Monday, September 28, 2015

Do You Want Social Justice and Change?


Do You Want Social Justice and Change? 

By Angela Smith, HEAL Coordinator
 

If you answered yes to the title question, great!  Now, what are you willing to do about it and what skills do you have or are you willing to acquire in order to be effective and successful in achieving social justice and change?
 

Here are the basics:

1.  Pick an Issue, Cause, Campaign, etc... 

2.  Learn everything you can about that issue, cause, and campaign including where politicians stand on the issue and what laws impact your issue.

3.  If current laws are insufficient to address immoral, unethical, and/or criminal conduct of those on the opposing side of your issue, cause, and/or campaign, work to change those laws.  This requires a lot of time and research.  It cannot be effectively done by those who rely on anecdotal evidence unless they are billionaires and can pay for the legislation they want.  If a regular citizen, you need a wealth of information and facts to help fight against the material wealth of the opposition.  For every anecdote you have supporting your issue without substantive and well-researched facts, the opposition will have two.  Anecdotes result in controversy, not change.

4.  Identify your primary goals for progress on your issue, cause, and campaign based on your own research and fact-gathering and search for an existing organization or network that is working on the goals you have identified as worthy of pursuit based on your well-informed opinion.  If you can't find an organization or network working on your goals, you can either find an organization working on that issue and volunteer to organize a project to achieve one of your identified goals with the help and resources of said organization or begin organizing on your own.  One person who is extremely informed and able to meet bullshit rhetoric with real facts can achieve even the most astounding feats such as changing the laws on their own or with very little assistance from third-parties.

Example of Social Justice and Change Process:

1.  Cause Chosen:  Teen Liberty--Stopping the unjust institutionalization of children and youth in abusive and fraudulent residential and wilderness programs.

2.  Learn everything you can by asking and researching to answer relevant questions such as:  Where do the majority of children placed in abusive institutions come from in the first place?  There are four main ways children end up in abusive programs/institutions.  The first is through foster care and social services.  For example, Washington State social services sends foster care children and youth to abusive facilities throughout the country including Devereux Foundation programs, Excelsior Youth Center, and Three Springs.   The second is through the public school system's misuse and abuse of IEPs (aka Individualized Education Programs, Individualized Education Plans, Independent Education Programs, Independent Education Plans, and similar labels).  (See # 3 below for more on this issue).  The third is through the juvenile justice system where children and families are often misled to believe that "treatment" means "help" and not unregulated private prisons and work-houses which often is the case.  And, the fourth is through ignorant and/or cruel parents who choose to institutionalize children and youth they find inconvenient or are convinced to do so by those standing to make a profit that say institutionalization is warranted when it is not.

3.  Do your research, submit factual reports, and request action.  In 2010, HEAL HQ researched the abuse and misuse of IEPs in Washington State.  We began by contacting the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).  We asked the OSPI how many public school students had been placed in out-of-home residential or wilderness settings through IEPs and how much public money was spent on those enrollments.  The OSPI reported that they did not collect nor keep that information at the State level and that we would need to contact each of the school districts in Washington State to get answers.  There are 294 school districts in Washington State.  From 2010-2011 HEAL HQ contacted all 294 school districts.  Of the 294 contacted, 186 school districts responded.  This means we had a response from approximately 63% of Washington's school districts.  The vast majority of statistics cited by public officials and others regarding policy issues and more sample far less than 63% of the total population surveyed.  In fact, only 62.3% of eligible voters participated in the 2008 national vote.  (Source: http://bipartisanpolicy.org/library/2012-voter-turnout/)  Our research was the best research available on the issue of the abuse of IEPs available at the time we presented our report to Washington State legislators.  This resulted in an investigation of the abuse and misuse of public funds in this manner and eventually a new law that would stop the abuse of IEPs which was signed into law in the summer of 2014. (see http://www.heal-online.org/teennews.htm#essb5946) 

4.  Issue: See # 1  New Primary Goal Related to Issue: Protect Mandated Reporters. 

In eight States, the individual reporter must make the report to the appropriate authority first and then notify the institution that a report has been made.(13)

Laws in 14 States make clear that, regardless of any policies within the organization, the mandatory reporter is not relieved of his or her responsibility to report.(14)

In 15 States, an employer is expressly prohibited from taking any action to prevent or discourage an employee from making a report.(15)

(13) California, Connecticut (the Commissioner of Children and Families makes the notification), Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Tennessee, and West Virginia.  (eight states where outside authority must be notified before notifying institution management.)

 (14) Alaska, California, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.  (14 states that require reporting of abuse regardless of institution policies.)

 (15) Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin.  (15 states where an employer is expressly prohibited from preventing and discouraging an employee from making a report.)  Source: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/manda.pdf

The other States, like Utah, allow programs to completely self-regulate and handle abuse complaints in-house.  As long as this issue remains uncorrected, institutionalized abuse will continue unabated in those States.  This is unacceptable.  Perhaps use the Interstate Commerce Clause as a legal basis for imposing mandatory reporting standards for any facility accepting non-resident youth.

What you will notice is that California and Michigan appear to be the only two that have all three requirements.  And, you will notice that Utah is not listed among those without any significant mandated reporting requirements.

Also, New York City is exempted by New York State from State requirements.  And, for those who don't believe the lack of prohibition on employers stopping them from discouraging and preventing reporting to the proper authorities is not a legitimate concern, read:

"September 5, 2014

U.S. District Court holds that company may lawfully retaliate against employees who report its abuse of clients to DHHS

By Maine Employee Rights Group"


It should be clear that we need uniform and much stronger federal protections and requirements for mandated reporters working in institutional settings.  Institutions are permitted in the majority of states to self-report and self-regulate.  This is true in all institutional settings, licensed and unlicensed, which is why areas such as this should be addressed rather than imposing standards on fictitious unidentified entities (i.e. HR 3060, 2015)  in hopes to pacify victim's groups relying on anecdotal evidence (as opposed to enacting real change that will result in more reporting, more accountability, and less abuse).

 

With each goal (# 4), one needs to follow all four steps and treat the goal as a new "sub-issue" following each of the steps.  If your cause is "Teen Liberty", your first outline may look something like this:

1.  Cause:  Teen Liberty

2.  Education: Learn Your Issue/Cause

3.  Remedies: Learn Existing Remedies and Suggest New Ones

4.  Identify Your Goals

            a.  Goal: Improve federal requirements and protections for mandated reporters.

            b.  Education: Learn existing local and federal requirements and protections and their impact. 

            c.  Remedies: Would a law or court decision best help address the issue?  Find out and be extremely informed and prepared before interacting with courts or legislators.

            d.  Identify smaller goals you need to achieve before you can achieve your #4 goal(s).

 

This can be done with or without the assistance of others.  Regardless, you should know your issue and where you stand in regards to the majority of problems and positions surrounding your issue/cause before seeking to join others or volunteer with any organization.  And, you need to know that those organizations and individuals understand the issues fully and can aid you in achieving your goals for your cause.  If not, it is best to work alone and without interference from those who may be ill-informed, ill-prepared, or have hidden agendas.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Can We All Agree To Abandon Torture and Slavery as Tools of Social Control?


Can We All Agree To Abandon Torture and Slavery as Tools of Social Control?

By Angela Smith, HEAL Coordinator

 
Do Evil People Believe Everyone Is Evil?

It seems that good people tend to believe everyone is good or that most people are good at heart.  Take for example, Anne Frank, enslaved by Nazi Germany and who died of Typhus while held in a brutal concentration camp, who said: "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."  (Sources: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/annefrank109060.html and http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/01/europe/anne-frank-date-of-death/)

But, do evil people believe everyone is evil?  It would seem that it is a common trait for people to believe that other people are like them to a large degree and this is identified as the "false consensus effect" in psychological terms.  So, it would seem that sociopaths and "evil people" are to an extent "normal" when it comes to believing that everyone shares their beliefs and motives as well as potential for extraordinary self-interest and enacting any and all harm they see fit for their purposes which includes pursuing and securing great influence over large populations.

One blogger writes:

"Those of us who are real Republicans know that people are by nature bad. We're driven to selfish means of survival, excess and animus. It takes a very stable thoughtful mind to avoid these instinctual drives. Fear and lust will drive a man to do horrible things and he may come back down and look at the result of his amok time with disgust and despair, but it's pure humanity in its primal hysteric. Is there anything more human than revenge? Those of us at the top of the food chain are beholden to societal rules because if you're caught with your hand in the cookie jar, you get it cut off. We are civilized as long as we are privileged... A sociopath thinks everyone would break the rules if they could get away with it."  Source: http://gopcore.blogspot.com/2011/03/false-consensus.html

Where Do We Get The Idea That People Are Born Bad?

John Calvin wrote:

"...our nature is not only destitute of all good, but is so fertile in all evils that it cannot remain inactive. Those who have called it concupiscence have used an expression not improper, if it were only added, which is far from being conceded by most persons, that everything in man, the understanding and will, the soul and body, is polluted and engrossed by this concupiscence; or, to express it more briefly, that man is of himself nothing else but concupiscence. (Institutes, Vol. I, Bk. II, Chap. 1, Para. 8; Allen translation.)"  Source:  http://www.prca.org/fivepoints/chapter1.html

How Does Calvinism Effect US Policies Today?

"As the New Right gained power, Republicans-and Democrats-began to support repressive and punitive criminal justice policies that were shaped by one of the historic legacies of Calvinism: the idea that people arrested for breaking laws require punishment, shame, and discipline."  Source: http://www.publiceye.org/defendingjustice/overview/berlet_calvinism.html

Horrific human rights violations are prevalent in US institutions including prisons, treatment centers, and detention centers.  (Sources: www.heal-online.org/teennews.htm, www.heal-online.org/prisonnews.htm, and www.heal-online.org/humannews.htm)  These sick abuses are justified by the perpetrators as a means of converting the dehumanized captives into productive and obedient servants. 

"According to Philip Greven:

The authoritarian Christian family is dependent on coercion and pain to obtain obedience to authority within and beyond the family, in the church, the community, and the polity. Modern forms of Christian fundamentalism share the same obsessions with obedience to authority characteristic of earlier modes of evangelical Protestantism, and the same authoritarian streak evident among seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Anglo-American evangelicals is discernible today, for precisely the same reasons: the coercion of children through painful punishments in order to teach obedience to divine and parental authority."  Source: http://www.publiceye.org/defendingjustice/overview/berlet_calvinism.html

"In 5 years as magistrate of the Geneva “church-city-state,” Calvin oversaw 58 death sentences and the exile of 76 people. He wasn't the sole decision-maker in those cases, but personal correspondence and city council records betray his extraordinary influence. When Jacques Gruet, a theologian with differing views, placed a letter in Calvin’s pulpit calling him a hypocrite, he was arrested, tortured for a month and beheaded on July 26, 1547. Gruet's own theological book was later found and burned along with his house while his wife was thrown out into the street to watch."  (Source: http://www.reenactingtheway.com/blog/john-calvin-had-people-killed-and-bad-bible-interpretation-justified-it)

Calvin's totalitarian demand for absolute adherence to his interpretation of biblical doctrine was inspired by St. Augustine, the man behind the Spanish Inquisition.  (Source: https://blog.logos.com/2012/01/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-john-calvin-and-should/)  And, St. Augustine believed in using torture to convert people to his beliefs.

"As Augustine saw it, therefore, we must distinguish between two classes of people. For the righteous "who thirsteth for God," "there is no need of the terror of hell, to say nothing of temporal punishments or imperial laws . . ."; but for those who have fallen into heresy, "many must first be recalled to their Lord by the stripes of temporal scourging, like evil slaves, and in some degree like good-for-nothing fugitives."5"  Source:  http://www.thomastalbott.com/terror.php

It would seem that those who believe in oppression and torture justify this with the beliefs that people are born evil and that temporary torture and enslavement are justified if they believe it will "save" someone from eternal torture and enslavement in Hell.  This belief appears to be used to justify "conversion therapy" in the 21st century which uses torture, institutionalized coercion and persuasion, humiliation, and forced labor to "convert" gay youths to heterosexuality and "anti-social" youths to blind obedience to authority.

And, these beliefs regarding the justification of torture, abuse, and slavery are being protected in many states throughout the US in the exemption of faith-based institutions that reportedly engage in torturing who they deem to be "modern-day heretics" as part of a protected first amendment freedom of religion.  And, it should not be official policy to permit any group or groups (religious, political, or otherwise) to engage in what would otherwise be deemed illegal acts of gross human rights violations, violence, and abuse in order to further their private and/or public agendas, regardless of their claimed motivations and intentions.

"As early as 1962, Dr. Edgar Schein described the methodology at issue rather more straightforwardly in an address to all federal maximum security prison wardens in Washington, D.C.: "In order to produce marked changes in behavior, it is necessary to weaken, undermine, or remove supports for old attitudes. I would like you to think of brainwashing not in terms of... ethics and morals, but in terms of the deliberate changing of human behavior by a group of men who have relatively complete control over the environment in which the captives live...[These changes can be induced by] isolation, sensory deprivation, segregation of leaders, spying, tricking men into signing written statements which are then shown to others, placing individuals whose will power has been severely weakened into a living situation with others more advanced in thought reform, character invalidation, humiliations, sleeplessness, rewarding subservience, and fear." (http://www.beyondbusiness.net/openletter.htm)

In 2008, Patricia Ruland writing "Rehabilitation or Torture" for the Austin Chronicle reported:

"The SAFPF "therapy" model is based upon a practice known as "therapeutic communities," which had its origins in a Sixties-era California drug-abuse program called Synanon. Critics and proponents alike date the peer-based TC methods to the "attack therapy" popularized by Charles Dederich in the Santa Monica-based Synanon, which eventually degenerated into a brutal and murderous cult, as reported in a 1979 Pulitzer Prize-winning exposé in the Point Reyes Light by then-publisher Dave Mitchell. "It's unfortunate that Synanon became the model for therapeutic communities; basically a large portion of drug treatment is based on a cult," Mitchell said in an interview. Synanon was eventually shut down by the authorities, in part because in addition to abuse of patients, staff were assaulting defectors from the program and threatening detractors with death. Available for committee testimony should be survivors of other disgraced programs that operate on the therapeutic communities model. Some said they would testify just how closely the SAFPF accounts resonate with their own victimization in TCs incubated at Synanon. "The women [in SAFPF] have charged they must often sit silently, rigidly, face-forward, in plastic chairs for long hours or days, occasionally through periods of weeks on end. This was true of Straight, Inc. as well," wrote Shelby Earnshaw, director of a survivor support group, the International Survivors Action Committee (www.isaccorp.org) in an e-mail."  Source: http://www.heal-online.org/safep071808.pdf

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) was using SAFPF, a conversion through torture and cult-like thought reform to "rehabilitate" women prisoners in 2008.  Even after the abuses have been exposed in newspaper articles and other reports, SAFPF still exists and is in operation today.  (Source: http://tdcj.state.tx.us/divisions/rpd/rpd_substance_abuse.html)

Whether we look at prisons, schools, treatment programs, or faith-based institutions, we find the Calvinist ideology that supports torture and coercive thought reform as a valid means of changing behavior and/or conversion to subservience.  If you are not familiar with John Calvin, he was a "founding father" of Protestantism who was born in 1509 and died in 1564.

"One of the churches which openly supported apartheid and racism was the Dutch Reformed church of South Africa . Calvinism gave the necessary basis for the Church's racist agenda. How a Church could ever support any form of discrimination is still surprising. How the Dutch reformed Church went to the extent of supporting and maintaining apartheid is still more puzzling. But the support for the Apartheid policies came from Calvinism's view of the world and not from Christ... George Whitfield, the friend of John Wesley was a Calvinist and he owned slaves. John Wesley , did not own much earthly wealth, let alone slaves. The slavery of blacks in America was not questioned or stopped by the reformed churches there. Instead the reformed theologians like George Whitfield , practiced slavery."  (Source: http://crosstheologie.blogspot.com/2012/09/calvinism-slavery-and-apartheid.html)

"According to Sulzer and Mayer: (emphasis added) “If the causes of our behavior are to be managed, and certainly will be managed, then we might still consider ourselves free as long as we remain ignorant of those causes and how they are being managed in our own case. At least, we will feel free. One hundred years ago, that ignorance was the essential freedom available…”  Sulzer and Mayer provided a manual for behavior modification in the Public School System in the United States in the early 1970s. The idea discussed is that powerful people have and will continue to implement behavior controls that go beyond mere public safety and into the realm of private freedoms. This is highlighted by the fact that educators are being told to give students the freedom of ignorance. This may be shocking to many who are yet unfamiliar with the deterioration of quality education, and society in general.  Sulzer and Mayer go on to say, “A political craftsman such as Machiavelli could offer some incomplete rules of thumb…based on partial appreciation of punishment.”3  Merriam-Webster defines Machiavellian as “characterized by cunning, duplicity, and bad faith.”4 Most readers (hopefully all) will agree that an education system based on manipulation, deceit, and bad faith is not in line with the goals of a free or just society.  And, it is the widespread implementation of these practices that have become an industry of torture and fraud destroying American families.  (Source: http://www.heal-online.org/ebook.pdf)

Do People Often Believe Everyone Is Like Them And Shares Their Beliefs?

As stated above, the answer appears to be "yes".  And, the problem with that is that when narcissistic sociopaths obtain wealth and power they see everyone else as a threat because they believe everyone is as corrupt and willing to abuse others as they are and they will destroy everyone else to prevent being subjected to their own practices.

"The false consensus effect is defined as an egoistic bias to overestimate the degree to which others are like us. The criterion for establishing its existence is a positive correlation across subjects (within items) between their own endorsements of a behavior or attitude item and their estimates of the endorsement frequency in a specified group of which they are a member. The effect is labeled “false” on the grounds that because there is an actual endorsement rate in the group, systematic deviations from it in the direction of the subject's own response supposedly cannot result from accurate estimation procedures."  Source: http://www.citeulike.org/user/CulCog/article/7229209

The philosopher, Immanuel Kant, said: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law."  Source: http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3201869/Korsgaard_KantForumulaUniversalLaw.pdf?sequence=2  The issue then becomes that Calvinists and others who would support torture and slavery in order to convert others to their worldview will claim that they would themselves in Kafkaesque fashion subject themselves to the same abuses should they not conform to the tenets of their particular belief system.  So, they would justify their use of torture and other cruelties by claiming it would be a universal law to which they would hold themselves accountable in the event they did not share the beliefs of their current authority figureheads. 

The problem then becomes one of academic and philosophical debate and that is where public officials tend to leave the discussion while ignoring and often sponsoring conversion by torture of our fellow citizens.  That is completely unacceptable and cannot be tolerated to continue.

Issues with the idea that torture is okay as long as you are torturing for a "good reason", such as converting someone to your religion or political ideology, include that human beings are imperfect and no person nor group of persons should be allowed to impose their views and conditions on others through force, coercion, slavery, and torture.  This is true for many reasons including that no individual would want to be coerced or tortured or even condone being coerced and tortured for their individual beliefs.  Would a Calvinist accept being tortured and enslaved by an Atheist who "knew for certain" that the only salvation and sanity for a Calvinist would be conversion to Atheism?  The answer is "no".  Why?  Because Calvinists will argue that they are "right" and that therein lies the primary difference and justification for all who engage in serious human rights violations including murder and torture.

So, we're looking at least at one of the seven deadly sins being the culprit that allows Calvinists to vainly and arrogantly claim the right to torture, murder, and enslave anyone who doesn't adhere to their interpretation of scripture.

Ezekiel: 16:49: " Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy."

Arrogance is defined "as an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people" and "an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions."  Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/arrogance

The bottom line here is that arrogant, narcissistic, fanatical, sociopathic, zealots of any and all belief systems cannot be allowed to impose their views on others through coercion, torture, abuse, and slavery.  And, the Constitution has been clearly read to include individual civil rights which should not be permitted to be violated by private nor public institutions and certainly should override any perceived "right" of any group to engage in illegal, inhumane, abusive, torturous, and murderous tactics for the purposes of conversion to any religion or political ideology. 

"Fascism is a form of right-wing totalitarianism which emphasizes the subordination of the individual to advance the interests of the state. Nazi fascism’s ideology included a racial theory which denigrated “non-Aryans,” extreme nationalism which called for the unification of all German-speaking peoples, the use of private paramilitary organizations to stifle dissent and terrorize opposition, and the centralization of decision-making by, and loyalty to, a single leader."  Source: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:t-5cJaxXk9MJ:remember.org/guide/facts-root-nazi+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Sound familiar?  Well, if not, it should because it is happening here and now and this is why we must stop it and defend human rights and individual human rights for future generations so they are not subjected to a global fascist ruling elite in which all are tortured, enslaved, or murdered. 

"As the American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

Well, it may well [be] on our doorstep.  And the oligarchs are plotting their final takeover by using their economic dominance to capture governmental power – specifically, the governmental power which sets the rules for the very marketplace that provides the oligarchs with such massive wealth.

Once the American corporate barons own the institutions that are meant to regulate them, it’s game-over for both rational capitalism (including competition) and for democracy."  Source: http://www.salon.com/2015/02/08/fascism_is_rising_in_america_the_koch_brothers_and_the_painful_demise_of_democracy_partner/

No conspiracy theories here.  Only a logical conclusion that people believe that other people are usually just like they are and if they are good, then that isn't a problem in most cases.  But, when they are evil, they visit their worst impulses on the innocent and brave who refuse to participate in systemic and institutionalized abuse.  Sometimes you are the only proof you have that GOOD exists.  But, sometimes that is enough.  Stay true to the truth, justice, beauty, love, and kindness and fight to protect the future from fascist plutocracy. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Abortion Debate

The Abortion Debate
by Angela Smith, HEAL Coordinator, and featuring Kelsey Hazzard and Peggy Loonan


On June 6th, 2015, The HEAL Report hosted a debate on abortion between Kelsey Hazzard, President of Secular Pro Life and Peggy Loonan, Founder and Executive Director of Life and Liberty for Women.  That debate is available online at https://youtu.be/4VzWUfkOw1w.

HEAL takes no official position on abortion.  But, we would like to take this opportunity to pose questions and provide answers regarding abortion facts.

Below are the questions we've asked and the answers we've found. 

1.  How many abortions occur in the US each year?

Kelsey Hazzard, President of Secular Pro Life Comments: (http://www.secularprolife.org/)

"A couple of points. First, with respect to abortion statistics, you may want to mention the most recent numbers from the Associated Press, reporting a dramatic decrease in American abortions in just the last couple of years. That data was not available at the time we recorded the episode. See http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/06/07/us/ap-us-abortion-decline.html?_r=1"  

Peggy Loonan, Founder and Executive Director of Life and Liberty for Women Comments: (http://www.lifeandlibertyforwomen.org/)

"It shows that restriction of access to abortion leads many women to seek abortions in other states. It shows that desperate determined women will always find a way. It also talks about how the reduction in teen pregnancy has affected these numbers. I found Charmaine Yoest’s (Americans United for Life)suggestion that such a broad decrease in abortions nationwide and in states with the least restrictions was a function of forcing women to view sonograms, unrealistic and not grounded in fact. I think the article draws a stark line between the reality of why the numbers are what they are and the pie in the sky version anti-abortion groups claim." 

(Returning now to follow up analysis prepared by Angela Smith, HEAL Coordinator)

The data varies, but, seems to remain between 1 and 1.5 million legal abortions annually.  The most recent available data is for 2011, but, does not include data on some States.  The 2011 data shows 730,322 legally induced abortions with 0.9% occurring at or after 21 weeks of gestation and 91.4% of abortions occurring at or before 13 weeks gestation.  Source: http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/data_stats/Abortion.htm.

In 1979, data shows 1,251,921 legal abortions and that data includes all 50 States.  In 1979, over 90% of abortions were performed at less than 13 weeks gestation with 0.9% occurring at or after 21 weeks of gestation.  Source: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001243.htm  

In 1990, all 50 States participated in CDC reporting as well as Washington, DC.  In 1990, data shows 1,429,577 legal abortions occurred.  And, 87% of abortions were performed before 13 weeks of gestation with 1% of abortions occurring at or after 21 weeks of gestation.  Source: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00031585.htm

In 1999, the statistics are significantly lower because Alaska, California, Oklahoma, and New Hampshire did not report and the CDC did not choose to estimate based on historical information for those states.  The CDC shows of the States reporting that 861,789 abortions reportedly occurred throughout the US.  And, that 87% of abortions were performed before 13 weeks of gestation with 1.5% of abortions occurring at or after 21 weeks of gestation.  Source: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5109a1.htm

In 2005, all States participated in CDC reporting except California, Louisiana, and New Hampshire.  Of the States reporting, the collective total of reported legal abortions for participating States was 820,151.  And, 87% of abortions were performed before 12 weeks of gestation with 1.3% of abortions occurring at or after 21 weeks of gestation.  Source: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5713a1.htm?s_cid=ss5713a1_e

Based on the above information, it would appear the abortion statistics remain pretty much the same in regards to when the majority of abortions are performed with the vast majority being performed before 20 weeks of gestation. 

2.  What are the abortion laws in each State in the US?

Most US States ban abortion unless medically necessary to save the life of the mother at 20 weeks and/or viability.  Alaska, Colorado, Washington DC, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Vermont have little to no restrictions on abortion access.  Source: http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_OAL.pdf

Peggy Loonan, Founder and Executive Director of Life and Liberty for Women Comments: (http://www.lifeandlibertyforwomen.org/)

"Here are some links I found regarding 20-week bans which are indisputably unconstitutional on their face because they aren’t in keeping with the central holding of Roe regarding viability as the balancing of a woman’s right to choose and when the state will have an overriding interest in protecting potential life. Those 20-week bans that have been challenged have been struck down as blatantly unconstitutional by appellate courts. Anti-abortion groups hope this challenge to the central holding of Roe will establish a new benchmark via their claims of fetal pain. Anti-abortion groups and legislators think this could be the challenge that could overturn Roe or change the benchmark making it virtually moveable at the will of anti-abortion legislators until it reaches fertilization and abortion is once again criminalized. However, subsequent rulings including the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey reaffirmed the central holding of Roe; viability as the balancing of right to life. The Court has never swayed from viability as the benchmark. As I said in the debate, viability is –at the outset 24 weeks. Roe left the viability question to those best suited to know it – doctors. In the 1989 decision Webster v Reproductive Health Services the court said, “the legislature could not give one element such as gestational age, dispositive weight.” That’s exactly what the 20-week bans do. 





http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_PLTA.pdf

The link below is the story of a woman adversely affected by the Texas unconstitutional 20-week ban. It places an “undue” burden on women in addition to being unconstitutional on its face.


(Returning now to follow up analysis prepared by Angela Smith, HEAL Coordinator)

Available reports show that in Colorado, where abortion is least restricted, the number of abortions has decreased significantly.  1.4% of abortions occurring in the US occurred in Colorado.  I was unable to locate gestation statistics regarding Colorado abortions.  Source: https://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/sfaa/colorado.html

Available reports show that in Vermont, where abortions are least restricted, the number of abortions has decreased significantly.  Vermont represents 0.1% of abortions occurring in the US.  In Vermont, a total of 1734 abortions were performed in 2004 with 1722 occurring before the 17th week of gestation and 12 occurring between the 17th and 27th week of gestation.  Source: http://healthvermont.gov/research/stats/2004/e0506.htm#e5

The States where abortion is most restricted include Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Texas and West Virginia.  Those States with a couple of others ban elective abortions at 20 weeks.  Source: http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_OAL.pdf

Available reports show that in Alabama, where abortion is most restricted, the number of abortions has decreased significantly.  Alabama represents .9% of abortions occurring in the US.  This is a greater percentage than abortions occurring in Vermont which has less restrictions.  In 2012, Alabama reported 7,970 "induced pregnancy terminations" (abortions).  Sources: https://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/sfaa/alabama.html and http://media.al.com/wire/other/vital%20stats.pdf

In Vermont, there are roughly 626,000 people and there are approximately 4,800,000 people in Alabama.  In Vermont, roughly 0.27% of the population had an abortion in 2004.  In Alabama, roughly .17% of the population had a legal abortion in 2012.

Available reports show that in Texas, where abortion is most restricted, the number of abortions has decreased significantly.  Texas represents 6.9% of abortions occurring in the US.  This is a greater percentage than abortions occurring in Vermont which has less restrictions.  In 2012, Texas reported a total of 68,298 abortions with 380 occurring after 20 weeks of gestation.  Due to Texas law, the abortions after 20 weeks of gestation were medically necessary to save the life of the mother.  And, that means .56% of all abortions occurring in Texas in 2012 were medically necessary to save the life of the mother.  In Texas, in 2005, there were a total of 77,374 legal abortions performed with 450 occurring after 20 weeks gestation.  And that means at least 0.58% of all abortions occurring in Texas in 2005 were medically necessary to save the life of the mother.  One might conclude based on this information that at least 0.57% of all abortions are medically necessary to save the life of the mother.  There are approximately 26 million people in Texas and that means in 2012 and that means approximately 0.26% of the population had an abortion that year.  And, that means there is little to no difference in regards to the use of abortion regardless of State law restrictions when you compare the 0.27% in Vermont to the 0.26% in Texas opting for or requiring an abortion.  Sources: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/chs/vstat/vs12/t36.shtm, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/50000.html, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48000.html and http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/chs/vstat/vs05/t36.shtm.

3.  Does criminalizing abortion result in fewer abortions and/or deaths?

Kelsey Hazzard, President of Secular Pro Life, reports that in Chile, criminalizing abortion has resulted in fewer abortions and a decreased maternal mortality rate overall.  Hazzard's sources for this position include http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0036613 and http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/a_ground_breaking_abortion_study_from_chile. 

In March of 2015, Chilean officials consider eliminating and/or revising the ban on abortion to permit abortion in certain circumstances.  Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/17/us-chile-women-abortion-idUSKBN0MD2BP20150317

The abortion ban in Chile was signed into law by the dictator Augusto Pinochet.  Pinochet was a violent and corrupt leader who murdered his predecessor and seized control of Chile by force.  While information varies depending on source, Pinochet's regime is reportedly responsible for thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of human rights violations including unjust detainment and torture.  Given Pinochet's reputation for corruption and murder, it would be difficult to believe his abortion ban was anything more than a political stunt intended to pacify church leaders while he terrorized the nation.  Sources: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/17/us-chile-women-abortion-idUSKBN0MD2BP20150317, and https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/evidence99/pinochet/HistoryGeneralArticle.htm  

Regardless, if we ignore the person and regime in Chile and focus solely on the facts, what do we find?  According to a 2014 report on Chile, between 13,000 and 18,000 illegal abortions are performed each year in Chile.  Chile has a population of approximately 17.6 million people.  If we use an average of 15,000 abortions given the above estimates, this means that Chile, with a total abortion ban, still has .085% of the population reporting an illegal abortion.  This is percentage-wise, about half the abortions reportedly occurring in Alabama.  But, given the lack of reporting and the fear of punishment if one does report under existing Chile laws, the statistic may itself be flawed.  Sources: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-11/mi-tca110614.php and http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/chile-population/ 

"In Chile, it is estimated occur 13,000 to 18,000 illegal abortions each year, representing a death risk of 1 in 4 million women of fertile age and leading to about 16% of hospital discharges due to any type of abortion. It is thought that most illegal abortions are provoked through the self-administration of misoprostol. However, several authors agree that the Chilean progress in this matter is likely to be explained by the success of maternal health policy interventions, the access to modern methods of family planning, the increase in women's educational level and, more recently, to the emergence of support programs for vulnerable women with unplanned pregnancies at risk of abortion."  Source:  http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-11/mi-tca110614.php

Other reports state the following: "Chile has the highest abortion rate in Latin America, with some 40,000 illegal procedures carried out annually, according to a new report. The findings were presented Monday by Aníbal Faundez, a physician and coordinator of the sexual and reproductive rights committee of the International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians."  Source: http://laht.com/article.asp?CategoryId=10717&ArticleId=148871

Now, if we average the rate to 25,000 based on the different rates provided above, the total percentage of people in Chile having illegal abortions becomes 0.142% and if at the higher rate recently reported above we see 0.227% having unsafe abortions.  And, that is more than Alabama and less than Vermont by a small margin. 

Turning our attention now to The Netherlands where abortion is legal.  The Netherlands have a maternal mortality rate of 6 per 100,000 and Chile has a maternal mortality rate of 25 per 100,000.  In The Netherlands, abortion is banned 24 weeks after conception, even for medical reasons.  Approximately 28,000 abortions are performed in The Netherlands each year.  There are approximately 16.87 million people in The Netherlands.  And, that means approximately 0.16% of the population has an abortion annually.  That is a lower abortion rate than in the most restrictive US States.  Sources: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/policy/WorldAbortionPolicies2013/WorldAbortionPolicies2013_WallChart.xls,  http://southholland.angloinfo.com/information/healthcare/pregnancy-birth/termination-abortion/, http://www.cbs.nl/en-GB/menu/themas/bevolking/publicaties/artikelen/archief/2011/2011-3322-wm.htm, and https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/nl.html

"This article gives a review of the main factors that are related to the low abortion rate in the Netherlands. Attention is paid to figures on abortion and the use of contraceptive methods since the beginning of the 1960s up to the end of the 1980s. The strong acceptance of family planning was influenced by changing values regarding sexuality and the family, the transition from an agricultural to a modern industrial society, rapid economic growth, declining influence of the churches on daily life, introduction of modern mass media and the increased general educational level. The introduction of modern contraceptives (mainly the pill and contraceptive sterilization) was stimulated by a strong voluntary family planning movement, fear for overpopulation, a positive role of GPs, and the public health insurance system. A reduction of unwanted pregnancies has been accomplished through successful strategies for the prevention of teenage pregnancy (including sex education, open discussions on sexuality in mass media, educational campaigns and low barrier services) as well as through wide acceptance of sterilization. The Dutch experience with family planning shows the following characteristics: a strong wish to reduce reliance on abortion, ongoing sexual and contraceptive education related to the actual experiences of the target groups, and low barrier family planning services."  Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7971545

Based on a modicum of research on this issue, it would appear that the answer is clearly No.  No, criminalizing abortion does not result in less abortions and less death.  This would suggest that the goal of pro life organizers should be to prioritize access to birth control, socialized/public health insurance, extensive sex education, and readily available family planning services in order to reduce the number of abortions occurring annually.

And, to reduce the overall demand for abortion services, addressing economic inequality and other socio-economic factors may be the best bet for reducing and hopefully eliminating the demand going forward.

In addition, the US has the highest infant murder rates in the world at 8 infants per 100,000.  The number of pre-school aged children murdered at a rate of 2.5 per 100,000 and the number of school aged children murdered at a rate of 1.5 per 100.000.  Economic distress and unemployment were the primary reasons parents gave for killing their children.  And, in the US, the unemployment rate in 2015 is 10.8%.  In 2012, the unemployment rate in the US was 14.4% and in 2005 the unemployment rate was 8.6%.  Comparing the unemployment rate with the abortion rates in Texas during those years, you can see that when unemployment was down in 2005, abortion demand dropped by approximately 9,000.  In 2012, when the rate of unemployment increased, so did the demand for abortion.  The demand for abortion is tied to economic instability.  Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2174580/  and http://portalseven.com/employment/unemployment_rate_u6.jsp

Again, this would suggest pro life organizers should focus efforts on economic inequality issues, expanding access to birth control, public health insurance, comprehensive sex education, and greater access to family planning services for all.  As Kelsey Hazzard said, abortion is a symptom of greater issues.  And, that is quite clear.  This would suggest that abortion is not at the heart of the abortion debate, but, the other issues mentioned above are at the core and should be the priority of all who wish to reduce and even someday eliminate the demand for abortion services.  Criminalizing abortion does not address the core issues and only puts women's lives at risk due to illegal and unsafe abortion.

Kelsey Hazzard, President of Secular Pro Life Comments: (http://www.secularprolife.org/)

Chile, in addition to creating legal protection for life before birth, concurrently invested in girls' education and other vital anti-poverty measures. It doesn't have to be either-or.

 

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Dark Side of Harpo Productions


The Dark Side of Harpo Productions

by Angela Smith, HEAL Coordinator

 

Oprah Winfrey and Harpo Productions are clearly promoted as the heroes of daytime television.  But, for those who care about human rights, Harpo Productions is far from heroic.

 

Oprah Winfrey's own show, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" began airing in 1986.  During that time, Oprah interviewed and promoted multiple residential treatment facilities for youth including: Young House Family Services of Iowa (sources: http://www.younghouse.org/docs%5CYoung%20House%20Annual%20Report.pdf and http://www.younghouse.org/asap.html), Hazelden Foundation (source: http://www.hazelden.org/OA_HTML/item/14970?eBook-Love-First-2nd-Edition&src_url=itemquest), and many more.  Hazelden, IECA, and more partner and endorse nearly every program on HEAL's watch-list of fraud and abuse.  (Source:  http://issuu.com/teenlife/docs/gssp2012).  This includes Benchmark, Aspen Education Group, and many more. 

 

Harpo Productions' shows have included: The Oprah Winfrey Show (definitely put kids in abusive programs), Dr. Oz (in trouble for fraud with Congress and lost his show--source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/17/dr-oz-congress_n_5504209.html), Rachael Ray Show (which regularly features Hazelden representatives and Dr. Phil as a guests), and of course, Dr. Phil McGraw, the "king" of daytime enrollments of children into fraudulent and abusive facilities.  (See: www.provotruthexposed.com)

 

Not only does Oprah produce television programs that place kids in fraudulent and abusive programs, she opened her own in Africa where ongoing reports of rape and physical abuse have surfaced over the last decade.  (Source: http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1939460_1939452_1939416,00.html)

 

Dr. Phil McGraw is not a licensed psychologist.  You can verify that he is not licensed here: https://vo.ras.dshs.state.tx.us/datamart/selLicTypeTXRAS.do?type=name and here: https://licensing.hpc.state.tx.us/datamart/detailsTXHPC.do?anchor=104c52c.0.0.  So, it is misleading that the show is even called "Dr. Phil".  Complaints filed against him in TX from former clients include inappropriate contact with a minor.  And, after the scandal broke in December, 2005 regarding his referrals to abusive facilities, he "voluntarily retired" his license for good. 

 

In 2005, HEAL and other youth advocacy organizations worked diligently to expose Phil McGraw's fraud and abuse.  And, we contacted Harpo Productions, the "Dr. Phil Show", and Oprah Winfrey asking they stop referring to programs such as Provo Canyon School and Aspen Education Group facilities.  Dozens of victims e-mailed Harpo, Oprah, and Dr. Phil and tried to post their experiences on Phil McGraw's message boards on his show's website.  Our messages received no replies and our posts were censored.  It was quite clear then that Phil McGraw, Oprah, and Harpo Productions were not interested in the truth, but, only in their own greed.  And, right now Dr. Phil is a named co-defendant in a lawsuit filed against Island View RTC in Utah.  See: http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/01/30/64963.htm. 

 

Even if teen liberty and children's rights and welfare are not your primary cause of choice, please think about this and other human rights abuses supported by and through Harpo Productions.  "O", Oprah's magazine, promotes Hazelden (see: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Crystal-Meth-Education-Intervention-and-Treatment-Resource) and institutionalizing and traumatizing suicidal youth (see: http://www.oprah.com/own-blackboard-wars/Student-on-Suicide-Watch-at-School-Video).  In addition, Oprah promotes products that violate child exploitation and labor laws.  See: http://laborrightsblog.typepad.com/international_labor_right/2010/02/.  The truth is out there and available for those who wish to be informed consumers.  Please join HEAL in the continuing boycott of these charlatans, frauds, and human rights violators!  Do not watch nor promote Dr. Phil  or any Harpo Productions' show if you care about human rights and teen liberty!