister message being sent to women, who tend to be pro-choice by a substantial margin, is that this is a man's man's man's man's man's world. I might be able to understand an abortion ban gambit, no matter how distasteful I might find it to be, if more serious efforts had been made to give women an opportunity to voluntarily choose not to have an abortion. But this bill is a cynical and politically-motivated symbolic condemnation of the rights of women. I'm depressed that your name is associated with it. I knew you were a pro-life Democrat. What I didn't realize, metaphorically speaking, is that you'd happily jump into the filthiest garbage truck if it had a "Choose Life" license plate on the back. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-06T16:03:17-06:00
ID
170112
Comment

BTW- I blogged about this on my civil liberties site, if any of you folks would like a little more background. One thing I think we can all agree on is that abortion will replace gay marriage as the leading social issue of the 2006 midterm elections, which may be both good and bad for Republicans--good because it will increase evangelical turnout, bad because the pro-choice majority in this country is as large as the anti-gay marriage majority. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-06T16:49:16-06:00
ID
170113
Comment

Ouch, TH. I think I know how you feel and I am sorry that you think my vote was politically motivated. If you read the C-L story, you will see that my amendment went against the Pro-Life Mississippi organization's stand on this issue, so I doubt if I can use my vote for any political mileage for my campaign. I voted my conscience, I can't speak for anyone else. (I guess you can blame me for the metaphorical truck having that tag in the first place, since I was a co-sponsor some years ago.) My campaign will be focused on affordable health care, wealth building, better educational opportunities and retirement security, for that is what is important for a state that is last in every socio-economic category. I asked leaders of the pro-life movement here, if Roe is overturned, how much of a raise will you get on your job? They said none, to which I replied that is why abortion is not going to be my focus in this campaign. If I can afford commercials, you won't see me run one like Musgrove trying to out-Republican the Republicans. I am a Democrat, and even though I am not in agreement with you on this issue, I won't use this issue to run away from my heritage. We just have a difference of opinion, which I repsect wholeheartedly. I understood what Rep. Scott's intentions were, and if I had not had a record of supporting those causes she advocates in providing health care and educational opportunities for all Mississipians, then I would be a hypocrite in taking that vote. When it is all said and done, I don't know what label will be affixed to my political career, I just want to be recognized as a public servant who did he best he could to make Mississippi a better place.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-06T16:57:42-06:00
ID
170114
Comment

I would agree that it limits freedom for women in their reproductive rights, but to say that I, as a male, have no right to make a public policy decision is not fair either. I don't think you, as a male, are in any danger of losing that right anytime soon, Rep. Fleming. I say all that to state that my vote on an issue you disagree with me about is not the totality of my body of work as an elected official. This is true. However, you are voting on expansive issues that affect an entire gender of people. I doubt very seriously that if our roles were reverse, and I decided to vote on an issue that would affect an entire race of people negatively, and not my own, that you would accept it if I used the same lame excuse. Whether or not you are doing this based on political motivation because you think it's the only way you might win the Senate seat -- and we have no way of knowing the truth on that -- it is an extremely disappointing move on your part. And I suspect you just lost many possible progressive votes, including mine, by doing this. I've beginning to see Mr. Dowdy's point (although I still don't particularly respect it) -- I'm not exactly seeing how you would be such a better choice than Sen. Lott. Maybe I'll sit this race out altogether this year.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-06T17:16:41-06:00
ID
170115
Comment

Also, Tom makes a very good point: You are either very uneducated on where the Supreme Court currently stands on this issue, or you are playing political games with this vote. And I hate such political games -- whether it's the southern strategy by Barbour, or a so-called progressive joining the radical gun lobby that wants no gun regulations, whatsoever, or voting to help eliminate the right to a legal and safe abortion in this state. Both stances, considering some of your others, reeks of political gamemanship -- and the type of political game-playing that I believe plays right into the radical right's hands. Either way, I'm not with you.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-06T17:19:48-06:00
ID
170116
Comment

Rep. Fleming, I think you'd probably be better than Lott on a lot of issues--gay rights, the death penalty, undocumented immigrants, social welfare. But this is not even an honest pro-life vote. If you talk to most intelligent pro-life activists in this state, you will find that they are not thrilled about this legislation; they know that it will not pass constitutional muster, and they don't want to be back in the zero-sum game of whether or not to ban abortion (an argument they'll lose) rather than whether or not to restrict abortion into near-oblivion (an argument they were in the process of winning). Meanwhile, it demonstrates that the majority of legislators in this state are not only pro-life, but are willing to throw away millions of dollars of the state's money just to say so. I'm disappointed. I think you probably still have my vote because of your tireless support for other moral issues on which we completely agree (and I look forward to working with you on some of those issues), and I am still annoyed at Wayne Dowdy for both his incompetence (state Democratic chair endorses Republican incumbent) and some of the racial undertones of what he's been doing, but your position on this issue leaves me wondering if, for example, Credell Calhoun and company were entirely right to question your overtime tax bill proposal. Even if you were entirely sincere about getting it passed (which would be strange given the lack of promotion for it--your blog post was the first time I'd ever heard of the proposal), how would they know it wasn't just another political ploy? There is a crying-wolf dynamic at work here. You said you didn't know Lyndon LaRouche was a raving antisemitic tinfoil-hatted nut. You said you supported NRA policy (which I wholeheartedly respect) but had somehow never gotten around to joining it when it's one of the most politically powerful lobbying groups in the country. You're now saying you don't know the Supreme Court still has an obvious majority on Roe v. Wade. So what am I supposed to think? Cheer, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-06T17:51:10-06:00
ID
170117
Comment

In case anyone is wondering, I had to back away from the computer. This was, and remains, the best decision I can make at this point. I think my first words this morning were mixture "mother...how dare....cannot believe...rip him a new one..." I'm out til I calm down.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-06T19:27:39-06:00
ID
170118
Comment

Yeah, I been there, Ali. Drop the keyboard, and step away from the computer—before I kill someone. I don't quite know what to say, either. I will say this, Rep. Fleming: If you are worried about making Mississippi a "better" and healthier place for all of our citizens, and a place where so many do not live in poverty—making abortion unsafe and illegal is not the way to get there. And, did I add, thank you for trying to tell me how to lead my life.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-06T20:00:48-06:00
ID
170119
Comment

Look on the bright side, Donna: It's not really a bill to make abortion illegal. It's just a bill to make abortion illegal for people who can't afford to have the procedure done out of state. See? So it's not really about oppression of women--it's just about oppression of poor women. I don't know about you, but I feel better already. In all honesty, folks, this is not--and should not be thought of as--a bill that has any direct bearing at all on abortion. A federal judge will issue a preliminary injunction, which will prevent the bill from being enforced even during the brief period before it's declared unconstitutional. So if the bill won't actually mean anything in practice, it's probably best think of it as a simple transaction: The legislators are offering to burn away millions of dollars in state funds, and a token repreenting their support for women's rights, in a temple sacrifice. The hope is that the sweet smell of incense and burning money will draw in an unknown but impressive number of votes, contributions, and volunteer man-hours from religious conservatives. It's the best bargain since the 99 cent Whopper. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-06T23:36:52-06:00
ID
170120
Comment

(By the way: I like the "Choose Life" slogan. But if a bill like this ever became law, the slogan would instantly become obsolete. Or at least the "Choose" part would.)

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-06T23:39:22-06:00
ID
170121
Comment

I don't know about you, but I feel better already. Yeah, me too, Tom. In all honesty, folks, this is not--and should not be thought of as--a bill that has any direct bearing at all on abortion. I know that, Tom. But I am on record being mightily opposed to these political games that treat us all with contempt; remember Goofball Musgrove rushing to invite the Old Man Moore's big commandment rock here to sit in the governor's mansion -- for cheap votes!?! Or, the moronic Clinton administration taking the patently unconstitutional COPA (Child Online Protection Act) all the way to the Supreme Court even though they knew damn well it was unconstitutional? Or, Mitch Tyner running as a, er, Republican against Haley B.? I don't care who the game-player is, and what party they are. Actually, I care a bit more when the game-players call themselves progressive. Don't be doing this crap in my name, peeps. And that means Rep. Fleming and Steve Holland, and whoever else pulls these stunts. You're. Wasting. Our. Time.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-06T23:56:34-06:00
ID
170122
Comment

Oh, and if the state's Dems hadn't noticed, trying to out-snooker the Republicans is not working for them. It's time to play it straight and stop being afraid to be progressive. Good Lord, this country is build on progressive principles (if not always realities). All y'all need to stop fearing your shadows and starting doing the right thing and being proud of it. This tomfoolery isn't the right thing, and isn't going to fool anybody.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-06T23:59:01-06:00
ID
170123
Comment

Well said. I have nothing in principle against the fact that there are pro-life Democrats--but I do have something against insincere Democrats, and this was an insincere piece of legislation. That said, I think we should remember that the vote was 94-25--which means that there were 25 people who had the courage to vote nay: Willie L. Bailey, Earle Banks, Edward Blackmon, Billy Broomfield, Kelvin Buck, Clara H. Burnett, Alyce G. Clarke, Angela Cockerham, Linda Coleman, Mary H. Coleman, James Evans, Frances Fredericks, David Gibbs, Esther Mullin Harrison, John W. Hines Sr., Robert E. Huddleston, Robert L. Johnson III, Chuck Middleton, David W. Myers, Willie J. Perkins Sr., Omeria Scott, Ferr Smith, Rufus E. Straughter, Sara Thomas, and May Whittington. The next time we want to cut a check to a candidate, or give a candidate good PR, or say that we wish somebody would challenge Trent Lott, maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to look at this list. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-07T01:33:59-06:00
ID
170124
Comment

I was telling Ali this past weekend that the underground has already begun. There are many, MANY midwives, doctors and scientists that are making information available about natural and chemical abortions. There are books and websites now dedicated to this underground. It would seem, if anything, these bills are going to make abortion easier for anyone with the Internets. From vitamin C and parsley to the exact dosage of birth control pills, the info is already being made public in light of these bills storming their way through or legislative process. The problem is these methods still carry a risk -- mostly due to toxicity. Most of the methods actually force menstruation which aborts the fetus. Of course, most methods involve early interaction much like the day after pill. So, abortion is going nowhere -- no matter how hard the zealots pray and protest and bomb and kill and harass people on the streets. If anything, I'd say it'll be brought to the masses a la DIY kits passed through the underground at relatively no cost. You can remove most of those images of coat hangers and begin thinking of all-natural and chemical remedies as those who believe in choice begin making the methods known.

Author
kaust
Date
2006-03-07T07:53:46-06:00
ID
170125
Comment

Tom, Don't be so quick to pat all those 25 House representatives on the back. According to folks I met at an ACLU meeting last Friday, many representatives who voted against Bill 2922 only did so because they took exception for having to fund the lives their legislature will force into being. That said, the education/medical assistance clause is the litigious equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. Public education and Medicaid are underfunded and struggling to even provide adequate education to our children. Our legislature is having a terrible time trying to find the money to rebuild, not to mention keep the day-to-day wheels turning in state government. Where will we find the extra funds necessary to provide for these children? Has the state anticipated the budget increases necessary to provide for the massive influx of children who will be given up for adoption? If Mississippi's House and Senate wants to prove its deep reverence for life, quality of life for the CURRENT citizens of the state should be foremost in their minds. A nation (or state) is only as great as its poorest citizen. Abortion should not be our focus: our focus should be pregnancy prevention through a stellar education system, proper health care, and access to birth control and emergency contraceptives. DHG

Author
Deirdra Harris Glover
Date
2006-03-07T09:52:49-06:00
ID
170126
Comment

Tom, Don't be so quick to pat all those 25 House representatives on the back. According to folks I met at an ACLU meeting last Friday, many representatives who voted against Bill 2922 only did so because they took exception for having to fund the lives their legislature will force into being. That said, the education/medical assistance clause is the litigious equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. Public education and Medicaid are underfunded and struggling to even provide adequate education to our children. Our legislature is having a terrible time trying to find the money to rebuild, not to mention keep the day-to-day wheels turning in state government. Where will we find the extra funds necessary to provide for these children? Has the state anticipated the budget increases necessary to provide for the massive influx of children who will be given up for adoption? If Mississippi's House and Senate wants to prove its deep reverence for life, quality of life for the CURRENT citizens of the state should be foremost in their minds. A nation (or state) is only as great as its poorest citizen. Abortion should not be our focus: our focus should be pregnancy prevention through a stellar education system, proper health care, and access to birth control and emergency contraceptives. DHG

Author
Deirdra Harris Glover
Date
2006-03-07T09:57:42-06:00
ID
170127
Comment

ladd, ali, TH (and others viewing): Thank you for your candor. It is obvious that I have made you angry and that is fine. Righteous indignation is good. But I don't make excuses. I state my opinion, you can label it, however you want, but I don't make excuses. If you feel that my positions on the issues that confront us today is not what you want then you have your right to reject them and me. If you think I am no better than TL, then that is your choice, but IMHO you are wrong. I am use to criticism, but to say that Calhoun and others were right to kill a bill that would have helped 455,000 working people receive a real tax break, smacks of hypocrisy when you you try to justify abortion rights with poor people, not to mention a very low blow to my character. I have put my name up for election six times in life, four as a challenger, twice as an incumbent. I am 3-3, undefeated as an incumbent. Every campaign was based on my ideals and principles, not political expediency. That has not changed for this race. While it is disturbing to read commentary like this, it comes with the job. The CBC has a motto, "No permanent friends, just permanent interests." While you may think I am not addressing issues concerning my community's best interest, I believe that I am, and questioning my character will not make me change my mind or stop me from doing that. Regardless of which office I will hold after January 1, 2007, I will continue to fight for what is right, and will vote accordingly. If you have noticed, in my responses, I have stuck to what I believe are the merits of the issue at hand. I don't question a person's motivation, at least not intentionally. Disagreement is one thing, but questioning my character to make a point on an issue that clearly has two salient arguments is not necessary. FYI, as for patting folks on the back, many of those same folks you would applaud for this issue voted for the gay mariage ban, with Rep. Bailey being quoted in the news saying, "I don't like those folks." That is why I stress the point that one issue should not define a person's tenure in the Legislature or any aspect of public life. For example, I think FDR was one of the greatest presidents we have ever had, but he fell short on issues concerning desegregation. That doesn't diminsh him in my book, but it is a reality of public service. I personally think you are great people with awesome intellect, so I feel obligated to respond in a respectful manner and I am glad I have been afforded this opportunity to do so. I just thought I would lay it out there that I did this of my accord, and not because I think it will benefit me personally. I'll leave it at that and continue to throw myself at your mercy. ;)

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-07T10:50:19-06:00
ID
170128
Comment

Don't be so quick to pat all those 25 House representatives on the back. According to folks I met at an ACLU meeting last Friday, many representatives who voted against Bill 2922 only did so because they took exception for having to fund the lives their legislature will force into being. Interesting point, Dierdra. However, at least they voted against it. And in a political pig trough where all sorts of dumbass games are being playing with an gender's lives, that is something. I agree with Tom that those people should be applauded for this vote. And I can actually see the point of not (a) voting to force women to bring unwanted children into the world that (b) our society and taxpayers will then have to pay for, one way or another. It's a little hard for me to fault them for that. If that's the only reason, well then, they need to do some individual soul-searching.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-07T11:09:22-06:00
ID
170129
Comment

I'm not questioning your character, per se, Rep. Fleming, although I cannot deny that I believe that any many trying to tell an entire gender of women whether or not they must have children is questionable integrity from my view—just as I question the character of someone who would even consider pandering for the bigot vote. I will also say that this move on your part makes me more curious about your track record on women's issues, personally and professionally. And I cannot deny that I am one of those "conservatives" who will, in fact, make a decision about a candidate to support based on their personal treatment of the people in their own lives. My position on such issues tends to be unpopular among Democrats trying to excuse the likes of Bill Clinton, but I don't care. I believe public integrity is intimately intertwined with private integrity, at least to a point. And a treatment of the women in your lives is included in that part to me. I saw that only to point out that your integrity and character are front and center now, and you put yourself in that position. And if you don't expect people to start questioning your character when it comes to treatment of and attitudes toward women, then you should think more carefully about the messages that your votes are sending out. You make your decisions, and I admire that you are willing to stand behind them, even the ones that seem the most designed to play the wedge issues of Mississippi politics: i.e. abortion and guns. I am not a Mississippi Democrat, or any kind, and I am not one of those people who believe that you play Mississippians as fools and pander on vital issues such as women's privacy rights and the need to regulate guns in order to get votes. Truly intelligent and compassionate leaders will lead needed public discussions and try to de-wedge such issues, not play right into the hands of your opponents on them. And if you truly just don't understand this issue enough to see how/why your move looks purely political, then I don't believe you are equipped to be U.S. Senator, character issue aside.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-07T11:19:16-06:00
ID
170130
Comment

Ladd, I can sympathize with your view: at least they voted against it... However, I was led to believe the ONLY reason some voted it down was the financial obligation clause, however token it might be. I'm sure there are a few representatives who turned away from the bill for both reasons, but it sickens and disgusts me that many people (in government and on the sidelines) profess this devout reverence of life, but then deny any sort of social responsibility for it. That, to me, is hypocrisy: claiming to respect life, but averting your eyes and funds when it's unpleasant or uncomfortable to face. I donate my time, money and energy to abortion rights, because I know what it's like to have to choose. It is never an easy decision, even when you are firm in your convictions. I am endlessly grateful because an abortion saved my life mentally/emotionally, and saved my health physically. I am doubly grateful I had caring, responsible, professional healthcare available, instead of resorting to drastic measures--there have been far too many Gerri Santoros in the history of our country. It goes beyond personal experience for me, though. Bill 2922 is barbaric, inhumane and despicable. Think of children with severe birth defects, who die after a few years of very painful struggle. What of terminally diseased babies, or drug-addicted children whose development have been stunted beyond repair? What of women with terminal diseases they will pass on to their children? How can the state think that birth and a hideous, painful and strife-filled existence is better than a quick, clean end? We are kinder to our animals. Women who are raped or forced into incestuous relationships endure physical and emotional trauma they carry their entire lives. The creatures who violate them can barely be considered human: it is a violent, demeaning, soul-shattering act. Many reasons keep a woman from reporting rape and incest: fear for the safety of their children/animals/siblings, because they were raped by a law enforcement official, because they were afraid of losing their job, because they thought that no one would want them if they were dirty, because they were told they deserved it for what they were wearing, because they'd read all the stories about women who report rapes being treated as though they had done something to bring this hell upon themselves. These women (and sometimes, their families) are betrayed by Bill 2922. It also paves the way for something I dread: an outcropping of falsified rape charges. Banning abortion will not stop women from claiming sovereignty over their bodies: it will only drive them to desperation.

Author
Deirdra Harris Glover
Date
2006-03-07T11:39:26-06:00
ID
170131
Comment

However, I was led to believe the ONLY reason some voted it down was the financial obligation clause, however token it might be. Yeah, I can see that, and I agree with many of your points over all. However, it seems a bit harsh for you to paint the entire list who voted against the move with that brush without saying which ones felt this way ... which, of course, you cannot say without confirming it with them individually. And you have no way of knowing which ones are saying that because it is so politically volatile in Mississippi to admit that you are for a woman's right to control her own body and not bring unwanted children into the world. Now, I'm complaining already about elected officials being politically disingenuous and not admitting when they are pro-abortion rights (and, thus, having the courage to stand up and help change this climate, which got us to this point) -- however, that is different from spreading a rumor that somebody told you that "some" on that list only did it because they didn't want to pay to take care of the unwanted children, thus painting the whole list that way. I don't see how that helps anything. See the problem? And I reiterate that I, too, do not want society to have to pay to take care of unwanted children because women are forced to have them in order to stay out of jail or such. So, to that point at least, I agree with them. Now, you mention the "rape" question and falsified rape charges. I'm also worried that women who *are* raped in this state cannot get it classified as "rape" -- due to our barbaric laws on that front that allow cops, for instance, to get away with sleeping with 16-year-olds -- and thus will have to have the children of these back-ass cavemen. So I agree: the concerns are many here.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-07T11:59:30-06:00
ID
170132
Comment

Fleming-- That is why I stress the point that one issue should not define a person's tenure in the Legislature or any aspect of public life. And given some of his other stands, I am still asking why Rep. Fleming is even running in this election as a Democrat.

Author
Rex
Date
2006-03-07T12:04:46-06:00
ID
170133
Comment

Good point, Rex. I've been waiting and watching, and haven't taken a position on his candidacy to date. (I'll give a blog to any serious candidate who wants one.) But he lost me on this one.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-07T12:10:52-06:00
ID
170134
Comment

Ladd, I wish I COULD give you names, but it was a very heated discussion, and several people were speaking at once. My point in bringing it up, however, was not to paint the entirety of the dissenters with the same brush, but rather to point out that there are different reasons why representatives could have voted against the measure. I'm sorry you viewed my tactic as rumormongering. All that said, when I am surrounded by insanity, it is absolutely refreshing to have a conversation with a rational conservative, something that hasn't happened much since I moved here. It's all too often that the reactionaries on both sides are loudest, and it's assumed they speak for the entirety of their party.

Author
Deirdra Harris Glover
Date
2006-03-07T12:20:51-06:00
ID
170135
Comment

No problem, Deirdra. I get your point. I just don't want to downplay too much the importance of the people willing to stand up and say "no." Understand, by the way, that I am not a "conservative" by today's standards, or certainly not by Mississippi's or Mr. Barbour's standards, nor am I a Democrat or, Lord help me, a Republican by today's standards. I am a progressive, and it p!sses me off that "integrity" and "values" have been cynically coopted by the radical right in an attempt to control money, trade and take over actual free enterprise. There is *nothing moral* about forcing unwanted children in the world -- and then not taking care of them, as you point out well.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-07T12:27:27-06:00
ID
170136
Comment

Okay. I'm not totally calm, but there is something I need to say. I emailed Tom my original post that will never be posted ;) because I needed SOMEONE to see it. Here's why this bill bothers me, and I think it should bother all women as well. The fact that this bill won't actually 'go into effect", or is just grandstanding, is EXACTLY what is bothering me. This is gearing up for a Supreme Court fight. This is politics. This is not a REAL concern for protecting "life". That's crap. And, if you think it is, or try to tell me it is, that's crap too. And, here's what bothers me about that. WHAT IN THE HELL makes YOU and OTHER LEGISLATURES think that you have the RIGHT to bandy about my MEDICAL HEALTH AND RIGHT TO CHOOSE so carelessly? What allows you to think it is "right" to throw around my health so lightly? Just for politics? THIS IS MY LIFE. THIS IS MY BODY. Is it because I am a woman? Yes. If there was a bill being thrown around in congress suggesting we castrate men if they have sex before marriage just to pacify a certain set of extremely religious women...and I ammended it to include only ONE BALL if the guy got a hand job against his will...would you be handing me congratulations for "ammending" the bill? No, you would be horrified that I had treated your balls with such disrespect. And let's not even go into the sweet irony of your "ammendments" including violent acts against women ONLY...because GOD FORBID she should "enjoy" the sex act and get pregnant. If life is ALL precious...then how are the incest and rape babies not as precious? Party of Hypocrisy? Table for 144,000, Please. Besides that, we never do any real "Testicle Legislation" do we? I've seen NARY a bill addressing your BALL'S ability to give life. NOT FREAKING ONE. Because men don't play when it comes to their balls. (Crap. I just got worked up again.) Everything else I say won't be nice. One more thing (I can't stop) I also try to balance my personal beliefs with the general welfare provision of the US Constitution. I would agree that it limits freedom for women in their reproductive rights, but to say that I, as a male, have no right to make a public policy decision is not fair either. I am an African-American. How do you think it feels to have a majority white US Congress determine whether I can have my voting rights extended? I don't know...are your voting rights attached to your body? AND, if you are saying that you are "African American" so you know oppression, I'll go there with you. You do. What saddens me is you seem to have no understanding for how that applies to my situation. Congratulations for taking your place on the cog in the big white wheel running this nation. You're doing SO MUCH for your oppression. Kudos. (and who's taking bets that last part will be snipped. ;) Its fine if you...I just needed it OUT of me.)

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-07T12:37:24-06:00
ID
170137
Comment

No, I'm with you, Ali. Speak, girlfriend.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-07T12:41:37-06:00
ID
170138
Comment

Not to make light of this topic or swerve the conversation all over the place... I just had my dog "fixed" yesterday and am literally riddled with guilt. It really sank to my core that I forced castration on a living creature that has never been "that dog" because of testosterone. He's not a roamer... He's not violently agressive... He's territorial (but that's his breed and a quality most seek in Catahoulas)... He's really a good dog that has grown and learned amazing things even though he's 100% deaf. I digress. None of that matters. The fact is, after personally being the root cause and deciding factor in castrating this dog, I realized it is a very personal decision -- dealing with the reproductive system of any living creature. Animals don't have the choice. Women SHOULD and still do at the moment. Animals are forced to breed and be castrated/spayed by their masters. Women were in that same boat for many moons. OK... I do have a point, I promise. After picking up my pooch and watching the testosterone draining from his crystal-white eyes, I couldn't help but think of how these bills and legislation equates a grown adult's personal freedoms to the rights (or lack thereof) of an animal. These legislators (regardless of their intent -- religion, moral, political) are taking the rights of women and valuing their choice as they would any animal forced to obey and be subjected to the rules of a master. Whether they do it because some furry imaginary god told them or they fear the wrath of the zealots, they're doing it women... They're making you property in the eyes of the law. Erik, you lost me on this one. Not sure if this was an unconscious ploy to get on Lott's playing field or one you really thought about long and hard... But, I love the women in my life and prefer to extend medical and phyiscal choice whether I personally or ethically agree... Otherwise, they'd be nothing more than pretty animals of which I could force my rules and objectives. As I said earlier this morning, the cronies and the zealots will not stop abortions... They won't calm the problem of teenage pregnancy. They will force dangerous, toxic, and even deadly techniques by amateurs willing to try the recipes they find online and in books. Erik, I strongly recommend you re-think your position. Imagine the day when women seize control and dictate your erections and invasive, temporary castration to prevent unwanted pregnancies... To be honest with you, it's not very hard for me to imagine based on the treatment of women for eons.

Author
kaust
Date
2006-03-07T13:20:53-06:00
ID
170139
Comment

OK... I was all over the place on that one. I think I'm with Ali in the frustration boat. Will have to clear up my main point when I get some time.

Author
kaust
Date
2006-03-07T13:24:59-06:00
ID
170140
Comment

OK... Have a moment to clarify. I basically forced castration on a dog that (in my opinion) did not need it. The dog had no say or choice in this. This is what I feel the legislators are doing to a woman's right to control her body. Women are being told by (mostly male) legislators what they can and cannot do with their bodies, when they can or can't do it, and how they can or can't do it. Those are the same rules animal owners apply to their animal's reproductive systems. Did that make any more sense? I may need more coffee and to step away from the Kenny G someone is blasting in my office.

Author
kaust
Date
2006-03-07T13:37:46-06:00
ID
170141
Comment

Kenny G? Don't step away, dude...RUN. I'll be back after the pill kicks in. ;)

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-07T13:52:14-06:00
ID
170142
Comment

Calm down. After the governor signs the bill, the U.S. District Court will enjoin enforcement of the bill, strike it down as unconstitutional, the 5th Circuit will affirm and the US Supreme Court will deny cert. The law is meaningless. And lay off Rep. Fleming. Who cares how he voted? He's about as politically relevant as Shawn O'Hara. I've got a better chance of needing an abortion than Fleming does beating Trent Lott. Fleming is on the fringe of political debate. Leave him there.

Author
Curt Crowley
Date
2006-03-07T15:32:53-06:00
ID
170143
Comment

"Calm down." Sorry, Curt, it isn't your privilege to tell other people how to react to public policies being passed on their behalf, or who to "lay off" of. I'm not sure exactly who you think you are, but this condescension toward other bloggers is not welcome on my site. State your opinion respectfully, or move on elsewhere.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-07T16:01:09-06:00
ID
170144
Comment

you know what gets me? most people (men and women) who vote to ban abortion are the same people that are all for the death penalty.

Author
William Patrick Butler
Date
2006-03-07T16:16:53-06:00
ID
170145
Comment

After the way your pet bloggers have castigated Fleming on this thread, I find it funny that you would lecture me on respect. I wasn't trying to be disrespectful to anyone by saying "calm down." I was trying to point out that there isn't much chance of this garbage legislation having any effect on anyone. As to the "lay off" statement, I really don't care how bad you blister Fleming. My point was that if you give a marginal political character "air time", albeit negative, the unintended effect is that you tend to give said character credibility.

Author
Curt Crowley
Date
2006-03-07T16:26:55-06:00
ID
170146
Comment

I have not once, Mr. Crowley, told Rep. Fleming what he could and could not say on this site -- and *I* actually have the right to. I and others have disagreed with his moves as a public official. I suggest you go learn the difference before you blog here again. Showing up and condescending to people to "lay off" and "calm down" is not your role here. Your divergent opinions are welcome, but not your ordering around of my other bloggers. Your privilege credentials aren't valid here, so check 'em at the door.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-07T16:36:59-06:00
ID
170147
Comment

Let's try this again and see if it passes the "polite police." "After the governor signs the bill, the U.S. District Court will enjoin enforcement of the bill, strike it down as unconstitutional, the 5th Circuit will affirm and the US Supreme Court will deny cert. The law is meaningless." "Who cares how Fleming voted? He's about as politically relevant as Shawn O'Hara. I've got a better chance of needing an abortion than Fleming does beating Trent Lott. Fleming is on the fringe of political debate. Leave him there." Does this pass?

Author
Curt Crowley
Date
2006-03-07T16:47:11-06:00
ID
170148
Comment

Let's try this again and see if it passes the "polite police." Well, this part fails. ;-P If you're serious about trying to communicate with people with divergent views, and not just excoriate them, Curt, you should simply edit out your snide comments and leave the stuff that actually says some. My advice as moderator: Simply don't hit send as quickly, and go in and edit out anything that sounds like something you'd hear on talk radio. Otherwise, everybody will just think you're a jerk and not care about what you say. And we wouldn't want that, would we?

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-07T16:56:56-06:00
ID
170149
Comment

My opinion is not divergent from yours. As I said before, the legislation is garbage. On this point we agree. Don't create a disagreement where none exists.

Author
Curt Crowley
Date
2006-03-07T17:10:46-06:00
ID
170150
Comment

Curt were you possibly not paying attention when I stated I knew it wasn't going to go "into effect" but that I was angry because people toss my medical health around so lightly they would pass a bill concerning it just for political purposes? Because, if you missed that, maybe you should read again. I would just like clarification around my "pissiness" And, the next time you tell me to "calm down" is the next time you see a scary 5'2' blonde in your rearview mirror. Don't ever tell an Italian woman to CALM DOWN.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-07T17:24:33-06:00
ID
170151
Comment

Calm down, Ali.

Author
Curt Crowley
Date
2006-03-07T17:26:02-06:00
ID
170152
Comment

Alright, who knows this cheese head's address?

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-07T17:28:06-06:00
ID
170153
Comment

I'm really just kidding. But, it would so totally be worth it to see you jump back in fright from every small blonde woman you see the rest of the day.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-07T17:29:43-06:00
ID
170154
Comment

LMAO....I've been reading the posts this afternoon with a wry smile. I've known Curt and his BLONDE wife for several years now. Trust me, if he's not afraid of her, then there's not much anyone here can do to throw him off. Wait, I think he is afraid of her....we'll call him "conditioned." postscript to Curt's wife....I'm JOKING, I swear!!!! ;)

Author
eray
Date
2006-03-07T17:40:17-06:00
ID
170155
Comment

Love ya, Ali. Good on you to post that. On the details of what will actually happen to the bill, I agree completely with Curt--whose intelligence and cleverness are quickly growing on me despite the occasional infuriating comment--that the U.S. District Court will issue a preliminary injunction, the 5th Circuit will affirm, and the U.S. Supreme Court will decline to hear the case). But the problem Ali describes is very real, and separate from that. The legislature's majority opinion--coupled with the recent lack of concern over the Roberts and Alito confirmations in the Senate--shows that most Democrats who are in office in large part because of the feminist vote DON'T ACTUALLY GIVE A DAMN ABOUT WOMEN'S RIGHTS. I don't want a single Democrat who voted for the bill to ever lecture me again on how I need to support them to keep the "religious right" at bay. An abortion ban is the centerpiece of the religious right platform. Support it, get rid of the right to privacy (which is the basis of Roe and also what keeps sodomy laws off the books), leave religion in the "public square" (by putting "In God We Trust" on classroom walls and leaving "under God" in the pledge of allegiance), and congratulations, my friend, you have just fulfilled all of the essential goals of Jerry Falwell's original Moral Majority. That's why I wish I voted for Chip Pickering instead of Ronnie Shows during the 3rd District merger. I really believe Pickering is a basically good and honest man, however disgusting I might find his political opinions to be. Shows, on the other hand, creeps me out. Fighting the religious right movement by conceding abortion is like fighting terrorism by enforcing Sharia law. When you are an instrument of a movement, do not, do NOT, insult both honest members and honest opponents of the movement by pretending that you stand against it. Yes, Rep. Fleming, I'm angry. I do believe your vote was politically motivated. And I don't know if a concession on abortion today might mean a concession on gay rights, or undocumented immigrants, or social welfare tomorrow. Given the choice between a Democrat who will sell out women and gays and a Republican who will sell out women and gays, I'll generally choose the Democrat because I'll recognize that the candidate is at least more likely to be manipulated by a party base that is concerned about social welfare and such--but I'll do it with a frown, because to be honest, that's not how I make decisions in any other area of my life. My father, my brother, half my extended family, many people I dearly love--are Southern Baptist pro-life anti-gay marriage social conservatives. So I don't dislike social conservatives as a group. I disagree with them and I want to see them lose the public policy debate, but I don't dislike them a bit. I almost understand their point of view. Folks who run as liberals and then sell out on their convictions to get votes? Not so much. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-07T18:11:39-06:00
ID
170156
Comment

Trust me, if he's not afraid of her, then there's not much anyone here can do to throw him off. Actually, there's plenty at least one of us can do to "throw him off." However, I think he just needs an attitude adjustment -- that is, stop giving the rest of us orders, so we actually take time to listen to you. And, Curt, you will notice that your very last comment to me was an order: Don't create a disagreement where none exists. LOL. You're in the wrong place to be telling folks what to do. Really. I am the owner and the moderator of the site. You are welcome to express your opinion here, regardless of whether I agree. You, however, are not welcome to tell other people what to think and how to express it. So, rein in the condescension and the privileged orders, and we'll have a long, happy relationship. You will also note that I wasn't addressing "agreement" or "disagreement." I was moderating your rude a$$. Now, edit out the snarks and carry on.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-07T18:49:16-06:00
ID
170157
Comment

Curt: LMAO, you're funny! ladd: Interesting inference in your first response. (Translation: OUCH!) Everyone: Point taken on the character issue. There is no way I can prove what is in my heart anymore than in my explanation and my actions. This is part of the process, so I understand. Thank you so far for bringing it on! Take care for now.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-07T18:56:50-06:00
ID
170158
Comment

I agree with Donna, but other than the orders I've thoroughly enjoyed Curt's posts so far and I hope he sticks around. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-07T18:59:35-06:00
ID
170159
Comment

TH, my remarks regarding what the federal courts will do were a bit presumptuous. I based them on 6 1/2 years of litigating cases in federal court. However, I certainly cannot predict, to a certainty, what the federal courts would do. That was just my best estimate considering the stare decisis effect of existing precedent and the makeup of the SCT. I believe I will be proven correct, but I could be wrong. Also, let me straighten something out that I said about Rep. Fleming. I do believe his political pronouncements, platform and performance in the Legislature has marginalized him as a serious candidate for any office other than that which he presently holds. However, for some reason, I think he's an OK guy that, for the most part, tries to look out for the folks and do the right thing. He's still marginalized and not good for the Democratic party, but I meant no personal disrespect to the man.

Author
Curt Crowley
Date
2006-03-07T19:39:00-06:00
ID
170160
Comment

I'd like him to stay, too. That's why I'm trying to explain to him how not to get evicted. ;-)

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-07T20:00:18-06:00
ID
170161
Comment

Curt: No offense or disrespect taken. If you feel that my candidacy is marginalized, I can strongly disagree with you, but in the end that is your opinion. All: I guess my concern is with the political expediency question. It would seem that the expedient thing to do would be to cater to my Democratic base 100 percent and not vote to offend those folks that appear on this blog. Instead, I voted the opposite way and still get accused of doing the same thing. Interesting. I do want to point out, since Donna brought it up about my stand on women's issues, that I have been the only legislator, male or female, to introduce every year, the Fair Pay Act, which addresses the inequity in the salaries of males and females in the workplace and I am the only legislator that introduces legislation, male or female, that would allow victims of domestic abuse to receive unemployment benefits if they have to miss work for a period of time. Both of these bills die in the Labor Committee every year despite my lobbying efforts. This year, I supported the breastfeeding bill because I think it is insane to criminalize a woman for doing something natural because someone is uncomfortable with seeing a female breast exposed, say, at their place of work or a school. I have been criticized for supporting medicinal marijuana, abolishing the death penalty, opposing tort reform, supporting a new flag, opposing the gay marriage ban, proposing hate crimes protection to include homosexuals and for the abolition of zero tolerance policies in our public schools and I have not wavered yet on those positions. (That's eight years and counting, TH) On this issue of abortion alone, I have folks mad at me for voting for the bill and I have folks mad at me for offering the rape and incest amendment. It is the world I live in, and I would not trade it for anything in the world. I stand on my decisions and the legislation I introduce based on the mantra in the left hand corner of my blog page. I will put my eight years in the Legislature against TL's 18 years in the US Senate or anyone else in Mississippi for that matter, any time, any place, especially June 6 and November 7 of this year. I have been accountable for any mistakes I have made (moreso than any other current political figure in Mississippi) and I have worked hard for any rewards I have received. I offer myself as a candidate for higher office not as a savior for some political party, but as a man seeking to make his state a better place. For many, ascerbic and invidious commentary by fellow Democrats (or from progressives, even) have caused them to switch parties. But I am no shrinking violet. I would rather fight than switch, as my 22 years as a party activist will attest. I have given more to the Democratic Party in blood, sweat, tears and money than they could ever give me back. So pardon me if I defiantly and summarily dismiss any notions that I am bad for the Democratic Party. That is it for now. Have a good evening.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-08T00:16:30-06:00
ID
170162
Comment

Rep. Fleming writes: I guess my concern is with the political expediency question. It would seem that the expedient thing to do would be to cater to my Democratic base 100 percent and not vote to offend those folks that appear on this blog. This might make sense only if you were looking at a tough primary fight. You're not, so there is nothing politically inexpedient about catering to the 54% of the Mississippi population who favor restricting abortion rights over the 39% of the population who don't. From a political expediency perspective, it seems to me that you have reason to believe you can take progressives for granted. Lord knows that's what the Mississippi Democratic Party has been doing for years--which is why it gets to describe itself, in its own platform, as a "party of life." Nobody on this blog who criticized you over abortion is likely to vote for Trent Lott. The worst we'll do is stay home. I have been the only legislator, male or female, to introduce every year, the Fair Pay Act, which addresses the inequity in the salaries of males and females in the workplace and I am the only legislator that introduces legislation, male or female, that would allow victims of domestic abuse to receive unemployment benefits if they have to miss work for a period of time. Both of these bills die in the Labor Committee every year despite my lobbying efforts [ . . . ] I have been criticized for supporting medicinal marijuana, abolishing the death penalty, opposing tort reform, supporting a new flag, opposing the gay marriage ban, proposing hate crimes protection to include homosexuals and for the abolition of zero tolerance policies in our public schools and I have not wavered yet on those positions. Lord knows you do many things that are admirable acts of protest. I am not suggesting that your record as a whole is faulty. I'm suggesting that your vote on the abortion bill looks politically expedient, as demonstrated by how clearly it does clash with the rest of your record. This year, I supported the breastfeeding bill because I think it is insane to criminalize a woman for doing something natural... Hardly a distinguishing characteristic, given that it passed the House by a 120-0 margin. (How a bill can pass by a 120-0 margin in the House and die in committee when it reaches the Senate is beyond me, but pass by a 120-0 margin it did.) Besides, the bill was largely a clarification of an existing statute anyway--my understanding is that the indecent exposure statute only applies to exposure that is done "lewdly," and if enforced according to the letter of the law really shouldn't have any bearing on breastfeeding. Not that the clarification isn't sorely needed, but I don't think you're presenting a very controversial point of view here. For many, ascerbic and invidious commentary by fellow Democrats (or from progressives, even) have caused them to switch parties. But I am no shrinking violet. I would rather fight than switch, as my 22 years as a party activist will attest. Respectfully, Rep. Fleming, I'd like to think you'd have a much bigger fight in the Republican Party than you would as a Democrat. So I really fail to see how your decision not to switch parties is supposed to be an act of self-sacrifice. Rep. Fleming, I'm perfectly kosher with pro-life Democrats who operate on their principles. But in your case, I can't make myself believe that's what you were doing--as much as I'd like to--because the bill is such an obvious election year gimmick for everybody, which is why pro-life groups aren't much happier than pro-choice groups right now. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-08T05:16:59-06:00
ID
170163
Comment

And there's another thing that's been eating on me. Newspaper accounts throw around this quote: “If your father raped your sister, would you want her to carry that baby to term?” said Rep. Erik Fleming, D-Clinton. “If your uncle raped your sister, would you want her to carry that baby to term?” So let me get this straight: The basis of the rape and incest exemption is supposed to be about eugenics? It's not about what the poor mother has to go through? Or the legacy the kid would have to grow up with? I don't get your reasoning. And that's scaring me, frankly, because every now and then I do see you say something along these lines that makes no damn sense. Like "If we get a bill like this passed, people like Bernie Goetz won't have to get prosecuted." Or "I would have joined the NRA before, but never got around to it." Or even "I enthusiastically endorsed Lyndon LaRouche over all viable Democratic candidates in 2004, but I didn't really know much about him." Or, most recently, "Some people think Anthony Kennedy might flip on this issue." Can you forgive us for wondering, from time to time, whether or not we can trust this ambitious politician who just supported an unenforceable election-year abortion ban? Even if you completely stand behind your decision, surely you must realize how this looks. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-08T05:24:39-06:00
ID
170164
Comment

TH: That was one quote out of two-five mniute speeches, so I covered a lot more ground than that, including the issue of how it would effect the mother and the child. As for the list of measures, it was addressing Donna's question about my stances on women's issues as a whole, not for any praise, for I know now that is not forthcoming. Legislation BTW is not a symbol of protest, not voting at all is. I guess timing is everything. I did not push for this bill to come to the floor in 2006. Since it did I voted for it. You have a right to scrutinize and dissect every word I say, I am a public official, so forgiveness is not needed. I have four opponents to fight in this election, three in the Democratic Party Primary alone, so I would disagree with you on that premise.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-08T07:28:56-06:00
ID
170165
Comment

It is a sacrifice BTW, TH to commit to this political process, period.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-08T07:33:40-06:00
ID
170166
Comment

Rep. Fleming writes: It is a sacrifice BTW, TH to commit to this political process, period. Yes. And if the ban were anything more than an unenforceable election-year ploy, it would be a particularly serious sacrifice for some thousands of women in this state. When I sent my first post in this thread, I expected to hear a point-A, point-B, point-C line of reasoning from you--that you voted for the bill BECAUSE this is why you think it is actually viable, this is why you think it justifies the serious restrictions it would impose on women, and so forth. What I'm hearing instead is that many say this, some say that, and that, jeez, this is unpleasant. Well, I'm sorry it is. I didn't really plan on criticizing Erik Fleming this week. In fact, the last time I lit into another Mississippi Democrat this hard, it was Wayne Dowdy for not adequately supporting your campaign. Maybe I'm just that kind of guy; maybe cutting out caffeine wasn't enough. Or maybe the Mississippi Democratic Party is so chock full of B.S. that I can't take five paces without stepping ankle-deep in it. I don't know if you watched The X-Files, but in that wacky Agent Mulder's office there was a poster with a UFO on it and the caption "I WANT TO BELIEVE." That's pretty much where I am right now. I want to believe. You support abolishing the death penalty. You support rights for undocumented immigrants. You're a great advocate on some other women's rights issues. But this junk legislation, which won't prevent a single fetus from being aborted but will shell out the equivalent to millions of dollars of state funds in legal fees, is such an obvious election-year ploy to me that I can't make heads or tails out of your support for it. I can understand solemnly banning abortion out of concern that fetuses are really sentient human beings and the belief that this is such a horrifying practice for that reason that abolishing it trumps even women's rights. I can understand that. I really can. I've been borderline on abortion for as long as I can remember. But there is no solemnity in this. This is a self-congratulatory bill that will carry no weight, a symbolic affirmation that 94 members of our state House of Representatives would ban abortion, wink wink, if only they could. It dovetails nicely with the Mississippi Democratic Party's vague assurances that when it comes to abortion, we live in a one-party state. And just like that platform, it treats women's rights as a disposable issue. I'm giving you hell in this thread because you had me convinced you were above that sort of thing. But in the final analysis, I don't know that this is going anywhere. The die is cast. The bill will be signed into law on some strange metaphysical level, but it will never be enforced. You will almost certainly win the nomination. Lott will almost certainly win the November election, though you will almost certainly do better in the final tally than you would have done had you voted against the bill. And I will continue to admire the work you do on behalf of many other poor and disenfranchised Mississippians, which is far more consequential than anything I've done, with the understanding that every now and then my favorite Mississippi Democrats will say or do something bizarre and be unable to convincingly explain to their progressive supporters why they did it. I'm not sure if that's okay or not, but it seems to be reality. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-08T08:42:31-06:00
ID
170167
Comment

Here's a little more background on Kennedy's rulings, for anyone who still thinks he might actually support this bill. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-08T10:26:59-06:00
ID
170168
Comment

TH: I respect you and your points. For that reason, I will go over my reason for supporting the bill. 1) I believe that all human life is sacred and should be given every chance to succeed at all stages. 2) I do not believe that human beings, at any stage of life, are disposable 3) I do not believe in the ABC theory, Abortion=Birth Control 4) I do believe abortion is a legal medical procedure that should only be used in extreme cases: rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is endangered 5) 70 percent of the abortions in this state are performed on African-American women 6) I am an advocate for adoption 7) I am an advocate for abstinence education first, contraception education second As for the Kennedy point, it was just FYI because that is part of the national debate. His history has shown he will uphold Roe. As an objective observer, the vote right now looks like it will be 6-3, with Scalia, Thomas and Alito dissenting, but just like with the upcoming election, no one will actually know the outcome until all the votes are in.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-09T05:51:40-06:00
ID
170169
Comment

Thanks for this, Rep. Fleming. I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, the quote from Rep. Holland provided in another thread--where he said "the yellow dogs beat them to the punch line" and strongly implied that his proposal was an attempt to derail a planned Republican campaign--bothers me because it suggests that my suspicions regarding this bill are well founded. I still not only stand firmly against the bill, but consider it a sham piece of legislation that was proposed, and largely supported, for political gain--making it, for that reason, a tangible insult to women's rights. The peripheral fact that in buttering the bread of the bill's supporters Rep. Holland placed its principled opponents in political jeopardy is not lost on me, and I believe that it says some disturbing thing about how much he values the political careers of the disproportionately black and female dissenters versus the predominantly white and male supporters, but that's actually a secondary concern for me. I think we can all agree that the legitimate and sincere public policy debate about abortion represents a tension between the potential rights of the fetus and the known rights of the woman. When I talk to an honest pro-lifer, I hear a person who believes, usually but not always for religious reasons, that fetuses are or can be sentient, or that sentience is not the standard by which human identity should be judged. If you believe that human personhood begins at conception, and you believe this with complete certainty and absolute sincerity, then it is difficult to not support a ban on abortion because personal autonomy can never extend to the right to take another person's life. We don't say, for example, that a woman has the right to kill her baby after birth, no matter how much of a hardship taking care of an infant might be for her. But pro-life politicians should make such decisions with a certain amount of solemnity, because they are violating personal autonomy on the basis of their own beliefs--even if it's for a good reason. Institutional sexism is a great moral evil, and its shadow looms over the entire abortion debate. Sincere pro-lifers should recognize their victories with a solemn dirge, not a triumphant march. They are harming lives, destroying lives, to avoid taking lives. Those are very high stakes. So because the only probable benefit of this legislation is political, and because the political benefit is being exploited and celebrated, I believe that it is an obscene bill and I remain disappointed that you voted for it, whatever your personal motives for doing so might have been. On the other hand... You have patiently responded, point by point, to some very harsh criticism in a very long thread. I see your most recent post dated 4:51am (!), and I know it's been a long day for you. And you are getting lit into by some of the few people who back you up on principled causes that are seldom advocated in Mississippi, causes that you have lost political clout--that you have been "marginalized"--for supporting. Causes like the abolition of the death penalty, the rights of undocumented immigrants, and the fight against state-sponsored homophobia. I can't pretend to understand why you voted for that bill, but I'm tired of chewing out someone who is at least almost always a champion of the poor and disenfranchised for issuing a bad vote on legislation that would have passed by an overwhelming margin anyway. So I'm going to continue to condemn the legislation, but I am going to drop my criticism of your personal character because while I'm honestly not sure what your motives were in supporting this specific bill, given its origins and probable destiny, I can't be sure that they were insincere. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-09T07:23:19-06:00
ID
170170
Comment

I do want to kind of comment on your rationale here, though, because there are some points that go into why people like me are pro-choice: 1) I believe that all human life is sacred and should be given every chance to succeed at all stages. The major vocabulary difference I see between pro-life and pro-choice folks, vis-a-vis when human rights begin, is that pro-lifers talk about life and pro-choicers talk about personhood. A kidney is alive, but it isn't a person. Sperm and ova are alive, but they aren't people. A zygote, the uterine cocktail created at the moment of conception, is alive--but I would argue that it isn't a person. Some might disagree. The early-stage embryo shows microcosmic forms of the basic structural characteristics of a human body, but lacks brain tissue. I would argue that it isn't a person but, again, some might disagree. When brain development commences to the point where some form of sentience might be possible--not intelligence, mind you, but sentience: the ability to experience things--then my inclination is to say that abortion is a morally risky option, but I feel that it is the woman's right to take that moral risk. So my view, and the view of many pro-choicers, is for the first sixty days or so after birth abortion is nothing more than a procedure a woman has performed on her own body, that personhood from that point until midway through the second trimester may exist but that the decision should rest in the hands of the party with the most at stake, i.e. the woman, and that abortions should never be performed beyond the point of viability except in extreme cases because we know for a fact that personhood exists at that stage. I'm saying this to emphasize that the pro-choice position is not the belief that human life isn't sacred. It's the belief that human life and human personhood are two different things. 2) I do not believe that human beings, at any stage of life, are disposable The trouble with this argument is that there is not an overwhelming difference between an ovum and a zygote in terms of human characteristics. The only difference is DNA. DNA, in and of itself, isn't usually regarded as a person--if I pluck out a hair, the DNA in the follicle doesn't make it a person whose life is sacred. And the amount of DNA in a zygote is far less than the amount of DNA in a freshly-plucked hair follicle. 5) 70 percent of the abortions in this state are performed on African-American women That may be because 60 percent of women seeking abortion in this state travel out of state to get it, and those who can afford to travel out of state are disproportionately likely to be white. 6) I am an advocate for adoption Same here. 7) I am an advocate for abstinence education first, contraception education second I am an advocate for equipping youth with a wide range of knowledge so that, regardless of what they choose to do, they are less likely to wind up unintentionally pregnant, infected with HIV-AIDS, and so forth. I think abstinence gets a bad rap and that it's entirely appropriate for the state to spend money making it a viable and socially acceptable choice for young people again (in much the same way that similar campaigns made it more socially acceptable in some circles not to smoke), but if we both promote abstinence and teach about contraception, I'm not sure we're really in a position to say how the two will be prioritized. The individual students will make that determination. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-09T07:42:21-06:00
ID
170171
Comment

I do not believe that human beings, at any stage of life, are disposable Let's get this straight now...you obviously believe babies conceived during an act of incest or rape are disposable.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-09T09:22:50-06:00
ID
170172
Comment

Good point, Ali, and it demonstrates a catch-22 the pro-life movement faces. Even Haley Barbour and George Bush admit that bill like South Dakota's, which allows no rape or incest exemption, are inhumane. But if you allow the rape and incest exemption, you're basically conceding that abortion isn't exactly the taking of another person's life. Nobody is suggesting, here again, that it be legal to kill an infant if said infant resulted from rape or incest, so clearly a distinction is being made between embryos/fetuses and live infants. What the rape/incest exemption basically says is that terminating a pregnancy is okay in cases of extreme hardship. But shouldn't the woman get to decide what constitutes extreme hardship? If an embryo/fetus is not a person, why should that decision be left up to the state? If the embryo/fetus is a person, why can it ever be terminated? I'm reminded of what one of Rep. Fleming's colleagues, a Rep. McBride, had to say in favor of the rape and incest exemption (bolds mine): Rep. Warner McBride, D-Courtland, pointed toward the teenage girls paging in the Mississippi House the day of the debate. He said if one of them should become pregnant because or rape or incest, “I don't think it is the place of the state of Mississippi” to tell them what to do about the pregnancy. “I think that is between them and their Lord,” said McBride, who, like Fleming, voted for the final version of the bill. If it's "between them and their Lord" in cases of rape and incest, why isn't it "between them and their Lord" in other cases? What is it about pregnancies that don't involve rape or incest that take the individual woman's conscience out of the equation? The reductio ad absurdum of the position that enforces a ban with a rape/incest exemption is summed up best, I think, by South Dakota state senator Bill Napoli, who supported the across-the-board ban but named one case where he thought a pregnancy resulting from rape could be terminated under the to-save-the-woman's-life exception (warning: creepy misogyny alert): BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life. That THUD-THUD-THUD sound y'all are hearing is me banging my head against the wall. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-09T09:41:13-06:00
ID
170173
Comment

Pretty soon they'll add another clause to that "save the woman's life" thing that negates it in cases "if the fetus is a boy." Might as well go ahead and be honest.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-09T11:57:12-06:00
ID
170174
Comment

Ali: You want abortion on demand so I don't think you ought to worry about my semantics. You obviously think all life is disposable, especially if it is conveinient for the mother to live her life the way she wants. You lost me a long time ago when you started trying to equate abortion with castration, which by the way is legal in South Carolina in cases of rape. You want girls to have unprotected sex, get pregnant and then run to the abortion clinic to get fixed. Since being judgemental and reactionary here seems to be accepted dialogue for you, this assertion should be accepted as how you view the world. It is not a health issue for you, but a matter of freedom from the burden of motherhood. It is also obvious that you are a sexist, based on that last ridiculous comment. TH: You never heard me say that life starts at conception, but if a pregnancy is terminated, then life cannot exist for that fetus, for it is not given the chance. To me, that is a waste of potential.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-10T02:52:20-06:00
ID
170175
Comment

I'm going to save your comments to Ali for a second post, because my response to them will be much less philosophical. Rep. Fleming writes: You never heard me say that life starts at conception, but if a pregnancy is terminated, then life cannot exist for that fetus, for it is not given the chance. I assume by life you mean personhood, since we both agree that fetuses are alive. I mean, that's not really a controversial question. So let's look again at that statement: If a pregnancy is terminated, then life cannot exist for that fetus, for it is not given the chance. Now, if we both agree that a six-week-old fetus is not a person, only a potential person, then these arguments all sound equally valid to me: If I don't have sexual relations with a woman and impregnate her soon, life cannot exist for millions of my sperm, for they are not given a chance. If any given non-pregnant woman of child-bearing age menstruates this month without getting pregnant, then life cannot exist for her egg, for it is not given a chance. By promoting abstinence and working to fight unplanned pregnancies, you essentially argue for the termination of the vast majority of these potential persons, these sperm and egg cells, every day. I don't see this as a bad thing. So it doesn't make any sense at all to ban abortion based on the possible future personhood of a biological entity. Either there's present personhood or ome other sacred status that is present in the fetus beyond what might happen to it in the future (which is the position most pro-lifers hold and the position I assumed you held), or the entities in question are just the biological processes of a person's body--and any potential personhood they might have in the future should be contingent on what that person chooses to do with them. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-10T03:27:17-06:00
ID
170176
Comment

Now for the rest. Ali, I apologize for jumping in here, but I can't let this slide. Rep. Fleming writes: You want abortion on demand so I don't think you ought to worry about my semantics. I want abortion on demand too for most of any given pregnancy, Rep. Fleming, and you want abortion on demand, too, for women who are raped or victims of incest. So let's cut out the "abortion on demand" crap, which is nothing more than a rhetorical device. If abortion is legal, it will be available whenever a woman demands it to be so; if it's illegal, then it will be unavailable (at least as a safe and legal procedure in Mississippi) because you and other politicians demand it to be so. Either way, somebody's "demand" will be the deciding factor. You obviously think all life is disposable, especially if it is conveinient for the mother to live her life the way she wants. Yes, Rep. Fleming, I'm sure this social worker and community activist believes that "all life is disposable." Grow up. You lost me a long time ago when you started trying to equate abortion with castration, I got the metaphor; she sees laws restricting abortions as interfering with a woman's reproductive freedom, just as castration would interfere with a man's reproductive freedom. ' You want girls to have unprotected sex, get pregnant and then run to the abortion clinic to get fixed. No, I'm pretty sure she wants girls who have already gotten pregnant to be able to run to the abortion clinic to get fixed. The operative word in "pro-choice," Rep. Fleming, is "choice." I also see no evidence whatsoever that Ali supports unprotected sex. As a public figure who would presumably like to sound like he has at least a little bit of sense, you should either back up this claim or apologize for it. Since being judgemental and reactionary here seems to be accepted dialogue for you, this assertion should be accepted as how you view the world. I accept the assertion as evidence that you don't understand the pro-choice movement at all, and may have some latent hostility towards women you perceive to be "free spirits." That doesn't bode well for your career as a national politician. Even Republicans can't get away with that sort of rhetoric anymore. It is not a health issue for you, but a matter of freedom from the burden of motherhood. You really have no idea what it is "for her," and I'm not going to speak on her behalf, but for me this is indeed a women's rights issue (a "freedom" issue, if you will), and not strictly a health issue. If the zygote, embryo, or fetus is not a person, then government intrusion amounts to a statement that the state has the right to tell women what to do with their own bodies. I disagree and, unless you're prepared to say that you believe that the being inside a woman's womb during the very first weeks of pregnancy is a person, it seems to me that you should probably disagree, too. It is also obvious that you are a sexist, based on that last ridiculous comment. I'm more concerned about the overwhelmingly antifeminist tone of your post, which goes way beyond abortion into a patronizing, and very patriarchal, lifestyle criticism. Regardless of how you feel about Ali (who you don't know from Adam's housecat, and would probably like if you did), your post to her is ultimately about women and what women may and may not do. And that showed me a side of your rhetoric I kind of wish I hadn't seen. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-10T04:02:05-06:00
ID
170177
Comment

TH: You have just made my point about comments towards me. I deliberately wrote that to prick a nerve based on unfounded assumptions, the same that you, Ali, Donna and everyone else has made about what my intentions are. It is not nice when you have defend an attack when someone jumps to conclusions, is it? I have painstakingly responded to all your criticisms and legitimate concerns about the issue, but you all continue to question my character and motives. Short of a lie detector, I don't know what else to do. Sorry for having to go to an extreme, immature as you thought it to be, but even a superhero has his limits. ;) BTW, TH, I am sure Ali would not mind your act of chivalry. That was noble of you. Now for your more intellectual post, I have a problem with your philosophy that equates a fetus with a body part, like a placenta in your pro-choice blog. If it was that simple, then abortion is a no-brainer. It would not be a decision that would need spiritual conuseling. It would not be a decision that would have a myriad of options like adoption for example. It would not bring many of the ethical concerns. It also illogical to say that I am terminating something that never happened. By not having sex, you are not terminating a pregnancy, for it never occurred. As for this recurring theme/accusation that people who are pro-life are women-haters, it marginalizes, to use a favorite word here, the argument to basic name-calling. It would be very popular in the African-American community to say, for example, that Republican economic policies are racists, when in fact they have a greater impact. But that argument would turn off a white person who may have an open mind because they become defensive of the racism allegation. The more salient argument about restricting a woman's reproductive right and the privacy issue are the points which I understand. But painting people who may disagree with that with such broad strokes put those on the pro-choice side in the same light as someone who stereotypes blacks for bigoted purposes. Just a thought. Now for clairty, a fetus is a biological human being that has the potential for a full and abundant life, or personhood, as you refer to it. It is on that premise that I believe a female who is carrying that fetus should not abort. The compromise, which preserves some modicum of reproductive freedom, is to allow a woman to abort when she has been violated of her human right of security by a rapist or a relative. It is still repulsive that abortion would be that option, but the tramatic experience of the violation warrants that female to be given the right to that extreme sense of closure. FTR, I am glad that we agree that abstinence and contraception is a good thing. Public policy is a balancing act that does not claim perfection, so it is easy to rip the policy makers. I still stand by the fact that I made an informed decision based on the merits of the issue. Donna challenged me earlier to lead a discussion about wedge issues, but the problem is that wedge issues are successful because they are so emotional. As much as people have tried on this blog to present sound arguments, emotions have boiled over, i.e. banging heads on walls. I have had some "back-off" moments myself, as my last post illustrated, even though it was calculated. If your goal was to wear me out, you have succeeded. I am bloodied, but unbowed in defending my vote. So let me throw out this disclaimer, if I have offended anyone with my commentary, I apologize. I still view you as my Internet friends and I know we have many more battles to fight side-by-side on. One thing, I have learned being a legislator is that someone who is your opponent on one issue, may be your ally on the next so you try not to burn your bridges. So, feel free to continue to rip me on this issue, but I just wanted to extend that olive branch before the debate continued. Gotta go.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-10T09:32:02-06:00
ID
170178
Comment

Fleming-I'm not quite getting where you are trying to go with this. See, I never really thought I brought your "character" into judgement. I thought I was calling you out on a bad vote for a bill that is pretty close to my heart. That's called being held "accountable" as a public politician. As for abortion "on demand". Isn't that what them being LEGAL is? They are available for someone to "choose"? Please correct me if I'm wrong. The hyperbole insinuating whether or not I would like roving bands of attack coat hangers is a little over the top (did you get that little bit of irony?). Its also the argument that most men make when they want to shame a woman into being quiet. "Call her a 'whore'. Make her look like she has no morals..." Its an old argument, Fleming, and one that gives me an even greater glimpse into your beliefs regarding women's rights. And, as for my lack of reverence for life...well, I wasn't going to bring this up, but you asked. Remember those African American girls in your community you were 'voting' for? Well, I work at a crisis shelter for "those" girls about fifty to sixty hours a week. I work with these girls every day. And, before this job, I held the hand of a sixteen-year-old when the doctor told her she was pregnant...and I held her hand when that baby came into the world. I held that baby when it was baptized, and I babysat that baby when she needed to work at the age of seventeen after she got married. I found that baby counseling after living in a "nonsafe" environment led to that child being molested by another man in the house. I held that baby while its mother went to the hospital because its father had given her a black eye. And, I held that baby while her mother found out she was pregnant again and cried. So, don't you ever dare to tell me I don't revere life. But, I looked into that mother's face when she found out she was pregnant again and wouldn't have told her for ALL the money in the world that she had to keep that baby. And she was married, and the baby was her husbands. A drug addict. An abuser. Because that wasn't my choice. It, ultimately, was hers. I was just there to back her up. Whatever she needed, whenever she needed. And when that baby was born....it called me Mama Ali when he started speaking. So when you work "the streets" and you face a broken, bleeding, crying woman...and your job is to give her the "options". Well, wouldn't you just hate to tell her that THIS year the legislature decided it wanted to play games with her options? Because that pisses me off. But if you feel you can justify it to them, please give me your phone number and I'll start handing it out to your constituents I see invested in this vote. That way, the women can just ask you. See, in this argument, I'm not just fighting for abortion. I'm fighting for one man to step out of his male entitlement paradigm and see women as whole, entire beings. WHOLE PEOPLE. People that deserve just as much and as many rights as you. So, don't ever confuse my passion about this issue with fighting for "death" ever again. I'm fighting for women. Women who often do not get to speak because they are afraid of what MEN will say to them, what MEN will call them. "Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon."----Gloria Steinem. Go ahead, Fleming, make ME the joke. I can take it.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-10T10:37:33-06:00
ID
170179
Comment

I wasn't questioning your character, Rep. Fleming. I was questioning your judgment -- and explaining why I think questioning character and integrity (including toward women) is important for people running for public office. I must say, though, that your comments to Ali now are making me question your character, and your views toward women. The following statement you made to Ali is the most outrageous thing *anyone* has posted on this site to day: You obviously think all life is disposable, *YOU* obviously aren't listening. I have nothing else to say. I think Ms. Greggs is doing just fine on her own.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-10T13:56:00-06:00
ID
170180
Comment

Rep. Fleming writes: I deliberately wrote that to pr!ck a nerve based on unfounded assumptions, the same that you, Ali, Donna and everyone else has made about what my intentions are. Oh, I get it. So you were just pretending to condemn Ali, just like Rep. Holland was just pretending to ban abortion. I'm going to repeat that quote Ali brought up because I think it was one of the wisest and most profounds things Gloria Steinem ever said--and she said many wise and profound things (and so does Ali, for that matter): "Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon." I'd love to continue our discussion on fetal personhood sometime, but not now. I feel uncomfortable having a long philosophical discussion in the same thread where you're treating my friends like this. Suffice to say that, as I thought I had made clear in my previous posts, I am not saying that I believe that all fetuses are non-persons. I am saying that the act of conception does not magically and instantaneously create persons. Science has shown us that individual people, like life in general, are the products of gradual evolution rather than instantaneous creation. That makes it harder to answer questions like whether or not a fetus is a person, which is why I believe that, pre-viability, the only person who has the right to make that determination is the mother. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-10T20:34:23-06:00
ID
170181
Comment

Ali, Donna, TH: Oh well, so much for the olive branch. Your remarks will be taken in the context given. If everything I say is going to be attacked, then there is nothing more to say. I have read every point you made and it is duly noted. I only wish that you were capable of doing the same. Since that is not the case, it is just time to move on.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-11T00:41:00-06:00
ID
170182
Comment

These remarks don't make sense to me. You are being taken in *exactly* the context you yourself have provided. And only you are saying that various points aren't "duly noted." The truth is, you've made some very offensive statements that rather overshadow some of your more tame posts. Personally, I see no reason to go point for point for you on this issue. You've left no room for discussion or intelligent debate. I haven't said that I won't be civil to you in the future, or agree with you on other issues. I do not, however, plan to vote for you based on what has been demonstrated toward an entire gender of humans in this thread.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-11T00:51:44-06:00
ID
170183
Comment

I concur. Rep. Fleming, I have feminist commitments. I can vote for a pro-lifer who values women's rights but sincerely believes abortion is murder, and that ending the practice subsequently overrides even women's rights. I respect that point of view. Who I can't vote for is a pro-lifer who is not prepared to say that abortion is murder, but is happy to restrict (or pretend to restrict) women's rights anyway--especially when that pro-lifer is willing to make sexist lifestyle assumptions about women who disagree with him. I can't support or condone that kind of thinking. I am well aware of the fact that you are the only member of the state House of Representatives who is willing to go at this discussion in a public online blog. I admire you for that, and for many other things. But that doesn't mean I like what I hear in this thread. If your views on this issue are representative of the majority of Democrats who supported this legislation, then I have to say I fear for the future of our state party. Until recently, I was of the opinion that the Mississippi Democratic Party was the party of black folks and the party of women. What I am finding is a party leadership that seems ashamed to be the party of black folks, and both party leaders and elected officials who seem ashamed to be the party of women. I have no use for that. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-11T01:08:52-06:00
ID
170184
Comment

Agreed, Tom. I'm further away from the Mississippi Democratic Party now than I was a year ago, or two years ago. I think they're getting worse, and more cowardly, by the month -- even as Republicans are getting weak. At the rate they're going, they won't score a single point off the GOP's current weaknesses. And I truly have never seen a more game-playin' bunch in my life! (OK, the national GOP plays some games, as does the state one -- but at least theirs succeed from time to time.) Otherwise, many of Rep. Fleming's comments on this blog about women have actually reminded me of Kamikaze's comments about women on the Spike Lee thread: They seem to come from the same place -- i.e. attitudes about "bad" women. However, Kamikaze seemed more willing to publicly self-examine his comments after hearing how seriously others took them. Of course, he isn't running for office.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-11T01:19:57-06:00
ID
170185
Comment

Rep. Fleming said: "if I have offended anyone with my commentary, I apologize." Posted at 8:32 am, 3/10/06 Donna: Every post I have posted, even the contrived Ali Greggs one, has been on point with the debate. To say my comments are not intelligent is flat out insulting, biased and condescending. Question 1: If you think I am anti-woman, and you are a woman, why would you be "civil" with me? Question 2: What exactly have I demonstrated toward "an entire gender of human beings" ?

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-11T02:09:52-06:00
ID
170186
Comment

Rep. Fleming writes: To say my comments are not intelligent is flat out insulting, biased and condescending. Nobody who posted the antifeminist schpiel that you unceremoniously dumped on this discussion less than 24 hours ago should really be accusing anyone else of being insulting, biased, or condescending. You managed all three in your post to Ali Greggs, and your tone has not appreciably changed since then. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-11T02:22:06-06:00
ID
170187
Comment

"Rep. Fleming writes: I deliberately wrote that to pr!ck a nerve based on unfounded assumptions, the same that you, Ali, Donna and everyone else has made about what my intentions are. Oh, I get it. So you were just pretending to condemn Ali..." YES, TH! That was my point, but you.did.not get.it. I don't know Ali no more than you know me. Therefore I am accusing Donna Ladd of being insulting, biased and condescending for saying that my responses over the last week have not been intelligent. And speaking about being anti-feminist, don't you think the women you say I am dumping on can speak for themselves without your assistance, or is there some latent chauvenistic tendency on your part that this discussion is revealing? If the discussion has degenerated, you need to only look into the mirror and every post that has been offered by your side. At 11:41 pm, I said I was through with it, since it is obvious it was going nowhere. You decided to continue, so here I am. Now it is up to you what you want to do.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-11T03:39:55-06:00
ID
170188
Comment

Rep. Fleming: And speaking about being anti-feminist, don't you think the women you say I am dumping on can speak for themselves without your assistance, or is there some latent chauvenistic tendency on your part that this discussion is revealing? Every male has latent chauvinistic tendencies, and I'm sure I'm no exception. There's no need to "reveal" that fact; I wouldn't be a real feminist if I didn't acknowledge it. That said, I have a clear history of backing up my friends--of both genders--and will continue to do so without apology unless and until they ask me to stop. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-11T04:04:36-06:00
ID
170189
Comment

Therefore I am accusing Donna Ladd of being insulting, biased and condescending for saying that my responses over the last week have not been intelligent. So accuse me of that, Rep. Fleming. It won't be the first time that someone who does not like being disagreed with does that. However, in your defensiveness, you are still not seeing the big picture of what I, or others here, are saying. I suggest you try to put aside your own defensiveness and re-read all the posts carefully. I did not say once that you have said nothing "intelligent" over the last week. I'm sure there are smart points buried in there among the insults toward my gender. However, the framework for your thinking on the abortion, as you have revealed it to us on this thread, leaves "no room for discussion or intelligent debate," in my view. You're the one who has made this a debate over women's behavior; Tom articulated this point much better than I can: I would respect you more here if you were saying that you believe in your heart that every incidence of abortion is murder. And to be honest with you, I have never understood someone who would allow "murder" only in the cases of rape or incest. And I've already expressed my concern above about the "rape" exception and how it might, or might not, be interpreted in this state. However, I haven't seen a lot of interest in discussing those points, at least not from you. You're just repeating a mantra on that point—that you don't believe in it in those cases—presumably because those are popular exceptions. However, if abortion is "murder" and should be outlawed--which I don't buy--I would argue that it should be illegal in all cases except possibly "self-defense" (which could be translated into cases where the mother's life is in danger). Also, if it is murder, not only the doctor should be criminally responsible, but so should a woman or man who assisted in that "murder." But I just don't even see how to have an intelligent discussion with you based on what you've posted so far and your reasoning for it. Others may. I've never said you're not entitled to your opinion, and I continue to give you a forum for it, but no one ever said I had to agree with every point, or not stand up when I feel like my gender is attacked here. Also, as I have stated, you are running for public office, and that means your character is on trial. If you don't like that fact, perhaps you should withdraw from the race.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-11T10:58:08-06:00
ID
170190
Comment

FTR, there is a criminal misdemeanor penalty in the bill, but a state prosecutor can use other laws pertaining to the death of a fetus, if he/she so chose, for a felony murder conviction. Now some points: One, I am not withdrawing from the race, despite your repeated attempts to get me to do so. Two, You can't make my arguments for me, especially if the reasoning is to make it easier to follow along or counterpoint. Three: "I am sure there are smart points buried in there among the insults to my gender..." Outside of Ali post, which BTW, I said was not an accurate description of her, but was posted to make a point, and apologized for since you still can't comprehend that, where is the evidence that the "insults" override the "smart points"? FTR, this is how you entered the dialogue on 3/6/06: "I would agree that it limits freedom for women in their reproductive rights, but to say that I, as a male, have no right to make a public policy decision is not fair either. I don't think you, as a male, are in any danger of losing that right anytime soon, Rep. Fleming. I say all that to state that my vote on an issue you disagree with me about is not the totality of my body of work as an elected official. This is true. However, you are voting on expansive issues that affect an entire gender of people. I doubt very seriously that if our roles were reverse, and I decided to vote on an issue that would affect an entire race of people negatively, and not my own, that you would accept it if I used the same lame excuse. Whether or not you are doing this based on political motivation because you think it's the only way you might win the Senate seat -- and we have no way of knowing the truth on that -- it is an extremely disappointing move on your part. And I suspect you just lost many possible progressive votes, including mine, by doing this. I've beginning to see Mr. Dowdy's point (although I still don't particularly respect it) -- I'm not exactly seeing how you would be such a better choice than Sen. Lott. Maybe I'll sit this race out altogether this year. "Also, Tom makes a very good point: You are either very uneducated on where the Supreme Court currently stands on this issue, or you are playing political games with this vote. And I hate such political games -- whether it's the southern strategy by Barbour, or a so-called progressive joining the radical gun lobby that wants no gun regulations, whatsoever, or voting to help eliminate the right to a legal and safe abortion in this state. Both stances, considering some of your others, reeks of political gamemanship -- and the type of political game-playing that I believe plays right into the radical right's hands. Either way, I'm not with you." This is your example of intelligent discussion? I think it justifies my position that from the start you have been insulting, biased and condescending. Now justify yours. And try not to use the elitist "lame excuse" that you won't dignify my request on the basis that you can't have an intelligent discussion. I would hope for a little more effort from you.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-11T12:34:17-06:00
ID
170191
Comment

One, I am not withdrawing from the race, despite your repeated attempts to get me to do so. I'm not trying to get you to withdraw. I said that if you do not want to address question about your attitudes toward women and your character, then perhaps you should withdraw. You're putting words in my mouth. Rep. Fleming, I don't have to justify my opinion about your vote in this case. For one, I'm not running for office. I'm a private citizen. However, I stand by exactly what I said and don't see that it is "insulting" or "condescending" to you -- although, of course, it's "biased." (Every post here is biased, including yours.) Allow me to repeat myself: Also, Tom makes a very good point: You are either very uneducated on where the Supreme Court currently stands on this issue, or you are playing political games with this vote. And I hate such political games -- whether it's the southern strategy by Barbour, or a so-called progressive joining the radical gun lobby that wants no gun regulations, whatsoever, or voting to help eliminate the right to a legal and safe abortion in this state. Both stances, considering some of your others, reeks of political gamemanship -- and the type of political game-playing that I believe plays right into the radical right's hands. Either way, I'm not with you." You have said nothing that convinces me otherwise, Rep. Fleming. I'm sorry that does not sit well with you, but it's true. As for your excuse that this is only one vote -- well, it is an important vote to my gender, as well as yours, and one that says a whole lot to me and others about where your head's at and what you would do as a U.S. Senator, which is an important position with many more powers to affect constitutional rights, as you know. And I can't imagine the roles being reversed, and my advocating something extraordinarily dramatic that affects the rights of an entire race of people, and you allowing me to say, "Oh, don't worry, Erik, that's only one of my votes. I'm cool on all the others. Don't question my character because of it. Don't worry, be happy." (That, by the way, was a bit condescending.) Doesn't work that way, Rep. Fleming. Nor should it. I truly don't care whether you stay in the race or not.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-11T16:07:08-06:00
ID
170192
Comment

I think what bothers me more than anything else in this conversation, including the actual vote, is that he was willing to post what he posted to Ali to "make a point." As if the fact that she's a woman, presumably in his mind a "loose" woman, makes it okay for him to, well, make her a dirty joke. If you want Exhibit A for why I will not be able to vote for Erik Fleming in June (and will vote Green in November if he gets the nomination), you need only look at the fact that, for all his responses to us, Ali posted this in response to his criticism of her and he ignored her post completely: The hyperbole insinuating whether or not I would like roving bands of attack coat hangers is a little over the top (did you get that little bit of irony?). Its also the argument that most men make when they want to shame a woman into being quiet. "Call her a 'whore'. Make her look like she has no morals..." Its an old argument, Fleming, and one that gives me an even greater glimpse into your beliefs regarding women's rights. And, as for my lack of reverence for life...well, I wasn't going to bring this up, but you asked. Remember those African American girls in your community you were 'voting' for? Well, I work at a crisis shelter for "those" girls about fifty to sixty hours a week. I work with these girls every day. And, before this job, I held the hand of a sixteen-year-old when the doctor told her she was pregnant...and I held her hand when that baby came into the world. I held that baby when it was baptized, and I babysat that baby when she needed to work at the age of seventeen after she got married. I found that baby counseling after living in a "nonsafe" environment led to that child being molested by another man in the house. I held that baby while its mother went to the hospital because its father had given her a black eye. And, I held that baby while her mother found out she was pregnant again and cried. So, don't you ever dare to tell me I don't revere life. But, I looked into that mother's face when she found out she was pregnant again and wouldn't have told her for ALL the money in the world that she had to keep that baby. And she was married, and the baby was her husbands. A drug addict. An abuser. Because that wasn't my choice. It, ultimately, was hers. I was just there to back her up. Whatever she needed, whenever she needed. And when that baby was born....it called me Mama Ali when he started speaking. So when you work "the streets" and you face a broken, bleeding, crying woman...and your job is to give her the "options". Well, wouldn't you just hate to tell her that THIS year the legislature decided it wanted to play games with her options? Because that pisses me off. But if you feel you can justify it to them, please give me your phone number and I'll start handing it out to your constituents I see invested in this vote. Your response to that amounted to "Oh, I was just messing with you. You're not worth taking seriously." I don't see how I'm supposed to support a candidate who dismisses the lives and stories of women like that. Until that happened, even after your support of the abortion bill, you still had my vote. The moment you dismissed Ali's point of view as a social worker, who actually works with these young women whose lives you're legislating, was the moment I decided that I can't support you for U.S. Senate, or for any other office higher than the one you presently hold. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-11T19:48:20-06:00
ID
170193
Comment

Yes, I agree. He made "a point," but I'm not sure it was the intended one. And it doesn't read like that post was made to "make a point." I just don't believe it. And if it was done for that reason, I wonder where that fits into the condescending or insulting line-up. Man. Regardless, though, Tom, your point is very good. Why didn't he come back and talk about one of the best posts that has ever been on this site -- what you just bolded? I guess it is not clear to Rep. Erik Fleming, but we take our rights as women very seriously. It is not up to him to take them away. Period.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-11T19:54:56-06:00
ID
170194
Comment

I hear you. I'm reminded of the folks who tell racist jokes and then backtrack and say "Oh, I don't think like that--it's just a joke! Don't take it so seriously!" And you're so right; it is one of the best posts I've ever seen on this site. I mean, that's the abortion issue right there. While he and I were wanking around about abortion in the abstract, Ali had just potently captured what it means to the real world. And he completely ignored her. He took the bouquet of flowers she gave him and put it in the mulcher for fertilizer. There are women who believe men shouldn't have opinions about abortion. After reading Rep. Fleming's contributions to this thread, I can understand why. I hate to criticize you like this, Rep. Fleming, because you are putting yourself out there in a way that other politicians don't. I'm pretty sure that most of the Democrats who supported this bill, for what it's worth, would sound just as bad or worse in a thread like this. But as a feminist, I do not have the luxury of choosing which men I criticize. It is necessary to shout down misogyny wherever we see it, to be the hardcase, to be the party pooper, because being "polite" and "letting it slide" is how we ended up in this mess, in terms of both institutional racism and institutional sexism, to begin with. At one point he says to me, and I thought at the time that it sounded kind on the one hand and a little disconcerting on the other: "I respect you and your points. For that reason, I will go over my reason for supporting the bill." Here's a tip for Rep. Fleming, and it goes for any other male reading this: If you don't respect Donna Ladd or Ali Greggs or the other wonderful and strong women who walk with me on this crazy planet, then please, don't respect me either. It'll save time. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-11T21:05:22-06:00
ID
170195
Comment

After all that, I'll interpret these last posts as "apology not accepted." As for the comment about not supporting me for anything higher than the position I already hold, don't do me any favors. I am not anti-female, but I am definitely anti-elitist, for elitism fits well with some of the Lott supporters. Those that aren't elitists are the ones I am trying to court for support, so if it wasn't this issue, I am sure you all would have found something else to distance yourself from me to justify your status of self-righteousness. Those of us who work in the field will continue to toil while the elite thumb their noses at us and look at us with disdain. Good luck on supporting someone who thinks global warming is a solution to solving the heating crisis among the elderly. Let's review: the best post on this blog ever was a woman challenging an African-American elected official's commitment to his community by telling the story of how she held a black woman's hand during a crisis. How does the song go? Oh, yeah: "I see your true colors shining through." Speaking of such, the winner for the best performance of a subtle racist remark for 2006 is...the remark made that put Kamikazee and me in the same category about hating women with bad attitudes. (Subtle message there: Misogyny, it's a black thang!) Try to finish your acceptance speech before the music starts.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-12T02:57:18-06:00
ID
170196
Comment

Oh! I'm wounded to the quick! A Republican-lite sellout is accusing me of RACISM! My heart! My heart! *rolling eyes* Enjoy your campaign against Senator Lott, Rep. Fleming. If this is how you always respond when people try to hold you accountable for your actions, I think it's safe to say that he will. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T03:14:03-06:00
ID
170197
Comment

(Incidentally: None of us are Lott supporters, which leaves me in a predicament for November. If you win the nomination and both major parties have nothing to offer but politicians who make their living by spreading hate and trying to convince the world of how conservative they are, I guess I'll have to vote Green.)

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T03:16:54-06:00
ID
170198
Comment

(Incidentally, part two: If that's really all you saw in Ali's post, then you are entrenched even further in your male privilege than I thought. She's a friggin' social worker. I know you don't value that, because after all she's just a woman, but it might be advisable to at least pretend that you do.)

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T03:25:28-06:00
ID
170199
Comment

Oh, hell, I'm still not finished. Apology not accepted is right, Rep. Fleming, because you have yet to offer anything that resembles an actual apology for anything. ("I apologize" doesn't really count when it's part of an attack on another person.) And your latest post demonstrates that rather clearly. You seem to believe that the best defense is a good offense--if you're accused of sexism for selling out women's rights, accuse a woman of racism at random for calling you a sexist. If you're accused of pandering to northeast Jackson's white conservative base, accuse your liberal base of "elitism." You also seem to have this damned fool idea in your head that if you're an elected official being called on your actions by your constituents, the best way to respond is to attack your constituents. I'm almost speechless. Obviously "almost" is the operative word. If you're going to sell out to the right wing, you should probably go whole hog with it. I see you've already attacked Bennie Thompson, and implicitly Harvey Johnson, on the local right-wing blog. That should score you a few votes. (Or would, if you weren't talking to an audience that had already committed to Trent Lott, oh, about 18 years ago.) But that's not going to be enough. I see you've announced that you're joining the NRA this week, and will put your membership number online when you receive it--nice timing, by the way. That should score you a few votes. (Or would, if... Well, you know the drill.) Attacking Donna Ladd was probably another part of that strategy, because lord knows JFP is seen by the local white conservative establishment as a liberal paper. But there are still these nagging parts of your platform that will turn off your target audience. Your opposition to the death penalty, for one. Your support for the rights of undocumented immigrants, for another. Your support for public education, for still another. So until you sell out on those causes, too, I guess you'll be at a disadvantage. Or would be, if you were running as a Republican. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T03:38:48-06:00
ID
170200
Comment

And yes, I know you never accused me of racism. But your attack on Donna, which seems to be predicated on the notion that you and Kamikaze are the only two black men in a city that's 72% African-American, makes no damned sense. I wish I thought you had the decency to apologize for it. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T03:44:03-06:00
ID
170201
Comment

Oh, hell, I'm STILL not finished. I'm fired up. You wrote: Let's review: the best post on this blog ever was a woman challenging an African-American elected official's commitment to his community by telling the story of how she held a black woman's hand during a crisis. Unless you're a woman, Ali was not talking about "your" community. She was talking about the victims of anti-abortion laws. She was also telling a personal story drawn from her life as a social worker. You've already made it clear that you don't value that. I don't know for sure why, and maybe I shouldn't have speculated as to why, but you clearly don't. I am learning things about you every day that I never wanted to know. I think participating in your weblog might have been a bad idea. I think starting up a weblog might have also been a bad idea, if you're not prepared to take criticism from your constituents. All of your constituents. Most of whom are women. Your "Why I'm Running" page goes like this. Bolds mine: We have seen up-close how ideological stubbornness can paralyze a legislative process. I believe it is time for statesmanship to return to the process. My political philosophy has been that a politician only thinks about the next election, but a statesman thinks about the next generation. Government shouldn't rule by popularity, but by sound policy that will positively affect generations to come. If I am elected, I will stay true to the principles stated above and be a champion for progress and empowerment for our citizens. As a follower of Christ, my decisions will be tempered by my convictions to show mercy, do justly, and to walk humbly. I love Mississippi. I believe that when men drew the political boundaries of this state, God traced the lines with His finger. Despite historic and socio-economic challenges, Mississippians have risen above them to do great things for this state and the nation. Mississippians are a proud, charitable and independent people. It is this tradition that I intend take to Washington, D.C. to break the political malaise and divisiveness that has devalued the effectiveness of federal government, for Mississippi and the nation deserves better. That is why I am running for the U.S. Senate. You are harming your allies, Rep. Fleming, your core supporters. In between health concerns and home caregiving responsibilities, post-deadline book projects, transportation issues arising from neurological impairment, I've recently made an effort to get involved in MIRA and MESJ. I dread what you might say about me behind my back to some of my new friends in these organizations, because the word of a state congressman is much more important than the word of some loud, eccentric, strange-looking young school library writer. I also worry about how your racism smear might harm Donna Ladd. It isn't the first time she's gotten attacked like this--Tisdale goes after her pretty consistently, I gather--but Erik Fleming? Erik damn Fleming? The guy who proposes a bill to ban the death penalty every year? This is the guy who won't take backtalk from his female constituents about an abortion bill? This is a guy who flings around racism allegations at people who have made antiracism their lives' work? This is a guy who votes to ban abortions not out of concern for fetuses, but out of concern for making sure that sex has consequences? Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison. I have to believe you're a better man than this. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T04:18:30-06:00
ID
170202
Comment

Folks, I spent an hour and a half blogging politics in various places today and all it has gotten me is depressed and frustrated. I'm out of this thread. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T05:21:15-06:00
ID
170203
Comment

Rep. Fleming, I was just working and had a thought. (I should stop doing that when I'm working.) So I went back to the pro-choice thread on my blog, where you said, clear as day: This is my position on the abortion issue: I do agree that human life is sacred. I do not believe in the ABC principle, that is Abortion=Birth Control. It is a position I have evolved into as I have advanced in my spiritual walk. That is why I have sponsored legislation in the past to limit abortions to the first trimester. I think it is a legal medical procedure that should be used only in extreme cases, such as the health of the mother, rape and incest, but if Roe is overtuned, I would not oppose the state, if they wanted abandon the practice, for we only have one on-demand clinic in the state as it is. If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe, I hope to be in a position to provide funding for family crisis prevention centers, for they will need it to be able to cater to the young women that will need that assistance. I also support more funding for abstinence education, to continue to decrease the numbers of women who would seek abortions. I believe in accessibility for adoptions, that is why I support a tax credit for adoptive couples. I am opposed to the death penalty and to euthanasia as well. In all fairness, though, I have not limited "life" to just the issue of pregnancy. I am committed to make every citizen's quality of life better than what it is now, especially on the issues of health care, wealth building and retirement security. I don't know if this is a pro-life or a pro-choice position, given today's political climate, but that is what I believe. I used to be one of those folks that volunteered to escort women into clinics. Now after becoming a father myself, I find it hard to justify any position that deals with affirming abortion other than the fact that if the decision is made to overturn Roe, that somehow the right of privacy is not sacrificed in the process. That maybe optimistic, but I believe it can be possible. I do not oppose conventional birth control or the morning after pill, but in my profession as an abstinence educator, I cannot discuss it as an option in the classroom, due to federal funding restrictions. I think that exacerbates the problem tremendously, for I do not think that abstinence and birth control are mutually exclusive. But that's just my take on it. I need to realize that, however dishonest proposing the bill itself might have been (and Rep. Holland is on record as saying it was put up there for political reasons), and however little it might have actually advanced your cause, voting for it was consistent with your record. I should not have suggested otherwise, and I apologize. But I believe you do need to look at how you treated Donna and Ali, particularly Ali, in this thread. Her post really was one of the best ones I'd seen on this site, and you stepped on it. If you look at the progression of the thread, you'll find that people got angry when you started ignoring, indeed ridiculing, the points of view of women--the very people whose lives are restricted by this legislation. And your depiction of Ali, whether you meant it to be serious or not (and it certainly doesn't read like it's intended as satire), is exactly what a raving misogynist would have said in response to her post. This is infuriating when it comes from an ostensibly progressive member of the state House of Representatives. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell why that would get people who are concerned about women's rights riled up. You know what you need to say here. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T05:52:16-06:00
ID
170204
Comment

Wait, this is the best thing EVER... Fleming, that baby AND that woman were white. Bully for you showing YOUR true colors. I never mentioned any.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-12T10:42:32-06:00
ID
170205
Comment

TH: For the fourth time, I apologize for any comments that were considered offensive. I had apologized the morning after I made the negative Ali post because I had a thought (guilt, contrition) it would not be taken in the context given, but by then it was too late. Again, I am not offended by being held accountable, but I feel passionate about being accused of pandering. This whole thread is proof of how hard it is to govern from all parties. I usually try to stay above the fray and offer and concede points. I started out that way, but because of the nature of the issue, emotions took over, and I just got caught up. I am human. I am glad that you put my position before the vote on this thread to prove my point and I accept your apology because I know it was hard for you to do, considering how the thread degenerated. One point of contention with one of your last posts though: Voice of a state representative and of a library writer are equal in this process. I would not have said anything personally about you to anyone else in those respective groups because that is not my style. If you haven't noticed by now, my modus operandi is more in your face confrontation than behind the back sniping. Now to the women: First, Ali. I do not know this 5'2" blonde Italian smoking single female social worker and I did not intend to make her position on the issue a "joke" as it was characterized. I made a bad attempt at satire during a moment of frustration and failed miserably. To Ali, I am very sorry. It was beneath me to do that. I also apologize for making light of your contributions and I did not mean to appear I was ignoring you. Usually, if someone makes a good point, the best repsect is to let it stand without rebuttal. Plus, I was busy being defensive, so responding to the post at that time was not necessarily my priority. Again, I am sorry for approaching you as a neanderthal. As for Donna, I am not ready to deal with that just yet. I still personally believe her contribution on the thread sent it into a downward spiral, so let me chew on that one this Sunday, TH, if you would indulge me on that. I appreciate your efforts to offer an olive branch.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-12T10:48:29-06:00
ID
170206
Comment

And, to clear this up...in the original post I stated I worked with the girls NOW in the crisis center...and this situation with the sixteen year old was at a previous job. Remember those African American girls in your community you were 'voting' for? Well, I work at a crisis shelter for "those" girls about fifty to sixty hours a week. I work with these girls every day. And, before this job, I held the hand of a sixteen-year-old when the doctor told her she was pregnant...and I held her hand when that baby came into the world. So, you think I want props for holding an "African American" woman?...No, Fleming, I don't want props for anything. I want you to recognize I was just holding a woman. You have become thoroughly ridiculous to me at this point.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-12T10:49:58-06:00
ID
170207
Comment

Well, now I feel bad. You apologized. I called you ridiculous in the interim. And, its Sunday. I try to be nice on Sunday's if only for the chance they might not encourage drinking in heaven. I'll take the branch if only because I believe we must agree to disagree at this point.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-12T10:52:07-06:00
ID
170208
Comment

Oh, and I'll go ahead and apologize in advance for my column that's coming out this week. ;) Kisses.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-12T10:52:52-06:00
ID
170209
Comment

Ali: Honest mistake considering that you told the story in the context of addressing the African-American community. Here's the post, and objectively, tell me how you would have interpreted it: "Remember those African American girls in your community you were 'voting' for? Well, I work at a crisis shelter for "those" girls about fifty to sixty hours a week. I work with these girls every day. And, before this job, I held the hand of a sixteen-year-old when the doctor told her she was pregnant...and I held her hand when that baby came into the world."

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-12T10:53:05-06:00
ID
170210
Comment

Wow. If I'd been drinking coffee right now, it would be all over my nice little keyboard. Here's Fleming's quote again: Let's review: the best post on this blog ever was a woman challenging an African-American elected official's commitment to his community by telling the story of how she held a black woman's hand during a crisis. How does the song go? Oh, yeah: "I see your true colors shining through." *shaking head* Good grief... Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T10:53:30-06:00
ID
170211
Comment

Okay, you just called a white girl black and you're not even apologizing for that? Ali, you may as well give up here. You're talking to a classic, good old fashioned male chauvinist pig. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T10:54:39-06:00
ID
170212
Comment

At least I bother to read your missives before I criticize them. I mean, jeez. As you like to say, "let's review": 1. You just criticized Ali for not being authentic by talking about members of "your" community--namely, black women. 2. She was talking about a friggin' white woman. 3. Your response: ": Honest mistake considering that you told the story in the context of addressing the African-American community. Here's the post, and objectively, tell me how you would have interpreted it..." So you never even bothered to read her post before criticizing it. Male. Chauvinist. Pig. I'm calling it, folks. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T10:56:43-06:00
ID
170213
Comment

TH: Be nice. I said it was an honest mistake, especially in the heat of the discussion. Ali: No need to apologize for the column. I don't know what you wrote, but I deserve the criticism, whatever it is. All politicians ask for is for the name to be spelled right. ;)

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-12T10:58:52-06:00
ID
170214
Comment

TH: You are going to the extreme. Reading more into it than necessary. Be sweet.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-12T11:02:14-06:00
ID
170215
Comment

Okay, "male chauvinist pig" reflects the fact that I just got up and haven't really made myself awake yet. Apologies for the sloganeering. But it really was a darn good post. You should go back and read it more slowly. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T11:04:02-06:00
ID
170216
Comment

Okay

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-12T11:05:37-06:00
ID
170217
Comment

I think I used the phrase "This week the MS State Legislature decided they have the authority to tell me what can, or can not, come out of my vagina." Or something like that. Should prove interesting. :) And, just so you aren't horribly scared, I'm not going to mention your name in the column. After all, any publicity is good publicity, right?...And that column is MY little space in the world. You have no rights there. Ain't it grand? :)

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-12T11:14:56-06:00
ID
170218
Comment

Ali: Point taken. Following TH's instructions, I re-read your post very slowly. It is a strong argument to get me out of my "male entitlement paradigm, but without rehashing history, let's just say that I accept your agreement to disagree. And I have to commend you after the fact that you did start that post with a great deal of repsect, despite your anger. So, kudos for you for that, considering why it was written. All: George Will said two things this morning that was interesting. He said that Roe will not be overturned. He believes the Supreme Court, if they heard the case, would uphold Roe 5-4. But, he strongly believes that the SCOTUS will refuse to hear the case, thus allowing any lower court injuction or ruling to stand. Donna Brezeale said that suburban women will be empowered and mobilized for this election and that Republicans will be viewed as extremists for pushing this issue (would not be an accurate depiction of Mississippi), just like the Democrats were made to be during the gay marriage debate. Will said that the country is moving toward a pro-life stand due to the science available for prenatal care. Two points come out of this: TH's initial posts were on the money as far as the pulse of the national debate and because I oppose abortion and the gay marriage ban, it is official, I'm an extremist. Maybe Curt was right to say I am on the fringe. Hmmmm.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-12T11:41:10-06:00
ID
170219
Comment

As for Donna, I am not ready to deal with that just yet. I still personally believe her contribution on the thread sent it into a downward spiral, so let me chew on that one this Sunday, TH, if you would indulge me on that. You can believe that if you like, Rep. Fleming, but it doesn't make sense, and you sound like you're making excuses. Remember, people can go back and read the posts. My posts were *all* responding to your behavior in the Legislature and comments here. Let's see, which part of my opinion was the part that you're just not ready to forgive because it was so outrageous? Was it in my first post to you when I pointed out to you that you as a male are not in danger of losing your "right to make a public policy decision." Or, in the same post where I said I had decided not to vote for you based on this action? (Maybe that was the big one that sent the thread into a "downward spiral"?) Or, soon after, when I explained that *I* believe that integrity and character (personal and professional and, er, public treatment of women and otherwise) are indeed on trial in races for public office, regardless of party? Or, when I pointed out how poorly you were reacting to women with a different opinion (actually, Tom did that but I backed him up)? Or, when I said that this looks like political game-playing (because I think you're smart and savvy enough to know what this bill will likely do)? Or, when I said you haven't provided an intelligent framework for us to dispassionately discuss the ins and outs of these abortion bills because you make it personal toward an entire gender? I'll stop there, because I am weary of this thread. However, I'm glad it happened, and it likely make people think. You will note that I am not offended by your comments toward me personally and am not asking for an apology. Nor do I see any of my statements toward you that I should apologize for. From the beginning of this thread, I have tried to address some rather outrageous statements and actions in as calm and logical manner as I could. If you think that sent the conversation into a "downward spiral," well, I respectfully respond that you are not enjoying being disagreed with publicly -- and by women. And, if you haven't figured it out already, I don't condescend to a person of another race by not expressing myself in the same way to them, and assuming they cannot handle as sophisticated a dialogue as someone of my own race. That is, I'm not going to downplay my own feelings as a woman because they might hurt a black (or white) man's feelings. Equal opportunity is equal opportunity, and your own unsuccessfull attempt to use race on this thread against Ali is quite telling, even if you shrugged it off as no big deal once you learned that you had not exactly jumped to the correct conclusion on that one. For the record, I didn't assume Ali was talking about a black woman. I know Ali helps women and men of all races, and the right to safe and legal abortion is important to women and men of all races. This conversation from the beginning has been about gender, except when you steered it otherwise. Women of all races must stand in solidarity against sexism and attempts to take away our basic rights. And that will inevitably draw comments such as yours. That is your perogative, but I have the right to talk back. I make no apologies for that. And you have left a strong impression that that is exactly what you don't like. So be it.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-12T11:51:44-06:00
ID
170220
Comment

BTW, even though the fact that the woman Ali described was white, thus puncturing Fleming's race balloon on that point, I urge all not to lose site of how his response to her on that was so *off-base* even if the woman had been black. He totally ignored everything she was saying about women's fundamental rights, with a story that illustrated it so well, and turned it into a race tit-for-tat. That doesn't need to be forgotten -- although it can be forgiven -- as we proceed. In many ways, such a tactic is at the heart of this debate -- i.e. watching people trying to tell women of all races what we can and cannot do with our bodies, and then trying to make it about something it's not. Of course, where race really comes into play is at another point -- the disparities in poverty, education, child care in this state -- and how forcing even more women to have unwanted children (after the husband or other impregnator takes off for greener pastures or such) will widen those gaps between rich and poor, black and white. This would be bad for all communities, and even worse for those already living in the most poverty. Thus, if we're going to interject race, let's at least talk about it where it makes sense.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-12T12:34:22-06:00
ID
170221
Comment

Donna: The short answer is Yes. And we'll just leave it at that. I am weary of this thread as well, so I will leave it alone with the general understanding that good people have a geniune disagreement. That will be my last word here. I will move on with new threads.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-12T13:05:29-06:00
ID
170222
Comment

That was in response to the 10:51 am post, BTW.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-12T13:09:29-06:00
ID
170223
Comment

Interesting that you would answer "yes" to all of those questions in that post -- i.e. that my expressing those opinions, somehow, send your thread into a "downward spiral." I respectfully suggest that this is one of those moments where you should self-reflect on your reactions to the stated viewpoints of women who are more than willing to disagree with you. And, frankly, that has been what this whole discussion has been about -- as Tom has pointed out: Your reaction to women with concerns about your moves as a legislator. Your simple "yes" here just seems to hammer that point home. Again, I don't want or need an apology, but I do hope that you will consider what has happened on this thread carefully. Certainly, it would be hard for you to find a group in this state more willing to listen to your points of view. But you are going to have listen to theirs without being dismissive and offensive to women as you have done repeatedly on this thread. Hopefully, good will come from this. The whole point of doing the blog, and providing forums for spirited conversation, is to help raise awareness in various ways. And you/we might have just exposed one of your weak spots -- and there's nothing wrong with that. It's what happens next that matters.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-12T13:19:45-06:00
ID
170224
Comment

I concur with Donna's opinion of how the thread has gone. I'm being castigated on another blog for saying this, but I believe it's true: Institutional sexism is a disease, and all men are patients. To the extent that we refuse to accept that we're sick, and refuse to take our meds, we harm our ability to recover. Come to think of it, I'm four days late on my Blog for Sexism. (Did one for my About site; forgot to do one for my personal site.) The above sentiment might be a good topic. As I told a nationally prominent feminist blogger who has been watching this debate (and is probably reading this), you are one of 94 representatives who voted for this bill, and most of the other 93 do not share our concerns on other issues, such as the death penalty and the rights of undocumented immigrants. So it is not good political strategy for me to single you out like this. I am doing this--and Donna and Ali, I'm sure, are doing this--because we have moral concerns that override political expediency. Truth be told, this thread is the last nail in the coffin of my partisan identity. For most of my life, I have described myself as an independent. Over the past year or two, I've taken to referring to myself as a Democrat. Now I need to realize that the party does not speak for me. I am well to the left of the acceptable Democratic margins for Mississippi, and given that I should probably refer to myself as an independent once more. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T14:25:57-06:00
ID
170225
Comment

Uhm, that's supposed to be a Blog Against Sexism. The Blog for Sexism I try to avoid, but every now and then one of the fire hydrants needs marking. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T15:08:15-06:00
ID
170226
Comment

I am doing this--and Donna and Ali, I'm sure, are doing this--because we have moral concerns that override political expediency. Amen, Tom. After the Lewinsky scandal broke, I had a personal epiphany. I looked inside myself and said, "I cannot excuse this." I also realized that I had turned my back on truths that had been staring me/us in the fact about Mr. Clinton's character -- because I wanted the Democrat to win. But after soul-searching, I decided then that I would stop calling myself a Democrat until the Democrats started standing up for what is right with courage and strength, and stop pandering for a vote that they are not going to get. Time and time again, we've done this. I've done it more recently even after my epiphany, even though I do not consider myself a Democrat, and get as mad if not madder at that party than the "other" one. I held my nose and voted for Ronnie Shows and then Ronnie Musgrove (after declaring here that I wouldn't after Ronnie's political ploy over the Commandment rock) because I believed more in education than in tobacco companies. Nationally, the Democrats have p!ssed around and pandered and allowed the whole "values" debate to be stolen by some of the most valueless party leaders I've ever seen. And what did we get in return? Spying on Americans, a depleted budget, a civil war in Iraq and a court that may well overturn Roe v. Wade. I am done now. I will not hold my nose again and support wink-wink candidates or those I believe are playing cheap political games. Does that mean I won't be on the winning side? Probably, at least for a while. But you know what? We're not now. And what good is it doing? Look at the candidates we have to choose between. The Democrats can't figure out how to run a real candidate against Chip Pickering after his lapdog support of Bush and flipflopping on FEMA!?! And, meantime, the biggest result of all the Democrats That Pandering Gets You is that, increasingly, smart people are turned off from the political process, especially younger ones. Here in Mississippi, Democrats have an amazing opportunity -- look at the under-30 numbers for Kerry in the last election, and it wasn't like he knocked anybody's socks off. Now there is a seething anger at Bush et al in this state after Katrina, as there should be. But what are Democrats here doing? Fiddling while votes and opportunitie are lost -- and playing stupid games about abortion that help the Republicans and lose even more potential progressive voters. What yucks.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-12T15:09:48-06:00
ID
170227
Comment

Tom, I love the idea of you going over and taking a leak all over the Blog of Fools now and then -- just long enough to ensure that anybody who visits there will see that all they do is obsess over us. You might need to invoice us for marketing. You, guerilla, you.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-12T15:12:13-06:00
ID
170228
Comment

Donna writes: But what are Democrats here doing? Fiddling while votes and opportunitie are lost -- and playing stupid games about abortion that help the Republicans and lose even more potential progressive voters. Great post all around. And I agree with every word of it--I, too, held my nose and voted for the two Ronnies. And with Shows, I actually regretted it--I now wish that I had voted for the Green Party candidate, or even for Pickering who, despite all of his nastiness, at least doesn't have go around proving he's conservative by playing the xenophobia card against Mexicans, and by proposing a gay marriage amendment 6 years before anyone cares about the issue. (That's right, ladies and gentlemen: Rep. Ronnie Shows, D-MS, holds the distinction of being the first member of either house of Congress, of either party, to propose an amendment banning gay marriage. That's his claim to fame. It died in committee because he couldn't find a Senate co-sponsor. Oh, for the days before the far right learned how to effectively market homophobia.) Musgrove I sort of miss when I look at Barbour, but that's like breaking your ankle, then your arm, and missing what it was like when you just had a broken ankle. I agree on Clinton. That bothered me a lot. And if you wanna talk about misogyny... Wowsers. In terms of personal conduct, he's as bad as it gets in either party. The Mississippi Democratic Party has done so much to alienate blacks, along with progressives and young people of all races, that I am beginning to sincerely believe that they don't want us. I think that's what the abortion vote clearly demonstrated--it was Steve Holland flipping the bird to pro-choice Democrats, including those in the state House, and making it clear that he ain't too proud to sell out on women's rights to get votes. Their platform--one page, versus the state Republican Party's comprehensive manifesto--affirms the pro-life position and takes a potshot at gays along the way. There is a clear message being sent by certain party leaders, and that is that they value white rural blue dogs and that's where their loyalty lies. They'll happily accept money and votes from the rest of us, which is why they say stuff like "The Democratic Party is the party of inclusion," but other than that they'd really rather we buzz off so they don't get tainted by association and lose the support of their rural Dixiecrat constituencies. The vote split between Bush and Kerry in Mississippi, BTW, was 60/40. A Massachusetts liberal pro-choice pro-gay anti-nativist, fluent in French with a wife from Mozambique and a daughter who wore a see-through dress to the Cannes Film Fetival, won 40% of the vote. Likewise, Bush won 40% of the vote in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania runs real Democrats. Why won't Mississippi? Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T15:31:51-06:00
ID
170229
Comment

That should read: Pennsylvania runs real Republicans. Why won't Mississippi run real Democrats? Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-12T15:35:00-06:00
ID
170230
Comment

What the heck happened in here???? To Donna, Tom, Ali and Rep. Fleming: You know, I read this whole blog last night, and my head was pounding, which is why I said nothing until today. The passion, the emotion, the heated debates - it's enough to be John Singleton's next movie. Is it okay with you all if I provide a fresh perspective on some of the conflicts? Okay, thank you. Here we go: - Everyone who shared his/her opinion did so with the hope of enlightening others who did not have the same view. - Somewhere along the way, statements were made without thinking about what the impact could be beforehand, and emotions ran high. - In the midst of emotional upheaval, attempts to defuse resulted in fanning of flames. I must say that based on what I read, I still believe that all of you are concerned about a woman's health and stability, even if philosophies vary. I also still hold all of you in high regard and do not see any of you in a negative light. My only concern is how discussions among you guys will be in the future. Yes, these discussions are important, but I would hate to see any rifts after this. All of you are strong-willed, so of course some sparks will fly. I just hope that you all will not get too personal and refuse to interact with certain people because he/she said something that got under your skin. There is no other blog in town like this one. The level of diversity and openness is hard to beat. I just hope that this debate hasn't permanently affect how you all interact in the future. (((((Group hug, everyone!)))))

Author
L.W.
Date
2006-03-13T13:07:47-06:00
ID
170231
Comment

I agree, L.W. I happen to believe this was a good discussion even if passions did run high -- but they should on something this important. We've been complacent for too long on women's issues in this state. That's why we're the worst state for women based on social and economic (and violent) indicators. I'm very proud of this blog because people are really trying to discuss important issues, and when we keep the trolls at bay, really get to the quick of the matter. In this case, I never considered reeling anyone back, even when comments got a bit more personal, because I know all the players and that they could handle it. And the topic is important enough to let it all unfold. It's slightly different from some of our threads (such as the Spike Lee one with Kamikaze) because Rep. Fleming is a public servant and is actually voting in ways that can have a profound effect on all of our lives. And the people whose lives he is affecting need the ability to tell him that -- as well as say that "you just lost my vote." I will always say that it is not the end that is important in good conversation; it is how you get that, what is said, what is absorbed, what is considered, and so on. This was one of those tough threads because the women on here, especially, had a hard time being heard by Rep. Fleming -- which is the part that really caused passions to run high. That is not to pick on him, exactly, but it is to say that there are lessons here for any man who wishes to have a conversation with intelligent women. That is, don't treat us like our opinions don't matter. And especially don't do that when you have the power to take our rights away. We don't take that lightly.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-13T13:23:50-06:00
ID
170232
Comment

Hi, Latasha -- Thanks for this. FWIW, I was so hard on Rep. Fleming because he is in a position of real power, as a member of the House of Representatives and the frontrunner for the 2006 Democratic U.S. Senate nomination for Mississippi. If you or I or Donna or Ali supported the abortion ban, I would argue logically against it. But Rep. Fleming already knows all the arguments. He was on the ground floor when this thing was debated. He saw some of his closest colleagues, such as Rep. Jim Evans, risk their political futures by voting against it. And yet he stood by and voted for it, then did not have a convincing explanation as to why. That was Problem One. Problem Two was that he did not, in my opinion, show the same level of respect to the women in this conversation that he showed to me. I don't like that. It's like (and I've seen this happen) when I'm standing alongside a friend of mine who happens to be black, and a middle-aged or older white will talk to me, even going so far as to ask me questions like "So, what does s/he do for a living...," rather than involving my friend in the conversation. I feel that Donna's position on this issue, as someone who has a master's in journalism from Columbia, has edited two alternative weeklies, and used to write regularly for the _Village Voice_, is important. And I feel that Ali's position on this issue, as a social worker who deals face-to-face with women who need abortions on a day to day basis, is probably more relevant than anyone else's in this thread. And that's the opinion I felt Rep. Fleming dismissed most strongly, even going so far as to (to "prove a point") make what would in most contexts be regarded as extremely misogynistic assumptions about her character. Now, it may just be that I'm such an irresistably good writer that Rep. Fleming was drawn to my posts like a moth to a lightbulb. But I seriously doubt that, because Ali's post in this thread on abortion--the one that Rep. Fleming did not read carefully at first--was much more eloquent than anything I had to say. I think that, on some level, he was uncomfortable debating this issue with women. That's not uncommon; most men probably are. But Rep. Fleming is, here again, in a position of real power. That said, I was probably a little harder on the guy than the logistics of the conversation should have dictated. But I think my anger was understandable. For my "agenda," as it were, to work, men have to confront sexism, whites have to confront racism, straights have to confront homophobia. It is not enough for the victims of prejudice to speak up. The persecutors' accomplices must also speak up. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-13T18:50:12-06:00
ID
170233
Comment

Good article, bad headline: Now the Mississippi Legislature is considering a bill that would ban all abortions except in cases of rape, incest or a life-threatening condition for the mother. Yet even some of Mississippi's right-to-life forces have started to wonder whether things are moving too fast—mirroring a strategic debate now raging among anti-abortion conservatives nationwide. "At this point, it's a little bit of a runaway train," says Terri Herring, president of Pro-Life Mississippi, who fears that the ban could backfire—and lead to a reaffirmation of Roe v. Wade. The Mississippi bill began as an entirely different measure championed by Herring's group: a requirement that a woman seeking an abortion be offered a chance to view a sonogram of her fetus. But when the bill reached Democratic Rep. Steve Holland, chair of the House public health and human services committee, he stripped out the sonogram provision and inserted the outright ban. "I have been besieged over the last three to four years by the right-to-life people" and their myriad measures, says Holland. "The time has come" for an up or down vote. Now it's up to the Senate whether to approve the measure and send it on to Gov. Haley Barbour—who has said he would sign it—or to invite a conference to tinker with it further. Herring is hoping lawmakers will reinsert the sonogram provision. "We are not willing to abandon incremental legislation," she says—a strategy that has served her side well thus far. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-14T04:05:45-06:00
ID
170234
Comment

As rabid as I am in debate like this, I really don't take it personally. I am extremely passionate about things I believe in. I won't apologize for that. More people should be passionately present in their lives. A graduate degree in social services taught me more than "social work". It provided me with the ability to see how policy affects real lives. Public Policy effects my job on a daily basis. Not being aware of it, holding an opinion on it, and advocating for it would mean I was just as remiss in my duties as Fleming would be if he didn't defend his decisions as a public policy maker. My "Social Work Ethics" include a cause about advocating for those that cannot speak for themselves and respecting everyone's right to self-determination. I'm not saying I'm on a mission from the "social work gods" or anything, but when I chose this profession I chose to take up that part of it as well. The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession's focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living. Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients. "Clients" is used inclusively to refer to individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice. These activities may be in the form of direct practice, community organizing, supervision, consultation, administration, advocacy, social and political action, policy development and implementation, education, and research and evaluation. Social workers seek to enhance the capacity of people to address their own needs. Social workers also seek to promote the responsiveness of organizations, communities, and other social institutions to individuals' needs and social problems. The mission of the social work profession is rooted in a set of core values. These core values, embraced by social workers throughout the profession's history, are the foundation of social work's unique purpose and perspective: -service -social justice -dignity and worth of the person -importance of human relationships -integrity -competence. This constellation of core values reflects what is unique to the social work profession. Core values, and the principles that flow from them, must be balanced within the context and complexity of the human experience.----The Preamble to the Social Work Code of Ethics Just thought I would throw those fourteen cents in so people could get a little more perspective on my "yelling". ;)

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-14T08:49:12-06:00
ID
170235
Comment

Donna, Tom and Ali, thanks for your responses. I feel a little better now. :-D

Author
L.W.
Date
2006-03-14T09:14:46-06:00
ID
170236
Comment

Wow, a topic on my blog made the busy blog list. Ali: Did I see you in the House Chamber yesterday? I saw a woman in the gallery that matched your description, so I was just curious. L.W.: Thanks for the kinds words for all of us. Gotta go make the donuts, the protest by Rep. Flaggs is getting good.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-14T09:15:44-06:00
ID
170237
Comment

Wasn't me, Fleming. But, its good to know I've got you watching your back. ;)

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-14T11:20:37-06:00
ID
170238
Comment

But, its good to know I've got you watching your back. ;) Lord, Ali, you're giving the man nightmares. :-P

Author
L.W.
Date
2006-03-14T11:36:21-06:00
ID
170239
Comment

Aw, I'm not "nightmare worthy". Definitely not. I'm so nice in person you would freak out. But, I shouldn't be ruining my reputation. :)

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-14T11:38:02-06:00
ID
170240
Comment

Right, Ali, we work really hard to promote this side of you. Don't ruin it for us all. ;-) Otherwise, I love this phrase: "passionately present." Mind if I steal it from time to time; I was be sure as my "raving, angry columnist Ali Greggs likes to say ...." (Kidding.)

Author
ladd
Date
2006-03-14T12:53:41-06:00
ID
170241
Comment

Yes, you may use it as often as you like. I think Passionate Presence is missing a lot in this life. You know I like the "angry" moniker. Its fabulous to me. It shows up everytime Pat takes a picture, says "look mean" and I fall out laughing :)

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-14T13:12:17-06:00

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