...I'm going to tell you an abortion story that hasn't made the news, and probably won't--a story about the women of Katrina, and about the hurricane relief effort no one talks about--the Katrina aid that dare not speak its name.
How many young women did we all see on our TV screens, bedding down on the floor at the Astrodome in Houston or Reunion Arena in Dallas with their babies and toddlers, surrounded by crumpled plastic bags that held all they had left in the world? There seemed to be thousands of them, and then more thousands. As in any population of young women, many of them were pregnant. And for a great number of those young women--the ones for whom unexpected and unwanted pregnancies represented a second disaster--the devastation that their lives had become was worsened by the anxiety of wondering how they could find the help they needed to have a desperately desired abortion. Fortunately, they didn't have to depend on FEMA. Low-income women who are residents of Texas and who cannot afford the cost an abortion are able to rely on two sources of help--the Lilith Fund and the Texas Equal Access Fund--volunteer nonprofit organizations that immediately expanded their previous scope to offer all possible assistance to displaced women who were relocated to Texas in the aftermath of Katrina. Lilith and TEA typically provide somewhere from $50-100 in assistance, and as providers, we generally find a way to make up the rest.
This morning at the clinic I was paged to the phone to take a call that meant bad news for any low-income woman in this very large state who needs an abortion. Because of the huge additional burdens on its resources since the first part of September, the Lilith Fund has been completely wiped out and will no longer be able to offer help to any woman in Texas for at least the next one to two months. Nothing like this has ever happened before, because the Lilith Fund is a well-managed and extremely responsible organization, but providing care for the women of Katrina has overwhelmed us all, funders and providers alike.
The need of women who are faced with rebuilding their entire lives is tremendous, and the response of the pro-choice community has been remarkable. In Arkansas, a state with fewer evacuees, Dr. Jerry Edwards and Dr. William Harrison are offering abortion care without charge to women displaced by Katrina--and quite predictably have been condemned for it by all the usual suspects. But in the much more highly populated metropolitan areas of Texas, the need has outpaced our ability to provide services to all the women who need us, even at reduced fees. That's what we get for having kept the regular cost of abortion care so low that, as a colleague in Louisiana often says, we seem to be producing quality medical care out of thin air.
The few national funding groups that usually can assist women in any part of the country now are so depleted that they are unable to help almost anyone but Katrina victims, and the Lilith Fund--which together with the TEA Fund has carried most of the burden here in Texas from the beginning--has been hit so hard during the last couple of months that it can no longer help anyone at all.
And there are so many women who need that help. Gretchen Dyer of the TEA Fund can tell you about them better than I can.
When Tracy called, she had the curtains closed and the door bolted. She spoke in a low whisper that made it hard to understand her. She was hiding in her apartment with her two children because her ex-boyfriend had threatened to kill her. When she'd contacted the police, they'd informed her that he was a known criminal and advised her to get as far away from him as possible. This was good advice. The problem was, Tracy was a struggling single mother with no savings, no place to go and no one to protect her. She was also pregnant.
Tracy couldn't manage another child on her own, and she didn't want to bear the man's child or have any further connection to him. So she'd decided to have an abortion. For her, this was more than a choice. It was a chance to survive, to start over and make a safe life for herself and her children. <...> I speak to dozens of women in difficult situations every week, some more desperate than Tracy's. Most are single mothers working low-wage jobs that don't pay enough to support their families. Some are victims of rape or incest, women on the run from domestic abuse, women with serious health problems or teenagers trying to finish high school and keep from getting thrown out of their homes because they're pregnant. <...> Last week Charlene called. A few months out of treatment for methadone addiction and only a few days out of a homeless shelter, she's trying to get her life back together. Her child is about to start school, and she's looking for a job. Another baby right now will put her simple goals out of reach.
And then there was Louise, a single mother of two with breast cancer. She was too sick to work, had no medical insurance and had used up her savings on medical bills. The doctor advised her that the pregnancy was life-threatening for her and the radiation treatments an unacceptable risk to the fetus. The decision to abort was a life-and-death decision for her and for her two children who need her. It was a whole lot more than a choice.
As most of you know, Texas covers about the same land area as France. There were countless Tracys and Charlenes and Louises even before any of us ever heard of Katrina. And they're still here, and still needing help, along with 41 year-old "Mary" from Slidell, a mother of three with hypertension and diabetes, and 13 year-old "Tiffany" from New Orleans, who just wants to fit in with the other seventh-graders at her new school--both of whom were patients at our clinic on the same day last week. And the phone just keeps on ringing . . .
Without the partnership provided by the Lilith Fund, the TEA Fund will be left alone to carry the almost unimaginable burden of helping numberless women who are living in circumstances more desperate than most of us have ever known.
Every donation that Lilith and TEA receive goes directly to a woman who needs it. For a woman from Louisiana still cooped up in a motel and buying no-name macaroni and cheese to feed her kids on the shrinking balance of her FEMA check--or for a Texas woman sleeping in her car with her two year-old because she's afraid to go home--no amount is too small to make a difference. By the very nature of their work, Lilith and TEA have the strictest of privacy policies. There are no third party middlemen, and their operating expenses pretty much consist of a toll-free phone number, a few cell phones and a checkbook.
When I took that call this morning, my first thought after "Oh, my God, no" was that I knew a lot of good people who would want to help Tracy and Charlene and Louise and Mary and Tiffany just as much as Lilith and TEA and I do.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 | Laura Democrats Pragmatic Dance Mix
If you are not familiar with Tennessee Williams' play, The Glass Menagerie, Laura was a lonely girl, living with her neurotic mother, who had been given a pity kiss by a friend of her brother on one occasion.
As the years passed, Laura cared for her little menagerie of glass animals, remembering that kiss. Of course the brother's friend had long moved on with his life.
I think a lot of people who consider themselves Democrats are like Laura, remembering that one golden moment when the Democratic party made a tentative step or two into the realm of becoming the party of ethnic minorities, of the poor, leaning away from the "military industrial complex."
But that was long ago, and many people who were alarmed by that youthful adventure have forgiven the Democratic party, which for its part has effectively recanted and repented, and moved on in the direction it considers to be in its best interests.
And forty years later, the Lauras still sit by the phone, dusting glass animals, remembering the kiss.
Williams leaves his Laura pretty much as we found her, but that doesn't mean we can't discuss her options.
She could go look up the brother's friend. But he's married now, has kids, what's she going to do? Ask him for a job as a domestic servant? Stalk him like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction? Start an affair with him, become his mistress who can't call him at home, spending holidays alone and in tears, while he celebrates with his family, dedicate her life to him in hopes that one day he will leave his wife and marry her, at least until the next pretty girl comes along?
Or she could get out a little more, get to know some people, get a life of her own going away from Mama and those little glass figures, maybe meet someone special, maybe learn a little more about who she is, what she wants out of life and what she has to offer it - and appreciate herself for enough to stop fixating on that one kiss from someone who has his own life and interests - which do not include her.
Maybe if Laura had somebody else to advise her besides the wacky old mother lost in her own faded roses of days gone by, that person might tell her to forget the notion of making the brother's friend be what she wants him to be. He has gone his own way, and the best thing Laura can do, might suggest some wise person, is to leave him be and focus on her own self.
US politics is business. It is not the sport of those who will find it difficult to make doubled credit card payments because you maxxed your card out in the first place due to insufficient income.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans are about opposing wars, or war crimes, or European-style social safety nets or a thriving middle class.
There is a reason for that. Those things are less profitable for business. And business is about profit. Politicians are there to serve the corporations, they are not there to serve single mothers who can't afford medical treatment.
Some people have expectations of the Democrats that are not reality based. The Democratic party's purpose is not to oppose US policies, but to suggest more cost-effective ways of implementing them, and present them in more palatable terms.
No Democrat is going to come out and be Hugo Chavez del Norte and feed the hungry and house the homeless. It would not be pragmatic. Nor is any Democrat going to oppose profitable "military operations" undertaken by the US to secure its natural resources located in its various properties around the globe. That would not be pragmatic either.
If something like that happened, the individual would be summarily run out of town on a rail, his (or her) political career would be over, and his friends would be thanking God that he got off so easy. He could have had a tragic accident.
Nor is it realistic to suppose that some third party Saladdin is going to come charging up on a white horse and save America. Third parties, are, for all practical purposes, not allowed in the US.
I am not a big fan of Ralph Nader, but when he characterized the Democrats and the Republicans as two branches of the corporate party, he was right.
This is just reality. Another reality is that this is neither a road toward a legitimate democratic government, nor sustainable.
Whether you think it is right or wrong is not relevant. It is just another question of pragmatics.
Yes, there are consequences. The world does have its own security to protect, which it will do, regardless of whether the "exceptionalists" think it has a right to or not.
And you don't have to go far to see the consequences of not having a middle class. There are countries very near the US where gunmen armed with automatic rifles stand guard over the humblest little grocery store, where houses are surrounded by walls and gates, and tiny children hover in the parking lot of Burger King, peering through the windows, asking for the rest of your fries. Until the guard sees them. One's status is determined by whether the guards are shooting at the children who ask for your fries, or whether they are shooting at you.
But frankly, if you are going to have trouble paying for private security guards without dipping into your child's college money, you are not going to be able to pay those guards for very long, and so US politics is not going to be your game for very long.
Now if you are the type who says, oh but I hear the Democrats have a terrific plan to send everybody to college, so I will be able to pay the security guards for maybe two or three years, then for two or three years, you just might be able to help out in the phone bank. Or handing out flyers. And when you need that operation you can't afford, you can count on the Democrats to wish you all the best, and you can be sure that they will do it much more graciously than the Republicans will.
So is the US doomed? Yes, in the sense that Imperial Russia was doomed, in the sense that the French aristocratic regime was doomed, in the sense that Genghis Khan, and Rome, and yes, Hitler, were all doomed. But these are events that will occur independently from the business of US politics.
When the window for political solution closes, other doors open. It is not pretty, or easy, and does not result in Utopia. Think of it as a market correction, from the domestic point of view, and in the case of the threat US presents to the world, well, the world made a mistake in letting the cancer grow, and the world will correct its mistake, and hopefully learn from it.
That does not mean that US politics cannot be a rewarding avocation. Sure, there will be those who say you are dancing on the Titanic. But if you have already learned that your name is not on the list of those selected for rescue, who are those people to criticize?
After all, what else can you do? Storm the lifeboats? posted at
Actions like Sep 11 do not happen in a vaccuum.
Long before those hijackers ever stepped foot on the planes the damage
had been done. They were brainwashed with the same type of garbage
propaganda that is spewed from Fatwa's weblog.
Middle Eastern countries are so much more barbaric today and preAmercia than America can ever hope to be...America has only been around 230 years...who did you blame for everything before that Ductape? I am calling a Fatwa on your bullshit!
IMO - terrorist plain and simple. He is an Al queda operative who
should be put in a cage on gitmo Skinner
My favorite..."In Defense of Holocaust Deniers"
I always thought that "The Enemy Within" was just a metaphore for liberalism, that is, until I encountered Ductape Fatwa. He should be in an orange jumpsuit for sure.
peopleforchange.netductape is either a commie, al queda, or a deep cover mole
Tells you something about this asshole doesn't it. He's really serious.
I believe that DF is nothing but a Republican plant...
Ductape is a commie, a terrorist, and he drinks blood too. He drinks
Capitalist blood. He eats unborn babies too
Give me your address and I'll send you $20 and a thank-you note for taking your hatred elsewhere.
A terrorist with a sense of humor!
He ain't nuthin' but shit
inadequate, halfway house bullshit
You are a dumbass. Fuck you and your condescension about us "benighted sheeple." hamletta
Untruthful, damaging bullshit
no better than the neocons and no different than Timothy McVeigh
dailykos.coma turd in the punchbowl...if DF were Joe Hill he probably would have killed himself rather than get put to death.
A compost pile of fecundity
dailykos.comdespicable and literally mentally ill