"We have a way of doing things here, and it’s not going to change to accommodate a very small minority."

From this Saturday’s New York Times:

GEORGETOWN, Del. – After her family moved to this small town 30 years ago, Mona Dobrich grew up as the only Jew in school. Mrs. Dobrich, 39, married a local man, bought the house behind her parents’ home and brought up her two children as Jews.

For years, she and her daughter, Samantha, listened to Christian prayers at public school potlucks, award dinners and parent-teacher group meetings, she said. But at Samantha’s high school graduation in June 2004, a minister’s prayer proclaiming Jesus as the only way to the truth nudged Mrs. Dobrich to act.

I’m sure you can guess what happened next. The good people of Georgetown Delaware realized that their behavior was unconstitutional (not to mention exclusionary and rude), apologized to the Dobriches, and changed their ways.


Actually, the Dobriches were threatened and her son was ridiculed for wearing his yarmulke and called “Alex the Jew.” At one school board meeting, where Ms. Dobrich spoke about the need for policies that did not exclude people based on faith, another speaker said, “If you want people to stop calling him ‘Jew boy,’ you tell him to give his heart to Jesus.”

This quote from a local resident seemed to sum up the community’s attitude:

“We have a way of doing things here, and it’s not going to change to accommodate a very small minority,” said Kenneth R. Stevens, 41, a businessman sitting in the Georgetown Diner. “If they feel singled out, they should find another school or excuse themselves from those functions. It’s our way of life.”

Yes, Virginia, the ACLU Represents Christians

I’m sure those of you who have been at all public about your support of the ACLU have encountered those people who think the ACLU is anti-Christian. (I swear there are times when I’ve told strangers where I work that they’ve looked at the top of my head for horns. Thankfully my new ACLU baseball cap hides them well.) While we know all know that’s false, it helps to have some facts to back it up. Here’s a site put together by a volunteer ACLU attorney with a list of cases the ACLU has done that actually support Christians: ACLU Fights for Christians.

Miltary’s new "Don’t Act, Don’t Tell" policy

Although the military’s idiotic policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is anything but funny, I couldn’t help but laugh at this paragraph in a NY Times article today about a decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist who was dismissed from the U.S. Army under the policy:

On Dec. 2, investigators formally interviewed Copas and asked if he understood the military’s policy on homosexuals, if he had any close acquaintances who were gay, and if he was involved in community theater.

What, no questions about liking Barbara Streisand?

More on the EC controversy

The Patriot News today is all over the controversy involving a rape victim who could not get emergency contraception at a hospital in Lebanon. The paper’s coverage includes a front page story (with insight from SF guest blogger Dr. David Toub), an editorial headlined Added Trauma, and a column by Nancy Eshelman. Eshelman’s piece includes this:

I’m old enough to remember when birth control was scarce and legal abortion nonexistent. Trust me, we don’t want to go back there.

I hope younger women realize how hard some of their moms and grandmas worked to change the rules. Do the young women who have never known a world without the pill, the patch and freedom to choose understand that there’s a serious move afoot to steal what they take for granted?

Meanwhile, the editorial board nailed it about the doctor in question:

We respect his personal views, but question how physicians with such strong moral opinions on a particular issue can operate effectively in an emergency room environment where life-and-death decisions must be made quickly and other urgent steps taken that affect a patient’s health, mental well-being and future circumstances. Physicians who feel their principles might be compromised in these situations should stick to a specialty or family practice.

Andy in Harrisburg

Rape victim denied emergency contraception in ER

Guest blogger: Julie Petrella, Director, Duvall Reproductive Rights Project of the ACLU of PA

Yesterday’s Harrisburg Patriot News had an appalling article about a rape victim in Lebanon County whose ER doctor refused to prescribe her emergency contraception (a higher dose of regular birth control pills) because of his religious beliefs. The victim was eventually able to obtain a prescription from her gynecologist, only to find that the local pharmacy was out of the medication. She had to travel from eastern Lebanon County to Reading to get the prescription filled.

To add insult to injury, here’s what Dr. Joe Kearns, former medical director of Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon, had to say:

“People drive to Reading to buy jeans. Even if that were the case, that you had to drive to Reading to get this [prescription], to me that does not rise to a compulsion that you have to pass laws that [doctors] have to do something.”

I am struggling to understand how a woman–who has just been raped!–would find a trip to Reading to get a prescription for emergency contraception (EC) similar to a road trip she might take with her girlfriends to buy a new pair of jeans.

The notion of some healthcare providers that their refusal to provide a crucial, time-sensitive medication to prevent pregnancy is merely an expression of their personally-held religious beliefs and of little consequence to their patient is false. Healthcare providers have a professional obligation to their patients-an obligation that trumps their own personally-held beliefs and requires that they act in accordance with the beliefs of their patients. Creating obstacles for women to prevent pregnancy after a sexual assault is cruel and deplorable.

A woman who has recently been raped, who has suffered physical and emotional trauma, and who is fraught with worry about being impregnated by her attacker would probably find that an extra 45 minute drive (if you have a car!) to another pharmacy is not exactly a fun road trip. I’d even be so bold to say that the woman might feel re-victimized by the systems in place designed to care for her after her trauma, as they have forced her to take additional steps to get EC. One might presume that someone in the health care profession would be in tune to this. Sadly, in Pennsylvania and across the U.S., health care providers are acting in ways that harm their patients rather than help them.

When physicians, pharmacists, and other health care professionals protest the passage of state laws that would ensure comprehensive medical care for rape patients in hospital emergency rooms-including the option to receive emergency contraception–they ignore their own hypocrisy. They don’t want the government to force them to provide services they don’t believe with but want to deny services to their patients that their patient believes in.

In typical Daily Show form, Jason Jones highlighted this double-standard when he interviewed an Illinois pharmacist, Ron Stevens, in an episode this past winter. Mr. Stevens felt victimized by Illinois law requiring him to fill prescriptions for the morning-after pill and stated, “I think the governor is forcing my hand on this issue.” Jason Jones retorts, “How dare the government make a moral judgment over you?! You’re the one supposed to be doing that to the woman!”

Until Pennsylvania passes legislation like the Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies (CARE) Act, emergency room doctors will continue to be afforded the opportunity to pass moral judgment over women in their most vulnerable states.

If you’d like to find out if your local emergency room provides emergency contraception to rape victims and what you can do on this issue, click here.

Lancaster: Another welcoming city

Nice to see Lancaster on the list as a city that is open to all.

Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray said the (Hazleton) ordinance is “insensitive.”

“I think Lancaster has a rich cultural heritage, and many of those who contributed to the area came here as Pennsylvania Dutch,” he said.

“So Lancaster natives should be more sensitive to those who want to maintain their culture but do not yet speak English.”

Gray said many legal citizens aren’t fluent in English and should not be subjected to higher scrutiny.

Andy in the HBG

Calling a spade a spade

Edit: Maybe using the “-ist” word is a little too harsh. Let’s just say that Seate knows racism when he sees it.

Mike Seate of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review calls out the anti-immigration crowd for what it is today with an assist from the AG’s office:

Despite census estimates of a maximum of 50,000 illegals statewide, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli claims the number of illegal Mexicans living in Pennsylvania is five times that.

“They’re responsible for most of the rapes and serious crimes in this part of the state,” said Morganelli, who operates an anti-immigrant Web site.

U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart’s Internet site claims at least 100,000 illegals are in our midst, and the Bradford Woods Republican warns that “many are engaged in criminal activity.”

If you listen to these folks, you’ll have trouble opening a bag of potato chips or putting on your ball cap without first shaking out dozens of knife-wielding, crime-crazed illegal immigrants.

Worse yet, blaming immigrants for crime is one of the oldest — and, unfortunately, most effective — campaign tools in the political arsenal.

Seate didn’t use the “R” word, but he walked up to the line.

One person speaking sense on this issue is Nils Frederiksen, spokesman for state Attorney General Tom Corbett. After declining to speculate about the number of illegals allegedly invading our state, Frederiksen said, “Whether or not a person has illegal or legal immigrant status does not really factor into whether they’re a criminal.”

Mike Seate, Pgh Tribune Review: Does PA need a border patrol?

Andy in H-burg

At least we won this coin toss this time

I’m beginning to wonder if Arlen Specter flips a coin every morning when he wakes up to decide whether he’ll be on the side of civil liberties or against them. (On the bright side, our opponents must be just as confounded by him as I am.)

Just recently, Specter reached a “compromise” with Vice President Cheney that produced a piece of legislation that gives the president a blank check to spy on Americans without a warrant and without mandatory judicial review of his actions. (FYI, it looks like this terrible legislation will be up for a vote this week.)

But just yesterday, Specter announced that by the end of this week, he would will have a bill ready that would allow Congress to sue President George W. Bush in federal court over his signing statements.

Signing statements, at least the Bush administration’s version, seem to be presidential equivalent of crossing your fingers behind your back when signing a bill into law. According to the American Bar Association (which just released a report strongly criticizing this practice), Bush has issued over 800 of these statements.

Homemade brownies for the person who can provide me a coherent explanation of Specter’s actions.

"like spoiled rich kids…"

From the “what I missed on vacation” file, here’s Bob Herbert’s column from last Monday’s New York Times, “The Definition of Tyranny.” Unfortunately, you need Times Select to get it, but here are a few snips:

The Bush-Cheney regime believes it can do whatever outlandish things it wants, including torturing people and keeping them incarcerated for life without even the semblance of due process. And it’s not giving up. The administration now wants Congress to authorize what the Supreme Court has plainly said was wrong. White House lawyers, in a torturous (pun intended) interpretation of the court’s ruling, seem to be arguing that the kangaroo courts, otherwise known as military commissions, will be quite all right if only Congress will say so.

They’re not all right. They’re an abomination (like the secret C.I.A. prisons and the practice of extraordinary rendition) that spits in the face of the idea that the United States is a great and civilized nation.

“Can you imagine if the Hamdan decision, among others, had gone the other way?” said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been waging an extraordinary fight to secure basic legal protections for prisoners at Guantanamo. “I mean we’d be looking at a dark nightmare.”
There is every reason to be alarmed about the wretched road that Bush, Cheney et al. are speeding along. It is as if they were following a route deliberately designed to undermine a great nation.

A lot of Americans are like spoiled rich kids who take their wealth for granted. Too many of us have forgotten — or never learned — the real value of the great American ideals. Too many are standing silently by as Mr. Bush and his cronies engage in the kind of tyrannical and uncivilized behavior that has brought so much misery — and ultimately ruin — to previous societies.

Andy in the HBG