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Tennessee, United States
Retired teacher living in East Tennessee, adjusting to life in the land of round door knobs. Photographer for our local animal shelter and foster of many dogs and kitties. Don't ask me how many dogs I have, but my son got me one of those "I'm the crazy dog lady" sweatshirts.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dear Governor Haslam


It is hard to believe we are living in the 21st Century, when I look at the bills passing through the Tennessee House. Every week I hear about another bill targeting the health and welfare of women. It seems as though the women of this state are not important to those who have been elected to represent us. HB3517 is an absurd and dangerous bill.

I don't want to be partisan. I really don't, but it is an inescapable fact that these bills are coming from Republicans, so I have to say I am bothered that Republican men, who don't seem to have a clue what it is like to be a woman, feel that they have a right to make medical decisions for women and families. Republican legislators don't want to support the children born of unwanted pregnancies, pay for their births, pay for their medical bills, or pay for their upbringing. They don't care if the woman has been raped or if the fetus (or embryo) has an unsurvivable genetic disorder that may kill the mother. They do not seem to care at all about the health or circumstances of living women, only about fetuses and now, embryos. They need to move past the religious rhetoric and romanticized images of happy, healthy babies in happy, loving families, as though that is the result of every pregnancy. The real world is not a place of black or white, right or wrong; it is gray and nobody gets through it without making tough choices.

Governor, you represent all of us, Republicans and Democrats alike, and women and sensible men from both parties are both watching and hoping that you will show some leadership and good sense here. The legislature must not succeed in harming their living constituents in an iron-fisted attempt to legislate how they want people to behave. 

Image from ScienceDaily.com
It is truly sad that some babies die, that some embryos are not carried to term, that there are health issues that lead some to make the difficult decision to end their pregnancies. It happened to friends of mine just a couple of months ago. They are a loving couple with three beautiful children, but the fourth pregnancy presented a danger to the wife, and the baby had no chance of survival (Trisomy 13). It was an agonizing decision to end the pregnancy, but they made that decision. And they are not bad people. They are good people. But, if this bill is signed in to law, good people like them would be declared criminals, and you could arrest them and put them in prison. What a ridiculous and horrible consequence that would be. It is the women and the families' right to make these life or death decisions, not legislatures or preachers or priests. It shows a lack of compassion to prejudge the real people who have to make decisions and prosecute them as criminals.

Both Republicans and Democrats are noticing that Republican led legislatures are wasting large amounts of time passing legislation based on moral (AKA religious) creeds, rather than on good sense and a desire to protect everyone's rights that reduce our freedom and right to make reasonable choices about our lives. Every now and then, a Republican steps away from the pack and says something sensible from his or her own conviction, but it doesn't happen often. The uniformity is Stepford Wives freaky, and it's discouraging to those of us old enough to remember when the Republican party stood for real values, and not for whatever ridiculous pseudo-cause their financiers tell them to stand for.

The secret to fewer abortions is easy access to contraception, not moralizing, pontificating and passing ridiculous laws. There have always been abortions. There always will be. Rational people understand that. The difference is whether or not abortions are safe. Abortions are not common, and should not be the concern of nosy neighbors, nor should the failure to carry a fetus to term be a crime. A woman's right to choose should be protected by the legislature and the governor, not attacked by them.

Women should be viewed as valuable and precious members of society, not as weak and untrustworthy. We are strong, and we vote, and women's issues are going to be an important part of the voting decisions we will be making in November.

I'm tired of ridiculous bills becoming laws. I'm tired of my tax dollars being wasted on persecuting innocent Tennesseans, as would happen if this becomes law. You can help stop this one in its tracks. I hope you will.


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dear Senator Alexander,

**UPDATE** After I sent my response to Senator Alexander's e-mail, I got the exact same, word-for-word e-mail response from him, which leads me to believe that my letter to the senator never got read by the Senator, possibly not by anyone. But, I made the effort, and YOU are here reading it, and come election time, YOU are the ones who are going to make a difference.


Judy


Here's the email I got from my senator today, followed by my response to him.




February 22, 2012 
Mrs. Judy Graham
Thanks very much for getting in touch with me and letting me know what’s on your mind regarding the Obama Administration’s regulations on preventive health services and the impact on religiously affiliated employers such as schools, universities, hospitals and charities.
I believe that requiring our nation’s religious institutions to defy the basic tenets of their faith shows a disturbing disregard for the Constitution’s protections on religious freedoms. The Administration’s proposed regulation and recent clarification are an unacceptable intrusion into this important constitutional freedom and I will work with my colleagues to overturn this policy.
This is why I am co-sponsoring Senator Marco Rubio’s bill, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as Senator Roy Blunt’s Respect for the Rights of Conscience Act. These bills will ensure that religious institutions will not be forced to offer, provide or purchase coverage for health services that violate their religious tenets.
I appreciate you contacting me and I’ll be sure to keep your comments in mind as these issues are discussed and debated in Washington and in Tennessee.
Sincerely,
Lamar

Dear Senator Alexander,

Thank you for responding. I'm sorry, however, to read that meeting the health care needs of American women is not your priority. Do you honestly believe that some people's access to healthcare should be determined by churches, synagogues, or mosques; by priests, rabbis or imams? Shouldn't it be up to the individual conscience, not to the corporate religious conscience, what healthcare a person should receive? I find myself in agreement with the person on Twitter who suggested we build an electric fence between the government and the church and let anyone who crosses that line get zapped.

Personally, I think that making birth control available free to all women in America is a visionary move. Avoiding unwanted pregnancies is the number one way to avoid unwanted abortions. In ten years, we are going to be looking back on this as a major milestone in improving women's lives.

While you may argue that a woman working for a religious institution can still get birth control if she is willing to pay for it, in most cases, she cannot afford it without insurance picking up most or all of the tab. So, not including it in an insurance policy is much the same thing as denying access altogether. And when poor women can't get access to birth control, as a country we end up with more poor babies that those calling for smaller government do not want to help support. 

And here's another thing, isn't this really about semantics? What we commonly refer to as birth control has many other uses. Over half of American women use contraception for reasons that have nothing to do with birth control, and if they cannot get it, they suffer. As a teenager, my daughter suffered extreme mood swings as part of PMS and painful cramps during her periods. The pill brought her great relief, and allowed her to function. She was not prescribed it for birth control, but for medical reasons. As an adult, she still uses a contraceptive for her health issues, not just to avoid pregnancy. No "religious freedom" issue should deny her or any woman inexpensive access to what is essentially essential health care.


If you insist on trying to help religious institutions take away from women their individual freedom to choose what their healthcare needs are under the disguise of "religious freedom," be aware that women are watching and getting the irony.

Nothing has changed: churches are still free to preach whatever they want and their members still free to believe whatever they want and still free to choose to use birth control or to choose not to use birth control. The government regulation has not encroached on anyone's religious freedom. Truth is, this is a made-up issue, not a real one. It is also a sideshow and a distraction from much more serious issues facing the nation.

I'm sure you have figured out that I am not a Republican, but I am your constituent, and you do represent me in Washington. Near as I can tell, the House is a hopeless mess, but there are occasional glimmers of hope in the Senate.  As a woman, I feel strongly about this issue and ask you to reconsider your position.

Sincerely,

Judy Graham