I believe: How it works

British pharmacists are allowed as a matter of conscience by their regulatory body to pretend they believe that contraception is an “abortifacient”.

A pharmacist who claims to believe that emergency contraception (or even regular daily contraception) is an “abortifacient” is either lying in order to justify imposing their religious views on other people, or is allowing their religious beliefs to overrule their scientific training.

Meanwhile, in America, Hobby Lobby thinks it should be exempt from covering medical care “they believe” causes abortion.

So Hobby Lobby’s legal claim is that a company has a “religious liberty” right to avoid anything they say causes abortion even if it does nothing of the sort.

If Hobby Lobby were to be granted such an exemption, then, what would prevent any other corporation from claiming that it believes minimum wage laws, OSHA regulations, nuclear safety rules and fire codes are also “abortifacient”?

What Hobby Lobby is seeking isn’t merely some legal permission to be exempt from providing health insurance. The corporation is seeking the “religious liberty” to redefine reality and to rewrite the laws of medicine, human anatomy, biology and chemistry.

The medical care they’re talking about is, again, emergency contraception, which (keep up) does not cause abortion. It doesn’t even cause abortion in the very narrow sense of preventing implantation, which most medical experts would not call abortion anyway:

There were studies done that show that overly huge amounts of estrogen can cause failure to implant in mice, so that warning was stuck on Plan B while they studied it in human vagina owners. But no proof has been found that it happens in human women.

Of course, this is actually all about sex:

If Hobby Lobby said that they believed cancer was caused by sinful behavior, and therefore they weren’t covering chemotherapy, they would be shamed so fast they wouldn’t know what hit them.

Except when it’s all about politics:

I note in passing that Hobby Lobby is neither passionately sincere or sincerely passionate.  They offered this coverage without any qualms until they found out that President Obama wanted to make them do it.


Sandi Toksvig: Eyjafjallajökull

Remember that eruption in Iceland, and the ash clouds which covered Europe, grounding all air traffic? I do. I was travelling to England at that time. It didn’t affect my travel plans — I always go by Sail&Rail anyway — but the ferry was a lot busier than usual, and Holyhead station was jam-packed.

And it was, of course, mentioned on The News Quiz. And here’s a dance remix of Sandi Toksvig’s pronunciation of the name Eyjafjallajökull. It’s rather good.


Camping Through the Falklands

In the Falklands War, well before gay people were accepted in the British army, there was a bit of a culture clash with the merchant seamen who helped to crew the boats in that war:

Passenger ships then had a strong gay, indeed camp culture. On some peacetime vessels up to 95 per cent of the stewarding crew were out homosexuals and trans people.

And so, gradually, friendships were made and minds were changed.


A motion for marriage equality in the Northern Ireland Assembly

Motion Text:

That this Assembly believes that all couples, including those of the same sex, should have the right to marry in the eyes of the State and that, while the rights of religious institutions to define, observe and practise marriage within their beliefs should be given legal protection, all married couples, including those of the same sex, should have the same legal entitlement to the protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations and benefits afforded by the legal institution of marriage; calls on the Minister of Finance and Personnel to introduce legislation to guarantee that couples of any sex or gender identity receive equal benefit; and further calls on the First Minister and deputy First Minister to ensure that all legislation adheres to the Government’s commitments to protect equality for all.

I wonder how it’ll go.


Context, bare breasts, porn, and other assumptions

Edinburgh Eye has a post about society’s attitudes to porn, breastfeeding, and objectification, with particular reference to the soft porn published on page 3 of The Sun since 1970.

I’m just giving telling you the subjects it covers. I’m not going to attempt to summarise it, beyond saying that I agree with it. Go and read it.


Oxford University Changes its Dress Code to make life easier for trans* students

Students sitting exams at Oxford University must wear formal dress: skirts and stockings or suits and bow ties. Formerly, female students were required to wear the skirts and stockings, and male students the suits and bow ties. But trans* students may still be registered with their previous gender, and would therefore be required to cross-dress back as their previous gender while sitting exams. This, understandably, added stress to an already stressful situation.

After a petition from the students’ LGBT Soc, the regulations have been changed to make no reference to gender.

The Guardian‘s reporting of this is positive, but does include some awkward and inaccurate phrasing around trans* issues:

If a transgender student wanted to wear subfusc of the opposite sex they had to seek special dispensation from university proctors, who had the power to punish those who breached the rules.

Presumably trans* students faced problems when they wanted to dress as their own sex, because in many cases they were still registered as being the opposite sex. (I’m not actually very fond of the phrase “opposite sex” either, given that there are more than two genders, but it’ll have to do.)


Neil Gaiman interviews Terry Pratchett

On the publication of Snuff, Terry Pratchett was interviewed by his one-time collaborator Neil Gaiman. Lovely reading.

On Sam Vimes,

Coppers are easy to write for; they tend to run on rails.

On favourite books and research,

I did a lot of interesting work for Monstrous Regiment in lesbian book shops.

On characters who should return but haven’t,

Somewhere in the back of my mind there is a plot where the hero is Evil Harry Dread.

And on Victorian reference books,

Did I not tell you that in Hay-on-Wye I picked up a collection of very large books with the series title ‘London Then And Now’ and realised that the ‘now’ was in fact 1880? There was even a lovely woodcut of Primrose Hill when it had primroses on it. It really is wonderful stuff. Small things that people might not notice but to me are like a fly to a rising trout.