Indiana’s General Assembly–the Gift (to Bloggers) That Keeps On Giving

By Sheila Kennedy

[Originally published at on January 30, 2015]

Indiana’s General Assembly–the Gift (to Bloggers) That Keeps On Giving
Doug Masson, one of the most thoughtful bloggers around, follows our legislature rather closely. Recently, he described one of the (many) stupid/scary bills that might actually become law, given the collective acumen of that not-so-august body.
You’d think the General Assembly that caught so much crap for trying to define pi would be a little careful with its definitions, but HB 1136 has a reckless swagger about its medical definition. Specifically, it says that “”Fetus” means a human being produced by a human pregnancy from fertilization through birth, including a zygote, blastocyst, and fetus.”
The inaccuracies are part of a bill requiring Doctors to “talk to” women, to ensure that we sweet, dumb little things understand what we’re doing.
All in a day’s work for the men who think they were elected to be obstetricians.
Let’s acknowledge Masson’s point that the definitions used in HB 1136 have no scientific validity; fetus, zygote and blastocyst are not interchangeable terms, nor are any of them “human beings” in any meaningful sense of the word.
Far more annoying than this added evidence of legislative ignorance, however, is the persistence of efforts to control women’s bodies, to insert government into what should be personal and family decisions, and to make some people’s religious beliefs (no matter how uninformed, unscientific or unrepresentative) the law of the land.
We live in a state that ranks at the bottom of many indices: civic health, education, job creation, child poverty. Rather than making an effort to improve the lives of Hoosiers–including children already born–rather than enacting measures that would feed hungry children, rather than providing (or even regulating the safety of) daycare facilities, our elected officials are focused like lasers on controlling women’s “lady parts.”
News flash, autocrats: that Constitution you’ve never studied says that directing my most intimate personal decisions is not part of your job description.
Knowing the meaning of the words you use probably is, though.

Sheila Kennedy is a former high school English teacher, former lawyer, former Republican, former Executive Director of Indiana's ACLU, former columnist for the Indianapolis Star, and former young person. She is currently an (increasingly cranky) old person, a Professor of Law and Public Policy at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis, and Director of IUPUI's Center for Civic Literacy. She writes for the Indianapolis Business Journal, PA Times, and the Indiana Word, and blogs at For those who are interested in more detail, links to an abbreviated CV and academic publications can be found on her blog, along with links to her books..

The RNC's Anti-Semitic AFA Partnership Problem

The RNC's Anti-Semitic AFA Partnership Problem
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty
When the Republican National Committee (RNC) partnered with the American Family Association (AFA), they had to know how far and deep the ultra-right Christian organization's views are. They had to know the organization has regularly claimed Jewish people have no First Amendment rights (since, according to them, only Christians enjoy freedom of religion in the United States). The RNC had to know that David Lane - the man who will be leading the upcoming RNC/AFA trip to Israel - trashed Mitt Romney calling his religion a "cult" in the last presidential election. He's also the man in charge of AFA's American Renewal Project.
The RNC had to know all of this. Yet they still agreed to go to Israel on the AFA's dime as guests - something that has a lot of Israeli and American citizens concerned.
The crux of the problem with the AFA centered around now-former AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer. The AFA verbally 'severed ties' with Fischer this week in preparation for the trip. They also sent a letter to the Southern Poverty Law Center denouncing many of Ficher's nastier comments.
But they still kept him on their payroll doing the same radio host job he's always done, spreading the same hyper-Christian-based hatred they apparently want to distance themselves from.
And that makes the RNC's official statement on the AFA odd. They said, “We don’t agree with Bryan Fischer’s comments and are glad the AFA has severed ties with him.”
Except the AFA hasn't severed ties. And the RNC knows this too and refuses to issue any other comment. They only issued this vague and inaccurate comment after days of badgering by Jewish and American media inquiring why the RNC is partnering with an anti-Semitic Christian hate group.
Discussing the odd situation the RNC placed itself into on her show last night, Rachel Maddow slammed the RNC for their partnership. “I have to say, it’s kind of hard to believe that they will go ahead with this trip," she said. "What will it mean to the Republican Party going forward if they go on a trip, to Israel, with a group that advocates that America is by Christians and for Christians only?”
The plane takes off for Israel tomorrow. As of now the RNC is still associating itself directly with the AFA, and the AFA still has a man on its payroll that's virulently anti-Semitic, anti-gay, and prone to making Holocaust/Hitler comparisons whenever he finds it convenient to denigrate a minority group.
What is Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus thinking?

About Tim Peacock:

For virtually his entire life, Tim has been writing. Over the years he's dabbled in mainstream fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and personal essays. The one consistent thread through his entire writing career has been blogging - he's been doing it since 1997 in one form or another. In addition to writing Tim has frequently worked and volunteered as a civil rights advocate including on campus LGBT advocacy as well as interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

You can find Tim online at his personal website. He additionally guest contributes at Blue Nation Review. You can find him on LinkedIn as well as on Twitter as @timsimms

Christian Activist Disrupts Texas Muslim Capitol Day Rally

Pictured: Christine Weick (left)
Accompanied by several accomplices, Christian activist Christine Weick - a 50-year-old religious author who lives out of her car - is back and terrorizing an entirely new group of peacefully assembling Muslims.
Organized by the Texas chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Texas Muslim Capitol Day offers Muslim Americans a chance to have their voices heard in local and state government through peaceful rallying and speeches. Unfortunately for those peaceful Muslims, a group of rude, Dominionist Christians interrupted the festivities to proclaim the capitol building for Jesus.
Texas Muslim Capitol Day was organized by Texas chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose members intended to raise awareness on issues, advocate on a number of bills and celebrate their right as Americans — and in one speaker’s case an eighth-generation Texan — to be part of the political process. 
But not one of the 10 or so speakers at the hourlong event managed to finish a sentence without being heckled by noisome group of maybe two dozen that fanned out about 20 paces from the south steps of the statehouse. A patriotic song by the Houston Koran Academy didn’t even silence the screaming. 
CAIR-TX spokeswoman Ruth Nasrullah had barely begun the program when a woman briefly commandeered the podium and attempted to claim the Capitol in the name of Jesus Christ. The woman, a native Michigander who said she goes “wherever the Lord calls,” later said she was seized by “righteous anger” and felt she’d accomplished what she attempted to do Thursday morning.
That woman was none other than Christian activist Christine Weick - the woman who engaged in similar disruptive activities at the National Cathedral last November when they invited Muslims to a special prayer service.
In her most recent violation of others' religious freedoms, Weick commandeered the podium, interrupted Nasrullah's speech, and proclaimed, “I want to inspire Americans against this and proclaim for Jesus Christ and not their god, Allah."
Nothing says 'convert to Christianity' like disrespecting others' belief systems during a peaceful assembly.

About Tim Peacock:

For virtually his entire life, Tim has been writing. Over the years he's dabbled in mainstream fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and personal essays. The one consistent thread through his entire writing career has been blogging - he's been doing it since 1997 in one form or another. In addition to writing Tim has frequently worked and volunteered as a civil rights advocate including on campus LGBT advocacy as well as interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

You can find Tim online at his personal website. He additionally guest contributes at Blue Nation Review. You can find him on LinkedIn as well as on Twitter as @timsimms

Indiana Woman Criminally Charged for Miscarriage

Purvi Patel
I am the mother of a 36-year-old son. My son lives and works in the same city that my husband and I live. We speak to him a few times a week.

I am also the mother of a 38-year-old son. But I have never laid eyes on my first son. I never held him in my arms. I never got to look into his eyes and see the spark of life that mothers of newborns get to enjoy. You see, my first son - my first child - was a stillbirth - he died inside of me three days before I went into labor.
My labor began in the usual way-  my husband and I drove to the hospital. My obstetrician came in to examine me. I was so excited - I thought I would soon see the baby I had been carrying for nine months.
But then things went wrong - horribly wrong. I first noticed it when my doctor put the doppler to my belly to hear the baby’s heartbeat. After having a relationship with this man for 9 months, I saw the look on his face change dramatically - and I knew something was not right. After that, things moved very quickly. I was rushed into the OR and he performed an emergency C-section. I never heard the cry of a newborn - and when I left the operating room my arms were empty.
I spent quite a bit of time in Recovery. When my doctor came out of the OR, I noticed that he had tears running down his face. I told him not to worry - that I would have more children. Thankfully he put me in a room on the GYN floor so I wouldn’t have to hear the cries of the newborns in the nursery. I spent about a week in the hospital. My husband and I were not shown the baby and we never thought to ask. My husband was like a walking zombie. I just laid in my bed, in shock.
I am sharing this 38-year-old story because of a trial that is happening right now in South Bend, Indiana. Last year, 32-year-old Purvi Patel suffered a miscarriage. She delivered the baby at home, too early in the pregnancy and that it was not moving or breathing. She later went to the hospital bleeding profusely. The baby’s body was ultimately found in a dumpster.
Ms. Patel is being charged with conflicting crimes - one being feticide (the destruction of a fetus) and the other neglect of a dependent.
Dr. Kelly McGuire, the obstetrician called in to give a 3rd opinion when Ms. Patel arrived at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center,  examined her but then rushed off to find the baby. He stated, “The baby was cold and lifeless, but I thought it was an otherwise normal, healthy appearing baby.” Another news article stated that a nurse “also testified Patel was constantly on her phone and had a ‘flat demeanor.’”
With my own miscarriage, the day after I “gave birth,” a physician walked into my room - I had never seen him before. He told me that he assisted my GYN during my C-section (and handed me a bill). He also informed me that my baby had been a boy, that he had dark hair and ruddy skin, and that he had been in perfect health. The baby died because the umbilical cord became pinched, like a garden hose. The baby stopped receiving air and slowly lost oxygen. So I delivered a dead, very healthy-looking baby.
I also remember that I didn’t cry in the hospital - not once. Years later I thought that if anyone had asked me how I would react upon learning my (new) baby was dead, I would have said that I would cry and shriek and wail. But I did none of those things. I was in shock. I could barely process what had occurred. I was a 27-year-old who felt like an old lady for the first time in my life.
I bring up these two points because they are unfairly being used against Ms. Patel. I am not a physician, but I don’t see how the opposing attorney can use the fact that her baby looked healthy against her. According to England’s National Health Service, around 2/3’s of all stillborn babies are due to placental complications. If there are problems with the placenta, stillborn babies are usually born perfectly formed.
The second point about Ms. Patel’s “flat demeanor” also riles me up. That nurse should know better! As I said, you can never predict how you will behave in any given situation. Health care specialists should certainly know that there is no cookie-cutter way for anyone to behave after a tragedy such as this. To blame Ms. Patel for not shrieking and wailing is insulting and extremely disrespectful! It seems to me that it’s just a ploy to turn the jury against her.
Pregnancy can be a wonderful time in a woman’s life, but it also causes many changes in her body - both physically and emotionally. Add to that the nightmare of losing that child, and the mother has little control over her body and her emotions. Regarding stillbirths, the March of Dimes states, “Each person experiences loss differently. Parents may experience many emotions, including shock, numbness, denial, deep sadness, guilt, anger and depression.” Apparently the nurses and physicians on this case have not read this article.
My heart breaks for Purvi Patel. Instead of the healthcare team giving her the time she needs to grieve, as well as time for her body and mind to heal, they have turned on her and thrown all sorts of accusations against her. For it looks as though the state has made up it’s mind - either she goes to jail for killing her baby, or she goes to jail for neglect. They are out to get her one way or the other. Ms. Patel is in a terrible limbo. She cannot move forward because the state will not allow her to.
I want Purvi Patel to know that there are women who are on her side. I want her to know that there are women who care about her and do not want to see her made to suffer because she is a woman. Women are the bearers of our children - they bring new generations to life. They should be treated with respect and dignity - and even be thanked for the difficult job of carrying a child. They should certainly not be penalized when something goes wrong.

About Annette Gross:

Annette Siegel Gross has been an advocate for LGBT rights for over ten years. After her son came out in 1998, she joined the Indianapolis chapter of PFLAG. She has given speeches, radio interviews, and written blog pieces about LGBT equality. Annette worked with Indiana Equality to help defeat HJR-3 – the proposed state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Indiana. She is one of the co-founders of the You Have A Purpose Project. Annette also writes blogs for the Huffington Post, The Bilerico Project and Indy Vanguard.