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Democracy

The one question we all need to ask in the wake of the SCOTUS Dobbs decision on abortion

Losing the right to medical privacy hurts us all.

abortion, supreme court, dobbs
Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash

Roe v. Wade guaranteed the right to privacy in our medical decisions.

The Supreme Court has issued its ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson, a decision that we knew was coming and that overturns 50 years of precedent in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Roe v. Wade is widely known for upholding the right to an abortion, but it also upheld an individual's fundamental "right to privacy" (in the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution). In a 7-2 opinion (written by a lifelong Republican justice, for what it's worth), the Supreme Court decided that the right to privacy and liberty covered the right to abortion.

In the decades since Roe, people have rehashed all kinds of questions surrounding abortion: the nature of life and personhood, bodily autonomy, the rights of the unborn and more. And in those debates, we've lost the core of what the Roe ruling was really about—the right to privacy in our medical decisions, which affects each and every one of us.

The one question we should be asking, fellow Americans, is this:


Should the government have the authority to access someone's private medical and sexual history to investigate, judge, intervene in and/or prosecute their healthcare decisions?

That's the question. That's the debate. And I don't know anyone in their right mind who would answer that question with "yes."


In the Dobbs opinion, Justice Alito wrote, "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives." Is it, though? Is government overreach just fine and dandy at the state level? Should elected representatives really be given the authority to determine people's medical needs? I don't think so.

Make no mistake—abortion is sometimes medically necessary to save the life of a mother or prevent undue suffering of an unborn baby. If it's sometimes necessary and the law acknowledges and allows for that, then the law would have to make the determination of whether or not it's necessary in each and every case. Not doctors, not the person carrying the baby, but representatives of the law. Investigators would have to delve into the personal, private medical records of patients to decide if an abortion was legitimate or not.

Who really wants that kind of government interference in their healthcare decisions?

If there are exceptions in state abortion laws for rape or incest, now we're looking at investigations not only into someone's medical records, but also into someone's sexual history. After all, anyone can claim they were victims of rape or incest. Such allegations are notoriously difficult to prove, so now we get 1) a slew of false accusations by women desperate to be able to get an abortion, which harms both real victims and innocent men, and 2) even more invasive investigations by the government into extremely private and painful matters.

I don't personally need a right to an abortion at this point in my life. There is almost no chance I will ever get pregnant again, and I can't imagine having an abortion even if I did. I do, however, need a right to privacy in my own medical care. That's what's being lost here.

I also don't begrudge anyone their belief that abortion is always wrong. I can actually understand how people get there, though I disagree. So by all means, debate the ins and outs and rights and wrongs of abortion all you want. Go out and hold up signs and preach to the masses and try to convince people to make different decisions. Set up pregnancy support clinics. Educate people about birth control or abstinence or whatever you believe is moral and right.

But allowing the government to legislate it is wrong. After all, the question of when life begins is fundamentally a religious or philosophical question, and we live in a country where we do not establish a religion. (It's literally in the first line of the First Amendment of the Constitution. And besides that, abortion access is a religious requirement in some faiths, so religious arguments for and against access are moot, legally speaking.)

We don't live in a black-and-white world. Every single pregnancy is a unique situation with a million different variables. Speaking in generalities is simple, but individual cases are nuanced and complex. Should the 11-year-old who has been raped and impregnated by her brother be forced to carry and bear his child when her own body hasn't even reached full maturity? Should the mother whose water broke prior to viability and who has a life-threatening infection, necessitating an abortion to save her life, now have to go through a painful investigative process to determine whether she's a criminal under the law? Should a pro-life Congressman with means be able to access abortion for the mistress he impregnated because he can afford it, all while trying to remove access for the rest of us?

You could say those are exceptions, but who makes that determination? Who gets to say what counts as an exception or not? Who gets to decide the criteria and determine who meets that criteria? Politicians most of us wouldn't trust to watch our dog? Is that really what we want from our government?

And what about the notion that abortion bans save lives? Do the lives of pregnant women not count? Not only will people risk their lives seeking dangerous unregulated abortions, but we could also see an increase in suicides in women who feel trapped in an impossible situation. In El Salvador, where abortion is banned with no exceptions, 3 out of 8 maternal deaths—more than one-third of mothers who die—are pregnant teens who die by suicide. Please read that twice.

The U.S. also has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations. And Texas specifically, where some of the most stringent abortion laws are being enacted, topped the developed world for maternal mortality as of 2014. Pregnancy and childbirth are not without risk, especially in this country.

But none of that, sadly, is even relevant to the central question:

Should the government be granted the authority to dive into someone's private medical and sexual history to investigate, judge, intervene in and/or prosecute their healthcare decisions?

Or more specifically:

Should the government—the random fellow citizens we elect on occasion—be granted the authority to access someone's personal medical and sexual history to determine the circumstances of a pregnancy and judge whether the healthcare decisions surrounding it are valid?

The answer is no. Obviously, no.

At this point in my life, I don't need the right to an abortion. But I do need the right to privacy in my personal healthcare decisions. We all do. That's what Roe guaranteed. That's what we have lost.

"The Carol Burnett Show" had one of the funniest outtakes in TV history.

"The Carol Burnett Show" ran from 1967 to 1978 and has been touted as one of the best television series of all time. The cast and guest stars of the show included comedic greats such as Tim Conway, Betty White, Steve Martin, Vicki Lawrence, Dick Van Dyke, Lyle Waggoner, Harvey Korman and others who went on to have long, successful comedy careers.

One firm rule Carol Burnett had on her show was that the actors stay in character. She felt it was especially important not to break character during the "Family" scenes, in which the characters Ed and Eunice Higgins (a married couple) and Mama (Eunice's mother) would play host to various colorful characters in their home.

"I never wanted to stop and do a retake, because I like our show to be ‘live,’" she wrote in her memoir, as reported by Showbiz Cheat Sheet. "So when the ‘Family’ sketches came along, I was adamant that we never break up in those scenes, because Eunice, Ed, and Mama were, in an odd way, sacred to me. They were real people in real situations, some of which were as sad and pitiful as they were funny, and I didn’t want any of us to break the fourth wall and be out of character.”

It was a noble goal, and one that went right out the window—with Burnett leading the way—in a "Family" sketch during the show's final season that ended with the entire cast rolling with laughter.

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More parents are taking 'teen-ternity leave' from work to support their teenage kids

Parenting through the teen years takes a lot more time and energy than people expect.

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

Raising kids through adolescence is not for the faint of heart.

When you have a baby, it's expected that you'll take some maternity or paternity leave from work. When you have a teen, it's expected that you'll be in the peak of your career, but some parents are finding the need to take a "teen-ternity leave" from work to support their adolescent kids.

It's a flip from what has become the traditional trajectory for modern parents. Despite the fact that the U.S. is the only developed nation in the world to not have mandated paid parental leave, most parents take at least some time off when a baby is born to recover physically from pregnancy and birth and to settle into life with their tiny new human. Many parents then opt to have one parent stay home full-time during their children's younger years, as full-time childcare is often cost prohibitive, and raising babies and toddlers requires an enormous amount of time, attention and energy.

Parents often return to work when their kids are in school full-time, and many feel a bit of a respite from the relentlessness of parenting as their kids become more independent and capable of doing things on their own. It's not that older kids don't need their parents, but their needs are different. Physical parenting gives way to more complex emotional parenting as kids get older, and for a while, those emotional challenges are somewhat simple.

Then the tween years come along. Then the teens. And for some parents, a realization hits that parenting kids through puberty takes almost as much time, attention and energy, as toddlers do. Only now, those needs are much more complicated and consequential.

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Gen Xer shares some timeless advice for Gen Z.

Meghan Smith is the owner of Melody Note Vintage store in the eternally hip town of Palm Springs, California, and her old-school Gen X advice has really connected with younger people on TikTok.

In a video posted in December 2022, she shares the advice she wishes that “somebody told me in my twenties” and it has received more than 13 million views. Smith says that she gave the same advice to her partner's two daughters when they reached their twenties.

The video is hashtagged #GenX advice for #GenZ and late #millennials. Sorry older millennials, you’re too old to receive these pearls of wisdom.

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People are debating the merits of a 24-hour daycare and the discussion is eye-opening

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about the need for this.

StableDiffusion

Are 24-hour daycares a good idea?

Millions of American parents utilize daycare centers while they work. Since most people work during the day, most daycare center hours fall somewhere between 7:30am and 5:30pm. It's rare to find a daycare that's open after normal working hours.

But one "24-hour" daycare in Houston captured people's attention—and sparked a debate—when a mom posted about it on TikTok.

Adventure Kids Playcare in Houston isn't actually open 24 hours a day but it does offer childcare up to 10:00pm during the week and until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. In the video, the mom drops her daughter off and we hear the employee tell her they close at midnight. The mom later says she picked her daughter up at 11:55pm.

Reactions to the video rand the gamut from "24-hour daycares are a brilliant idea for parents who work odd shifts" to "Moms shouldn't be leaving their kids at a daycare late at night just so they can go out," sparking a fascinating and eye-opening discussion.

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A dad is looking for a little more respect at home.

The title of dad or father is a sweet and respectful way to acknowledge a child's special bond with their male parent. It signifies love and respect and shows appreciation for his role in their life. But the title works both ways. The term dad reminds fathers of the responsibility to guide and protect their kids.

The importance of the unique role dads play in their kids’ lives is why a father named Steve was upset with his wife for repeatedly using his first name when referring to him with their preteen children.

The father vented about the situation and asked if he was wrong in a Reddit post with over 10,000 responses.

“My wife recently started using my first name when referring to me to our preteen kids, as in ‘Steve's gonna pick you up from school tomorrow,’” the father wrote on Reddit’s AITA forum. “I asked her not to when I first heard it, saying I don't really like when you use my first name to the kids. Can you say ‘your dad’ or ‘dad’?”

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Husband's portrait of wife is so bad that she nearly stops breathing

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder but what if what your eyes behold is objectively...not good? In what appears to be a creative way to spend quality time together for a married couple, things go hilariously wrong. Ted Slaughter, uploaded a video to his TikTok page of an activity he and his wife did together.

Slaughter's wife seems to be holding the phone so you can clearly see what appears to be a painting of Slaughter, who is sitting at the other end of the table in front of an easel. The text overlay on the video says, "husband and wife paint portraits of each other (gone wrong). But what could possibly be wrong, sure his wife's attempt isn't art gallery ready just yet but it's not bad.

Based on the critiques the man had of his wife's painting, surely his looks much closer to professional level work. Right?...Right?

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